Some days it is just a little bit harder to get up from sitting on the floor or to bend over to pick up something dropped and that’s just me entering middle age.
What about our pets as they grow older? Well, they may not develop a mid-life crisis that has them driving off in a hot red car, but they definitely need a little more regular veterinary care as well as tender loving care.
It is very easy to forget that while your playful puppy may be seven or eight years old in human years, he or she is actually physiologically older – the equivalent of 45 to 50 years. Or for your ten year old cat snoozing away in the sunshine, he or she has much in common with a 55 to 60 year old man or woman. That means there may be some creaky knees or hips making it harder to go for long hikes or even just up and down the stairs.
Age can be calming, but it can also open the doorway to the development of chronic health issues from mild to severe. It is easier to gain weight than lose. It can take longer to recover from strenuous exercise or stressful events. Insults over time from conditions such as chronic dental disease can start to impact the function of major organs such as the kidneys, liver or heart.
And, do you think our pets will communicate these changes to us? We may note that it takes longer to go around the block or see difficulty getting up, but most of our pets, particularly cats, cope with and hide changes until unable to do so anymore. They are all masters of hiding the symptoms of pain.
Just like ourselves or our aging parents, our pets need more regular veterinary health care to help with or stave off changes associated with aging. Health changes and illnesses are always better dealt with if identified earlier rather than later. Aging, in and of itself, is not a disease, but it does open the door to physiologic changes that lead to illness, inflammation and/or pain. Illnesses that are more common with aging, such as arthritis, diabetes and cancer, are found and helped by twice yearly physical examinations and regular screening blood work.
Ensuring, too, that your pet has appropriate dental evaluations and professional dental cleanings when needed can also add years to your pet’s life, preventing pain and infection. Remember a year is more than a year to your pet, and how would your mouth look and feel if only seen and cleaned once every seven to 10 years or your body if your doctor only saw you every third year.
The month of November celebrates senior pets – celebrate yours with a visit to your veterinarian to get everything checked out from nose to tail.