Caring for ageing pets

1st October 2017

 

Just like us, our pets are living longer and have healthier lives due to advances in preventative medicine, lifestyle and diets. At Bollington Veterinary Centre we are delighted when we only see your pets once or twice a year for their annual check-up and vaccinations, but as they age, we probably need to be taking a closer look more often.

7 years and older

It’s generally thought that from around 7 years of age our dogs and cats can be considered to be entering their senior years. It’s at this age that they can start to develop problems such as diabetes, heart disease, dental disease, kidney disease, arthritis and cancer. The good news is that many of these problems have treatment or management options we can offer to help. An early diagnosis allows us to intervene quickly so we can ensure a better quality of life.

11 signs of ageing

  1. Altered appetite – have your pet’s eating habits changed? Are they eating more food or less? Have they become fussy about what is eaten? Are they ravenous and have they started scavenging? Some of these signs could be attributed to diabetes, hyperthyroidism or cancer.
  2. Bad breath – have you noticed a bad smell from their mouth recently? It could be a dental problem, tartar, mouth infection or even kidney disease.
  3. Changes in body weight – when you’re living with your pet every day, a slight increase or decrease in body weight can be difficult to spot. It helps to weigh them regularly. If you notice a weight loss or gain which is unexpected, it’s time for a check-up.
  4. Different shape – at Bollington Veterinary Centre we are always looking at Body Condition Scores (BCS), where we make an assessment of the amount of fat, muscle and tissue on an animal. If an animal’s BCS changes, it can provide an important early sign of alterations of muscle and fat.
  5. Drinking – are they drinking more water or spending more time at the water bowl? This could just be as a result of a change in diet (dry foods and salty diets in particular may cause your pet to drink more), but it could be an early warning sign of diabetes or kidney disease.
  6. Toileting habits – have you noticed your pet using the litter tray more frequently or defecating with difficulty? Do the faeces look normal? Anything abnormal needs checking.
  7. Low energy – is your pet reluctant to exercise or does he/she tire easily and sleep a lot. As we get older, we do tend to find life requires a bit more effort and we need more sleep and rest. It’s the same for our pets, and we need to respect this.
  8. Behaviour – is your pet grumpier or not acting like itself. Does he/she seem confused or disoriented? Animals in chronic pain with arthritis may be less tolerant and need more personal space. If you think this has become a problem, it’s worth a vet check as we can give painkillers to help with arthritis. Confused animals may be developing a type of dementia that can be helped. Don’t assume there is nothing that can be done. Our vets at Bollington Veterinary Centre will be able to make a thorough assessment of the problem and offer some help and advice.
  9. Limping or stiffness – is you pet stiff first thing in the morning? When on a walk do they hold a leg in an awkward way that suggests pain? Can they still climb the stairs or jump into the car or onto a windowsill? Any of these signs need checking.
  10. Lumps and bumps – have you seen anything on or under the skin that is growing, bleeding or bothering your pet? If so let us know.
  11. Altered skin or coat – with ageing often comes some dryness or hair thickness changes. The skin may become scurfy or itchy. In many situations a slight improvement to the diet or a medicated shampoo will help so don’t let the problem persist. Talk to our team so we can help.

 

Age is not a disease

We often need to remember that age is not a disease that can be cured with a pill or injection. It’s a natural process that we need to adapt to by making important changes to lifestyle and diet. At Bollington Veterinary Centre we are here to help you make your pet as comfortable as possible as the years go by. Please talk to us early and let us help.

 

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