Veterinary Services

Senior Pet Care
Louisville, KY

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Senior Pet Care

With continued improvement in veterinary care and available veterinary medicines, animals are living longer lives. This means that some diseases and conditions that were once rare are now more common in this older population. For example, older animals can face weight management challenges; mobility problems; osteoarthritis; conditions affecting the kidneys, heart, and liver; tumors and cancers; and disorders such as diabetes and thyroid imbalance. In other words, the changing health care needs of our pets parallel those of people. Older animals need special care. However, with preventative medicine many of these health challenges can be managed and progression can be slowed.
Senior Pet Care

Senior Pet Issues

  • Pain
    • Licking or chewing an area
    • Eating less
    • Hiding more, being lethargic, or noticeable change in behavior
    • Crying when touched or not wanting to be touched
    • Panting, pacing, whining (when there is no obvious reason)
    • Increased heart rate (dogs: resting heart rate of over 130 bpm; cats: resting heart rate of over 200-220 bpm)
    • For cats a lack of grooming or self-care
  • Mobility Trouble
    • Having trouble getting up? Going up the stairs? Moving a little slower? Your pet could have arthritis. Talk with your veterinarian about the best arthritis pain relief options, we have several! See our at home remedies as well to keep your pet happy and comfortable at home.
  • Dementia & Loss of Senses
    • Having your pet lose their vision, hearing, or go senile is difficult. But, many senior pets do just fine with losing one or more of their senses. Some pets can experience anxiety when this begins. If so, work with your vet to find short-term solutions. Just be patient with your pet as they deal with these big changes.If senility is an issue, discuss with your vet the best option to help them function day to day. If your pet is deaf, you can teach her hand signals for sit, stay, and come. If your pet is blind, assisting your pet inside and outside on a shorter leash works well, also be sure to not make any major furniture changes as they can confuse them. They learn to adapt to the sensory loss and most do quite well.
  • Incontinence
    • Leaking urine while sleeping, urinating frequently or in inappropriate areas warrants a call to the vet. Rule out any medical issues, like a bladder infection, and then discuss options.
    • If there are no medical concerns, there are items you can purchase to help. For males they have male wraps to keep around their abdomen, and for females they have diapers.
  • Tumors
    • If you start to notice a mass growing, don’t delay in getting it checked out! It could be just a simple lipoma (fatty growth) or something more serious. But finding out early gives us a better chance to get it removed before spreading.
  • Organ Function Changes
    • As your pet gets older, their organ function may start to change. This can cause diabetes, thyroid imbalance, liver and kidney disease etc. Annual blood work is recommended to catch these changes early, and get your pet on the necessary supplement or medication to sow the progression.
What is considered a senior pet?

This can vary based on factors such as species, breed, and size. In general, dogs and cats are often considered seniors around the age of 7 to 10 years, but larger breeds may age more quickly, reaching senior status earlier than smaller breeds.

What do senior pets need to lead happy and healthy lives as long as possible?

Senior pets, like humans, benefit from specific care tailored to their changing needs. Some ways to ensure their health is by:

  • Regular Veterinary Check-ups
  • Nutrition
  • Weight Management
  • Exercise
  • Dental Care
  • Joint Care
  • Mental Stimulation
  • Regular Grooming
  • Hydration
  • Specialized Senior Care
  • Comfortable Environment
  • Regular Bloodwork and Screening
What health problems are common in senior pets?

A couple of health issues to look out with your senior pet are:

  • Arthritis or Canine Osteoarthritis:
    • Joint inflammation and pain, common in senior pets, especially in larger breeds.
  • Dental Issues:
    • Periodontal disease and tooth loss can become more prevalent in senior pets.
  • Cognitive Dysfunction:
    • Similar to dementia in humans, pets may experience cognitive decline, leading to confusion and changes in behavior.
  • Vision and Hearing Loss:
    • Senior pets may develop impaired vision or hearing.
  • Cancer:
    • The risk of cancer increases with age, and various types of cancers can affect senior pets.
  • Kidney Disease:
    • Chronic kidney disease is more common in older cats and dogs.
  • Heart Disease:
    • Conditions such as congestive heart failure can become more prevalent in senior pets.
  • Diabetes:
    • Older pets are more prone to developing diabetes, especially in cats.
  • Liver Disease:
    • Hepatic issues can arise, affecting the liver’s function.
  • Urinary Incontinence:
    • Weakening of the bladder muscles can lead to incontinence in senior pets.
  • Thyroid Issues:
    • Hyperthyroidism in cats and hypothyroidism in dogs can occur in their senior years.
  • Obesity:
    • Weight management becomes crucial as metabolism slows down, and pets may become less active.
  • Skin Conditions:
    • Dry skin, lumps, and bumps may become more common in senior pets.
  • Gastrointestinal Issues:
    • Digestive problems, such as constipation or inflammatory bowel disease, may arise.
  • Respiratory Issues:
    • Conditions like chronic bronchitis may become more prevalent.
What is Canine Osteoarthritis?

Canine osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD) or simply arthritis, is a common condition in dogs that involves the progressive deterioration of the articular cartilage in a joint. Articular cartilage is the smooth, slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint, allowing them to move smoothly against each other.

Osteoarthritis can develop as a result of various factors, including aging, genetics, joint instability, trauma, or underlying joint conditions. As the cartilage breaks down, the bones can rub against each other, causing pain, inflammation, and reduced joint function. Over time, the surrounding tissues may also be affected, leading to further discomfort.

Common signs of canine osteoarthritis include:

  1. Limping or favoring one leg: Dogs with osteoarthritis often show signs of lameness or may avoid using a particular limb.
  2. Stiffness: Dogs may exhibit stiffness, especially after resting or during cold weather.
  3. Difficulty in getting up or lying down: Arthritic dogs may struggle with basic movements, such as standing up or lying down.
  4. Reduced activity level: Dogs may become less active and may be less willing to engage in physical activities they once enjoyed.
  5. Swelling or enlargement of the joints: In some cases, the affected joints may appear swollen or larger than normal.
  6. Pain or discomfort: Dogs may show signs of pain, such as vocalizing, panting, or licking at the affected joints.

Management of canine osteoarthritis often involves a combination of medical and lifestyle interventions. This may include:

  • Pain medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other pain relievers may be prescribed by a veterinarian to manage pain and inflammation.
  • Weight management: Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to reducing stress on the joints.
  • Physical therapy: Certain exercises and physical therapies can help improve joint mobility and reduce stiffness.
  • Joint supplements: Some dogs may benefit from supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which can support joint health.
  • Anti-inflammatory diets: Specialized diets with anti-inflammatory properties may be recommended.

It’s important for owners to work closely with their veterinarian to develop a comprehensive management plan tailored to the individual needs of their arthritic dog. Early detection and intervention can help improve the quality of life for dogs with osteoarthritis.

If your pet is experiencing any of these signs, please feel free to contact us.

What is Feline Osteoarthritis?

Feline osteoarthritis, also known as cat arthritis, is a degenerative joint disease (DJD) that affects cats. Osteoarthritis is a common condition in older cats, but it can also affect younger cats, especially if they have joint abnormalities or a history of joint injuries.

Osteoarthritis (OA) occurs when the cartilage in the joints wears down over time, leading to pain, inflammation, and reduced joint mobility. Cartilage is a smooth, protective tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint, allowing them to move smoothly against each other. When this cartilage breaks down, it can result in friction between the bones, causing discomfort for the cat.

Common signs of feline osteoarthritis include:

  1. Limping or favoring one leg: Cats with arthritis may exhibit lameness or stiffness, particularly when they first get up or after a period of rest.
  2. Reduced activity: Cats with arthritis may become less active and spend more time resting. They may be less likely to engage in activities they once enjoyed.
  3. Difficulty jumping or climbing: Arthritic cats may find it challenging to jump onto elevated surfaces or navigate stairs.
  4. Changes in grooming habits: Cats may groom less, especially in areas that are painful or difficult to reach due to arthritis.
  5. Behavioral changes: Cats in pain may exhibit changes in behavior, such as increased irritability, aggression, or avoidance of human or animal companionship.

If you suspect your cat has osteoarthritis, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. The vet may perform a physical examination, review the cat’s medical history, and possibly conduct X-rays to assess the extent of joint damage. Treatment options may include pain management, anti-inflammatory medications, joint supplements, and lifestyle modifications to make the cat more comfortable.

It’s important to note that arthritis in cats is a chronic condition, and managing it involves ongoing care and monitoring of the cat’s well-being. Early detection and intervention can help improve the quality of life for cats with osteoarthritis.

The management of feline osteoarthritis involves a combination of medical treatments, lifestyle modifications, and supportive care to improve the cat’s comfort and mobility. Here are some common approaches:

  • Veterinary Consultation: Schedule regular check-ups with a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and monitoring of the cat’s condition.
  • Pain Management: Pain relief is a crucial aspect of managing feline osteoarthritis. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other pain relievers may be prescribed by a veterinarian to manage pain and inflammation. Contact us today to discuss pain management options.
  • Joint Supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids and glucosamine/chondroitin supplements may be recommended to support joint health and reduce inflammation. These supplements are often available over the counter or prescribed by a veterinarian.
  • Weight Management: Maintaining an ideal body weight is essential for cats with osteoarthritis. Excess weight puts additional stress on joints, worsening the condition. A controlled and balanced diet, along with portion control, can help manage the cat’s weight.
  • Comfortable Environment: Create a comfortable living environment for the cat. Provide soft bedding and ensure easy access to essential areas like the litter box and food bowls. Consider ramps or steps to help the cat access elevated surfaces more easily.
  • Adaptations for Senior Cats: As cats age, their needs may change. Provide accommodations such as a litter box with lower sides for easier access, warm bedding, and easily accessible food and water bowls.
  • Regular Monitoring: Keep a close eye on your cat’s condition and report any changes to the veterinarian promptly. Regular veterinary check-ups are essential to assess the progression of osteoarthritis and adjust the treatment plan accordingly.

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