Old age should be enjoyed, not endured
When pets are young, they take care of you – they protect your home, they provide you comfort, they help teach your children, keep away unwanted pests, warm your bed at night, they’re very handy for the odd kitchen spill, they keep you healthy and your blood pressure low, but most of all they are some of the only people in the world who love you unconditionally.

So when pets get older, the tides turn – your treasured companion needs a little more care than before.

I hear people say to me “Oh, he’s just getting older…” or “Well, he started to slow down a few years ago, and isn’t as active as he was”, and I think, if I were the age these pets are, in dog or cat years, would I be so stoic, and not complain about the aches and pains, and still run to greet someone every day even if it makes me sore and light-headed?

I’m afraid to say that I would not. EVERYONE would be hearing about my damn problems. So that makes me think, what would your senior pet say if they could talk?

Pain is something that dogs and cats hide so well – and if you think about it, in the wild, they couldn’t show that they had a dodgy knee or a twinge in their back – doing so would mean that they would be left behind of the pack or become susceptible to predators or wandering opponents. Dogs and cats have an incredibly HIGH pain threshold, and most of the time, you won’t notice – unless you know what to look for.

Arthritis can set in for pets as young as 3 years. On average, dogs and cats are around 7 years of age when arthritis starts in and most dogs at this age will be affected.. This can vary depending on breed.

Contrary to popular belief, one year doesn’t equal 7 years for pets. Depending on the breed of your pet, it can vary between 4 years (in small breed dogs) to 20 years (Large and Giant breed dogs)! Large and giant breed dogs don’t live as long as smaller breed dogs, and they can have more serious problems with joints due to their large size. Breeds such as Newfoundlands, Great Danes, Bernese Mountain Dogs and St Bernards may only live 5-7 years old, and can be 20 dog years by the time they reach their first birthday!

Some of the things that you need to look out for when establishing whether your senior pet has a condition which can be helped by our clinic:

  • behavioural changes
    • less responsiveness to family members, meal times, time of day
    • staring into space or at walls
    • no longer asks for attention or play
    • disturbed sleep, wandering around aimlessly or pointless barking
  • changes in walking/exercise
    • gets tired or puffed quickly, isn’t as active as once were
  • coughing, especially at night
  • inability to jump up/down or in/out of car, or pausing before jumping
    • also circling for a long period before settling to sleep
    • difficulty or stiffness when rising from rest
  • change in feed preferences
  • inappropriate toileting
    • doesn’t ask to go outside anymore, inappropriately toileting indoors, loss of bladder or bowel control when sleeping or playing
  • sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • thinning or loss of hair
  • blindness
  • deafness
  • bad breath
  • not chewing or eating normally
  • lethargy

Any of these signs can indicate age-related medical conditions – these can be easily treated or managed with medication from your vet.