Dogs and cats are living longer lives than ever before. And like us, senior pets develop age-related conditions. Age is not a disease and many conditions can be managed so that the senior pet enjoys a fine quality of life. Many of our most cherished patients are our geriatric pets, and we have become skilled in managing conditions related to age.
It’s possible to keep your old friend around and comfortable for many years. However, in order to achieve that, please inform us of any unusual conditions that you notice. Together, we can manage these diseases, provided we know they are present. For that reason, we may recommend more frequent exams for some senior pets. As an owner, you can ensure your old friend receives the benefits of early detection and preventive care, which is more effective and frequently less costly.
Our goal is to work with you to enable your aged friend to have the highest quality of life. We will individualize a specific health plan tailored to your pet’s needs. Our entire staff enjoys helping care for our older pet population at Carlson Animal Hospital.
We attempt to be very aware of our senior companions’ feelings and treat each and every one compassionately with loving sensitivity. It is important to us that these pets feel comfortable and at home with us.
Age-related conditions we are checking for include:
- Progressive organ disease (liver, heart, kidney, intestines)
- Arthritis and other mobility and orthopedic issues
- Diabetes, thyroid problems, and other hormone disorders
- Glaucoma, cataracts, and other eye problems
- Dental and periodontal disease
Has Your Senior Pet’s Behavior Changed?
It is not uncommon for your senior pet to experience changes in mental and sensory acuity. You may notice lapses in house training, confusion, unexplained vocalization, or a general loss in alertness. Incontinence and other behavior issues may be indicative of cognitive dysfunction. Similar to humans with Alzheimer’s, pets’ brains can change with age. For instance, decreased activity could be a sign of advanced arthritis, inattentiveness could be a result of hearing or vision loss, and incontinence could stem from a urinary tract infection or kidney disease.
If senility becomes an issue, medications are available, but there are also many simple ways you can assist your pet. Generally, keep your senior pet’s environment familiar and adjust your expectations. Specific tips include:
- Try not to change or rearrange furniture
- Keep pathways clear and wide through your home
- Consider providing ramps for stairways or steps to sleeping surfaces
- Maintain a routine feeding, watering, and walking schedule
- Keep commands short, simple, and compassionate
- Encourage gentle, involved, short play sessions
We encourage you to honor your senior pet and accept the changes in his or her abilities. Despite these changes, until his or her last breath, your faithful friend adds to your life.