Senior Cats and Dogs
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
- Obesity: 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.
- Arthritis: 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.
- Breath Stinks: 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.