Our pets age a lot faster than us. Dogs can be considered seniors from age 7, although as a rule smaller breeds age slower.
Cats are considered senior from age 10.
Like us, ageing is generally a gradual process. Our pets become a little slower, more prone to putting weight. Also like us mental stimulation, as well as good nutrition, can help slow the process. Environmental changes may become necessary to keep your pet comfortable in their golden years. Cats can start to have trouble keeping themselves adequately groomed and may need more help from you to keep themselves clean and comfortable.
Annual health checks are critical for our seniors. Early detection of changes can result in a longer and happier life. Blood tests give a good indication of how vital organs are functioning and any that may need help. There is a wide range of nutraceuticals and herbal support to help the ageing process.
Teeth show signs of wear and damage and may require extraction. To prevent periodontal disease from getting a hold, regular cleaning will be required.
Difficulty climbing stairs, a reluctance to jump, stiffness on first rising can all be indicators that arthritis is developing. There is a range of supplements that can support joint health and we can advise the best for each individual, as well as drug support. Adjustment in the environment may help – ramps into cars and beds for instance. With careful management, arthritis doesn’t mean the end of a full life for your dog or cat.
Cataract development is not uncommon in very senior pets. They generally develop very slowly and appear as a clouding in the eye. Dr Anna Goodman has a special interest in ophthalmology. If you suspect your pet's sight is not as sharp as it was get it checked promptly.
With age lumps and bumps can start to appear. Most are harmless fatty deposits but all new lumps should be examined. We may take a small sample, called a fine needle aspirant procedure to enable the cells of the lump to be examined under a microscope, or surgical removal may be recommended.
Slowing down is a natural part of ageing, but stopping altogether is never a good idea for our pets or us! For dogs, two shorter walks a day rather than one long one may be better tolerated. Older dogs are more affected by heat, so walks in summertime should be kept for the cooler parts of the day. Stair climbing and getting in the car may need help. Mental stimulation by treat puzzles and other low impact games help keep them engaged and included.
The general lowering of activity that usually comes with age can lead to weight gain that is not good on arthritic joints and digestive systems don’t always work as efficiently as they did. Speak to Natasha Kenny our nutritionist about the individual adjustments needed for your pet.