Project Description

Aged Care – The Golden Years

Just like us humble humans, our older pets often need more attention as they age.

As veterinarians and nurses, one of the most important messages we can communicate about your senior pet is to be aware of changes in your pet’s behaviour, mobility, appearance and habits.

In the animal kingdom, it does not do to advertise weakness, hence often the symptoms of degenerate disease will be subtle, and pets will not demonstrate pain, discomfort or vulnerability in an obvious way. Symptoms may be misinterpreted as being lazy, being naughty, or just getting stubborn.

Our mission at Maroochy District Animal Hospital it to be our patient’s Vets For Life.

Our vets believe that there should be as much, comfort, joy and vitality in every day of the life of a senior pet as when they were a baby. We are passionate about looking after our older patients, and helping our pet parents to recognise when their pet needs some extra attention.

Veterinary medicine has a lot to offer to ensure that our older patients stay well longer and experience a great quality of life, long into their dotage.

After years of chasing balls, running on beaches and generally having a fabulous life on the sunshine coast, many of our pets suffer with the impact of degenerative joint disease, or arthritis, later in life.

The obvious symptoms of arthritis will include difficulty getting up, recurrent limping or just simply slowing down. However,  cats and dogs can be more secretive about their problems, and may just change habits and sleeping spots to avoid stairs or jumping onto higher surfaces, lick of chew at their limbs and joints, or appear to be sleeping a lot more than they have in the past.

Our senior pet patients have a new lease on life when their arthritis is diagnosed and they have the opportunity to experience life with the appropriate medication or nutraceuticals to ease the pain and give them back a better mobility and vitality.  As vets, nothing is more rewarding than hearing those magic words “he’s like a pup again!”

Later in life, our pet patients can experience hormonal changes which can impact on their health and quality of life.

In dogs, the most common conditions are hypothyroidism and cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism). Symptoms can include weight gain, increased water consumption, a bloated tummy, lethargy and changes in the skin and coat.

In cats, the commonest condition to affect older patients is hyperthyroidism, which causes increased hunger, weight loss and an increase in blood pressure which can lead to heart failure.

Our vets recognise the clues to these conditions when we examine older patients, and definitive diagnoses are made by doing blood tests. In a lot of cases, treatment can be as simple as tablets or transdermal gels, to balance hormone levels and help our pets get on with having long happy lives.

Most pet owners are aware that as they age, dogs and particularly cats can develop chronic changes to their kidneys which can impact on their health and wellbeing. In the vet world, there has been an enormous amount of research about how we can look after our patients in chronic renal failure and improve their quality and length of life. Prescription low protein diets are often the cornerstone of managing these patients, with medication to improve kidney circulation and waste clearance also beneficial to keep them well.

Animal behavioural specialist have long recognised that ageing animals can experience very similar progressive cognitive dysfunction as human dementia patients. Like in the human world, this condition is not selective of who it affects, and the progress is usually slow and subtle. Unlike humans, our pet patients don’t have to hold down jobs, make big decisions or run households. Pet owners often report symptoms of apparent confusion, increased barking when left alone, and other manifestations of anxiety. Like with people, anxiety is a very real cause of suffering in dogs in particular, and as vets we have a range of strategies, medications or natural therapies which can help.

Follow this link to an article by one of Australia’s most informed animal behavioural specialists; Dr Kersti Seksel explains in ‘HOW DID I COME HERE? CANINE COGNITIVE DYSFUNCTION”

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