. Pets are living longer due to advances in veterinary care, diagnostics, and earlier intervention. Even so, the key to enjoying your senior pets lies not only in increasing their lifespan but also in helping them enjoy their later years to the fullest.
Just like people, cats and dogs can be vulnerable to damaging health conditions as they grow older. Kidney failure, heart disease, arthritis, oral disease, malignant tumors, and cognitive dysfunction can take place through the typical maturing process. In earlier times, simply because quite a few health conditions weren't recognized until the pet was in the advanced stages, veterinarians could do nothing more than make a pet's golden years a tad more comfortable by caring for the symptoms of age-related health issues. If the pet was lucky, the issues could advance slowly.
Most pet owners accepted the fact that their four-legged buddies were only able to survive a relatively brief life, get old and pass on. However, the breakthroughs in technical advancements in modern-day veterinary care and insights on pet nutrition mean that not only do pets survive longer but their quality of life has increased enormously as well.
At What Age is a Pet Considered a Senior?
Generally, smaller breeds of dogs live longer than larger breeds, and cats live longer than dogs. Life spans vary with individuals, and pets, like people, grow older at different rates, some more gracefully than others.
A few smaller breeds of dogs, like Terriers, are considered geriatric at fifteen. Large and giant breeds like Labrador retrievers and Rottweiler’s are considered seniors as soon as seven years old. Cats, especially if they are kept in the house, frequently live to their early twenties and do not attain their golden years until their teens.
The single most crucial way a pet owner can take to keep their pet happy and healthy as long as possible is to pencil in regular veterinary exams. As pets age, these exams tend to be more critical than ever, because as with people, quick detection is essential for disease and problem intervention. Younger pets need routine examinations once or twice yearly. However, as dogs and cats approach middle age, these exams should be much more frequent because each year in a pet's life is equivalent to 5-7 people years.
Preventing Health Problems
To detect potential health problems earlier, veterinarians recommend routine lab work, electrocardiograms, blood pressure monitoring, and x-rays to detect early conditions like thyroid, kidney, heart, and liver disease.
Vitamins and immune boosting supplements for both dogs and cats can also help increase energy and strengthen the body so that the animal is not as susceptible to infection and disease. It is always best to take preventative measures: a healthy diet supported by natural supplements, along with moderate exercise will keep aging pets healthy for many years to come.
For pets that do develop a health condition, if detected early enough, many can be treated with prescription medication, physical therapy, herbal supplements, and possibly even a prescribed diet that will not only prolong their lifespan but may also improve the quality of their lives. In some cases, problem health conditions could even be reversed.
Typical Treatments for Aging-Related Ailments
Due to remarkable advancements in medicine, we now have access to better treatments and remedies than ever. One example of science helping our pets live longer is the new generation of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs. Because our older cats and dogs may often develop arthritis and/or hip dysplasia, these newer drugs help alleviate the pain of many senior pets while keeping unwanted side effects to a minimum.
Chondroitin and glucosamine supplements also seem to help older dogs with their arthritis. The recent addition and use of Turmeric, a cleansing agent that is also a powerful anti-inflammatory, has enhanced the effectiveness of these joint supplements. The benefits of Turmeric go even beyond pain relief but also include helping fight other chronic diseases. Advanced veterinary technology includes MRI's, cat scans, radiation treatments, chemotherapy, advanced surgery with laser scalpels, laparoscopy, hip replacements, and much more.
Specialty Treatment Options
More and more veterinarians are pursuing specialty practices to address the needs of those pets whose owners want the best treatment available. Natural treatments are becoming increasingly popular and can include physical therapy, water treadmills, homeopathic remedies and even acupuncture, which can help pets recover from surgeries and gain their mobility quicker. Many diseases common in aging pets, such as arthritis and hip dysplasia, ear infections, gum disease, thyroid problems, and more, can be combatted through natural or homeopathic remedies.
Several age-related problems will still be viewed as unavoidable; however, the attitudes of both veterinarians and pet owners have changed. The belief now is the fact that "age is not a disease," and veterinary medicine is adding greater emphasis on senior pet health through preventative health plans.
The sooner a vet can detect a problem, the more likely they can manage or even correct the problem. Lumps and bumps, if surgically removed when they are small, may prevent the tumors from spreading throughout the body. Advances in oncology now make chemotherapy and radiation therapy almost a normal course of treatment for pets that do have cancer.
Other diseases can also be prevented through regular checkups. By addressing dental disease early on, you can extend your pet's lifespan by nearly three years. Diabetes can be managed with insulin, and special diets and medications are available to prevent heart disease and help the heart pump better. Cats with renal failure can benefit from many of the newer drugs released, as well as by undergoing fluid therapy to help them reduce the built-up toxins that their kidneys can no longer flush out. There are even drugs that can help with cognitive dysfunction in dogs. Some specialists can even remove cataracts so your pet won't go blind.
Because of all of this, our cats and dogs are living longer, with a better quality of life. Who knows what remarkable treatment will be invented next to keep our beloved pets healthy?
If your pet does have to undergo surgery or some form of treatment, there are a number of easy to follow things you can do to ensure they have a smooth and speedy recovery.
As your pet gets older, you will start to worry more about their health and happiness. But with the number of treatments available to help manage (if not cure) pet diseases, you don't need to stress. If you start noticing more grey hairs in their fur, you should bring them in for a checkup more often and pay closer attention to their everyday wellbeing, but there's no need to worry about every little thing.
Have fun with your furry friend and help them enjoy their remaining years with you, and they'll love you forever!
Although it can be devastating to a pet parent to find their cat diagnosed with feline leukemia (FeLV), it is important to realize that with the proper care cats with FeLV can go on to live normal lives.
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