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Posted on 01-08-2017

Old age is not a disease.

That is the first thing you should know about caring for your aging pet.  Just like people, every pet ages differently and many of the signs and symptoms that people attribute to their pet's aging are avoidable and treatable.  Yearly visits to your veterinarian are a must from birth but as our pets age these visits should become more frequent.  As a general rule pets should begin twice yearly visits at or around the age of 8 years.  Each breed is different with the larger breeds aging a little faster than the smaller ones.  It is around this time that you may start to notice age related changes, such as stiff joints or sleeping more.  Any change in behavior should be brought to the attention of your veterinarian before they become a problem.  Joint stiffness can often be treated with supplements or diet early on to help avoid or at least stave off the need for stronger medications.  Sleeping more often could indicate the decline of thyroid function.  Any changes is appetite, water consumption, or elimination could indicate diabetes or kidney disease.  It is for these reasons that we recommend full blood profiles yearly at a minimum and more often depending on the changes that are seen.  Lumps and bumps should be checked immediately and changes in eating could indicate dental issues.

Report all changes to your veterinarian (including and not limited to):

Appetite

Elimination

Exercise Tolerance/activity

Coughing

Lumps/bumps

Sleeping

Behavior/attitude

Another concern people have is that their pet is too old for surgery or dental procedures.  The truth is that as long as blood tests do not indicate a high risk for anesthesia these procedures can prolong both longevity and the quality of life. 

We realize that more visits, tests, and procedures cost more, but catching a problem early can save you much more in the long run.  Many of the diseases more common in the aging pet are manageable by diets, supplements, and medication.  Our pets are family members and most of us would do anything for family if it meant we could keep them with us longer.  

Melanie Deal said:

This is a great post, and a good reminder about what to look for in our older pets. Thank you!

2017-01-08 14:35:44

Shelly Ginter said:

Excellent points and useful suggestions. My Marley is 10 and just had her full blood panel and other tests done. She is not showing her age yet but I will keep all of this information in mind for the years to come.

2017-01-08 19:15:29

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