Changes are natural, and often expected, as our pets get older. They may not have the same lust for fetch anymore, or may have put on a few pounds (hey, haven’t we all!) Here are some pointers on how to manage your pet as they start sprouting their first grey hairs.
Arthritis can occur in older pets, especially if they sustain any joint injury earlier in life. This can range from slight stiffness to being really debilitating. Acupuncture can help, and there are prescription foods that can be of benefit. There are also many natural supplements that are recommended (glucosamine, chondroitin, green lipped mussel), as well as vet-only prescription medications. But don’t always assume that it is “just old age” slowing your pet down, as it could be pain-related and something that could be easily managed.
Dental disease can be an issue in pets of all ages and it can lead to pain, infections, and even internal organ damage if not treated. Chews/treats, diets, oral solutions and home-based teeth cleaning can be an aid if the disease not too severe. Dental treatment under a general anaesthetic may be required for more advanced cases of the disease. Owners of older pets are often worried about anaesthetics, but there are many things we can do to ensure a safer procedure.
Hair and skin
It is common for our pets’ hair to change colour – it may also become dull and coarse with age. This could indicate nutritional deficiencies, an underlying medical condition, or less ability to absorb certain nutrients. Grooming can help remove old hair, as well as giving them some extra love and attention! Our ageing friends can also develop some warts and lumps. They can often be benign, but if you are worried, come in and have a chat with us.
Hearing and sight loss
Loss of hearing and sight can sometimes be confused with bad behaviour. For example, your pet may not have heard or seen someone approaching, then act startled or respond aggressively. They may also fail to respond to commands, so your patience at times will be tested. Any sudden loss of vision or redness/cloudiness in the eyes, however, should be evaluated by the vets at the clinic.
Weight change is also often noted in the elderly. Metabolism and activity levels often decline, which decreases the need for calories. So, if food portions are not monitored, pets may become overweight. This can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and a shortened life span. On the other hand, weight loss can also be a problem and should be addressed in case of underlying diseases.
It is best for you to monitor your pets closely and discuss any new symptoms with us. Addressing any problems earlier rather than later, the use of medications and supplements and making some changes to your pet’s environment can help contribute to a happier and healthier lifestyle for our old mates.