-written by Amy Stamp BVM BVS MRCVS

As a vet I see patients of all shapes, sizes, and ages every day. It is not uncommon to see an elderly animal for an annual booster whose owner describes as fit and well apart from ‘slowing down’.

But the truth is, age isn’t a disease! We see lots of changes in our pets as they get older, but many causes of ‘slowing down’ are actually manageable medical conditions. Diagnosing and treating these conditions will keep our senior friends happy and healthy.

Osteoarthritis

Is your dog a bit stiff in a morning? Tired after a long walk, doesn’t go as far? Does your cat spend less time on the windowsill now, or hesitate before jumping onto the kitchen surfaces? These are just a few symptoms of chronic joint pain which hugely affect our pet’s quality of life. Arthritis can be managed by combining pain medication with modifying their exercise and weight, perhaps alongside laser therapy, physiotherapy, and possibly surgery. We all say that we want our old pet to be comfortable and happy, so don’t miss these key signs that they are in pain.

Check out this powerful video from Canine Arthritis Management

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5_FeWt4T_I

Read more from CAM here: https://caninearthritis.co.uk/

Kidney disease

Older pets, especially cats, are prone to chronic kidney disease. This causes a reduction in kidney function, meaning urine is dilute and protein is lost into the urine, leading to excessive thirst and weight loss. Are you filling up the bowl more often, or is your pet drinking from water glasses or even from the toilet? A urine sample and blood test are the first steps to diagnosing kidney disease. We cannot cure this disease, but we can slow its progression and keep your pet happy for longer.

Cats are three times more likely than dogs to have chronic kidney disease.

Read more here: https://icatcare.org/advice/cat-health/chronic-kidney-disease-cats

High blood pressure

Just like doctors do with people, we should consider regularly checking the blood pressure of our older pets. High blood pressure (hypertension) does not usually show symptoms at home, but if left untreated can permanently damage the kidneys, heart, and brain. We measure blood pressure the same as in humans using an inflatable cuff on your pet’s paw or tail. Hypertension is easily managed with medication.

Click the link to see how blood pressure is measured: https://youtu.be/rGTLoUUXUrI

Remember that for the average Labrador, seeing a vet annually for a booster is like a human only seeing a doctor once every seven years! That’s why members of our Pet Health Plan benefit from two full vet health checks per year, and all patients on long-term medication are examined every three months.

Is your pet slowing down? Call 01782 385285 (Meir Park) or 01538 752117 (Cheadle) to book a check up.