When your pets are seven or eight years old, you should start thinking of them as being in late middle age. Like all of us, their bodies take some wear and tear over the years. They become more subject to age related complaints, and they have different health requirements. A number of health issues such as dental disease, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease may be sneaking up on them.
Regular Check-ups Catch Health Problems Early
Pets of both species are extremely stoic. Maybe it’s a holdover from when their species were wild, and showing weakness would reduce their chances of survival, or maybe our pets are just very courageous. Whatever the case, both dogs and cats will do their best to hide signs of injury and illness until they can’t anymore. If your pet is starting to suffer from any of the many age-related illnesses that could affect them, you may not even be able to tell. By getting regular health check-ups for your senior pets, you can be sure that you are doing everything possible to identify health problems in the early stages. Finding health issues before they become severe increases the chances that we can treat them effectively, extending your pet’s life and maximizing their comfort. Senior pets should have a wellness exam at least annually, and if you have any concerns, you should definitely book a vet visit more often–you may save your pet from needless deterioration or discomfort.
Make Note of Any Behaviour Changes in your Pet
Monitor your cat or dog for any signs of behaviour change. Even small changes may be signs of a problem. Particularly pay attention to:
- Changes in food or water intake.
- Changes in mobility, like walkng more slowly, limping, or difficulty climbing or jumping.
- Changes in frequency or appearance of urination or stool
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Changes in temperament. Irritability can be a symptom of pain, hearing or eyesight loss.
Feed your Pet an Age-Appropriate Diet
The nutritional balance that your pet requires changes as they age. As well, their calorie count may need to go down to offset lower activity levels, or up to compensate for disease. Other pets may need tastier foods to entice them to eat as they age, or foods that can help control disease. Discuss an appropriate diet for your senior cat or dog with your veterinarian.