Just as with humans, improved health care has meant an increased life span for dogs and cats. Along with aging come frequent minor health concerns. Follow these tips on caring for an older pet to head off serious problems.
Provide Your Pet With:
- Regular checkups—at least once a year—from middle age on. For dogs, that's from around seven years of age, and earlier for the big breeds. Cats reach middle age between eight and ten years.
- Daily exercise
- Weight Control
- Extra fiber
- Healthy snacks
- Supplemental diet
- Plenty of water
- Finally, keep aging pets close to home and by your side. If they are losing their hearing, you don't want them running out into traffic or other dangerous situations. Help children understand that aging pets may get cranky.
When should you bring an older pet to the vet?
If you notice any of these abnormalcies, it's time to consult with a professional.
- A lump or bump
- Shortness of breath
- An appetite change
- Weight loss
- Drinking a lot of water
- Scratching and digging at the skin
Your Dog Can Get Alzheimer's
Dogs can lose mental functioning as they age, much as humans do. While some loss is normal, other cognitive problems could be signs of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CD). The symptoms and behavioral changes of CD are caused by histolic lesions in the brain, very similar to the type found in people with Alzheimer's. CD strikes dogs that are age seven or older.
Common Symptoms of CD:
- Lack of response to familiar verbal cues, such as their name or calls from usual family members
- Loss of house-training skills
- Sleep disruption
Medications for CD are available. As with Alzheimer's researchers are learning more about this syndrome every day.