Like humans, animals also experience a deterioration in their health condition once they reach a certain age. This is why your older pets would need extra care from you as well as more routine check-ups with their veterinarian when they get old.
While different types of pets age differently, the more common house pets like cats and dogs would usually start exhibiting signs of aging at around 7 years old. This is when you would see their fur turning gray, plus they tend to move more slowly. You may also notice behavioral changes such as lesser boisterous activities and irritation, which could be caused by aching joints.
Common Health Concerns In Senior Pets
As your pets reach their senior years, they will start to experience deterioration in their health as well as several physical deficiencies. You need to watch over them more closely and get in touch with your veterinarian immediately when you notice any symptoms of illnesses or drastic changes in their behavior so that their condition can be treated right away.
Here are some of the more common illnesses in senior pets that would need immediate medical care and attention:
- Visual Impairment
Your senior pets’ eyesight will start to grow weaker as they age. Loss of vision will make it more difficult for your pets to move around, especially at night, and you may see them to bump more frequently into furniture or walls around the house.
Typical symptoms that hint at this condition are dilated pupils, cloudiness in the eye area, or frequent squinting. Once you see any of these signs, have your pets checked by veterinary orthopedic surgeons who can properly diagnose them and determine whether a surgery is needed. They should be able to explain the advantages as well as the risks involved in the procedure to help you make the best choice for your pets.
- Hearing Deficiency
Along with their eyesight, senior pets would also experience hearing loss as well. Unfortunately, this is much harder to detect by simple observation since there are many possible reasons why your pets are not paying attention or are not responding to your calls, such as ear infections or wax buildup blocking the ear canals.
However, if you are very familiar with your pets’ usual behavior, you may be able to notice any hearing-related issues. For example, if your pet normally responds to sudden sounds like a doorbell ringing but now fails to do so, this could be a red flag. Getting startled when approached from the back, or going in the wrong direction when called are also causes for concern.
- Joint Pains
You notice that your older pets seem to be lying down most of the time and are not as active compared to when they were younger. One of the usual causes for this is because their joints are aching, and every movement is causing them pain.
While this condition is irreversible, your veterinarian can prescribe supplements that will alleviate the pain and improve their quality of life. He can also recommend treatments like acupuncture and laser therapy that could reduce the pain and allow your pets more freedom of movement.
- Kidney Complications
Some elderly pets may also experience kidney malfunctions, which are frequently exhibited through more frequent urination, weight loss, mouth ulcers, vomiting, and lack of energy. Have them checked by your veterinarian as soon as possible because they may need to be placed under a special diet.
Special Care for Your Senior Pets
Help your pets ease into this difficult stage in their lives by paying more attention to their condition. Have your veterinarian take a look and ask for a detailed instruction on the things that you need to watch out for in order to ensure your pets’ comfort at home.
Watch over your pets’ food intake and try to control their food portions as obesity does not bode well in senior pets. It can lead to many health complications like arthritis, shortness of breath, heart complications, and many others. Be careful when planning to introduce a new pet as well, as it may disrupt your senior pets’ routines or make them feel threatened.
You can also help your pets ease into their senior years by making certain adjustments in their previous regimen. Aging pets tend to lose muscle mass rapidly, making them more prone to illnesses. Adding more protein to their diet can help slow down this process. You should also give them food that are easier to digest and filled with anti-aging nutrients.
If you notice that your pets are keeping immobile most of the time, encourage them to move around without forcing their body beyond limits. Try simple exercises like walking around the yard which would help maintain their stamina and energy at ideal levels.
Since their immune system starts to get compromised as they age, pets tend to become more susceptible to parasites as well. Visit your veterinarian more frequently to get your pets looked over, and ask for adjustments in their vaccination as needed. During check-ups, you can also have their oral health taken care of, along with blood work and other tests to identify if they have contracted any of the illnesses common to geriatric pets.