Responsible pet owners make a profound commitment to take care of their pets for life. While it may seem impossible to think about the senior years of a puppy or kitten, it’s worthwhile to pursue long-term health and wellness from their earliest months. As pets age, certain health conditions can become more prominent. We encourage owners of senior pets to maintain two wellness visits a year in order to support their pet’s changing needs, catch and treat issues early, and prevent associated problems with senior pet diseases.
The Aging Process
Our pets age faster than we do. Depending on breed, size, and lifestyle, we start to categorize senior pets around age 7.
Since every senior pet is different, and age-related conditions vary, it is critical to schedule and keep a senior pet’s routine wellness exams every 6 months. This increased frequency can help us catch problems before they even start, or experience greater success in treating certain conditions. Without regular intervals of veterinary attention, senior pet diseases may develop unchecked, and negatively impact health and longevity.
One of the most common senior pet diseases is arthritis. As the cartilage between joints wears down, the joints can experience painful inflammation and present the following symptoms:
- Reluctance to jump or climb stairs
- Sensitive to touch
Staying active and managing weight are incredible ways to counter the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis. Deity supplements, including omega-3 fatty acids, and medication can soothe symptoms and improve quality of life.
Dental Care Matters
In the absence of regular brushing and routine professional teeth cleanings, pets can develop periodontal, or gum, disease. Oral bacteria can turn into a filmy substance called plaque. Minerals in saliva can harden the plaque to create tarter. Over time, tartar build up can actually cause the gums to recede and separate from the tooth structures. In these pockets between the teeth and gums, bacteria can easily enter, cause infection, and then spread into the bloodstream. Systemic illness caused by periodontal disease can affect the major organs.
Preventing and Managing Diabetes
The pancreas is responsible for producing the important hormone insulin. When a pet’s body makes inadequate levels of insulin, or has an abnormal reaction to insulin, diabetes mellitus occurs. Affecting the level of glucose in the blood, diabetes mellitus can cause the following symptoms:
- Weight loss
- Increased thirst/urination
- Blurry vision
- Wounds that are slow to heal
Weight gain can be a factor in diabetes, but some breeds are genetically predisposed. Diabetic pets can continue to enjoy long, healthy lives with a daily regimen of care.
You may start to see your senior pet miss jumps, bump into furniture, or stumble as they age. Blindness is a common age-related condition, but with heightened awareness and sensitivity you can prevent injury and distress by making adjustments at home.
We Are Here For Senior Pets
Please call us at (916) 791‑8387 with any questions about senior pet diseases, and how you can influence your pet’s health at every life stage. Our veterinarians are always here for your pet at Bayside Animal Hospital.