Aging is an unavoidable part of life, and when it comes to our pets, some will age without any major issues, and some will need a little extra TLC. It is important to know what age-related changes look like and how to manage them appropriately, so we can ensure our pets are comfortable.
When does my pet become a senior?
This can vary between individuals and can be greatly influenced by breed, size, pre-existing health conditions and living situations, but typically:
Small dogs – six to seven years old
Large dogs – five to six years old
Cats – eight to ten years old
You might notice some physical and behavioural changes, such as:
Greying or whitening fur around the nose and mouth or throughout the coat
A general ‘slowing down’ or a slightly less bouncy personality
Longer and more frequent naps throughout the day
More frequent urination, and perhaps the odd ‘accident’
Increased vocalisation – this can be caused by increased anxiety, confusion or frustration
Common Senior Pet Ailments
Some of the age-related changes our pets may experience may be uncomfortable and impact their daily lives a little more than a greying moustache. If you notice any of the below it is important to have your vet check them out to determine a plan to help your pet
Arthritis (inflammation of the joints, making it uncomfortable to stand up and move around).
Loss of eyesight –caused by a clouding of the eyes, cataracts or other eye diseases.
Loss of hearing.
Incontinence – this is common in older pets but there are plenty of treatment plans your vet can recommend. Incontinence can also indicate urinary tract infections, kidney disease or hormonal changes.
Weight changes – due to reduced physical activity and/or changes in hormones as they age, older pets can gain weight. You may also find that they lose weight due to a changed appetite, reduced nutrient absorption, reduced muscle mass or even a digestive illness. Weight gain or loss as a pet ages isn’t normal and should be investigated by your vet.
Lumps and bumps are definitely more common as our pets age! It is always recommended to get them checked by a vet to rule out possible nasties.
Smelly breath – just like us, our pet’s immune systems weaken with age, so their bodies can’t fight off germs as easily as they once did. We can see this as gum disease, tooth decay, or other infections in the mouth, leading to smelly breath. Smelly breath can mean a painful mouth for your pet (not to mention offensive to us!) so check in with our team if you notice this.
How can I make my senior pet more comfortable? There are plenty of ways to manage your pet’s aging, and these tips are very easy to implement:
Talk to your vet about your pet’s diet – they may need more nutritious food for nurturing specific conditions and even the inclusion of dietary supplements.
Let your senior pet sleep inside in winter – keeping them comfy and warm will keep them feeling safe and secure, as well as help to alleviate any arthritis symptoms.
Provide them with soft and easily accessible (not too high or low) bedding.
Add extra water bowls around the house (and closer to their bed area) so they do not need to move around unnecessarily.
Raise food and water bowls to prevent your pet needing to hunch to access the contents.
Offer extra litter trays or make sure their toileting area is easily accessible.
Keep your senior pet active with simple, low impact activities and exercises.
Keep an eye on the temperature. As pets age they may struggle with regulating their body temperature – in winter keep your pet indoors where possible, move their bedding inside and investigate pet jackets or jumpers for some breeds.
If you have a senior pet, we invite you to come into the clinic for a health check to make sure your best friend is in tip-top shape, especially ahead of the winter months where the cooler temperatures can slow everyone down. Call us on (02) 9351 3437 or email email@example.com to book your consultation today.
Dental disease is one of the most common but preventable diseases in pets. It is not only painful and uncomfortable, but the procedure to clean and remove teeth becomes more complicated and often more costly the longer it is left untreated.
What is dental disease?
Dental disease is caused by a bacterial infection that builds up in a substance called plaque. Plaque is made up of food particles and saliva. It sticks to the tooth surface above and below the gum line and if not removed, will calcify into tartar (or calculus). Over time the bacterial infection in tartar causes irreversible changes to occur. These include the destruction of supportive tissues and bone, resulting in red gums bad breath and loosening of teeth.
How do I prevent dental disease?
Good oral hygiene is the most effective way of preventing dental disease. This can involve dental chews, teeth brushing or a special dental diet. During your dental or regular health check-up, our team will be able to offer recommendations on how to keep your pet’s pearly whites shining.
How do I know my pet has dental disease?
Common signs of dental disease include:
Bleeding or receding gums
It is important to keep an eye on your pet’s teeth, and gums, as dental disease can progress rapidly if left untreated.
What happens if my pet has dental disease?
If your pet develops dental disease, our team will be able to discuss the most appropriate treatment options with you. This may involve teeth cleaning or removal.
If your pet is showing any signs of dental disease or has never had a dental check-up before, book an appointment with one of our vets.
Lymphoma is a very common and often an aggressive cancer in dogs. Immunotherapy is a new form of cancer treatment, aiming to target the cancer with the body’s own immune system. We have developed a treatment vaccine for lymphoma using an animal’s own cancer protein. Results of our safety clinical trial showed that the vaccines are safe, and anti-cancer effects are seen in some dogs with lymphoma.
Who is eligible?
• Dogs diagnosed with multi-centric lymphoma without severe clinical signs*
• Receive/Receiving chemotherapy or prednisolone alone
What costs will the study cover?
• Production and administration of vaccines
• Portion of diagnostic and monitoring tests
The University of Sydney’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital has established a canine blood bank to increase the reserves of blood available for life saving transfusions. With 40% of Australian households owning a dog there is significant demand for canine blood products for illnesses such as trauma and internal bleeding caused by poisoning.
With the availability of canine blood being affected by the closure of the main supplier’s blood bank at the University of Melbourne, the need to establish a local program became an urgent priority for the team at the University of Sydney. Dr Christine Griebsch, Specialist in Small Animal Internal Medicine, explained that the program operates similarly to human blood banks. “The success of the program is dependent on the availability of suitable donors. Dogs can donate if they meet various criteria including being fit and healthy, between one and eight years of age, and at least 20 kgs. A suitable donor can donate blood every three months.”
“There are benefits for donors who participate” said Dr Griebsch. “A thorough physical examination is conducted before every donation therefore regular donors are getting check-ups by veterinarians much more frequently than most dogs. As a token of our appreciation participants are given a $100 voucher that can be redeemed on food or consumables. In addition, donors are provided with a choice of a K9 Life Saver collar or leash to acknowledge their valuable contribution.”
The hospital’s introduction of a blood bank complements a comprehensive range of general and specialist services that the University has introduced. “We are pleased to have achieved this important milestone” said Dr Griebsch. “In addition to a general practice, the clinic is a referral centre for other veterinarians to send complex cases, and a teaching hospital for veterinary science students to learn the practical components of veterinary care. The development of a blood bank was a logical step for a world class facility such as ours”.
The hospital has undergone substantial redevelopment in recent years including the purchase of more than $6 million of imaging and diagnostic equipment. It also has a 24 hour emergency service. “Our emergency service will of course rely on the blood bank which is another reason why this initiative is vitally important. We encourage dog owners to consider participating in our program. Whether it is a single donation or a regular contribution, their dog will become a life saver.”
For information on how to participate in the University’s Canine Blood Donation Program, contact the University of Sydney Veterinary Teaching Hospital on 9351 3437.