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What are our aims for the older pet? I would sum it up in the following which could be a sort of motto:
Many older pets no longer wish to be highly active, but they are entitled to whatever activity level they feel satisfied by.
Some areas which many people worry about, or want to know more about are:
What can we check, and why is it worth it?8
How do I know when my pet's quality of life is inadequate?
What happens when my pet dies or is put to sleep?
Animals start their lives with a full set of normal, healthy organs. In most there is plenty of spare capacity to allow for wear and tear, for instance two new kidneys consist of about four times as many functioning kidney units (nephrons) as are needed. However, there are many degenerative processes, most not fully understood, which will lead to a loss of function of individual body parts. The loss of different organs varies from one animal to another so that some animals end up with kidney problems, some with heart problems, some with joint problems and so on.
For a long time organs can compensate for wear and tear but there comes at stage when this can no longer happen and the body has to push the organ to maintain its function. This pushing will lead to damage to the organ and pain or reduced function to the animal. At this point, medical treatment can be used to protect the organ, slow down its degeneration and help keep the animal functioning as near normal as possible.
The way ageing processes happen usually means that there are effects caused by loss of function that increase the rate of loss of function.
Some examples can be seen by clicking these headings:
Because most of these processes are caused by vicious circle effects, treatment can not only improve quality of life, but also increase the life expectancy.
Modern treatments are available for most problems associated with ageing and can provide significantly longer active lives for pets. The secret is to spot the problems as they start.
There is more and more interest in general health checks for humans, and they are also available for pets, especially dogs and cats. It becomes more desirable as the pet ages to check how the main body functions are lasting. We now offer geriatric profiles for dogs and cats over 10 years of age. Further details can be found by clicking this geriatric profile link.
Pets will get a physical check-up when they have booster vaccinations. This will not show early degeneration of organs such as the kidneys and liver. Blood tests can show the state of these organs. There would be little point in checking if there was nothing we could do, but nowadays we can help to slow down degenerative processes in many organs so that early detection of disease allows early control.
There is a new treatment for cats with kidney disease which has been shown to improve appetite, weight and life expectancy.
There are three problems which concern me about offering a health screening service: if we find no problem, a feeling of waste, if we do find a problem not being too upset, and if an owner decides not to have their pet checked that neither we nor they should hold that against them if a manageable problem occurs later. My attitude is that I wish to offer owners a CHOICE of whether to check their pet and to respect their decision. So if health screening isn't for you, don't worry that we will blame you later if your pet gets ill.Go to top of page