Senior Pets

Pets over the age of 7 years are often classififed as "geriatric".  An aveage dog or cat has a life expectancy of 13 years, but this varies enormously with breed and lifestyle.  

Aging brings many changes, some sudden, others gradual.  It is important to differentiate the aging process from chnages due to disease or pain.  Regular veterinary check ups and weight measurement is so improtant for the older pet.

Reduced exerice tolerance may be an inevitable change in an elderly pet but MAY be due to arthritis (of joints or spine), heart disease or muscle weakness associated with several disease processes.  Increased grumpiness may be due to pain (again possibly arthritis, or internally) or thyroid disease.  Cats, in particular, will often only exhibit by a behavioural change.

Weight cganes are not necessarily simply due to agin; reduced exercise, increased "treat" feeding or thyroid issues often play a part.  Don't accept incraesed weight as normal" - it can often put enormous strain on aging joints, especially where arthritis is present, cause breathing, skin an dincontinence problems and often causes grumpiness!  Our nurses are able to advise you on any weight issues and alos where mosre specialized diets may be suitable (joint support, easily digestible, bland for dietary upsets etc).

Regular dental checks are so important in the older pet, especially if showing signs of bad breath, drooling or reduced appetitie.  Middle-aged and older cats can suffer very painful resorptive lesions of the teeth and may present as simply depressed, bad-tempered or unwilling to eat.  Dogs often continue to eat normally while harbouring gross infection in their mouth - from where bacteria can spread to joints, kidneys, heart etc.

Increased thirst or urination, or urinating in appropriate places can be the first sign of many different illnesses. get your pet checked by a vet, also taking along a urine sample at the time is very useful. 

Always get any lumps or growths checked out - some are of no consequence, others are best removed as soon as possible.

Some symptoms to look out for:-

Limping - does your pet suffer from stiffness or limping

Laziness - Has your pet stopped wanting to play, fetch ball or go for that long walk he used to love

Reduced Agility - Difficulty in entering or exiting the car, climbing the stairs or even simply getting up.

Twitchiness - resistance to being stroked or petted, especially around the paws, legs or hips

Sleeping/resting - does your pet seem to spend a lot of time lying around and staying in the same spot?

Grumpiness - has your pet become less tolerant and even snappy around other pets and children who want to play

Detachment - many pets can appear to become detached from their family; seeming disinterested and aloof when actually they are in pain and feeling stressed

More clingy - whilst some pets become grumpy, others can get anxious, needing reassurance when once they were more confident

Joint chewing or licking- this can sometimes be so marked that it causes bald or raw spots