How to care for your aging pet (Part I)

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People and their pets are living longer and, as veterinarians, we are often challenged to find ways to maintain the health and improve the quality of life of our aging patients. It’s a well known fact that aging is not a disease but a natural component of the life cycle. However, it is also true that a senior pet is more likely to be affected by chronic debilitating diseases than the younger crowd.

 At the Worth Street Veterinary Center we strive to communicate to pet owners the importance of noticing changes in their pet’s behavior. We encourage every owner to start addressing these changes early in the aging process of their animal companion.

 Pets instinctively are very good at hiding some of the typical signs of aging and have a tendency to cope with pain and discomfort without necessarily exhibiting clear signs of it.

 Here are four basic areas that we think are important indicators of your pets quality of life:

  •  Appetite/Thirst: Changes in these can be a sign of certain underlying systemic disorders that occur commonly as our pets age.
  • Elimination Habits: Changes in the frequency or volume/consistency of urination and defecation can be one of the most reliable ways to monitor your pet’s health.

  • Ability to move around: Arthritis is quite common among older pets. However, rarely do they show us when they are in pain. Subtle signs (slow getting up or decreased desire to run) can be signs of arthritis or orthopedic disease. Early detection helps slow down the progression of disease.

  • Sleep Habits: It is normal for pets to sleep more as they get older. Therefore, difficulty sleeping or excessive panting while trying to rest can be associated with discomfort.

Pay attention to these simple functions and if you notice any changes, consult with your veterinarian.

These physical ailments interconnect with the emotional and environmental well being of our pets. Striking the right balance among these issues is the key to maintaining and improving quality of life. We strongly believe that the best way to find balance is by integrating multiple medical modalities and holistic concepts. Stay tuned for our next blog entry where we’ll elaborate on this topic. We hope that we can all learn together and empower you to help your pet through the late stages of life!

 

Dr. DiPolo and Dr. Block

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