Vet Stuff with Dr. Steph

Love Your Senior Pet

By January 9, 2020 No Comments

He’s old…I don’t really want to spend much money on him.

This is something we hear. Often. And it breaks my heart.

Your pet is not a car.  You don’t make a calculation as to whether you will get as much out of him at this age as you put into him.  You don’t write her off because she is getting up in years, and can’t do the things she used to do.  What would grandma say about that? Sorry Grandma, I don’t think we should be spending money on that walker, not really sure you will get many more years out of it. 

There is a classic statement in veterinary medicine. Age is not a disease. It is a great statement, and a wonderful come-back to “He’s old…”  But the fact remains that advancing age DOES leave your pet more prone to disease.  One should EXPECT that in the lifetime of your pet, you will need to attend to their health more diligently, more attentively, as they get older.

Arthritis, dental disease, obesity, thyroid disorders.  These problems, among many others, are very common in older pets.  And if diagnosed and treated, they WILL LEAD TO YOUR PET LIVING A LONGER AND HAPPIER LIFE.    This is a scientific fact. 

Take obesity as an example.  A well published study referred to as “The Labrador Study” showed that dogs that maintained a lean body weight had an average life expectancy that was 15 % longer than dogs that were overweight (and note that I say overweight, not just obese).  That works out to 2 years!

Consider dental disease.  Bad breath decreases the quality of your relationship with your pet. That bad smell is from bacteria in her mouth that is constantly spreading through her bloodstream and showering her organs.  Sure severe advanced dental disease will decrease life expectancy due to pain and inability to eat, but even mild or moderate dental disease will decrease life expectancy. 

What about arthritis, nothing you can do about that right? Wrong. Weight reduction, physiotherapy, joint supplements, anti-inflammatories will all help your arthritic pet lead a happier life. And this is not localized to dogs. Cats frequently experience arthritis pain but like with many ailments in cats, their signs might be subtle. 

Many of the things mentioned above can be diagnosed and managed with a simple senior wellness exam.  Nobody is better qualified to recommend further treatments and diagnostics to improve the quality of life in your pet than your veterinarian.  Not google. Not your neighbour. Not your hairdresser. Not the girl working at the pet store. 

This might come as a shock, but we are not superheroes.  We do not have a crystal ball. We do not have x-ray vision.  Sometimes we will recommend that in order to get a better look at your pets overall health, we should run some blood tests, or perhaps take an x-ray.  And sometimes you will spend money on these tests and they will be normal.  That’s a good thing!  I am always shocked when somebody is upset when the bloodwork comes back normal because now it seems like a waste of money.  Would it be better if I had to call and say that your pet had kidney disease, liver disease, anemia or a thyroid disorder? Because for some healthy looking pets, this is the case.

Your senior pet has given you years of love and companionship.  He deserves to be treated like a King through his Golden Years. I am not saying that you should do an MRI on him, unless you want to.  I am not recommending that we must do an invasive surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, although we can.  But he deserves to be free from pain and infection, and live a comfortable life.  

This month is Senior Month.  Bring in your senior pet and we will treat him/her to discounted bloodwork and exams.  Though HE may not appreciate sitting on the exam table, he will appreciate you taking good care of him…hopefully for years to come.  

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