As pets get older, they may suffer from a variety of conditions including arthritis, heart disease and cancer.
Arthritis affects approximately 20% of adult dogs, 44% of which are overweight. Whilst any joint may be affected hips, knees and elbows are commonly involved. Symptoms include stiffness and difficulty rising, especially in the mornings; problems climbing stairs or jumping into a car; lagging behind on walks; lameness or an awkward gait. If you think your pet may be showing these signs, contact your vet who will be able to investigate whether arthritis is the cause and advise accordingly.
Arthritis is painful and it may be difficult to appreciate this in pets. A number of possible treatments may be recommended. Pain relief is important in the management of this condition because uncontrolled discomfort limits movement leading to further loss of use of affected joints. Although incurable, effective medications can make an enormous difference to the quality of life of arthritic pets. Occasionally surgery may be very helpful. Weight control is also important and specialist diets are available to help manage the condition.
Approximately 10% of pets that visit vet practices are diagnosed with a heart condition. Symptoms to look out for include coughing (especially at night), a decrease in appetite and tiredness on walks. If you think your pet is suffering from heart disease, it’s wise to contact your vet who will be able to advise you on a diet and exercise regime. Your vet may also prescribe additional treatments to help prolong your pet’s life.
As dogs live longer they are becoming more prone to cancer. Whilst more serious forms do occur, many of the tumours are benign and may be treated- commonly with surgery. As in humans, early recognition and diagnosis gives the best chance of successful treatment. Regular checks for obvious lumps and careful monitoring of a dog’s behaviour and general health, can highlight possible problems, but annual checks at your dog’s booster vaccination appointment are also valuable in picking up some of the not-so-obvious problems which may arise.