This month at Amherst Veterinary Hospital we want to focus on senior pets. Senior pets are a special group of patients that are dear to our hearts, as many of them we first met when they were young, spry dogs or cats whom we have enjoyed getting to know over the years.
In their youth we see our young, energetic dogs for sudden limping due to sports injuries, vomiting and diarrhea due to counter surfing or drinking from puddles. Our young cats will be brought in for abscesses due to fighting with other cats.
As our pets age, the mischief they get into typically subsides, instead we will see them for more chronic issues such as decreased appetite, weight loss and ‘slowing down’. The impact of aging may be obvious and benign; white hairs or decreased eyesight and hearing. Oftentimes however, decreased appetite, decreased interaction with family members, decreased willingness to play or go for walks are brushed off as signs of aging when they can be indicators for more serious disease processes.
Arthritis and dental disease in senior dogs; kidney disease, arthritis and constipation in senior cats are just a few examples of insidious, chronic conditions that will cause an apparent ‘aging’ in our pets. Although these diseases cannot be cured, once identified, they can be managed very successfully. The result is a pet that is a more comfortable and interactive.
Preventive care visits are generally recommended every six months for senior pets. The increased frequency is because the health status may change rapidly in our senior population and early detection and treatment of problems are important to preserve quality of life.
Over the next several weeks I will discuss some of the common issues affecting our senior pets and how they can be managed. Hopefully this will provide insight and help you to provide the best care possible for your senior pets.
Dr. Loretta Yuen, D.V.M