As pets age more rapidly than we do, I recommend our senior pets come in for check ups every 6 months, this means that your vet can pick up on any problems early and I recommend at least annual blood tests. My little dog, Jack, is 16 years old and every year, at least once a year (probably twice because I’m paranoid) he has a blood test and urine test. I have been adjusting his diet as required over the years. Now getting to 16 years old is nothing to be sneezed at, but he has always been fed premium food, receives supplements as needed and is currently receiving acupuncture for his arthritis. All of which I’m sure have helped him to have the longevity that he does. Now I certainly do wish he would live forever but I know that it’s only a matter of time unfortunately (saying that there is nothing wrong with him, I’m just a worry wart).
So, what should we be worrying about the owners of senior pets? I’ve come up with my list of reasons that your senior pet needs a check up sooner rather than later
- Drinking more
- Urinating more
- Urinary incontinence
- Unexplained weight loss (particularly in cats despite having a good appetite)
- Regular vomiting
- Exercise intolerance
- Limping/worsening lameness
- Unexplained weight gain
- Rapid growing lumps/bumps
Now all of these symptoms can indicate a variety of different aliments that your pet will likely require treatment for. If we go down this list I can rattle of a range of reasons why I’m concerned about those symptoms. So, here I’ll start rattling.
- Drinking more = kidney disease, diabetes, cushings disease (hyperadrenocorticisim) liver disease, bladder infections, hypercalcaemia
- Urinating more = kidney disease, diabetes, cushings disease, liver disease, bladder infections, hypercalcaemia
- Urinary incontinence = urethral spincter incontinence, kidney disease, diabetes, cushings disease, severe arthritis, degenerative neurological disease, bladder infections
- Unexplained weight loss (particularly in cats despite having a good appetite) = hyperthyroidism, cancer, gastrointestinal problems, inflammatory bowel disease
- Regular vomiting = hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, diabetes, liver disease, gastritis, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis
- Coughing = congestive heart failure, dynamic airway disease, pneumonia, lung cancer
- Exercise intolerance = congestive heart failure, arthritis, anaemia, degenerative neurological conditions
- Limping/worsening lameness = arthritis, bone cancer, degenerative neurological conditions
- Diarrhoea = inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, kidney disease, diabetes, cancer
- Unexplained weight gain = cushings disease, hypothyroidism, cancer
- Rapid growing lumps/bumps = cancer, abscess
- Seizures = cancer, infection, metabolic disease
This is by no means an exhaustive list of potential problems but a list that I have thrown together off the top of my head to show you what a vet thinks about when you tell them that your pet may have one of the aforementioned symptoms. So, whilst you may not be worried about it, maybe you should be.
So the message is, if it doesn’t seem right, bring them in for a check up and if you notice these symptoms don’t delay, make an appointment.