SENIOR PETS

When a pet reaches approximately 8 years of age, they are equivalent to retirement age in humans. As your pet reaches this stage in their life, their every day requirements change.

With the ageing process, changes occur in the function of the body. Some of these changes can be seen from the outside: weight gain or loss, stiffness, dull hair/coat, loss of sight or hearing. Some changes, however, occur internally and can’t be discovered without laboratory testing. Unfortunately, by the time symptoms of illness can be seen (in liver or kidney disease for example) organ damage is already in the advanced stages.

Cats are notoriously good at hiding all signs of illness so, although your cat may seem healthy well into their senior years, many problems common in senior cats, such as kidney and heart disease may not show obvious signs until your cat becomes seriously ill.

Regular examinations and senior care testing can help identify problems early enough to prevent and/or slow down senior health ailments. Early detection of disease often means more effective and less costly treatment options. Senior testing can help establish normal baseline values for your pet, creating a point of comparison for the future.

KEY POINTS

  • Pets can age four to seven times faster than humans
  • Like humans, being aware of the signs of ageing is the first step to ensuring your pet lives a long and comfortable life
  • The signs of ageing in a cat are not always obvious. They include hypertension, diabetes, dental disease and osteoarthritis
  • 3 in 10 cats and 1 in 10 dogs have kidney disease
  • 1 in 10 cats over 9 have hyperthyroidism
  • We can provide advice and support for you and your pet as it gets older so please ask about health screening for senior pets

KEY ILLNESSES TO BE AWARE OF

  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Dental disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hypo/hyperthyroidism
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Impaired senses
  • Cognitive dysfunction (senility)
  • Urinary incontinence/infections
  • Osteoarthritis

SYMPTOMS THAT SUGGEST SENIOR PROBLEMS

  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Increased drinking and/or increased urination
  • Reduced activity or lethargy
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Poor hair/coat
  • Unusual behaviour
  • Difficulty walking/moving
  • Coughing

WHAT’S INVOLVED IN A SENIOR TESTING PROGRAM?

Tests may include some or all of the following elements based on the physical examination:

A Comprehensive Physical Examination
The most important element. This Involves assessing all body systems and identifying abnormalities

Blood pressure measurement
Helpful in heart, kidney and some metabolic diseases, eye diseases, obesity

Blood tests
Helps diagnose kidney and liver dis-ease, diabetes, anaemia or infection
(SDMA: test for early stages of kidney disease, before other biochemistry markers increase)

Urine tests
Gives information on kidney function and kidney/bladder infection

Thyroid screen
Helps diagnose thyroid disease

ARTHRITIS

Find out more about Arthritis here