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!