Our aging pets have a lot of the same problems people get as they age.
Here are 10 common aging conditions pet caregivers should look for. Veterinarians can often provide medication, treatment, and suggestions to help both of you cope.
1. Cognitive Dysfunction
A disorder also known as dementia or senility and progresses with age. It may be caused by the depletion of dopamine in the brain. Caregivers may notice urinary accidents, confusion, pacing, anxiety, trouble reacting to and remembering family members, trouble adjusting to new situations, and sleep disturbances.
2. Diabetes Mellitus
A disease in which the pancreas stops producing insulin or the body is unable to use insulin, resulting in high blood sugar. Caregivers may notice weight loss in spite of an excellent appetite, as well as excessive thirst and urination.
3. Heart Disease
Heart disease can take several forms. It can affect the heart muscle or the heart valve. Caregivers may notice lethargy, coughing, heavy breathing, difficulty sleeping, and lack of appetite.
4. High Blood Pressure
Also known as Systemic Hypertension, this may be caused by another disease such as renal disease, Cushing’s Disease, or hyperthyroidism. Caregivers may notice sudden vision impairment, confusion, and lethargy.
5. Ophthalmic disorders
These affect the eye and include cataracts, nuclear sclerosis, glaucoma, and “dry eye.” Caregivers may see a cloudy appearance in the eye, squinting, redness, ocular discharge, and impaired vision.
A chronic degenerative disease that occurs when cartilage in the joints is damaged from obesity, injury, or excessive exercise. It can also be genetic (inherited) or common in the breed. Caregivers may notice their pet has difficulty rising, climbing stairs, walking on hard wood floors, reluctance to walk, trouble getting in the litter box, and crying or flinching when touched.
7. Renal Disease
Also known as kidney disease, this occurs when the kidneys are no longer functioning properly. Bacterial infections or kidney stones can worsen this. Caregivers may notice excessive drinking, loss of appeite, vomiting, or constipation.
8. Periodontal Disease
A dental disease caused by an accumulation of tartar on the surface of teeth and under the gumline. Left untreated, it will eventually destroy tooth root(s) and periodontal ligaments. Caregivers may notice dark, discolored teeth, bright red gums, reluctance to eat, drooling, and sudden swelling on the face.
9. Thyroid disease
Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid disorder common in dogs. Caregivers may notice weight gain, hair loss, dry coat, skin infections, and lethargy.
Hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid disorder, is common in cats. Caregivers may notice weight loss, hyperactivity, excessive vocalizing, ravenous appetite, and thirst.
10. Urinary Incontinence
A pet who has repeated accidents may have a bladder infection, a weak bladder sphincter, or excessive water consumption caused by another age-related condition such as diabetes or kidney disease. Caregivers may notice urinary accidents that occur when the pet is lying down, and excessive licking of the genitals.
Source: Dr. Tamara Mengine, DVM