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As our pets get older they are prone to certain health conditions that are linked with age, just like us humans.

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The main difference is that they are unable to tell us if they are not feeling quite right and in some cases, our pets are quite good at hiding the signs.

As we face the colder months, some conditions can be more prevalent during this time. It’s especially important to ensure your senior pet has regular check-ups with the vet so we can spot the signs of any concerns sooner.

Do you know how to spot the signs of some of the most common diseases affecting our older pets?

We’ve pulled together some advice and a few things to look out for below. If you’re concerned your pet is showing any of the symptoms listed and you’re concerned, please call us today or click here to book an appointment online. We’re here to help your pets live their happiest and healthiest lives, whatever their age.

Osteoarthritis

In older pets, the years of wear and tear on the joints can cause them to become inflamed – resulting in movement becoming sore and difficult. Osteoarthritis, or arthritis as we commonly know it, is usually prevalent in the hips, elbows and knees, but can appear in any joint. 

Spot the signs

  • General slowing down, especially on walks 
  • Reluctance to play, jump or go upstairs 
  • Limping/lameness 
  • Muscle wastage 
  • Licking or chewing the skin over affected joints
  • Stiff walking motion (especially when waking up or after exercise)

Heart disease

There are many different heart conditions that can affect our dogs; however, mitral valve disease (MVD) is by far the most common. But what is MVD, and how do you know if your dog has it?

Also referred to as degenerative valve disease, MVD involves the degeneration of the heart valve separating the two chambers on the left side of the heart. As a chronic, progressive disease, it will worsen over time.

Symptoms of MVD may not display easily and in some cases, affected dogs can live their entire lives without showing any signs of the disease. The main symptom for diagnosing MVD is the presence of a heart murmur – this will only be picked up during a routine examination by one of our vets where they can listen to your dog’s heart.

Spot the signs

  • Coughing (after lying down or sleeping, and often worse at night)
  • Slowing down on walks or displaying low energy in general
  • Breathing quicker than usual, with breathlessness and/or panting
  • Weight loss
  • Fainting or collapsing.

If in any doubt, it is always best to get your dog seen by us. On detection of a heart murmur, further tests may be required to confirm the diagnosis.

There are a number of different heart diseases that can affect our cats too; however, cardiomyopathy is the most common. But what is it and how do you know if your cat has it? The term cardiomyopathy covers any disease that affects the heart muscle. There are different types of cardiomyopathies and they are classified according to the effect they have on the function of the heart muscle.

Spot the signs

  • Breathing difficulties/rapid breathing 
  • Cold extremities, suggesting poor circulation 
  • Signs of fainting (although relatively uncommon). 

Symptoms of heart disease may not display easily. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your cat has regular check-ups with us so that any early signs of heart disease can be detected and treated accordingly. We may be able to pick up on: 

  • A heart murmur (listening to your cat’s heart using a stethoscope) 
  • A gallop rhythm (where an additional third beat is heard with each contraction cycle) 
  • Increase or decrease in heart rate. 

If in any doubt, it is always best to get your cat seen by us. On detection of a heart murmur, there may be further tests required to confirm the diagnosis.

Kidney disease

Your pet relies on its kidneys to perform important tasks such as removing toxins from the blood, preventing water loss and regulating blood pressure and acidity levels. When they are not able to perform these tasks properly, this condition is known as kidney failure (or renal disease). Age can be a factor in developing kidney disease, with symptoms and severity differing greatly between cases. 

Spot the signs

  • Excessive drinking leading to frequent urinating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Sudden blindness due to high blood pressure

High blood pressure in cats

Although high blood pressure can occur on its own, the commonest causes are kidney, heart and thyroid disease. As the body is working harder to circulate blood, this can lead to complications with the kidneys, eyes, heart and even the brain. 

Spot the signs

  • Blindness 
  • Weight loss 
  • Noticeable changes inside the eye, including bleeding 
  • Seizures 
  • Disorientation 
  • Change in personality 

In all cases it’s important to ensure that your pet has regular check-ups with us. If you are concerned that your pet may be showing any signs or symptoms mentioned above, then please contact us for advice.

To book an appointment, please call us today or click here. We’re here to help.

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