Senior Dog and Cat Care
If you have a senior pet, you’ve probably noticed some changes in the way he or she behaves. Most likely, you are watching the natural progression of aging, but it could be disease. Here is some important information that you should know.
Pets Age Faster Than Humans
The scale below, courtesy of the American Veterinary Medical Association, shows pet age and the human equivalent. If you’re wondering why your 10-year old cat is acting like your retired father, it may be because in human years, your pet is 63…just 2 years away from qualifying for social security!
Normal Aging Signs or Disease. Which is it?
Good question. One that only a visit to our practice will help you determine. Many people fear a visit to the vet because they’re afraid of bad news, but turning a blind eye to signs that you suspect are not normal is only making things worse for everyone: you and your family live with a low grade anxiety that your pet is not well, and your pet needlessly suffers disease or aging symptoms that could be managed effectively and affordably.
Importance of Semi-annual visits
At Rockland, our veterinary team has collectively examined thousands of patients over the years. We’ll be able to determine whether the changes you are seeing are normal or a sign of something else. We may also be able to see things that you do not, like cataracts, signs of arthritis, hearing loss, and changes to the way your pet’s internal organs feel. For every year of his or her life, your pet is aging several human years, so twice-a-year visits can catch changes before they become unmanageable or before they cause your pet (and you!) too much distress.
Geriatric Signs in Pets
You probably have noticed that your once frisky cat or dog sleeps later and more often. Old pets don’t need as many calories as they did when they were younger, so they often become obese. Too many owners are complacent about pet obesity. They think their fat cat or dog is funny and cute, but excess weight on pets is just as dangerous as it is in humans. Obese dogs and cats have trouble walking, can injure their joints, may have heart issues and live shorter, less satisfying lives than their physically fit counterparts. Talk to us about the diet you are feeding your pet and any weight gain you see. We’ll be able to determine if the weight gain is a natural sign of aging and what can be done to manage it.
Does your dog or cat seem hunched over? Less likely to jump or climb stairs? Has your pet had an accident in his or her bed or in the house? Maybe your cat is failing to use the litter box? All of these signs could be an indication that your pet has arthritis or something more serious. An examination is necessary for a precise diagnosis. If it is arthritis, there are medications that can make a world of difference in your pet’s life. If the signs are disease related, the sooner we figure out what’s going on, the sooner everyone feels better.
Nearly 100% of all dogs and cats over the age of 3 suffer from dental disease, but stinky breath, while commonplace, should never be considered a normal sign of aging. Dental disease is a low grade, persistent infection in your pet’s body wearing on your pet’s immunity, causing pain, opening up your pet to secondary infection, and making your pet feel lousy. Dental disease in pets should be treated the same way it is in humans, proactively and with professional cleaning that we can do at our office. Pet owners who have been pushing their pet’s stinking mouth away from theirs for years can go back to snuggling with their pet. Better still, you’ll notice an immediate change in your pet’s behavior. With all of that infection gone, your dog or cat will act like it’s 7 years younger.
Pet Seems Spacey
Have you noticed that your pet continues to sleep when you enter a room? Maybe no longer seems as sharp at monitoring your whereabouts? Can seem dazed? Seems less interested in food? As pets age, their eyesight, taste, hearing and sense of smell all erode. In some cases, we can offer up medication, diet, or lifestyle suggestions that can make a big difference. We can also run diagnostics to determine if the signs you are seeing are part of a bigger health issue.
Symptoms that Should Always be Evaluated by a Veterinarian
50% of all dogs over the age of 10 get cancer. Many cats over the age of ten acquire issues with their thyroid or kidneys. Like humans, our pets get disease as they age and like humans, these diseases are best treated at their earliest stage. Here is a list of signs that should always be evaluated by a veterinarian
- Limping and or reluctance to move
- Excess weight gain or loss
- Persistent or chronic-intermittent change in appetite
- Persistent increase or decrease in thirst
- Lumps or lesions
- Hair loss or changes in the color of your pet’s skin
- Cloudy or bulging eyes
- Persistent scratching
- Persistent or chronic intermittent coughing
- Exercise intolerance
- Difficulty breathing or open mouthed breathing
- Changes in the way your pet eliminates
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Behavioral changes
- Increased lethargy
- Persistent or chronic intermittent vomiting or diarrhea
Healthy Pet= Happy Home
For many of us, our pet is our best friend and part of the family. When pets suffer from old age or disease, we suffer with them. We want to do whatever we can to help.
You may be reluctant to come to us because you are afraid of bad news, afraid that great veterinary care will be too expensive, afraid that your pet is too aggressive to be seen, or concerned that your pet will be fearful at a veterinary office.
As we said earlier, we have collectively seen thousands of pets over the years. Whatever is preventing you from coming to our office is no match for the variety of solutions we can offer you. Call us at 845-354-1800 or use the icon below to reach out to us. You and your pet deserve many more happy and healthy years together.