You may be living with a senior citizen and not even know it—a senior animal citizen, that is. Because a pet’s lifespan is so short in comparison to a human’s, we sometimes don’t realize when our animal friends are ready for specialized senior pet care. If your dog or cat is 7 years or older, it may be time for more frequent wellness screenings. Scheduling exams every six months increases the chances of detecting and successully treating age-related conditions.
Senior Pet Care
A senior pet can still enjoy an active life. Some accommodations may be necessary to make their golden years more comfortable. Provide your pet with a supportive bed tucked away in a private place where he can nap undisturbed. Obesity in an older dog can lead to diabetes or increase joint pain. Good nutrition in the form of a high-quality, low-calorie diet is crucial to senior pet care.
Watch for these signs your pet may be suffering from an age-related health condition:
- Moving Slower – Changes in the way your older pet lays down, gets up, jumps, climbs stairs, walks or runs may be indicators of arthritis. Arthritis occurs in both cats and dogs, but large-breed dogs are especially susceptible. Animals may experience pain from arthritis that is mild to extremely painful. It’s important to seek treatment and help your pet avoid unneccesary suffering. Our vets can offer a variety of treatments for arthritis, including pain medication and joint-supporting supplements.
- Loss of Muscle Mass – Atrophy, or loss of muscle mass, is most notable in the hind legs. Some loss of muscle tone is normal as a pet ages and becomes less active, but if you notice atrophy in the belly muscles or around the head, seek veterinarian care as soon as possible. Atrophy in these areas could be symptoms of Cushing’s Disease or masticatory myositis, both of which are serious conditions requiring ongoing treatment.
- Poor Hearing – Has your older pet become harder to wake up or does it become startled when you approach from behind? These are indications of hearing loss. Though hearing loss in pets isn’t a condition that can be treated medically, it’s important for your pet’s safety that you’re aware of hearing deficits. An animal can’t obey commands it can’t hear. Work with your pet to replace verbal commands with hand signals or other visual prompts.
- Cloudy Eyes – It’s a normal effect of aging for pets to develop a bluish, transparent haze over their pupils. This is called lenticular sclerosis and does not affect your pet’s vision. However, a cloudy white covering on the eye may be symptomatic of cataracts. Cataracts do affect vision and can be removed by your vet.
At New Hope Animal Hospital our goal is to help your pet enjoy a long and healthy life. Please call our office at (919) 490-2000 to make an appointment for your older pet or to learn more about senior pet care.