Caring for Your Old Mate

As we humans get older, we all know the golden rules for living longer – regular health check-ups, sensible diet and moderate exercise. The same applies to our pets, particular dogs and cats, if they also are to enjoy longer life. With advances in modern veterinary care it’s possible to ensure they remain healthy and happy, but there are diseases that our elderly pets suffer from that you need to be aware of.


First and foremost, our pets need a diet tailored to their age to maintain good kidney and cardiac health. It must have reduced salt and phosphorous content and the correct level of proteins and other nutrients. The best way to ensure this is to feed them good quality prepared dried food labelled ‘for senior animals’. Now for some of the specific conditions that can affect our old mates.


Dogs with arthritis exhibit a stiff, stilted gait and show an exaggerated swinging of their hips as they walk. Some will yelp with pain when touched. Cats have problems grooming themselves and look untidy. They walk with stilted, stiff back leg movements and often have difficulty using their litter tray accurately as they cannot squat when toileting.

Your veterinarian is likely to use medication to reduce the pain and to give your pet back some quality of life. For dogs, combine this with careful, moderate exercise such as swimming and walking and keep your pet’s weight in check.

Pets and Cancer

Early diagnosis is critical. Not all cancers are dangerous. Benign cancers are usually not life-threatening, don’t spread and can usually be removed safely and easily. Other cancers can be treated by surgical means, with chemotherapy or with radiation.

A Catalogue of Maladies of Mature Moggies

There are three diseases that cause the majority of illnesses in older cats – hyperthyroidism, diabetes and kidney disease.

Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland of cats enlarges and produces excess thyroid hormone.

Amongst the most common abnormalities are a gradual reduction in weight and an increase in water intake and, therefore, in urine output.  Vomiting is seen quite often as is lethargy. However some cats are hyperactive and annoyingly restlessness.  Some cats with hyperthyroidism eat excessively but still lose weight. Your veterinarian will advise on the treatment needed.

Diabetes mellitus is caused either by a failure of the pancreas to produce insulin or by the body not responding in the normal way to insulin that is present. As well as increased urine output, and weight loss, affected cats also become lethargic and depressed and they can develop an unusual gait. Your veterinarian is likely to advise the feeding of a prescription diet food to help regulate glucose production.

In advanced cases, the cat can collapse. This is due to a condition called ketoacidosis and occurs when the cat is digesting its own fat reserves. The blood becomes acidic and this threatens the cat’s life. This is an emergency and your veterinarian should be consulted without delay.

Kidney disease, specifically chronic renal failure, is quite common in older cats. Cats with this condition will lose weight, will drink increased amounts of water and will produce large amounts of urine. These signs are similar to hyperthyroidism and diabetes but your veterinarian will be able to diagnose the condition with a thorough examination and blood tests.

The golden rule for good health and long life for both ourselves and our pets is to have regular veterinary check-ups.

Dr Cams Pet Picks

Senior Dog Pet Pick

This Pet Pick collates a series of articles that relate to older dogs and their care. Included is information on old age diseases with dogs, nutrition and other items of importance…

Dr Cams Pet Picks

Senior Cat Pet Pick

This Pet Pick collates a series of articles that relate to older cats and their care.
Included is information on old age diseases with cats,
nutrition and other items of importance….