Just like us, our pets get older and experience health changes. You may see veterinarians or health records referring to senior pets as “geriatric.”
On average, dogs and cats are considered seniors around age 7. This will depend on different factors, such as the breed and size of your pet. Larger breeds tend to age more quickly than smaller breeds. Whether you have a Great Dane or a Maine coon, it’s important to know these 7 common health problems in senior pets.
1. Kidney Issues
The kidneys remove waste and maintain balance in the body. When they can’t function, toxins build up in the body, resulting in kidney failure. This can be caused by normal aging or by kidney stones blocking the urinary tract. Your pet may have a kidney stone if he is drinking more water, urinating more frequently, or having accidents in the house. If you think your pet is experiencing kidney issues, reach out to your veterinarian. Catching kidney disease early on can improve your pet’s chances at a long and healthy life.
2. Heart Problems
Heart disease is common in senior cats and dogs. One of the most common heart diseases in cats is cardiomyopathy, a disease in the heart muscle. Congestive heart failure is a common form of heart disease in dogs, which affects blood pumping. Symptoms of heart disease can include coughing, difficulty breathing, weakness, and vomiting. Be sure to check with your veterinarian if you notice any of these signs.
3. Cognitive Dysfunction
The symptoms of cognitive dysfunction in pets may appear similar to senility in humans. Some signs may include unusually aggressive behavior, increased barking or meowing, anxiety, confusion, or irritability. You may also notice memory loss, personality changes, or repetitive behaviors. Talk to your veterinarian if your pet is showing these signs.
4. Arthritis or Joint Problems
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of joint pain in pets. Although there is no cure for arthritis, proper treatment and nutrition can reduce pain and slow down progression. Symptoms can include limping, aversion to stairs, difficulty standing or walking, showing pain when picked up, licking or chewing at the aching joint, and irritability. If your pet is experiencing symptoms of joint pain, talk to your veterinarian about the best treatment to keep your pet comfortable.
5. Dental Disease
It’s important to maintain healthy dental habits to prevent conditions such as periodontal disease. Talk to your veterinarian to find the best routine for your pet. If your dog or cat is experiencing dental problems, you may notice bad breath, excessive drooling, gum inflammation, or loose teeth. Dental disease can eventually lead to weight loss, infection, heart disease, or kidney damage. But with regular checkups and proper habits, you can keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy as they get older.
6. Lumps and Bumps
Older pets may be more likely to develop lumps or bumps, but not all are cancerous. Keep an eye out for changes in weight, sores that heal slowly, diarrhea, or constipation. If you notice a new lump, it is best to have it checked out as early as possible. Schedule regular checkups to catch any tumors early on and increase your pet’s chances of successful treatment.
7. Loss of Vision and Hearing
Your senior pet may experience vision or hearing loss. If your pet begins bumping into objects, falling, or develops redness and cloudiness in their eyes, then he may have an eye problem. Disobedience, nervousness, or behavioral changes are signs that your pet could be losing his hearing.
Vision and hearing loss is usually permanent, but there are some steps you can take to make your pet’s life easier. Avoid rearranging furniture or creating obstacles in your home. Teaching your pet hand signals can help you communicate after their hearing has declined.
Caring for Your Senior Pet
It can be tough to watch our pets age, but with regular checkups, proper care, and lots of love, they can experience happy and healthy senior years.