Pets age at an accelerated rate compared to humans. They, by nature, “hide” their pain. Most diseases are progressive and early detection usually carries a better prognosis.
“Old age” is not a disease. Signs of pain or discomfort may easily be detected such as vocalization or not eating. But, more subtle signs include stiffness when rising, no longer climbing the steps, no longer greeting you at the door, decreased appetite but still loves treats or soft food, drinking more or less, any change in their “normal” behavior.
Proactive things you can do as a pet owner:
- Be observant.
- Look for changes
- Seek regular preventative care for your pet which includes; regular exams, routine lab screening (which can detect subtle signs of disease or ones with no current symptoms).
- Know what’s happening with your pet’s bowels and bladder.
- Measure their food and feed scheduled meals. (Therefore, you will know sooner when they are not eating well – provides earlier detection in changes.)
- Their sight and hearing may decline so be aware of their presence, especially if outdoors.
- Feed a good quality, well balanced diet.
- Weight management is key, as this can help significantly with arthritis, diabetes and other diseases. There are senior diets available that are good for them and can be lower calorie as well.
- Dr. Nichola Gaither