1. My pet sleeps a lot more than they used to. Is this something I should be worried about?
Older animals often sleep more than younger ones as a normal feature of ageing – and making the most of their retirement. Other reasons that they may spend more time sleeping include feeling unwell, feeling lethargic or being in pain.
2. My 15-year-old cat used to be quite calm. Now she is hyperactive and seems hungry all the time yet is losing weight. What is wrong with her?
One of the more common causes of these signs in elderly cats is hyperthyroidism. It is diagnosed after an initial clinical exam and blood tests. The condition can be managed with medication, or sometimes surgery, to reduce the excessive levels of thyroid hormone produced by this condition.
3. My 12-year-old dog doesn’t want to walk much anymore. Why is he so tired?
Your dog may have an underlying health complaint. Some causes of reduced ability to exercise include overgrown or ingrown nails, joint pain, heart disease, respiratory disease, an under-active thyroid and anaemia.
4. My pet has been drinking a lot more water over the past few months. Is this normal?
Cats and dogs can be thirstier in warm weather, after exercise or salty treats, just like us. However, if their daily water intake has increased significantly then they could have an underlying health concern. Some causes of increased thirstiness in older pets include kidney disease, liver disease, infections such as urinary tract or uterine infections, and hormonal disorders such as diabetes and hyperadrenocorticism. Your pet should be examined by a vet, who may also test your pet’s blood and urine to figure out what is going on.
5. My elderly cat is reluctant to jump up on the sofa and onto walls outside. Is that a normal part of ageing?
Cats get arthritis too, but sometimes it’s harder to spot. There are medications to improve their mobility and comfort.
6. My dog has arthritis. What can I do about it?
There are many ways to help a pet with arthritis. The team at Blackrock Vet Clinic would be happy to discuss the options with you. One of the mainstays of arthritis management is a programme known as WET therapy.
W is for Weight – keeping your pet at its ideal weight helps their mobility and significantly reduces the amount of inflammatory chemicals produced by the body.
E is for Exercise – your pet may need their exercise routine adjusted to match their abilities and comfort level or may benefit from hydrotherapy or physiotherapy.
T is for Treatment – there are many drugs available to help animals with arthritis lead a comfortable life. Painkillers and anti-inflammatories can be very helpful, as can joint supplements and disease-modifying injections like Cartrophen. Soft bedding can help ease the ache of painful joints. For some animals, a referral to an orthopaedic specialist may be appropriate.
7. My pet’s painkillers don’t seem to be helping as much as they used to. Is there anything I can do?
Some drugs work better for one animal and not as well for another. The Blackrock Vet Clinic team are focused on providing the optimal pain relief programme for your pet. If you are concerned about your pet’s comfort, please call the clinic to make an appointment and discuss your pet’s needs.
8. My pet has very smelly breath recently. Is there anything I can do to improve it?
Your pet needs a check-up. They may have dental or oral disease. Animals will often continue to eat even if their mouth is painful, or in time they may become less enthusiastic about meals, opting for softer food instead of harder diets. They may drool or paw at the side of their face if they have toothache. Other causes of smelly breath include diet, dehydration, food or fur trapped between the teeth, and systemic illnesses such as kidney dysfunction.
If your ageing pet’s behaviour or habits have changed, they should come in for a check-up with a member of our team. We will weigh your pet, take a full history, and perform an in-depth clinical examination. We may recommend tests such as blood tests, urinalysis or X-rays based on what we find during your visit. Your pet may be simply ageing normally, or they may have an emerging health problem which we can help you manage to ensure your pet’s golden years are happy ones.