Caring for a Senior Pet

Due to advances in veterinary medicine and alternative therapies, domesticated animals are living longer and happier lives than any time in history. With the increased life span comes certain responsibilities and aspects of health care. As your pet ages it is important to be aware of what conditions may arise, and how to diagnose and treat them to prevent further complications.

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The importance of regular screenings and physical tests cannot be emphasized enough. Most health conditions and crises can be averted with early detection and treatment. As your pet reaches that senior age (depending on breed), physical examinations should be scheduled on a semiannual basis.

The most common conditions that affect older pets are:

  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Heart disease
  • Periodontal disease
  • Thyroid disease
  • Osteoarthritis

All of these conditions, if caught early, can be managed and treated to ensure your pet lives longer and happier than if the conditions were left undetected. Many senior pets also develop cancerous conditions. While these are typically more complex and difficult to treat, early detection broadens options in terms of chemotherapy and/or surgery.

 

Some conditions are more easily detectable than others. You may be able to tell, for example, if your pet develops arthritis through changes in their activity, how they get around, and verbal or behavioral indications of pain. Luckily, arthritis is typically not life threatening, and can be managed with supplementation and anti-inflammatory drugs.

 

Kidney and liver diseases are most often detected through blood tests. This is why regular screenings are so important, because you may not be able to tell through other means.

Other indications of disease or illness may include:

  • Changes in weight
  • Activity levels
  • Food and water consumption
  • Bad breath
  • Abnormal bodily smells
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Rapid heart beats

If you become aware of any symptoms described above, it is important to bring your pet to the veterinarian immediately.

 

The best course of action is to leave diagnosis and detection up to your vet. While it may be possible to observe the aforementioned indications, chances are the disease or condition has already progressed a fair amount by the time you realize something isn’t right. Protect your pet’s health with regular veterinary visits and routine screenings. It’s in both of your interests to do so!

 

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