When is your pet considered to be a geriatric patient?
There is not one answer that fits all pets. A general guideline is as follows:
Cats (all) 10-13 years
Small dogs (<10Kg) 10-12 years
Medium dogs (10-25Kg) 8-10 years
Large dogs (25-40Kg) 5-8 years
Giant dogs (>40Kg) 4-7 years
Concerned about your senior pet’s general health and wellbeing, or just wanting to ensure the best quality of life for your aging cat or dog?
Did you know that we offer a Geriatric Workup? Performed yearly after the age of 10 years in small breeds of dogs and cats and after 8 years for large breed dogs, it is our best chance of revealing your pet’s health problems early, so we can promptly begin the most effective treatments.
For only $168.90, we will perform:
A full Physical Examination – including heart and lung assessment, lump and bump analysis and lameness exam for arthritis
A blood screen for liver and kidney disease
A blood glucose level for diabetes screening
Urinalysis for kidney, urinary bladder and hydration assessment
A faecal examination and worm egg detection, and
A red blood cell count for anaemia detection
We will also provide you with information on diet, exercise, dental disease and other preventative health measures to give your pet the long, happy life it deserves.
Feel free to ask our friendly staff for more details on this offer today!
The information below will outline some important areas that owners of geriatric pets should become familiar with in order to provide the highest quality of life for their pet. It is extremely important to report to us any behavioural or physical changes that you have noticed in your senior pet.
As your pet ages, its nutritional needs change. It is important to continue to provide a well-balanced diet for your pet and change its energy intake as needed to maintain a healthy weight. It is recommended that a healthy geriatric pet eat a quality senior pet food. These diets differ from adult formulas in that they typically have fewer calories, increased fibre, decreased fat, lower protein content and lower salt levels. The altered protein and salt content help to reduce the workload on the kidneys and liver. If a specific problem is diagnosed in your pet (liver or kidney disease for example) we may recommend a more specialised diet such as Hills or Royal Canin Prescription diets.
Many of us are very familiar with arthritis in humans but are unaware that arthritis also affects dogs and cats. Of course, as the aging process continues in your pet, the likelihood of arthritic changes causing discomfort increases. Some common signs of arthritis or joint pain in cats and dogs include:
Slow rising, especially after periods of rest
Reluctance to go up and down stairs
Reluctance to jump on couches, in the truck, etc.
Favouring of one limb or limping
Decreased muscle mass over the affected area
If your pet is exhibiting any of these signs, even intermittently, they are painful. A thorough physical exam and possibly x-rays will help us to assess your pet and implement a plan to decrease discomfort. There are many nutritional supplements and medications that will aid us in our goal of increasing your pet’s quality of life.
Dental health is important no matter the age of your pet; however the risk of gum disease and associated disorders increases with age. We currently have facilities to give your pet the same kind of dental clean and polish you get from your own dentist. We can also recommend products to help keep your pet’s teeth cleaner in your own home.
As the body ages, so does the brain. Changes in your pet’s brain are similar to that of an elderly person. The effects of aging on the brain range from no effect to severe dementia. There are a wide range of signs associated with brain aging, including:
Disorientation: your pet may get stuck behind furniture or exhibit a slower response time to sights and sounds.
Activity changes: your pet may sleep more. Also, your pet may become more restless at night.
Social interaction: your pet may not greet you at the door anymore, or be less interested in playing with you.
Anxiety: signs of anxiety include fear of sounds, people or environments, a desire to be with someone all of the time, or an increase in irritability.
Learning and memory: the ability to adapt to new environments or learn new tasks may be impaired as your pet ages
A thorough physical & neurological exam and diagnostic testing are the first steps in determining a practical treatment protocol for your pet. Fortunately, there are medications and specialized diets that may improve the physical signs of brain aging and may even slow the progress of brain dysfunction in your pet.
INTACT MALES & FEMALES
If your pet has not been speyed or neutered there are several problems they may encounter.
Prostate cancer or infection: Watch for signs of urinary difficulty or straining to havea bowel movement
Testicular tumours: Watch for any change in size or shape of the testicles or if one testicle is larger than the other
Mammary (breast) tumours
Pyometra: this is an overwhelming infection in the uterus and is more common in older intact females. Signs of pyometra include: increased thirst, inappetence, vaginal discharge, lethargy
Exercise is important for all of us to maintain healthy bones, muscles and stamina, and it certainly remains important in the geriatric pet. Frequent walks and playing with your pet not only provide exercise but also quality time shared with each other. If your pet has difficulty completing your normal walk, it may be time to slow down your pace or simply decrease the distance. There are other great ways to exercise your pet, too. Swimming is a wonderful minimal impact form of exercise which a lot of dogs really enjoy, and can be great for pets with arthritis problems.
EYES & EARS
As your pet ages, its sense of sight and hearing may diminish. Cataract formation is fairly common in dogs and rare in cats. We can determine whether or not your pet is developing cataracts, and offer advice regarding vision dysfunction in the older dog or cat.
Hearing is another sense that may diminish with age. Typically, there is very little anyone can do to stop hearing loss but it is important that there aren’t any other factors contributing to it. Please ask us to do a thorough otic exam to rule out infections or inflammatory changes in your pet’s ears.
LUMPS & BUMPS
As your pets age, they are more susceptible to developing lumps just underneath the skin. Many of these lumps and bumps are benign, but some can be potentially cancerous. It is always a good idea to have us check out any lumps on your pet. We can take a sample of the cells within the lump for examination in-house, and we may recommend a sample of the lump (biopsy) be taken and sent to our veterinary pathologist for a more accurate diagnosis. The most important thing for you to do at home, however, is to keep track of when you first noticed the lump and if it has changed in size, shape or consistency. These are important pieces of information to relay to us.
Caring for a geriatric pet can be a rewarding experience for everyone. There are many things that you can do to increase your pet's quality of life in its golden years. All of our staff are here to help you and your pet with the challenges of aging.