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  • Senior Pets | Health Checks | Boundary Vets

Help them live happier & healthier lives in later years in later years with regular check-ups!

Just like humans, as pets age, they become prone to certain health conditions.

Senior Pets - An image of a mature dog out for a healthy walk

The biggest difference between humans and pets is that they are not able to tell us when they feel unwell. They can also be very good at hiding signs of illness. 

As colder months creep in, some conditions can be more prevalent. This is why it is especially important to get your senior pets to your local vets for regular health checks so that we can spot any signs of concern sooner rather than later.

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Do you know how to spot signs of the most common diseases affecting older pets?

At Boundary Vets we’ve pulled together some advice and a few things to look out for below. We’re here to help your pets live their happiest and healthiest lives, whatever their age.

Arthritis in dogs

In senior pets, wear and tear on joints can cause inflammation, resulting in movement becoming difficult and painful. Osteoarthritis, or arthritis as it is more commonly known, is usually more prevalent in hips, elbows and knees, but can appear at any joint. 

Spot the signs:

  • General slowing down, especially on walks
  • Reluctance to play, jump or go upstairs
  • Limping/lameness
  • Muscle wastage
  • Licking or chewing the skin over affected joints
  • Stiff walking motion (especially when waking up or after exercise)

Heart disease in dogs

There are a number of different heart conditions that can affect our dogs, the most common of these is mitral valve disease (MVD). But what is MVD and how do you know if your dog is suffering with this?

MVD, also referred to as a degenerative valve disease, involves the degeneration of the heart valve separating from two chambers on the left side of the heart. This disease will worsen over time due to being chronic and progressive. 

Symptoms of MVD may not display easily; in some cases, affected dogs can live long lives without showing any signs of the disease. The main symptom for diagnosis is the presence of a heart murmur. This will only be picked up during routine examinations by a vet when they listen to your dog's heart. 

Spot the signs:

  • Coughing (after lying down or sleeping, and often worse at night)
  • Slowing down on walks or displaying low energy in general
  • Breathing quicker than usual, with breathlessness and/or panting
  • Weight loss
  • Fainting or collapsing.

If you ever have doubts, the best thing you can do is get your dog checked by your local vet. On detection of a heart murmur, further tests can be required for confirmation of diagnosis. 

Cats can also be affected by a number of different heart diseases; however, cardiomyopathy is the most common. What is this and how do you know if your cat has it? Cardiomyopathy is a term that covers any disease that affects the heart muscle. There are different types of cardiomyopathies that are classified according to the effect they have on the function of the heart muscle. 

Spot the signs:

  • Breathing difficulties/rapid breathing
  • Cold extremities, suggesting poor circulation
  • Signs of fainting (although relatively uncommon).

It is important to get your cat booked in for regular health checks due to symptoms of heart disease not being easily displayed. With regular check-ups, early signs of heart disease can be detected and treated. We may be able to pick up on:

  • A heart murmur (listening to your cat’s heart using a stethoscope)
  • A gallop rhythm (where an additional third beat is heard with each contraction cycle)
  • Increase or decrease in heart rate.

If in any doubt, it is always best to get your cat seen by us. On detection of a heart murmur, there may be further tests required to confirm the diagnosis.

Kidney disease in cats and dogs

Your pet's kidneys are heavily relied on for removing toxins from the blood, preventing water loss and regulating blood pressure and acidity levels. When they are not able to perform these tasks, kidney failure may occur (or renal disease). Age can be a factor in kidney failure as well with symptoms and severity differing between cases significantly. 

Spot the signs:

  • Excessive drinking leading to frequent urinating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Sudden blindness due to high blood pressure

High blood pressure in cats

High blood pressure can occur on its own, but the common causes are kidney, heart, and thyroid disease. As the body works harder to circulate the blood, this can lead to complications in kidneys, eyes, heart and even the brain. 

Spot the signs:

  • Blindness
  • Weight loss
  • Noticeable changes inside the eye, including bleeding
  • Seizures
  • Disorientation
  • Change in personality

Cushings disease in dogs

Dogs with Cushing’s syndrome produce excessive amounts of cortisol. This can have harmful effects on other organs and on the ability of the body to regulate itself. Cushing’s occurs in dogs who are producing excessive amounts of cortisol, an important hormone that helps to regulate the body’s metabolism.

Spot the signs:

  • Large water intake
  • Frequent urination and possible incontinence
  • Ravenous appetite
  • Pot belly
  • Thin skin
  • Hair loss or recurrent skin diseases
  • Muscle wastage
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive panting

In all cases it’s important to ensure that your pet has regular check-ups with us at Boundary Vets in Oxfordshire. If you are concerned that your pet may be showing any signs or symptoms mentioned above, then please contact us for a health check.

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Spread the cost of essential healthcare for your pet

Logo - Pet Health for Life

To spread the cost of routine and essential healthcare for your pet, we offer our Pet Health for Life plan, which includes an annual health check.

Click here to find out more and to sign up online