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Senior Pets - An image of a mature dog out for a healthy walk

As our pets in Swindon get older they are prone to certain health conditions that are linked with age, just like us humans.

The main difference is that they are unable to tell us if they are not feeling quite right and, in some cases, our pets are quite good at hiding the signs.

As we face the colder months, some conditions can be more prevalent during this time. It’s especially important to ensure your senior pet has regular check-ups with the vet so we can spot the signs of any concerns sooner.

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Do you know how to spot the signs of some of the most common diseases affecting our older pets?

At Eastcott Vets we’ve pulled together some advice and a few things to look out for below. We’re here to help your pets live their happiest and healthiest lives, whatever their age.

Arthritis in older dogs

In older pets, years of wear and tear on the joints can cause them to become inflamed – resulting in movement becoming difficult and sore. Osteoarthritis, or arthritis as it's commonly called, is usually found in the hips, elbows and knees, but can actually appear in any joint.

Spot the signs of arthritis in senior pets:

  • Generally slowing down, especially on walks
  • Stiff walking motion (especially when waking up or after exercise)
  • Reluctance to play, jump or go upstairs
  • Muscle wastage
  • Limping/lameness
  • Licking or chewing the skin over affected joints

Early signs of heart disease in dogs

There are many different heart conditions that can affect our senior dogs; however, mitral valve disease (MVD) is by far the most common. But what is MVD, and how do you know if your elderly dog has it?

MVD is also known as degenerative valve disease. This is because it involves the degeneration of the heart valve that separates the two chambers on the left side of the heart. As MVD is a chronic, progressive disease, it will worsen over time.

Symptoms of MVD may not display obviously and in some cases, affected dogs can live their entire lives without showing any signs of the disease. The main symptom for diagnosing MVD is the presence of a heart murmur – this will only be picked up during a routine examination by one of our vets where they can listen to your dog’s heart.

Symptoms of heart problems in dogs:

  • Slowing down on walks or displaying low energy in general.
  • Coughing (after lying down or sleeping, and often worse at night).
  • Breathing quicker than usual, with breathlessness and/or panting.
  • Fainting or collapsing.
  • Weight loss.

If in any doubt, it is always best to get your dog seen by one of the team here at Eastcott Vets. On detection of a heart murmur, further tests may be required to confirm the diagnosis.

Heart Conditions in Senior Cats

There are a number of different heart diseases that can affect our older cats too; however, cardiomyopathy is the most common. But what is it and how do you know if your elderly cat has it? The term cardiomyopathy covers any disease that affects the heart muscle. There are different types of cardiomyopathies and they are classified according to the effect they have on the function of the heart muscle.

Spot the signs of heart disease in elderly cats:

  • Breathing difficulties or rapid breathing.
  • Cold extremities, suggesting poor circulation.
  • Signs of fainting (although this is relatively uncommon).

Symptoms of heart disease may not be obvious. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your cat has regular check-ups with us so that any early signs of heart disease can be detected and treated accordingly, even if they do not display clearly. We may be able to pick up on:

  • A heart murmur (by listening to your cat’s heart using a stethoscope).
  • A gallop rhythm (where an additional third beat is heard with each contraction cycle).
  • An increase or decrease in heart rate.

If in any doubt, it is always best to get your cat seen by us. On detection of a heart murmur, there may be further tests required to confirm the diagnosis.

Kidney disease in senior cats and dogs

Your pet relies on its kidneys to perform important tasks such as removing toxins from the blood and preventing water loss, as well as regulating blood pressure and acidity levels. When they are not able to perform these tasks properly, this condition is known as kidney failure (or renal disease). Age can be a factor in developing kidney disease, with symptoms and severity differing greatly between cases.

Spot the signs:

  • Excessive drinking leading to frequent urinating.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Weight loss.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Ulcers in the mouth.
  • Sudden blindness due to high blood pressure.

High blood pressure in older cats

Although high blood pressure can occur on its own, the most common causes are kidney, heart, and thyroid disease. As your older cat's body is then working harder to circulate blood, this can lead to complications with the kidneys, eyes, heart, and even the brain.

Spot the signs:

  • Weight loss
  • Noticeable changes inside the eye, including bleeding
  • Blindness
  • Seizures
  • Disorientation
  • Change in personality

Cushings disease in dogs

Dogs with Cushing’s syndrome produce excessive amounts of cortisol. This can have harmful effects on other organs and on the ability of the body to regulate itself. Cushing’s occurs in dogs who are producing excessive amounts of cortisol, an important hormone that helps to regulate the body’s metabolism.

Spot the signs:

  • Large water intake
  • Frequent urination and possible incontinence
  • Ravenous appetite
  • Pot belly
  • Thin skin
  • Hair loss or recurrent skin diseases
  • Muscle wastage
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive panting

In all cases it’s important to ensure that your pet has regular check-ups with us at Eastcott Vets in Swindon. If you are concerned that your pet may be showing any signs or symptoms mentioned above, then please contact us for a health check.

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Spread the cost of essential healthcare for your pet

Logo - Pet Health for Life

To spread the cost of routine and essential healthcare for your pet, we offer our Pet Health for Life plan, which includes an annual health check.

Click here to find out more and to sign up online

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Eastcott Vets

Edison Park Clinic & Hospital, Hindle Way, Dorcan Way, Swindon, SN3 3FR

(You may need to use SN3 3RB for sat nav)

Tel: 01793 528341

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Eastcott Vets

Bath Road Clinic, 59 Bath Road, Old Town, Swindon, SN1 4AU

Tel: 01793 528341

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Eastcott Vets

Cricklade Road Clinic, 6 Clive Parade, Swindon, SN2 1AJ

Tel: 01793 528341

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