For many pet owners it is difficult to tell if our pets are getting to the stage where they are slowing down because they are sick, or if it is just old age. To give you a good rule of thumb, a senior dog is around seven to eight years of age, and although many dogs live until they are twelve or even fifteen, you should be taking them for regular check ups from about the age of 8 years. In addition, many conditions and illnesses can start to show signs at this age, but also blood tests can reveal hidden conditions easily that you may not be aware of at this stage, so let us look at the importance of regular check ups, and some signs to look out for as your pet ages.
To give you an idea of the aging process of a dog, for every one of our years a dog would age around 6 to 8 years, so diseases associated with older humans, like diabetes, liver and heart problems can start to begin in a dog as early as six, occasionally earlier. Many health problems with dogs have visible signs to look for while other conditions can only be detected by blood tests, although even hidden diseases may be apparent by watching his behavior change. Having said that, another reason it is important for regular check ups for senior pets is because in many cases, the earlier a condition is detected, the easier it is to treat.
Things To Look Out For In Your Senior Pet
Take some time out each week to give your pet a good check up yourself, look out for any new lumps or bumps on his body as these may not be apparent just by looking, you have to feel for them, and sometimes lumps can turn cancerous, and spread throughout the body. Hip dysplasia is quite common in larger dogs, but can also be a problem for smaller dogs too, or they can suffer from sore and swollen joints. Sometimes there are obvious signs to look for, like his unwillingness to get up too often, or walk long distances due to the pain in the joints, or he may not be willing to climb stairs where before he may have run up them.
Quite a few older dogs can have poor eyesight, and some even end up going blind, and this is more common than you would think. Check on his eyes regularly, and report any abnormalities to your vet, a grey slightly milky look could be a sign of cataracts and if left alone can lead to blindness. Glaucoma can be another eye condition senior pets can develop, and red or sore eyes can be a sign of this. Therefore, in this case you should make an appointment with your vet to get this checked out, and discuss which treatment plan is best for him.
Heart, Lungs, Kidneys And Liver
Senior pets with a cough, breathlessness, decreased stamina, or a bloated stomach can be signs of cardiac issues and should be checked out, because as the heart ages it can develop a heart murmur or even a swollen heart. Similar signs could mean a lung disease like bronchitis or even pneumonia, especially if there is a cough present and there seems to be difficulty in breathing. A lack of appetite, nausea, and sometimes seizures can be a sign of a liver problem, because in senior pets the liver can malfunction and create a build up of toxins in the body.
Problems with kidneys are quite common in both dogs, and cats and there can be several signs to look for as a senior pet owner. Weight loss, excessive thirst, bad smelling breath and/or mouth ulcers can all be signs there is a kidney problem. Having said that, all the aforementioned conditions can be either treated, cured, or manageable for a better quality of life providing they are caught early, which is why it is so important to have regular vet check ups in senior pets.
Many life threatening conditions can plague our senior pets as they move toward their twilight years, and most of them can be detected either by a simple blood test, or urine sample. Early detection can be vital in the course of treatment, and whether or not he can be cured, or just make life easier and more comfortable for him, depending on the ailment or condition. Therefore, getting regular check ups for our senior pets is important, because catching a condition early enough for a cure can save you money further down the line, and lead to him having a much longer life too, so that you both can enjoy more years together easily.