Senior Pets – part 2 of 3

Aging is not a disease

In our first of three posts on Senior Pets, we reported the good news that our pets are living longer and healthier lives. We celebrated our privilege of participating in this change during the 37 years of our practice. We covered the definitions of aging and what this means for our pets.

In this post we address: Important Conditions and  Focus Areas

The conditions below can contribute to illness as well as play a vital role in maintaining optimal quality of life and longevity. All these areas are interconnected physiologically in our senior pets and each pet’s health condition as it ages. We know that because of this each pet requires its own unique treatment plan. Our doctors and staff at CAH can advise and completely review your pet’s needs in order to plan out a specific senior/geriatric health care course with you and your pet.

I. Nutrition and Body Condition

Dietary needs change with age and many common diseases and age-related conditions can benefit from shifts in nutrition as part of prevention and treatment. Overall body condition as well as body weight play critical roles in senior health.

II. Oral/dental health

Dog teeth brushing

Good oral health helps to extend pets’ lives

The mouth, teeth, and gums can be an easy portal of entry for bacteria as well as a source of pain and discomfort if not maintained in the later years of life.

 

 

 

III. Gastrointestinal

The GI tract is highly complex and has many roles in the body. Digestive efficiency and body requirements can shift with age and maintaining optimal health of the entire gastrointestinal system will significantly impact our dog and cats longevity.

Keeping pets flexible

Dr. Swindell examining a patient for orthopedic flexibility.

IV. Orthopedic conditions and mobility

Movement and exercise are essential during the senior years. Addressing health issues such as arthritis and muscle strength will allow your pet to maintain mobility and pain-free movement.

V. Endocrine/ Hormones

One of the most common areas in which our geriatric veterinary patients experience functional changes is in hormone production. Thyroid, adrenal and insulin hormones are the most commonly involved. Fortunately, the majority of these conditions are very responsive to treatment and can be managed successfully. Early detection can make this management less complicated.

VI. Cardiovascular/Renal/Respiratory

Dopper to analyze a pet's heart murmur

Doppler image of blood flow in a pet’s heart.

These organ systems also have numerous changes as they age. Here too, many of these common conditions can be slowed and managed to maximize the working lifetime of these organs. Often times months to years of quality life can be added to our pet’s life expectancy.

 

 

 

VII. Skin

Healthy skin is important for our seniors and coat quality and changes can be early indicators of health changes. Masses and lumps are common at this life stage and should be discussed and evaluated.

VIII. Mental Health/ cognition/ behavior

Our pets do face behavioral and cognitive/neurological changes as they age. These changes can be addressed in a variety of ways, some through nutrition, environmental changes, and medications.

IX. Sensory

nuclear sclerosis

We illuminated Fluffy’s eye to show her mild lenticular sclerosis.

Changes in the major senses especially eyesight and hearing can require adjustments in environment and lifestyle to prevent injury and anxiety.

 

 

 

X. Environmental Conditions

Older pets will usually need changes in their environment and lifestyle to accommodate their health care needs and still provide and promote safe movement and mental stimulation.

 

 

XI. Pain Management and Pharmacology

Senior health conditions that might have discomfort or pain associated with them should be targeted and treated either temporarily or long term as the condition requires. All drugs must be used with the most current knowledge of  senior/geriatric metabolism to prevent drug related illness or toxicity.

In the third of our three part series on Senior and geriatric pets our next post will focus on:

In our next post, Part 3 of 3, we will focus on: 

Medical Management / Early Detection and Screening. 

It is our pleasure to serve you and your pets. Please do not hesitate to call our offices (708-383-3606) if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your veterinary healthcare team.

 

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