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Eight Potential Findings of Concern in an Older Pet

September 3, 2010 by Maria-Elena Cloherty, DVM

As your pet ages, it is wise to go see your vet twice yearly for routine examinations.. Base line blood work at least once yearly is advisable in order to id any early signs of disease and to stave off the progression of these conditions.

Due to improved health care, many of us have pets that are living older. That being said, the key to keeping our pets healthier is noticing the often subtle changes in our pets. Listed below may be indicative of possible health concerns or diseases present.

  1. Changes in drinking or eating – renal disease (dogs/cats), hyperthyroidism (cats), diabetes (dog/cats), hyperadrenocorticism (dogs/cats), intestinal parasitism (dog/cats), dental/oral pain (dogs/cats), etc.

  2. Changes in hair coat -thyroid disease (dogs/cats), ectoparasitism (dogs/cats-ie mites, lice, fleas,etc), follicular issues, etc.

  3. Changes in vision – cataracts (mostly dogs), lenticular sclerosis (normal aging-dogs/cats), dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca- mostly dogs), hyperpigmentation of cornea (mostly dogs) , eyelid masses (dogs/cats), etc.

  4. Changes in hearing – especially noted in breeds that have chronic ear problems from frequent infections (eg Cockers, pugs, etc). (mostly dogs), neoplasia.

  5. Changes in sense of smell/nasal discharge – (dogs/cats) can be due to nasal tumors, infections, nasal foreign bodies, etc.

  6. Changes in breathing – (dogs/cats) pulmonary disease, bronchitis, cardiac disease, asthma, heartworm disease, etc.

  7. Changes in digestion – vomiting/diarrhea/flatulence/constipation- (dogs/cats) irritable bowel disease, thyroid disease, renal disease, various GI forms of neoplasia, foreign body ingestion/toxin ingestion/garbage gut, change in diet, megacolon, etc.

  8. Changes in movement – arthritis (dogs/cats), fractures, bone tumors, sprain/strains, etc.

Please realize that this is not an exhaustive list of all possible etiologies. After reading this list, please contact your veterinarian should you have any concerns. Your pets are a valued member of your family, and thus deserve the best care you can provide.

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