By Dr. Dorrie Jordan, DVM
Your dog is less enthusiastic about going on a walk. Your cat is becoming even more finicky about her food. You are filling the water bowl more often. Your dog/cat is a lot more vocal and restless at night. Your cat is eating normal amounts of food, or even more, but is losing weight. Your dog no longer wants to play with his toys and spends a lot more time sleeping.
Do any of these sound familiar? Are these due to just “old age” or is there an actual medical problem causing them? That is hard to tell without monitoring your pet, looking at tests which reflect the functioning of the kidneys, liver and other factors. Some changes definitely occur with normal aging, but especially if these changes occur suddenly or are severe, there may be a medical issue that needs to be addressed.
Kidney problems, diabetes, liver problems, arthritis, dementia, cancer are some of the problems which are seen more frequently in older animals. Diagnosing these problems early on means your veterinarian has a better chance of helping your pet than if the problem is not discovered until it is really advanced.
As cats and dogs age, there will be changes that occur. Having regular physical exams, blood tests and urinalysis performed at least annually in animals 10 years and older will give your veterinarian information to determine if the changes are normal or not. Senior check ups can really benefit your pet and keep them healthier longer by findings problems at an earlier stage.
Image Source: www.avma.org
Some guidelines on what to look for with an older pet can be found at the following websites: