Owners are often surprised by the age at which their pet is considered senior – anywhere from 6-9 years depending on the species and breed. At this age we need to re-evaluate their health, diet and level of exercise. To help maintain or improve your senior pet’s quality of life we must be alert to possible abnormalities and treat them preventatively and in the early stages rather than waiting until they become seriously ill.
As your pet ages, its metabolism will slow and this can lead to an increase in body fat. Obesity is unhealthy at any age but is a particular concern with older animals. Obese pets are more likely to have heart and lung abnormalities, joint problems and diabetes. Special weight loss diets have been developed to decrease calories and fat but provide the necessary protein, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Be careful with treats- some are very high in calories, protein and additives. Ensure that your pet has easy access to water to avoid dehydration.
Kidney disease is common in older pets and signs may include drinking and urinating more, decreased appetite, vomiting or sluggish behaviour. Pets may develop urinary incontinence or urinary tract infections. Severe tooth and gum disease can cause your pet refuse their food and may cause an infection that can spread to the rest of the body. Teeth can abscess, resulting in facial swelling and discomfort. Check your pet’s gums and teeth for redness, discomfort, discharge and odor. To prevent dental disease brush your pet’s teeth regularly (with toothpaste made especially for them).
If your dog or cat was not spayed or neutered earlier in life, problems may occur as they get older. Intact females are prone to infections in the uterus and cancer of the breast tissue. Intact males are at a higher risk for prostate disease. To prevent these diseases your pet should be spayed or neutered before its first birthday. If you plan to breed your pet, plan the spay or neuter once the breeding is finished.
Semi-Annual exams can help detect health concerns early. This adds years to the pet’s life and life to their years. Call today to book your senior pet in for a senior check up.