Just like their owners, pets go through a lot of changes as they reach their senior years. At Morinville Vet Clinic, we deal with many of the medical changes that are a concern to pets and their owners. Some examples of these would be arthritis, heart disease and kidney failure. It is important to know that there are many “senior changes” that do not pose a health risk. It is just helpful to be aware of them.
One of the most obvious is a change in the coat. Older pets, especially dogs, tend to go grey in the face and legs as they age. Their coat also starts becoming duller and more matted. This is partly due to the pet spending less time grooming itself and partly due to a decrease in the natural oils of the coat. This last problem can often be helped by adding a supplement to the diet.
Another area that deteriorates in old age is the lens of the eye. The lens is the part of the eye that focuses. It is supposed to be clear. As pets get older, the lens starts to fog up. It usually happens so gradually that the pet can adapt. Still, their eyesight is slowly getting worse. It would be like you trying to drive a car that has a misted up windshield.
Along with the eyesight, many pets have their hearing get worse in old age. It may take years to become completely deaf and for most pets hearing just becomes. What an owner will notice is that the pet startles easily, because you can sneak up on it. Some people will comment that their dog has lost its training. This is because it no longer hears the commands. This is another reason to train dogs with visual commands as well as oral ones.
One change to be aware of in the Morinville area is that pets lose some of the ability to tolerate low winter temperatures as they get older. Pets that used to stay out all day in the winter no longer can tolerate it. They would rather be inside or in a heated kennel.
None of the changes I have mentioned are life-threatening. They are simply changes to be aware of to make your pet more comfortable in his senior years.
Written by Morinville Veterinary Clinic