Special concerns with Senior pets

By: Dr. Courtney Sherlock

Kipp1-300x225November is senior pet month! Let’s celebrate our special silver furry friends.

Arthritis: Did you know that 100% of cats over the age of 15 years have signs of osteoarthritis? Most people are aware of this condition in dogs but it is not one that is typically associated with cats. As we take better and better care of our feline friends they are living longer and developing arthritis.

For all animals with arthritis or mobility concerns there are several options which may help put some spring into their step.

  1. Supplements: Glucosamine and Omega 3s are proven to help with inflammatory conditions in both cats and dogs.
  2. Diet: There are several diets available now that target specific health concerns of senior pets with mobility issues. These diets tend to have higher protein levels to help with muscle mass as well as supplements built in.
  3. Medications: Sometimes senior pets need some extra help, above and beyond supplements and diet, to improve discomfort. After a physical exam and some testing it may be that you and your veterinarian decide your pet needs something extra to help with mobility. Medication options vary widely and are determined on an individual basis.

Physical Exam

There are many signs of disease that owners may not be able to recognize, that a veterinarian can; therefore, regular physical exams are essential to the health of all pets. When diseases are detected in their early stages, they can be slowed or even reversed, greatly extending the life of our pets. During the exam it is important to tell the doctor about any changes you are seeing in your pet since the last visit. Many older cats and dogs have dental disease and it is important for veterinarians to evaluate this condition.

Laboratory Testing and Diagnostics

There are many laboratory tests that can be preformed to diagnose disease in pets, or as part of routine health screening, such as various blood profiles to check function of major organ systems and radiography and ultrasound for a “look” at internal organs. Some of the more common conditions in senior animals that can be identified and appropriately treated using the above tests include; diabetes, renal failure, liver failure and thyroid conditions. Be sure to ask your veterinarian about what health screening tests are appropriate for your senior pet during his/her next physical exam.

With preventative senior exams and testing we find many conditions can be detected even before your animal is showing overt clinical signs. With early detection many of these conditions can be treated and managed so that your pet can go on to live a long, healthy life.