Senior Pet Care

While many people have said that “age is not a disease”, being a senior animal does increase the likelihood of having a chronic disease.  The good news is that veterinary medicine has come a long way in managing and treating chronic diseases in animals so that your pet can live a long and comfortable life.


The most common problems that owners report seeing in their pets include: “slowing down” or getting stiff and sore, changes in appetite or water intake, lumps or bumps appearing on or under the skin and changes in behaviour.


Getting stiff and sore affects animals with 2 legs or four as they age.  Just as with humans, there are many options available to animals to help manage their discomfort.  Options include nutritional supplements, medications to decrease inflammation and pain, therapeutic laser and specially designed diets.   A consultation and examination with our veterinarians can help to discern which of these options are appropriate for your pet.  Don’t forget that it isn’t just dogs that develop arthritis and that there have been many developments to help manage arthritis in our feline friends as well.


Going along with arthritis, many owners report that they notice their animals “slowing down” with age.  While this can sometimes be related to arthritis, sometimes it is also indicative of something going on inside your pet.   In cases like this, after consulting with our veterinarian, they may recommend blood work to assess for diseases that may be going on inside your pet.  Depending on the severity of disease as well as the different diagnoses that the veterinarian is concerned about, the blood work may be run in clinic or sent out our outside lab.  For most blood work profiles, we can have results within 24 to 48 hours if not sooner.  The blood work profiles often assess the blood systems (red blood cells for oxygen carrying, white blood cells for immune function and platelets for clotting) and organ systems (liver, kidney, endocrine systems).  These blood work profiles can also be used to assess for causes of changes in appetite and water intake, common problems in older pets.


Another cause of changes in appetite in older pets is poor dental health.  While we encourage pet owners to brush their pet’s teeth at least once a week (once a day is better!), some pets are just genetically destined to develop poor oral health as they age.  Pets are very good at hiding discomfort so they will continue to try and eat and act normally despite tremendous oral pain due to infected and damaged teeth.  During a consult with our veterinarians, they can assess your pet’s oral health and make recommendations to help keep their teeth pearly white, or to address ongoing dental health problems.


Many animals also develop “lumps and bumps” under or on their skin.  These growths should be assess by a veterinarian as early detection and assessment can help prevent serious consequences down the road when they are left untreated.


Older animals can also develop changes in their behaviour as they age.  Some times they are related to an ongoing disease process like arthritis making them sore or related to cognitive dysfunction (“dementia”).  Speak to us about changes in your senior animal so that we can help to manage behaviour and underlying causes so that your pet can remain a beloved member of the family.