I’d like you to meet Baloo, our pet of the month.
Although Baloo’s favourite game is to see if he can knock me over while rumbling during his home consultation visits, at 8 years of age, Baloo is now becoming a ‘senior’ pet.
And this means he’s beginning to show signs of chronic diseases that are quite common in our pets as they approach their geriatric years.
What type of chronic disease occurs in senior pets?
Common chronic diseases you might notice in your senior pet include :
- Partial loss of vision or blindness
- Hearing loss
- Heart disease
- Cognitive dysfunction (dementia)
- Periodontal disease
- Kidney disease
The bad news is that chronic diseases often can’t be cured, many are hard to avoid as your pet ages, and they usually persist over a long period of time.
The good news is that many chronic diseases can be treated by your veterinarian, especially if we detect them early enough. We can also provide you with practical ways to make a chronic illness in your pet more manageable, so your pet’s quality of life is improved, and their life expectancy is extended.
Why has my senior pet suddenly become grumpy?
Behavioural changes are often the first indicator of a chronic disease. Becoming grumpy around other dogs is usually caused by pain or discomfort, fear or anxiety, loss of senses (such as sight or hearing) or canine cognitive dysfunction (doggie dementia).
In Baloo’s case he’d always gone on lots of walks with both his parents and dog walker but lately he’d become a little grumpy with some dogs and he now needed to to be supervised a little more. Although patience does tends to wear thin faster in older dogs, in Baloo’s case it was probably triggered by his developing arthritis, a very common ailment I see in senior dogs
Baloo had developed some sore joints in his hindquarters, which especially in winter can become quite sore. Luckily he is responding really well to the arthritis medications I’ve prescribed, so he is still able to run around like a puppy sometimes!
Other signs of arthritis may include reluctance to jump on and off furniture or to climb stairs, excessive grooming around the tail area or licking of joints, being more noticeably stiffer in the morning and taking longer to get settled.
If your dog’s behaviour towards other dogs begins to change or your dog’s becoming grumpy, it’s important that you get your dog checked out by a vet to get to the root of the problem. And if you’re worried about taking your pet to a vet surgery where other dogs are likely to be present, a mobile vet can come to you.
Increase the quality and quantity of your pet’s life
Unfortunately as your pet ages they also become more susceptible to chronic diseases, which is why we recommend more frequent check-ups for senior pets. There are many chronic diseases we can’t cure, but early identification of a chronic illness via regular veterinary checkups enable us to help manage these diseases… increasing both the quality and quantity of your pet’s life.
So how’s Baloo doing now?
He recently developed an acute pain in his neck which turned out to be disc prolapse, but fortunately we were able to quickly identify and treat the problem, thereby avoiding potentially devastating damage to the spinal cord and even paralysis!
Baloo has now made a total recovery after a long period of strict rest, and his arthritis treatment is also helping relieve his sore joints. So I’m very happy to report he’s back to running around outside again, being cranky with dogs that he thinks are annoying him, and giving me a good rumble everytime I visit.
And just between you and me…I wouldn’t have it other way!