senior dog.png

Senior Care

Pets are living longer and have a higher quality of life than ever before, thanks to better preventive care, advances in veterinary medicine and better nutrition.

As a caring owner, you play a key role in helping your senior pet remain healthy. From around the age of seven, dogs and cats are officially considered seniors, which makes your decisions regarding their health care, nutrition and exercise that much more important.

The ageing of your pet is a natural and irreversible process.  As cats and dogs grow older, their bodies undergo significant changes and their need for care and attention increases.  Many diseases associated with advanced age can be prevented or successfully treated.

A touch of grey around the muzzle, a less-frisky attitude and trouble getting out of bed are some of the more obvious physical changes you might see in your senior dog or cat. Other changes may be more subtle.

It takes a watchful eye to recognise what may be early signs of disease or health problems. Often when you see outward signs of disease, your pet has already lost significant organ function and has actually been dealing with this disease state for some time.

At Bulimba Vet we want to work with you on preventing, recognising, and managing some common and serious health issues that our older pets will encounter as they move through their “Golden Years”.

FEEDING YOUR SENIOR PET

What is the difference between supermarket and premium quality pet food?

When it comes to pet food, you really do get what you pay for. Premium diet, the type we stock and recommend, are made from human-grade ingredients, and are specially formulated for your pet’s stage of life. Additionally, each batch of premium pet food is the same, compared to those produced by supermarkets, which tend to use whichever ingredients are cheap and accessible at the time.

 

Compared to supermarket foods, premium diets:

  • Contain higher quality proteins

  • Contain a more easily digestible fibre

  • Promote and support dental health

  • Contain Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to improve skin and coat condition

 

Senior or mature diets are designed specifically to cater for the needs of dogs and cats over 7 years of age who are otherwise well.

 

They feature:

  • ~20% reduction in calories (as older animals tend to be less active)

  • Added glucosamine or chondroitin to support joint health and reduce arthritis symptoms

  • Additional Omega 3 fatty acids to reduce joint inflammation and aid coat health

  • Anti-oxidants to protect against free radicals

  • Reduced sodium to decrease the fluid load on the heart

  • Reduced phosphate levels to decrease strain on the kidneys

  • Added tryptophan, an amino acid which supports brain function and helps regulate sleep, anxiety and appetite

  • The amino acid, Leucine, to minimise muscle wasting

 

Feeding your senior pet if they are unwell

Some internal organs age faster than others, therefore some “age-related” conditions actually occur due to a particular organ beginning to fail.  Dietary change can often  successfully slow down the progression of these conditions if they are detected early enough. Any medication requirements will be determined after a full examination, usually involving urine and blood testing. Please consider that these are prescription diets and must be used under veterinary supervision.

 

Some conditions where diets can provide relief or increase your pet’s lifespan include:

  • Kidney disease in dogs and cats

  • Heart disease in dogs

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Dementia and brain disease

  • Thyroid over-activity in cats

SENIOR WELLNESS TESTING

Why do I need to have my healthy senior pet tested? What are we looking for?


Although some age related diseases in your pet cannot be treated, the early
detection of others can delay or at least minimize their effect on your pet's quality of life. Other diseases can be very effectively treated.


It can be very difficult for us to detect the early sub-clinical signs of age-related disease in our pets, as many treatable or preventable diseases may have no obvious early signs. This is why physicians often suggest routine laboratory tests during our own physical exams. Early diagnosis is an important key in the preventative health care of pets and is possible only through routine laboratory testing of apparently 'healthy' animals.


The following is a description of the most commonly suggested diagnostic screening tests, together with the most frequent abnormalities discovered:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC) - Blood test to evaluate the number and type of red, white, and clotting cells. Abnormal values can be associated with bacterial or viral infection, anemia, clotting diseases, and certain types of cancers.

  • Chemistry Profile (chem) - Blood test to evaluate the function of many internal organs. Abnormalities can indicate systemic disorders including diabetes, kidney or liver disease, and electrolyte abnormalities.

  • Urinalysis (U/A) - urine samples provide valuable information about kidney function as well as screening for infections and diabetes.

  • Thyroid Hormone Level (T4) - Blood test to measure the amount of circulating thyroid hormone. Deficiency is common in dogs resulting in lethargy, weight gain, and dermatological problems. Increased levels are common in senior cats resulting in weight loss, increased appetite/thirst and heart problems.

 

For patients over seven years of age, we recommend testing every 12 months. This allows us not only to spot when something abnormal, but also to track changes in values which may be a concern.