Once your dog turns 7 years of age or your cat turns 8 years of age, we recommend that they undergo a senior wellness exam and diagnostic work-up. Even though you may believe your pet is normal, there are many disease processes that do not show any outward sign until the disease is quite advanced. More advanced diseases can be more difficult to treat and are not always as responsive to treatment as diseases diagnosed early.
Since our pets age so much more quickly than humans do, it’s appropriate to have our “over 40” furry family members come in for twice yearly exams. We’re able to find and address problems earlier, with better results in most cases.
Our dogs and cats that sleep more, and don’t want to exercise as much, may be affected with osteoarthritis. Those of us with arthritis symptoms understand the pain and discomfort they are suffering. However, our pets don’t usually complain, and we need to watch out for the signs that they need help: lameness, limping or stiffness; slower to get up; less interaction with your family, or suddenly snappy when being handled; difficulty climbing stairs or jumping; reluctant to play. Great strides have been made with diets, nutriceuticals (like glucosamine and others) and pain medications that can ease arthritic symptoms and put the “play back into your pooch”. And don’t forget our cats – many cats over the age of 4 have osteoarthritis and can benefit from early detection and treatment.
Overweight senior pets have serious problems resulting from the extra pounds – arthritis and joint strain will be worse, there is a greater chance of diabetes and other medical conditions, and they have greater strain on their hearts. It’s best to address mild overweight as soon as it happens, but we have lots of suggestions and programs for all overweight pets, whether mildly or severely overweight. Studies have proven that lean dogs (and cats) may live as many as two years longer than their overweight siblings, so ask us how to monitor your pet and what steps to take when you first start seeing them gain weight.
Further, many symptoms that historically have been attributed to old age and considered untreatable are now treatable. For example, some dogs that appear to have lost their mental alertness can be returned to a mental status indicative of a younger age by using appropriate therapy. Please feel free to contact us to discuss our senior wellness options in more detail.