Help Your Pets Enjoy their Golden Age

If the Young Only Knew & the Old Only Could…

We all want to age well, and we can take steps to ensure that our beloved pets enjoy many happy and healthy golden years. Aging doesn’t have to be synonymous of illness. It is a gradual and foreseeable process. Provided we are on the lookout for signs of illness in our animals, some problems can be corrected or alleviated.

Here is some advice to help you anticipate problems and ensure that your pet stays healthy for as long as possible.

What should I pay attention to with respect to my pet’s diet?

It varies. In cats, 8 is the age at which you can expect to see the firsters signs of aging. For small-breed dogs, this occurs around the age of 10 or 12. In large-breed dogs, early signs can appear at the age of 7. Genetics, diet, exercise, preventive care and luck can all influence the onset of age-related signs.

What should I pay attention to with respect to my pet’s diet?

Firstly, if your cat or dog is drinking or urinating more than usual or if you notice a change in its stools or unusually frequent vomiting, your pet should undergo a thorough check-up and a complete blood test. These signs need to be assessed, since they can be symptoms of a number of illnesses.

Appetite is a good measure of your animal’s health. However, some diseases actually make your pet eat more! The rule of thumb is that any increase or decrease in appetite should be investigated.

As an animal ages, its nutritional needs evolve, but not all older pets should eat the same diet. In an overweight older pet, a low-calorie diet may be more suitable than a basic senior formula.

Additionally, an older pet whose kidneys are beginning to fail will do better on a specialized kidney support diet rather than on a regular senior diet. And if your pet is showing signs of osteoarthritis, your veterinarian may recommend a food enriched with glucosamine and omega-3 fatty acids. Be aware that not all pet foods contain the required total therapeutic dose of these supplements.

What age-related mental signs should i watch for in my pet?

Senility is not limited to humans; it occurs in animals as well. It can take the form of small changes, such as when a perfectly house-trained animal begins to soil in the home, or when a dog starts staring at the wall for no reason.

Other signs to look out for are wandering, loss of balance, unexplained barking or growling, loss of appetite, increased anxiety, disrupted sleep patterns, etc. If these signs are spotted early on, certain supplements or medications can improve brain function and thus improve your pet’s quality of life.

Are there any other signs i should watch for?

As our pets age, they will almost inevitably experience some loss of eyesight and hearing. Before picking up your cat or patting your dog, make sure the animal is aware of your presence. If your pet hesitates to go down the stairs, switch on a light and give your animal a helping hand. Accidents happen so fast! Make your pet’s environment safe: avoid rearranging the furniture or making other confusing changes in its surroundings.

Coughing or breathlessness may worry you. They can be signs of various illnesses. And should probably be investigated with a full physical exam as well as lung X-rays. If your pet trembles constantly, or if it has seizures or loses consciousness, you should immediately consult your veterinarian.

Obesity is not always directly related to aging, but it can significantly reduce your pet’s life expectancy. It can predispose your pet to osteoarthritis and other illnesses (diabetes, coughing, respiratory issues, etc.). Any significant and unexplained weight gain or weight loss is also a good reason to consult your animal health expert.

The appearance of lumps on or under the skin must also be reported to your veterinarian. Cancer is the cause of 45% of deaths in dogs over the age of 10. Early diagnosis is therefore essential to providing your pet with the best treatment.

What about osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a frequent problem. Your pet may limp, or have difficulty jumping, walking or getting up. In some cases, the animal may develop a stiff gait and even refuse to go for walks.

To help your pet, you can install an access ramp or place a set of steps by its bed or favourite sofa. If your floor seems slippery, anti-skid carpets are a good solution. It is recommended that your pet continue to do regular low-intensity exercise and avoid jumping. Since obesity increases the severity of osteoarthritis symptoms, it is best to ensure that your pet maintains a healthy weight.

Osteoarthritis can be alleviated by some supplements (glucosamine, omega, etc.). However, before adding these to your cat’s or dog’s diet, be sure to consult your veterinarian about what product to use and what dosage is appropriate. Not all-over-the-counter products are suitable for your pet.

What should i do for my aging pet’s teeth?

With age, tartar build-up increases, and so do dental problems. Your dog’s breath will smell bad, but a worse problem is the presence of large quantities of bacteria in his mouth. Which can give rise to disease and cause chronic pain.

To keep tartar build-up at bay, it is important to give your pet’s teeth a daily brushing with animal toothpaste. Your veterinary team will be happy to demonstrate this procedure.

Dental diets are another option and can be used as soon as your pet reaches adulthood to slow down dental damage. Even with such a diet, your pet will need the occasional dental cleaning under general anesthesia. Such procedures are also an opportunity for your veterinarian to examine your pet’s teeth and recommend the extraction of any decayed or dead teeth.

How often should i take my elderly animal to see his regular veterinarian?

It is a good idea to take your pet to see your veterinarian as soon as you notice any unusual changes. Since you are the animal’s closest companion, you are ideally placed to spot even small changes in its health.

Typically, general exams are recommended every 6 months to detect any signs of emerging disease as soon as possible.

In conclusion, keep a close and loving eye on your aging pet to ensure that it can enjoy happy and healthy golden years!

Have more questions?

Please do not hesitate to contact the Passionimo veterinary clinic near you.