As your pet gets older, it will get frail and probably develop a disease or condition that affects its health. Much like the human body, an advanced age leads to a weakened immune system and some organs start having complications. Don’t worry though, most of these are treatable and your pet can have a painless old-age.
Here are the most common diseases for aging cats and dogs;
The kidneys eliminate waste and toxins, and maintain balance in the body. When the kidneys do not function properly, toxins accumulate in the body, resulting in kidney failure. This lapse in proper kidney function can be caused by aging in cats and dogs. As you pet ages, their kidneys may become less efficient at removing waste and toxins.
Prolonged kidney failure is referred to as chronic kidney disease (CKD). A pet suffering from CKD may display symptoms such as drinking more water, frequent urination, vomiting, and weight loss. Luckily, CKD may be treatable if discovered early enough. A visit to a veterinary will enable them to take the best course of action.
Yes, senior cats and dogs can also suffer from heart problems. Common heart diseases for older cats and dogs include cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure. These diseases affect blood pumping throughout the body, leading to other problems such as general body weakness, breathing difficulties, vomiting, and coughing.
Heart diseases can be complicated to treat in senior pets. Be sure to take your cat or dog to the vet as soon as you notice any of the symptoms of heart disease.
Senior cats and dogs are at high risk of developing thyroid problems. The thyroid is a gland that produces and releases thyroid hormone. This hormone controls metabolism in your pet’s body.
Cats and dogs commonly develop hyperthyroidism; this means their thyroid gland is producing excess amounts of thyroid hormone. This puts the metabolism of the cat or dog in overdrive, which can cause further problems such as severe heart disease, breathing problems, diabetes, and obesity. Some symptoms of hyperthyroidism include hyperactivity, increased appetite with weight loss, and increased thirst and more frequent urination.
Thyroid problems in cats and dogs can also be treated. Make sure to take your senior cat or dog to the vet for diagnosis and treatment if you spot any symptoms.
Arthritis or Joint Problems
Cats and dogs can be very agile and active when they are younger. In their daily activities, they may often jump and climb on different surfaces. However, these activities can be very taxing on their joints, and as the animal ages they can develop osteoarthritis.
Your pet can be very good at making joint pain, particularly cats. Subtle signs to loo for include the animal spending more time than usual sleeping and less time playing, aversion to climbs such as stairs, limping, difficulty standing or walking, licking or chewing at the aching joint, wincing in pain when they get picked up, and irritability.
If your older pet portrays any symptom of joint pain, talk to your vet about the best treatment. Unfortunately, arthritis in cats and dogs is not curable. Proper nutrition and treatment can reduce their pain and slow down the progress of the disease. This means that your pet will be on medication and require regular visits to the vet for a prolonged period.
Loss of Vision and Hearing
Much like a human, your older cat or dog may experience hearing and/or vision loss. Advanced age can naturally affect the eyes and ears, or the internal body systems dedicated to hearing and vision.
You can identify vision loss if your pet starts to bump into objects, falling, or develops redness or cloudiness in their eyes. Symptoms of hearing loss include sudden disobedience, behavioral changes, and nervousness.
Hearing and vision loss are usually permanent in older cats and dogs. Fortunately, there are some actions you can take to make your pet’s life easier. You can avoid rearranging furniture or adding new obstacles in your home or teach your cat or dog signals to help you communicate after the hearing and vision has declined.
Yes, aging can also affect your pet’s teeth. Dental diseases are slowly progressing diseases. Since your pets do not brush their teeth, they can develop severe dental problems over their lifetime.
Cats and dogs can suffer from dental diseases such as cavities, gingivitis, and reabsorption of teeth and bone infections from tooth decay. The symptoms for dental diseases in aging pets include bad breath, loose teeth, gum inflammation, bleeding from the mouth, excessive drooling, and reluctance to eat. Dental diseases can eventually cause infections in the body, weight loss, kidney damage, or heart diseases.
Proper eating and playing habits and regular checkups of your pet’s mouth can help them keep their teeth and gums healthy, even when they get older.
Cognitive dysfunction in aging cats and dogs may manifest similar to senility in humans. Your pet’s brain function may slow down as it gets older. Signs of cognitive dysfunction in cats and dogs include increasingly uncharacteristic aggressive behavior, confusion, irritability, anxiety, and increased meowing or barking. You may also notice personality changes, memory loss, and repetitive behavior.
Talk to your vet if you notice your pet showing any of these signs. While cognitive dysfunction may be incurable, there are treatment options available that can make life easier for your aging cat or dog.
Caring For Your Senior Pet
Taking care of your aging pet can be tough, but with proper care, regular checkups, and lots of love, they can have healthy and happy senior years.
To protect yourself from the financial load of caring for an aging dog, ensure you get good dog insurance. This will help you get the best veterinary care for your aging pet and ease them of the difficulties of advanced age.