Golden Oldies – Geriatric Care for our pets
Well my husband thinks as a vet all I do is spend my life playing with puppies and kittens and although I admit it is a fun part of the job my heart actually lies with our senior citizens. I have been lucky enough to have my last two dogs until they were 16 and have owned my most feisty cat for the last 14 years and she is still my boss!
Care for Senior Pets
Today an improved diet and medical care have resulted in increased life expectancy in humans, the same can be said for our pets. The result is a growing population of ageing animals. A combination of preventative healthcare, a good diet, regular exercise, and the ever-increasing advancement of veterinary care, means our pets are living much longer and healthier lives than in the past. For example, it is estimated that 20% of our cat population is now 11 or over!
Depending on your pet’s size and breed, you will be amazed how old they actually are in relation to ‘human years’. For example, a medium size dog at 2 years of age is approximately 22 in our years. A cat would be 21. At 6 years old the dog will be 42 and the cat 37. Even though ageing is inevitable, always remember there is so much we can do to keep our pets healthy and enjoy a good quality of life in their golden years. We are proud to offer free Golden oldie clinics with the nursing team who themselves have been the proud owners of senior pets
The ageing process, affects the way in which our pets’ bodies function. No matter what stage of life they are at, there will be constant yet sometimes subtle changes in their physical condition. Some we will notice, like a little weight gain or incontinence, but others are not so visible, such as failing eyesight, loss of hearing, and organs such as the heart, kidneys, liver and thyroid glands, which may not function in the same way they used to. We can advise you about tests and certain changes that can help your pet during the ageing process, especially as they enter the senior and geriatric years.
Regular Health and Blood Checks
Never has the saying prevention is better than cure been more true. Regular monitoring and screening of your pet can pick up changes associated with age. These tests will help identify any problems in their early stages, enabling treatment or changes to your pets lifestyle to begin when the problem may be easier to treat or control. Examinations also provide an opportunity to check out the condition of their teeth, skin, weight, eyes and ears. Simple blood and urine tests can identify the start of more hidden conditions such as heart disease, organ failure, diabetes, hyperthyroidism or arthritis. Once the check and tests are complete, if your pet is developing a condition of any kind, we can discuss with you the many forms of treatment that modern veterinary medicine now provides. Not all conditions can be cured, but a few changes to their lifestyle and any necessary treatments, may help towards improving their quality of life, as they grow older. Remember health checks are not just about finding problems, they can also offer the reassurance that all is well, giving you that invaluable peace of mind.
According to the charity International Cat Care, cats reach the ‘geriatric’ life stage at the age of 15 (the equivalent of 76 years in human terms), but it is not unusual for them to live to late teens and even into their 20s (a cat becomes the equivalent of a centenarian at 21 years old). Fortunately, for these feline golden oldies, which are often cherished family members, it is now generally accepted that ‘healthy ageing’ is achievable; just as it is in humans where the field of ageing wellness is dedicated to optimising mental, social and physical wellbeing and function in older adults. What has been less well defined, however, is what healthy ageing actually looks like in a cat; in other words, what changes would be considered ‘normal for age’ (ie, physiological changes) as opposed to deteriorative changes.
Food Glorious Food
With so many to choose from these days, feeding your pet can be a little confusing! The picture on the pack, may look tasty and tempting, but is it good for your pet? Will it suit their senior years and any medical conditions they may have? What should be right is a diet that is correct for your pet and is also well-balanced, as this will help towards keeping them healthy, active and maintain a good weight, while still containing vital nutrients. So what do we mean by a well – balanced diet? This is a correct mix of nutrients in the food to suit the individual animal. What is a nutrient? It is an element in food, which is of good value in the diet.
Carbohydrates are great for energy, but too much causes weight gain. A diet lower in magnesium may benefit pets with urine and bladder problems, and if your pet has dental problems, there is even a food to help with this too. Pet food is far more sophisticated these days, and our nursing staff can advise which food would be most benefcial for your pet. It is not unusual for an older pet to loose muscle tone as they get older and our free nurse consults can help advise you on diet to help maintain muscle mass.
This helps to maintain a healthy weight and keep joints supple, however the type and frequency can depend on any medical condition your pet may have developed, so again do not hesitate to ask us for advice. The main reason we have a hydrotherapy centre is that swimming can have so many benefits for older dogs with osteoarthritis or joint problems
Our pets give us so much pleasure and love throughout their lives, and ask for very little in return. A hug, affection, walks, food and a comfy bed to sleep in, are probably all they desire, but we can do so much more by being aware of their different needs as the clock ticks by, to help them enjoy a happy and good quality of life. As a vet I honestly can’t answer how do you know an animal is in pain but we have told and facilities to ensure that they aren’t.
Consultation Times (by appointment only)
Monday – Friday 08:00 – 20:00
Saturday 09:00 – 12:00
Sunday 10:00 – 13:00
Mochdre Vets is the trading name for Heywood and Heywood Limited
and is registered in England and Wales. Registered Number 10654839.
Registered Office Williams House, Conway Road, Mochdre, Conwy. LL28 5HE.