Senior Pets and Health Issues and What You Can Do
We love our senior pets. Whether you’ve had your pet his entire life or adopted him as an older pet, there’s nothing quite like a senior. As in humans, when pets age sometimes health issues follow.
Our pets age quicker than we do. Better care is available nowadays and “pets are living longer now than they ever have before – but as pets get older, they need extra care and attention,” according to the article, “Senior Pets” at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA.org).
As with humans, pets turn gray, move slower, lose some sight and hearing with age. You may notice that your pet avoids regular activity such as running, which could be due to arthritis, so keep your pet at a healthy weight and check with your vet.
The following are behavior changes your pet may experience due to cognitive dysfunction, according to the AVMA article:
• Disturbed easily by loud noises
• Unusual aggressiveness
• Increased meowing/barking
• Nervousness and anxiety
• Disoriented or confused
• Accidents in the home (i.e., urination)
• Grouchy, irritable
• No interest in playing
According to the article, “Senior Pets and Health Issues,” at BestFriends.org, there are other common conditions as your pet ages.
“Kidney disease also commonly affects older pets, particularly cats,” the Best Friends article said. Check with your vet if your pet starts drinking more water, loses weight, becomes lethargic, vomits or gets mouth ulcers.
Cancer is not uncommon in older pets. Watch for lumps and bumps and “have them checked by your vet annually,” the Best Friends article said. “If your pet starts losing weight or has a marked lack of energy or appetite, cancer screening tests and an exam by your vet are recommended.”
Senior pets can live long and happy lives. Keep them healthy and make sure they see the vet for checkups.
How to Keep Your Pets Safe from Parasites
It’s not something most people want to think about let alone talk about when it comes to their cat or dog. However, the issue of parasites is important, especially when it comes to prevention and keeping your pet healthy and you, as well, as some can be transmitted to humans.
“It is fairly common for a dog or cat to become infected with an internal or external parasite at some point in its lifetime,” according to the article, “Pets, Parasites and People” at The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) website. If left untreated, symptoms can range from irritation to life-threatening conditions.
From vector-borne diseases, which are transmitted by fleas and ticks, to internal parasites such as worms, ensure that prevention is in place, according to the article.
Intestinal parasites typically refer to roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms, according to the article, “Intestinal Worms in Dogs and Cats” at petMD.com. Vets typically check stool samples to detect worms.
According to the petMD article, some symptoms of worms are:
• Diarrhea, possibly bloody
• Weight loss
• Vomiting, that may include worms
Early detection will enable your dog or cat to be dewormed immediately. Your vet “will have the best kinds of wormers available for the particular type of parasite your pet has.”
Heartworms are also very dangerous to dogs and cats and “can kill or seriously debilitate pets that are infected with them,” the CAPC article said. It can be detected by a blood test. “A year-round preventive program is most effective to keep pets free of heartworms.”
Prevention is critical. According to the CAPC article, “Responsible pet parasite control can reduce the risks associated with transmission of parasitic diseases from pets to people.” Good personal hygiene, year-round preventative treatments, and regular annual testing by your vet are a good start.
What is a puppy mill?
“Many people don’t realize that when they buy a dog from a pet store or on the Internet, that dog most likely came from a puppy mill, a ‘factory farm’ for dogs,” according to the article, “Puppy Mills” at BestFriends.org. “In puppy mills, dogs live in small cages, often in the minimum legal size allowed (only six inches larger than the dog on all sides) and female dogs are bred as frequently as possible.”
The government standards that regulate breeders and these facilities (roughly 10,000 in the U.S.) are minimal and do not ensure the dogs’ health. “The standards set by the government aren’t meant to ensure that the dogs have the good lives they deserve; they only require the bare minimum of care,” the article said.
Breeding is purely for profit and dogs are kept in inhumane conditions. “These dogs don’t receive any affection, exercise or proper veterinary care,” according to the article, “Puppy Mills 101,” at the ASPCA.org. Dogs who cannot produce more litters are discarded, the article said.
Puppy mill dogs are sold at various places including pet stores and through the Internet, the BestFriends.org article said.
According to BestFriends.org, here are ways to help:
• Refrain from buying a puppy (or cat) from a pet store, the Internet or Craigslist.
• Teach others about puppy mills to spread the word.
• Adopt your next pet.
“About 1.5 million animals are killed in U.S. shelters annually, simply because they don’t have homes,” the BestFriends.org article said. “When you adopt, you’re not only refusing to support puppy mills, you’re saving a life and giving an animal in need the second chance he or she deserves.”