My Cayman dog, Frisky just turned seven. She is still as frisky as ever but I realize that she is getting older. How old is she in human years? What can I do to keep her healthy?
Pets ages seven times faster than we do; consequently, the potential for age-related disease also progresses seven times as fast. At the age of seven (when your pet is about 50 in people years), we suggest biannual visits with your veterinarian.
Also realise that large dogs age faster than smaller dogs.
The accompanying table shows how old your pets really are and how fast they are aging. According to the chart, Frisky is about 51 years old.
During biannual visits, ask your veterinarian to do a lab analyses-complete blood count, urinalysis, fecal exams, and chemistry profiles. Having these tests done twice a year helps veterinarians detect any age-related disease that your pet may be developing before the disease progresses too far. Survey radiographs may also be recommended to check for arthritis and internal organ abnormalities.
As your pet ages, the chances of its developing a life-threatening disease such as kidney failure and cardiac disease increase. Prevention and early detection of these diseases are imperative to extend the life of your beloved companion. Taking a preventive approach to Frisky’s senior status could increase the amount of time you get to spend with your companion.
Part of prevention includes controlling your pet’s weight.
This decreases the rate that your pet ages and definitely decreases susceptibility to serious diseases.
Older dogs naturally decrease their activity and thus have reduced energy needs. It’s not necessary to feed an 11-year-old Dalmatian, as much as a two-year-old Pomeranian. Ask your veterinarian what diet and amount of food is best for your dog’s age and activity level.
Besides increased veterinary visits and weight watching, be sure to monitor your pet’s behaviour.
Behavioural changes are some of the earliest signs of disease. Changes that may indicate a problem include confusion, decreased interaction with family members, inconsistent sleeping pattern, or loss of house training. You know your pet’s behaviour best, so trust your judgment.
Other behavioural changes are associated with specific diseases. As in humans, arthritis may become a problem in senior pets.
Watch for stiffness, lameness, reluctance to climb steps or jump up, and perhaps difficulty rising after lying down. Dermatologic problems may also increase with age because of metabolic changes. Increased water intake, increased urination, increased weight loss, and decreased appetite may indicate developing kidney
Dental problems increase with age as well.
Watch for increased salivation, bleeding, and inflammation, which may result in serious infection and loss of appetite. Veterinarians understand that your pet is part of the family and they are willing to assist you with your health care decisions as your companion ages. Your veterinarian can help you give your senior pet the best quality of life for as long as possible.