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Pixie the 15 year-old Ridgeback cross dog came in for her 6 monthly check up this morning. For a 15 year-old large breed dog, Pixie is doing remarkably well. Our focus and that of her owner is to ensure that she has the best quality of life possible. With older pets it often means more regular check ups so that we can detect problems quickly and manage them before they become too troublesome. Ideally, a check up every 6 months is a good place to start.

 

Many older dogs lose control of their bladder when they are asleep, which can sometimes mean that they are shifted outside to sleep, or that there are mountains of washing for their owner! In some cases this can be an early indicator of underlying illness and a urine test and/or blood test will help to identify it. Often older dogs have age related incontinence and with regular medication then can sleep inside without any more little accidents.

 

Arthritis is a major factor that influences the quality of life of older dogs and cats. It’s tempting to accept that older animals are stiff and slow to get up, but they shouldn’t be. There are so many options for the management of arthritis and by treating it early in the course of the disease we can keep our older dogs and cats enjoying the quality of life that good mobility allows.

 

In addition to monitoring continence and mobility, we also like to keep a close eye on our older patient’s appetite, thirst and weight. Changes in thirst or appetite, and significant changes in weight can all be early warning signs of age related illnesses, such as kidney disease, thyroid disease or diabetes. If we can detect these illnesses early then we stand the best chance of giving pets the best quality of life that they can have.

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