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Caring for Aging Pets
Monday, November 11, 2019
  By: Kingsdale Animal Hospital  In: Pet Health
Caring for Aging Pets

We are often asked "How do I keep my older cat or dog comfortable?" or "How do I know if they are in pain?" 

Since animals are such an important part of our lives, we strive to ensure they are kept comfortable and happy as they get older. This blog discusses some issues commonly affecting older pets and ways we can help keep them comfortable and happy as they age.

Arthritis - Arthritis is common in older animals. Just like humans, their bones and joints wear down as they age and they can get sore. You may notice your pet being less energetic or sleeping more. Often people associate this with just the pet "getting older", however arthritis is a known cause of pets slowing down with age. Do you notice your pet is sleeping more? Are they slower to get up in the morning? Do they seem stiff? Do you notice any hesitancy to jump on and off furniture or go up and down stairs? Just because your pet is slowing down, doesn't mean they have to be uncomfortable! There are many options for treating arthritis in pets and keeping them comfortable. From anti-inflammatory medication, to pain medication, to supplements, and certain exercises, there are many options for helping manage the pain of arthritis. If you think your pet is uncomfortable or slowing down at home, please call us to book an appointment and discuss their pain management options! Our job is to help your pets lead long, happy, and healthy lives.

Dietary Needs - As animals get older, their dietary needs shift from when they were younger. Depending on your pet's health, some animals have different dietary requirements as they age, including increased fibre or moisture or less protein. For example, we see a number of older cats that suffer from constipation. Cats with constipation produce an infrequent and/or dry stool, and some may get nauseous from the constipation resulting in a decreased appetite or vomiting. Additionally, as pets age they often benefit from a senior diet that typically has less protein in it compared to adult or all lifestage diets. Excess protein can hurt the kidneys of older animals.

Skin and Ears - Older animals can experience a change in the composition of their skin and may be more likely to develop skin infections or ear infections. If you notice your pet is itchy, has red or irritated skin or ears, or has a smell to him/her, please call us to book an appointment and have them examined for an infection.

Organ function - As cats and dogs get older, their organs may start to slow down in function. For example, many older dogs and cats develop kidney disease as they age. When the kidneys slow down with age, they are not able to concentrate urine as well as before, resulting in a dilute urine. You may notice your pet peeing more than they used to, or drinking more than they used to. Some animals may have a decreased appetite or experience nausea and vomiting from the kidney disease. A blood and urine test is used to diagnose kidney disease and determine the stage of the disease. With this information, many pets can be managed with a special diet, kidney-supportive medication, or fluids.

In conclusion, as pets age their needs change but they are still able to lead happy, healthy, and comfortable lives. Your veterinarian is your partner in ensuring your pet is happy and healthy and never hesitate to reach out to us to discuss how we can keep your pet happy and comfortable!

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