6 Questions to Ask At Your Senior Pet's Next Check Up

An image of a dog laying on an examination table at the vet's office. A female veterinarian is gently petting the large blonde dog.

As your pet grows older, he or she may develop a range of diseases and conditions associated with aging, such as obesity, diabetes, arthritis and kidney disease. Despite the health problems often associated with aging, your pet can enjoy a full life if you're familiar with the signs and symptoms of common health problems. By partnering with your pet's veterinarian, you'll learn to identify potential signs of trouble. Take a look at these six questions you'll want to ask the vet the next time you visit.

Is My Pet Too Thin or Too Heavy?

It's normal for pets to become less active as they grown older. Unfortunately, a decline in activity can lead to weight gain and increase your pet's risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis and other conditions. If your pet is obese or overweight, his or her veterinarian may recommend more exercise, a reduction in portion sizes, a change in diet or other modifications.

Some pets become thinner as they get older. In some cases, they might appear thinner due to a decrease in muscle mass, but may be perfectly healthy. In others, weight loss may be a symptom of an underlying illness, such as diabetes. If the veterinarian is concerned that an illness may be responsible for the weight loss, he or she may recommend blood or other tests.

Does My Pet Need Dental Work?

Tooth decay and gum disease can cause pain, difficulty chewing, bad breath and red, inflamed gums. If dental problems aren't treated promptly, your pet may lose teeth or develop a bacterial infection. Dental infections are dangerous because they can travel to other areas of your pet's body. Your pet's veterinarian may recommend dental work, if needed, and/or a thorough cleaning to remove plaque and tartar.

How Can I Tell If My Pet Has Arthritis?

It's hard to be your usual playful self when your joints ache with every step you take. Luckily, arthritis, a common joint condition in older pets, can often be managed with anti-inflammatory and pain medications. Your pet's veterinarian can share common signs of arthritis, such as difficulty walking or jumping and stiffness, and may also suggest a few things you can do to make your pet more comfortable at home. Installing a ramp to your bed if your pet sleeps with you, buying a litter box with low sides, helping your cat with grooming or giving your pet massages can make living with arthritis easier for pets.

What Are the Signs of Potential Health Problems?

It would certainly be much easier if pets could tell us when a leg hurts or they don't feel well, but since they can't talk, it's important to pay attention to possible signs of health problems, such as:

  • Changes in elimination habits (accidents, frequent urination, constipation, reduced urination, etc.)
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Lethargy or lack of interest in usual activities
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irritability or other behavioral changes
  • Stiffness, lameness or difficulty walking
  • Seizures
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Lumps or sores
  • Coat or skin changes
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Discharge or bleeding from nose, eyes or other parts of the body
  • Redness or swelling of the gums

My Pet Seems Confused at Times. Is This Normal?

Dementia is another condition that pets share with people. In fact, behavioral changes in older pets may actually be caused by the condition. You may notice that your cat meows continually or that your dog barks randomly. Pets that have dementia may lose interest in regular activities, stop interacting with you and other pets, pace back and forth, become lost and disoriented in your home, spend long periods staring or have housetraining accidents.

Should My Pet Have a Blood Test?

Blood tests often detect common diseases before you pet shows any symptoms. An annual or semi-annual blood test can determine if your pet has diabetes, or liver, thyroid or kidney disease. Early identification of these diseases can help prevent complications.

Although older pets require more attention and care, they can continue to live happy lives with your assistance. If it's time for your furry friend's next visit to the veterinarian, give us a call.

Sources:

VetStreet: 7 Questions Owners Ask About Older Pets, 8/11/15

http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/7-questions-owners-ask-about-older-pets

AVMA: Senior Pet Care

https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Caring-for-an-Older-Pet-FAQs.aspx

PetEducation.com: Normal Aging and Expected Changes in Older (Senior, Geriatric Dogs

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2110&aid=614

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: The Special Needs of the Senior Cat

https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/special-needs-senior-cat

New to Clinton Hill Animal Clinic?

Sign-up to request more information!

Office Hours

Monday:

9:00 am-7:00 pm

Tuesday:

9:00 am-7:00 pm

Wednesday:

9:00 am-7:00 pm

Thursday:

9:00 am-7:00 pm

Friday:

9:00 am-7:00 pm

Saturday:

9:00 am-5:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "To Dr Dendtler and Staff, I cant begin to tell you how impressed I am with the loving care you have given to my cat Baxter, before and after the much needed surgery. Baxter is so pleased with the outcome; he goes around purring all day."
    Thanks again. -Estelle P.
  • "Dear Pamella, We want to thank all of you so much, not only for the loving care and consideration you showed us last Thursday when we had to say goodbye to Gericho but also for all the years of check-ups and other crisis' that we went through with him. We know it was your good efforts that allowed him to live a full and vigorous 16 years that gave us so much pleasure. Please know that we have always found your staff to be so courteous and helpful all these years."
    Thank you. -Cathy W.
  • "Dear Dr. Dendtler, You were very thorough and caring in treating Buddy. You explained clearly how to protect my dog. I have been to many clinics but you are the best. You were very professional and compassionate. Buddy and I are very grateful. Thanks ever so much to you and your staff."
    John L.
  • "Hi Dr Dendtler, Thank you so very much for fixing my eye. I can see clearly now…I can see all obstacles in my way! Love Vernell R"
    Vernell R.

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

  • What to Do If Your Pet is Stung

    Don't get us wrong, we love the bees! But we don't love when our pets get stung. Follow our tips to treat and prevent bee stings on your furry best friend. ...

    Read More
  • Tips for Traveling With Your Pet

    Do you dread hitting the road with your pet? These tips may make the trip more comfortable and enjoyable for you both. ...

    Read More
  • 6 Questions to Ask At Your Senior Pet's Next Check Up

    Want to keep your senior pet healthy and happy? Ask these six questions at your pet's next check up. ...

    Read More
  • Why the Controversy About Pet Vaccinations?

    As with anything, pet vaccinations can be too much of a good thing. Similar to parents who are learning more about vaccinations for children, veterinarians and pet owners alike are beginning to question some of the standard wisdom when it comes to protecting pets. There are certain fatal diseases against ...

    Read More
  • Pet Clothes: A Fashion Statement or a Necessity?

    There is nothing cuter than a pet in a colorful sweater, but do our furry friends really need to wear clothing? Although clothing is not a necessity for every pet, some animals benefit from a little extra protection during cold or damp days. Others enjoy wearing festive clothing during holidays or other ...

    Read More
  • Introducing a New Pet to Your Current Ones

    Pet Proofing Your Home Introducing your new pet to your current one is only a single part of the equation relating to taking a new pet home. You also have to make sure your new pet is comfortable in your home, which is a foreign environment to the animal. Like humans, animals can experience high levels ...

    Read More
  • Put Some Teeth Into Your Pet’s Dental Care

    According to the American Animal Hospital Association, nearly two-thirds of pets suffer from dental problems because their owners do not provide dental care for them. Imagine what would happen to your own teeth if they were never brushed or examined by a dentist. The same thing can happen with your pet’s ...

    Read More
  • Managing Pet Allergies in Kids

    Are you concerned that your child's allergies may mean that you will have to give up your pet? Although rehoming a pet may be necessary if allergies are severe, most children can live with pets if you are willing to make a few changes. The Problem About three in 10 people who have allergies are allergic ...

    Read More
  • Euthanasia: Saying Goodbye

    It's not easy to say goodbye to cherished pets, even those that have lived long, happy lives. Although you may hate the thought of life without your pet, euthanasia can be the kindest decision you can make when your friend is suffering. Making the Decision If your pet has been seriously injured in a ...

    Read More
  • Is a Wet Nose a Sign of a Healthy Pet?

    Have you ever heard that a wet nose is a sign that your pet is healthy? Although that's often the case, it's not always true. A moist nose can benefit your pet in several ways, but it doesn't necessarily guarantee good health. How Does a Wet Nose Help My Pet? Have you ever been woken at 5 a.m. by a cold, ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles