What you should keep an eye out for:
1. Oral Health
- Diseased teeth can act as a source of infection (cue stinky breath) which can ultimately travel through the bloodstream and cause systemic infection throughout the body.
- Chronic tartar buildup leads to gingivitis and eventually recession of the gums and loss of bone that keep teeth in place and functional. Eventually, this can lead to pain!
- Foul breath should never deter you from spending time with your pet – a complete oral health examination can be performed by your Veterinarian to determine how best to address current periodontal disease or prevention.
2. Underlying Illness
- Because our pets cannot tell us how they feel, it can be difficult for pet owners to determine if their pet is ill.
- A physical exam and senior-specific screening (bloodwork and pee) is strongly recommended for pets 8 years and older and serves as an internal health check to assess thyroid, liver, kidney, and heart function to name a few.
3. Degenerative Joint Disease and Musculoskeletal Health
- Arthritis commonly develops as Pet’s get older (just like people!) and can reduce their ability to live their normal life (go on walks, get into their litter bin comfortably, jump into a couch or a bed etc).
- Your Veterinarian may recommend joint supplements (Glucosamine, Fish Oils) tailored to your pet’s size and needs, or even other remedies to help improve their quality of life and keep them feeling and moving their best!
4. Behavioural Changes
- Whether it be small or large changes to sleep patterns, bowel movement and urination patterns, water/food consumption, energy levels, or personality, it is crucial that pet owners are aware these could be indications of something more going on. Your Veterinarian may recommend a general examination and senior blood and/or urine screening in these cases.
- Sometimes these changes start small; it can be easy for pet owners to dismiss them as “just getting older” but we encourage you to be proactive in your pet’s health to ensure it’s not more than just ageing.
- A nutritionally complete diet that is tailored for mature or senior pets is an important consideration as your pet gets older. Typically these diets are higher in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and fibre. Depending on your pet’s needs, your Veterinarian may recommend a prescription diet (for instance, a kidney-friendly diet if they have early kidney disease, or a weight loss diet if they need to shed a few pounds).
- During your pet’s annual exam your Veterinarian will want to know what, and how much your pet is eating to determine if it is still appropriate for them.
Written By: Dr. Leslie Kumagai, DVM