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Senior Pets

For pet lovers it’s a wonderful experience travelling through life with your beloved fur companion at your side.  Sometimes it’s hard to accept that your incredible bundle of energy will get old and transform into a calm presence who won’t always be there to share with you their loyalty and love.

As your pet begins to slow right down, maybe put on a little weight or find it harder to move freely, it’s important to enter a specialised veterinary care program to prolong their life, pre-empt any illnesses, treat ailments and avoid unnecessary suffering. Because your beloved pet cannot tell you when things start changing for them, they need you to be one step ahead so that you and we can care for them.

Losing eyesight, hearing loss and stiff joints are natural age-related changes that all animals go through, including humans. But pathological change or disease, such as heart, kidney or dental disease, as well as osteoarthritis is not always immediately evident and can be tested for in advance as your pet ages.  In some cases they may be preventable, in others they can be successfully managed with our first-class treatment plans.

Tallebudgera Veterinary Clinic vets and nurses are trained in specialist senior care for all types of animals.  We offer regular, affordable urine and blood analysis tests to check your pet’s internal organ function, which can detect diseases at an early stage. Radiology can be used to assess their joints and detect arthritis at an early stage and we have a number of treatments to help your pet regain movement and reduce pain.  Regular check-ups, assessments and gentle care plans for your elderly friend can not only prolong their life, but put a spring back in their step.

Senior Patients

Kidney and liver health – Are the major internal organs functioning well.

As animals age from adult to senior it is common to find some changes in the liver and kidney enzymes. This may be attributed to the breed of the animal, diet or substance exposed to the animal. A simple blood test is recommended on a 6 monthly basis to recognise any changes and hence treatment can commence. On the other hand it is important to check on a regular basis even if bloods are normal as changes can occur quite quickly and in some instances acute treatment is required.

Canine Brains
Canine Lungs

Mobility – Is your pet sore and stiff? Do they find it difficult getting up stairs or out of bed.

Is a major issue in senior pets. The most common type of mobility issue is arthritis in the joints of your senior pet. There are several preventative measures that can be utilized to aid in the treatment and prolonging of the arthritic signs and symptoms. They start from basic weight control which can involve a special formulated diet for your animal; this can also have specific oils and minerals to help with movement. Senior patient also require less food as their metabolism is slower and hence weight can is achieved more easily. Other options include and month long course consisting of 4 weekly injections of Zydax (cartrophen). There are also mulitple products which are given daily with their main meal, used correctly these prouducts have had great success. Speak with your vet at your next appointment to place your pet onto an arthritis management plan. 

Radiology can be an important tool to assess the amount of arthritis present in a joint and if there are any conformational problems attributing to the arthritic changes. Depending on your animal this can be performed under simple restraint, although some animals require sedation.

It is important to keep your senior pet warm and comfortable particularly in winter as the colder weather will affect their joints and subsequent mobility. A good bed is important ideally off the grown with good support as well as a nice warm coat.

Canine Problems

Heart and Lungs – Is your pet coughing or breathing heavily? Is their stomach swollen?

Heart and Lungs are major organs of the body. Cardiac disease is more common is senior pet with congestive heart failure associated with a heart murmur being the most common. There are also other types of cardiac disease. This also has an effect on the lungs and subsequent activity of the animal. Patients with this type of disease tend to find it difficult to move around and exert any type of strenuous activity. Some breeds are more prone to this disease than other. Usually, but not always, heart murmurs can be audible from birth. Most are recorded at a free puppy check from 6-8weeks of age. However, some heart murmurs can develop later on in life. There are different stages of cardiac disease ranging from stage 1 where a heart murmur is just audible and having no visual affect on the animal to stage 5 where an animal is bed ridden and has difficulty breathing with a notable cough.

Canine Heart

Eye sight and hearing – Does your pet bump into objects.

It is not uncommon as your pet gets older that its eye sight and hearing start to deteriorate. This can be caused by a few things. The most common associated with a loss of eyesight is the formation of cataracts. These create a film over the eye which has a cloudy blue appearance when a light is guided over the eye. The other cause of blindness or deteriorating eyesight is an increase in the intra ocular pressure which leads to glaucoma. Any damage to the optic nerve also has the potential to cause partial or complete loss of eyesight. It is a good idea to not change the placement of objects in the animal’s environment as this can make it more difficult for them to move around.

Hearing loss is mainly associated with older pets. Damage to the ear drum (tympanic membrane) can cause hearing loss (partial and complete). As an animal gets older the function of the cochlear is less efficient and less sensitive. Exposure to loud sounds can also cause hearing damage. The auditory tube can also become less efficient in transferring sounds from the inner ear to the brain.

Dogs Eye
Dogs Ear

Lumps and Bumps – Are there growths or bumps on their skin.

Lumps are quite common in the senior patient. Varying from skin tags, cysts and the non-malignant and malignant lumps. It is always a good idea to get them examined. There are several tests that can be performed to identify what type of lump it is. These include a FNA or the more involved biopsy. Depending on the size and location of the lump and history the whole lump can often be removed then sent away for histopathology. This gives more information if other lumps were to appear later on in life.

It is always a good idea to record the rate of growth of any lump and its appearance.

Canine Lumps and Bumps

Banner image by cogdogblog – https://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/26345464032/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56978667