Our Senior Pets
Just like people, our dogs and cats are living longer healthier lives thanks to good nutrition, great veterinary care, improved vaccination protocols and leash laws to name just a few improvements. As an example, it is routine for the health care team at MVAH to see healthy, vigorous cats that live to seventeen or eighteen years of age or even older! Dr. Wojcicki particularly likes to see her senior patients because she and the rest of the team know that there are many things they can do to help these pets maintain good quality of life for as long as possible.
Dental care is extremely important for all pets but the process of tarter build up and resulting infection seems to speed up as pets age. Think about a ten year old dog, if you did not brush your teeth or have dental cleanings at your dentist for 10 years you can imagine the disease that might be present in your mouth so the same is true for that dog. Brushing, dental diets and regular cleanings in the hospital all contribute to a healthy pain free mouth in the older pet. Dental care is a special interest at MVAH and we know we can provide excellent advice for all pets.
Pain assessment is a critical part of the physical examination for all pets, but again, particularly important for seniors. Sometimes it is a challenge to recognize signs of pain in our pets. They do not always show us what we might expect to see. For instance, pets rarely cry in pain. They might yip with acute pain if you step on their foot but arthritis joint pain that has been ongoing for months or years is often exhibited by changes in behavior like decreased activity, inability to complete their entire walk about the neighborhood, limping, decreased appetite, or even growling and biting when handled. Cats can be really hard to evaluate if they are in pain. At home they may just withdraw and not interact with the family. The doctors will help identify pain your pet may be experiencing and the good news is there are many different options for pain control especially for dogs. Of course there are pharmaceuticals that provide quick, safe pain relief but there are also foods and over the counter products that we might recommend. Often a combination of several or all of these will be used to provide balanced, safe pain relief.
These are just a couple of concerns of older pets, others include special nutritional needs, behavior changes associated with senility, some diseases such as kidney, thyroid and cancer become more common and many other things. Remember “old age is not a disease”. If you notice changes in your senior pet’s weight, appetite, behavior, exercise tolerance or other things don’t chalk it up to “old age”. Give us a call and we will help sort out what is going on.
“Very pleasant and helpful staff. They go out of their way to make things easy for people and pets.”
– Nancy C., Amesbury