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Health Care Tips For Your Older Pet
Animals live longer thanks to advances in veterinary care, diagnostics and earlier intervention. Even so, the key to enjoying our “older” pets lies not only in increasing their life span, but also in helping them enjoy their later years to the fullest. Just like people, cats and dogs can be vulnerable to unhealthy health conditions as they age. Kidney failure, heart disease, arthritis, oral disease, malignant tumors, and cognitive dysfunction can occur through the typical aging process. In earlier times, simply because quite a few health conditions were not recognized until the pet was in the advanced stages, veterinarians could do nothing more than make a pet’s golden years a lot more enjoyable by taking care of the symptoms of age-related health issues. . If the pet was lucky, the problems could gradually progress. Most pet owners simply accepted the fact that their four-legged buddies could only survive a relatively short life, grow old and pass on. Despite breakthroughs in technical advances in modern veterinary medicine, surgery, diagnostics and nutrition, not only are pets surviving longer, but their quality of life has also increased enormously.
One example follows human medicine in the development and use of the new generation of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. As our elderly pets often develop arthritis and joint disease, these newer drugs help the aches and pains of many seniors. pets to reduce, while they keep unwanted side effects to a minimum. Chondroitin and glucosamine supplements also seem to help older dogs with their arthritis. Advanced veterinary technology includes MRIs, cat scans, radiation treatments, chemotherapy, advanced surgery with laser scalpels, laparoscopy, hip replacements, orthodontics, root canals, crowns, and much more. Physical therapy, water treadmills and even acupuncture can help pets recover from surgery and regain their mobility more quickly. More and more veterinarians are pursuing specialty practices to address the needs of those pets whose owners want the best treatment available.
Various age related problems will still be seen as unavoidable, however the attitudes of both veterinarians and pet owners have changed. The belief is now the fact that “age is not a disease”, and veterinary medicine adds greater emphasis on health for older pets through preventive health plans.
The sooner we can detect a problem, the more likely we can manage or even correct the problem. Lumps and lumps if surgically removed when they are small can prevent the tumors from spreading throughout the body. Advances in oncology now make chemotherapy and radiation therapy almost a normal course of treatment for pets who have cancer. By addressing dental disease early, you can extend your pet’s life by nearly 3 years. Diabetes can be managed with insulin and special diets and heart disease also has newer drugs available to help the heart work better. Cats with kidney failure can benefit from many of the newer medications and fluid therapy released to help them reduce the build-up of toxins that their kidneys can no longer flush out. There are even medications that can help with cognitive dysfunction in dogs. These dogs seem to get “lost” or whine for no reason. There are specialists who can even remove cataracts so your pet doesn’t go blind.
At what age is a pet considered senior? In general, smaller breeds of dogs live longer than larger breeds, and cats live longer than dogs. Lifespans vary with individuals, and pets, like people, age at different rates, some more gracefully than others. A few smaller breeds of dogs, such as Bones, are considered geriatric at fifteen. Large and giant breeds such as Labrador retrievers and rottweilers are considered seniors as soon as seven years old. Cats, especially when kept indoors, often live into their early twenties and don’t reach their golden years until their teenage years.
The single most crucial way a pet owner can take to keep their pet happy and healthy for as long as possible is to schedule regular veterinary exams. As pets age, these exams are more critical than ever because, as with humans, rapid detection is essential for disease and problem intervention. Younger pets need routine examinations once or twice a year. However, as dogs and cats approach middle age, these exams should be much more frequent, as each year in a pet’s life is equal to 5-7 human years.
To detect potential health problems earlier, veterinarians recommend routine lab work, electrocardiograms, blood pressure monitoring, and X-rays to detect early conditions such as thyroid, kidney, heart, and liver disease. With early detection, pets with organ function conditions can be treated with prescription medication along with specific doctor prescribed quality diets that not only extend their life span but the quality of their life. Sometimes health conditions can even be reversed.
In general, some early warning signs that your pet may have a problem are:
* drink more water than usual and urinate
* urinary incontinence or accidents in the house
*recurring give up
* terrible breath, drooling or difficulty eating
* excessive panting or tires faster than they exercised
* lumps, bumps, lumps or changes in areas of skin color, lumps that bleed or are ulcerated
* change in appetite – taking in more or less than usual
* Changes in behavior, eg “space out” or increased whining
* abnormal bowel habits – diarrhea or constipation
* fluctuations in body weight – gaining or losing weight
Observe pets closely and convey any abnormal behavior or physical problems to your veterinarian without delay. Vets also recommend purchasing pet insurance so that if problems are discovered with your pet, you can afford the advanced therapies available. Talk to your vet and develop a specific senior wellness strategy for your pet’s special needs so your precious pooch or kitty can enjoy aging.
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