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Health Care Tips For Your Older Pet
Pets are living longer because of advances in veterinary care, diagnosis and early intervention. However, the key to enjoying our “older” pets lies not only in extending their lifespan, but also in helping them enjoy their later years to the fullest. Like humans, cats and dogs can be vulnerable to disabling health conditions as they grow older. Kidney failure, heart disease, arthritis, oral disease, malignancy, and cognitive dysfunction can occur through the typical maturation process. In earlier times, simply because many health conditions were not recognized until the pet was in the advanced stages, veterinarians could do little more than make the pet’s golden years a little more comfortable by taking care of the symptoms. of age-related health. the issues. If the animal was lucky, the problems could progress slowly. Most pet owners simply accepted the fact that their four-legged friends were only able to survive a relatively short life, grow old and pass away. However, advances in technical advances in modern veterinary medicine, surgery, diagnostics and nutrition mean that not only are pets surviving longer, but their quality of life has increased tremendously.
One example follows human medicine in the development and use of the new generation of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Because our older pets often develop arthritis and joint disease, these newer medications help ease the pain of many senior pets while keeping unwanted side effects to a minimum. Chondroitin and glucosamine supplements also seem to help senior dogs with their arthritis. Advanced veterinary technology includes MRIs, cat scans, radiation treatments, chemotherapy, advanced laser scalpel surgery, laparoscopy, hip replacements, orthodontics, root canals, crowns and much more. Physical therapy, water routines, and even acupuncture can help pets recover from surgeries and regain mobility more quickly. More and more veterinarians are pursuing specialty practices to address the needs of those pets whose owners want the best treatment available.
Some age-related problems will still be seen as inevitable, however the attitudes of vets and pet owners have changed. The belief now is that “age is not a disease,” and veterinary medicine is placing greater emphasis on the health of senior pets through preventative health plans.
The sooner we detect a problem, the more likely we are to manage or even correct the problem. Lumps and lumps if surgically removed when they are small can prevent tumors from spreading throughout the body. Advances in oncology now make chemotherapy and radiation therapy almost a normal course of treatment for pets with cancer. By treating dental disease early, you can extend your pet’s lifespan by nearly 3 years. Diabetes can be managed with insulin and special diets and heart disease also has newer medications available to help the heart pump better. Cats with renal failure can benefit from many of the newer medications and fluid therapy to help them reduce the build-up of toxins that their kidneys can no longer flush out. There are even drugs that can help with cognitive dysfunction in dogs. These dogs seem to “get lost” or whine for no reason. There are specialists who can also remove cataracts so that your pet does not go blind.
At what age is a pet considered elderly? In general, smaller dog breeds live longer than larger breeds, and cats live longer than dogs. Life expectancy varies with individuals, and pets, like humans, grow at different rates, some more graceful than others. Some smaller dog breeds, such as Bones, are considered geriatric at the age of fifteen. Large and giant breeds such as Labrador retrievers and rottweilers are considered seniors at the age of seven. Cats, especially if kept indoors, often live into their early twenties and don’t reach their golden years until adolescence.
The single most important way a pet owner can take to keep their pet happy and healthy for as long as possible is to pencil in regular veterinary exams. As pets age, these exams tend to be more critical than ever because, as with humans, early detection is essential to intervening for illnesses and problems. Younger pets need routine examinations once or twice a year. However, as dogs and cats approach middle age, these exams should be much more frequent because each year in an animal’s life is equivalent to 5-7 human years.
To detect potential health problems early, veterinarians recommend routine lab work, electrocardiograms, blood pressure monitoring, and x-rays to detect early conditions such as thyroid, kidney, heart, and liver disease. With early detection, pets with organ function conditions can be treated with prescription medications along with quality doctor-prescribed diets that not only extend their lifespan, but also their quality of life. Sometimes, health conditions can even change.
In general, some early warning signs that your pet may have a problem are:
* drinking more water than usual and urinating
* urinary incontinence or having disasters at home
* repeated throwing
* Bad breath, drooling or difficulty eating
* excessive shortness of breath or gets tired more quickly when exercising
* lumps, bumps, nodules or changes in areas of skin color, lumps that bleed or are ulcerated
* change in appetite – swallowing more or less than normal
* changes in behavior eg “space sharing” or increased whining
* abnormal bowel habits – diarrhea or constipation
* fluctuations in body weight – weight gain or loss
Watch pets closely and bring any abnormal behavior or physical problems to your vet without delay. Vets also recommend purchasing pet insurance so that if problems are discovered in your pet, you will be able to afford the advanced therapies that are available. Talk to your vet and develop a senior health strategy specific to your pet’s unique needs, so your precious puppy or kitten can enjoy a graceful aging.
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