There are a number of conditions that can appear in older pets such as arthritis, dental disease, senility, all of which can be easily managed at home. Slowing down, not wanting to exercise, play and jump could all be signs of arthritis.
Is your pet slowing down and not wanting to play as much?
Your pet may have arthritis. It may be a simple case of helping with weight loss. This is so there is less weight for their joints to carry around. Our team can provide advice on exercise plans/physio or hydrotherapy and discuss nutraceuticals or pain medication.
Is your older cat losing weight but eating a lot?
If the answer is yes, they could have an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) which is one of the most common hormonal disorders in older cats. Common signs include:
- Weight loss
- Increase in appetite
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
- Behavioural changes
- Poor coat quality
- Increased heart and breathing rate.
This condition is easily diagnosed by a full clinical examination and a blood sample by a veterinary surgeon. It is treatable and there are various treatment options available including diet, medications, surgery and radioactive iodine treatment.
Have you noticed a bad smell from your pet’s mouth?
This could be a sign of dental disease. As pets get older, dental disease can become a problem and as animals are living longer, this is now a large part of our veterinary care. Signs that you may notice include:
- Smelly breath (halitosis)
- Weight loss
- Reluctance to eat
- Rubbing the mouth due to pain
- Bleeding gums
Just like humans, dog and cats can suffer from senility in their later years. This may be due to chemical and physical changes within the brain. Brain cells may be exposed to fluctuations in blood supply and the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter dopamine may be present in reduced amounts.
If you suspect that your pet may be becoming senile, it is important that you get him/her checked over by a vet. Sight and hearing should be assessed. There are some clinical conditions that can cause symptoms which may be mistaken as simply ‘getting old and senile’. If treated, conditions such as thyroid disease, arthritis, kidney problems and high blood pressure can be controlled to improve your pet’s quality of life.
Symptoms, which may indicate senility:
- Wandering, pacing and confusion
- Sleep pattern changes
- ‘Vacant’ episodes
- Reduced interaction with family members/other pets
- Increased vocalisation
- Aggression/behaving ‘out of character’
- Forgetting routines e.g. medicine times, where the litter tray is, or where to sleep.
If a vet suspects senile changes in your pet, then medication may be necessary. In addition, we may recommend a special diet to help with symptoms and reduce further damage to brain cells.
Simple things such as incorporating games with your pet’s daily routine to keep the brain cells working may help. Sticking to certain routines, providing a ‘den’ for your older dog to make him/her feel secure, changing the type of litter trays for your older cat and other simple tactics may be recommended as part of our ‘caring for your older pet’ programme.
At Scarsdale Vets, our team of vets and nurses can advise on a number of issues facing the elderly pet:
- Diet and nutrition
- Dental disease
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
We offer nurse clinics at our local Scarsdale Vets practices and at Pride Veterinary Centre.
If you do notice any of the above signs, please contact us. Our Veterinary Nurses are happy to offer a ‘senior pet check’ appointment with you and advise what you can do to help your pet in their later years.