Just like people, our older pets have special needs. The once bouncy puppy now leads a quieter life and perhaps is not as outgoing as they once were. But how do you decide if your senior pets’ behavioural changes are due to old age or if there is an underlying health issue?
With our pets living longer than ever thanks to advancements in veterinary care, nutrition and husbandry, dementia (cognitive dysfunction) is a common problem especially in senior dogs. Some of the symptoms of canine dementia include:
Disorientation, Reduced activity, Abnormal activity, Inappropriate toileting, Vocalisation, Altered sociability, Changes in sleeping patterns.
However, many behavioural changes attributed to old age may in fact be caused by an underling medical condition. Pathological changes or disease such as heart disease, kidney disease, arthritis or dental disease are common in our older pets. Keep an eye out for any of the following signs:
Weight loss or weight gain, Loss of housetraining, Difficulty rising, walking or climbing stairs
Confusion or disorientation, Persistent cough, Appearance of lumps or bumps, Bad breath, plaque, or bleeding gums, Diarrhoea or vomiting, Change in sleep patterns, Ear odours, redness, scratching, or head shaking, Excessive drinking and/or urination.
With the correct intervention, many of these diseases can be successfully managed. This is where your veterinarian is invaluable in helping you to support your pet in their senior years.
Your veterinarian will work with you to ensure that your pets underlying medical needs are being addressed whilst also helping you to give them the appropriate lifestyle support to keep them living an active, happy and engaged life.
Supporting your pet at this time in their life involves addressing nutrition, supplements, maintaining a predictable daily routine and helping them with any toileting issues. With an age-appropriate diet, regular exercise, weight management, good dental care, parasite control, regular grooming and mobility support, ensuring that your pet has a good quality of life in their twilight years is achievable.
Together with your veterinarian, you can reward your senior pet with a wonderful life in old age!
This information was supplied by Lucas Veterinary Clinic
9 Merz Street Lucas Ph 5303 9000