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Senior Pets Need Regular Vet Visits

Veterinarians monitor senior pets with stethoscope

A personal observation today. As pet owners, we all love whatever kind of animal we own, but we must keep in mind that pets age far faster than humans do, with some pets’ lives dramatically shorter than ours. We have to treat these senior pets accordingly. This hit home with me this week because I had to take our cat, Peanut Butter, to the vet because she’s been acting strangely. Most nights, around 3:00 am, she wakes us up making a noise that can only be described as the sound an animal might make if it’s being skinned alive or water boarded. But no, she’s just sitting in the middle of the room “CATerwauling.”

The veterinarian ruled out other possibilities (thyroid, etc.) and told us that Peanut Butter is “sun-downing,” a term that refers to the disorientation, confusion and fear that those with dementia often experience after dark. Pets can suffer from dementia just like people!

The Aging Process Is Accelerated for Senior Pets

Both of my pets are senior pets- Peanut Butter is about 16 years, and Soldier will be 18 years old soon! They both have seen the vet recently and both have been diagnosed with heart murmurs/enlarged hearts due to aging as well as dementia in some form. Soldier also has arthritis and is nearly deaf.

As a general rule, dogs over eight years old are considered senior pets, although smaller breeds tend to live longer. Cats live a bit longer and are considered senior pets when they are more than ten years old. If you have a tortoise or a parrot, however, they could live until they are 60 and 70 years old. In fact, some reptiles and tortoises outlive their owners!

See the Vet, Pay for the Blood Work

So….all that leads me to this – we have to watch for the signs of aging in our pets so that we can make sure they are as safe and comfortable as possible, Do NOT neglect regular vet visits, even if your pets seem healthy. As they age, they will begin to slow down and they may be trying to hide signs of pain or discomfort from you. Often they won’t give obvious signs of pain or illness until it is quite advanced. If your pets are considered “seniors” (which varies depending on the breed, size and age of an animal), a visit to the vet every six months as a great way to keep ahead of any serious problems and treat them before they cause serious complications.

As pets get older and develop common problems like diabetes and thyroid problems, veterinarians stress the importance of full blood work on a regular basis. The first time this is done it will give the veterinarians a sort of “base line” for your pets’ health. If they do the same blood work six months later and the values have changed, it will alert the vet to an emerging health concern and they can begin treatment earlier and treat the problem more effectively.

In the long run, the cost of routine testing is far less than what you would have to pay if you aren’t monitoring your senior pets and they become severely ill before any tests are done. Being pro-active can save your senior pet’s life and prolong their comfort through old age.






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