Common health problems in geriatric pets. Just as in humans, as our pets age they are more susceptible to certain problems that may diminish the quality of life in our pets, but many are treatable if caught early. Semiannual (every six months) visits to your veterinarian can help to find and treat these problems early often alleviating the symptoms caused by the illness. If you consider that your pet is considered a senior at age 7, it is not hard to imagine how quickly problems can appear in older pets. The sooner these problems are caught, the sooner they can be treated.
Bone and Joint problems. You may notice that your pet’s get-up-and-go got-up-and-went. Many times this is caused by arthritis. Just like in humans, pets suffer from pain in their joints as they age. Arthritis is caused by the constant wear and tear on the joints. Many times, a pet that used to be active is suffering from the painful effects of arthritis which can be diagnosed during a thorough orthopedic exam which may be recommended by your veterinarian. There are many accepted treatments for pets suffering from arthritis ranging from special diets to medication, most of which are given once per day. If you choose to use supplements, please check with your veterinarian to determine the most appropriate supplement for your pet. Many over the counter supplements are not readily absorbed and therefore do not have the expected results.
Eye problems. You may have noticed over the years that where your pet’s pupils used to be black, they now look white or have a reflective quality. This can be a sign of cataracts. Depending on the severity of your pet’s condition, Dr. McCain may recommend surgical removal of the lens. It is also important to note that cataracts may also be a sign of other underlying illnesses such as diabetes. Glaucoma can be diagnosed and often treated with medication or ointment if caught early. Dr. McCain uses a Tonopen which measures interocular pressure in your pet’s eye. Regular checkups will help with early diagnosis of these conditions.
Hair and skin problems. In geriatric pets, hair can lose its luster or become thin and skin can become flaky. While this may be simply a sign of aging, it also may indicate other underlying problems such as Cushing’s Disease or diabetes. Dr. McCain can advise you on the best treatment to ensure that your pet is properly diagnosed in his or her later years.
Oral hygiene. While oral hygiene is always important, it becomes imperative to maintain your pet’s health as they age. Research in human medicine has shown direct links between periodontal disease and heart and kidney disease. Many reserachers believe that preventing periodontal disease can easily extend your pets life by years.
Heart Disease and cancer. Along with semiannual exams, Dr. McCain recommends annual blood work along with chest and abdominal x-rays. This aids in early diagnoses illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. Early detection may make the difference in extending your pet’s life.