Caring for Senior Pets

As our pets start to age, the veterinary care they receive will need to change to accommodate any new challenges they may be facing. Their eyesight and hearing may start to deteriorate and there are many conditions that will become much more prevalent in their senior years.

At Estcourt Vets, our team of experienced vets and nurses have the knowledge to help owners understand how best to help their senior pets. We have put together the following, but please do contact our reception team to get your pet booked in for a senior health check.

What conditions might start to affect my pet?

The following list is a summary of the most common conditions to affect older pets. Many pets are considered senior from 7 years of age, however, as this depends on their breed, size, health and weight, some younger animals may also start to struggle with the conditions below.

Regular checkups, a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition all play a big part in keeping your senior pet in top condition. We recommend booking your pet in with our experienced vets or nurses for a senior health check as soon as possible.

As your pet gets older, their kidneys start to lose their function. A good diet to support and maintain their kidneys health is essential and routine blood work can help screen your pet for the early signs of kidney disease. We recommend health checks every 6 months for the older pet and keeping a close eye on them to report any unusual behaviour to your vet. Some symptoms to look out for are excessive drinking, loss of appetite and weight loss, pale gums, overall weakness, vomiting and diarrhoea, urinating more frequently and in some cases, sudden blindness.

As your pet ages, their joints may start to cause them pain. This is due to the loss of lubrication in the joint capsule, which starts wearing away the cartilage. Arthritis is a progressive degenerative disease with no cure, but there are many treatments available to help manage your pet’s joint pain.

Our team will be able to recommend a diet suitable for arthritic pets and will talk to you about an exercise regime for your pet and any changes you should make at home. With this condition it is extremely important that we keep your pet’s weight in check as extra weight held across the body puts more pressure on their sore joints. If you notice your pet has become stiff or lame, is struggling to get up and out of their bed or becomes irritable and wary of you touching around their joints, use PetsApp or contact us at Estcourt Vets to get your pet booked in.

Older pets need extra attention paying to their oral health as dental disease becomes a higher risk in senior animals. After years of wear and tear, pets will often suffer from missing teeth, tartar and plaque build up and difficulty eating. We have more information on our Dental Care page where we have covered what symptoms to look out for and how you can help your pet at home.

As your pet gets older, the muscles controlling their bladder start to weaken, meaning incontinence and urinary accidents in the house may become more common. However, it is always worth chatting to your vet about any changes in your pet’s bladder control as it could be a sign of a bigger problem. If these issues start to become a regular occurrence, talk to our helpful team who will be happy to investigate and advise on how best to manage your pet’s incontinence.

Ageing pets, similar to humans, may start to experience changes in their hearing and vision. Cataracts, a cloudy layer that forms over the lens of the eye, can cause partial or complete blindness, making your pet extra reliant on their other senses. An increase in ear infections can cause your senior pet to suffer from hearing loss and partial/full deafness. If you are concerned about your pet or notice them becoming confused, struggling to hear you or bumping into things, book your pet in for a veterinary consult where we can test their sight/hearing and help you make a management plan moving forward.

If you notice your elderly dog is coughing, doesn’t want to exercise, is vomiting, has difficulty breathing or, in extreme cases, loses consciousness, contact Estcourt Vets immediately. Your dog may have developed heart disease. In cats, the most common heart condition they can suffer from as they grow older is a thickening of the heart. Again, struggling to breathe, difficulty walking and often weakness or paralysis of their hind legs are common symptoms. Your pet will need veterinary treatment so do not delay calling us at Estcourt Vets.

If your senior pet becomes obese, they will start to struggle with a number of different health conditions and be more prone to illnesses, such as diabetes. Our nurse consultations are the perfect way to keep tabs on your elderly pet’s weight so contact us to get booked in. A healthy pet is unfortunately not made overnight. Similarly to us, they need to lead a healthy lifestyle for positive change to take place. For more information and advice on your pet’s weight and nutrition, visit our dedicated web page.

Elderly pets may start to lose cognitive function which may start to resemble conditions we see in humans, such as dementia or senility. If your pet has started using their voice for no obvious reason, become confused or disorientated easily or if they have started having more toilet accidents in the house, it would be worthwhile seeing one of our vets. They can then examine and advise on treatments going forward to help your pet manage their condition.