Aging Pets, Body and Brain Changes

Aging pets’ physical changes may at first escape our notice — the years pass and while we are busy being busy, one day we look up and seeaging pets our best friend having a little trouble getting up after a nap. We wonder exactly when this began, realize it’s painful and make an appointment with the vet. Excessive panting, sleeping, changes in appetite — none should be ignored. Talk to your vet about the changes your senior pet is going through and when you should bring the dog in to be seen.

At my last visit to the vet with my dog Tashi a newly developed cataract was checked. I knew changes could occur, and asked what to be aware of. He told me to gently — Shih Tzus have shallow eye sockets — apply pressure to the top of the eyelid and check for any hardening of the eyeball. If I found any, I was to bring him in. He showed me how to do a check and let me feel what is normal so I would have something to measure it by. I have found I can do a bilateral check which will make changes easier to feel if they occur.

If you’re like me, your dog or cat sleeps on your bed. This gives you a good idea of any breathing or sleep difficulties, if s/he is waking up in the night, is restless or wanders around the house. Behavior changes can happen so gradually they’re easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. Does your dog suddenly go into the wrong room to go to bed? This may signal cognitive dysfunction. Is your cat uncharacteristically talkative? Yowling around the house could be a sign of hearing loss.

Steve Dale talks to Dr. Gary Landsberg, Veterinary Behaviorist, about problems of aging pets in this video. Enjoy!

 

6 comments
sallykwitt
sallykwitt

Excellent post.  It is hard to worry about our pets as they are older or have an illness.

MySlimDoggy
MySlimDoggy

Good advice. We've lost 3 of our seniors over the last few years. Watching them slow down is tough, but this experience has helped me recognize the symptoms and will help me care for the two almost seniors we have now. We've been adopting seniors for the last few years. They are sometimes hard to place and we have a nice flat ranch house in the country, so no stairs and lots of room. Knowing when to let them go is the toughest. Advice on that from Dr Landsberg would be welcome.

MoversEdge
MoversEdge

Thanks very much for the advice, Miss Mary (@DancingDogBlog)!  It was especially helpful for you to include the video with Dr. Landsberg.  We have several rescued pets (8 in all at the moment), and our senior beagle, Tally, is getting older indeed.  It's hard to watch them age, but we wouldn't trade her for the world.  Thanks again! -@ConsumersTips 

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight

 @MySlimDoggy It is very tough to see, isn't it...sigh. But I think it's wonderful that you are taking in seniors! It's always hard to know when it's time, but it's true we learn from our previous dogs and our own vets about what quality of life means in each circumstance. It is important to have a partnership with your vet when you're dealing with changes in your senior dog(s)...a good relationship can be safety net for both you and your dog -- they avoid suffering as much as possible and in turn so do you Thanks for your thoughtful comment =).

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight

 @MoversEdge This may be a second comment, as the first seems to have disappeared;)  It's great that you have all those rescued pets! 8 is a lot and I am sure they are so happy for your generosity =) Thanks for chiming in, Scott!