Signs to watch out for in our pet ‘pensioners’

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Looking after our pets as they reach their elder years is just as important as giving them a good and happy start in life.

Our ‘pet pensioners’ will often slow down as they grow older, but PDSA is warning owners that they could miss signs of serious illnesses in their pets by mistakenly attributing them to ‘old age’.

Just as humans often have more health issues as they grow older, pets are also at a higher risk of certain illnesses as they age.

Kidney disease, arthritis, dementia and certain cancers are all more prevalent in older pets.

PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Elaine Pendlebury, said: “Regular check-ups at the vet are key to meeting an older pet’s healthcare needs – a visit every six months is ideal (unless your vet advises more frequent visits or you are at all worried about your pet’s health) as this will enable any problems to be picked up quickly.”

Owners often notice changes in their pets’ appearance or habits, but don’t always realise their importance and simply assume they are part of “growing old”.

Things to look out for include: weight loss – you may notice this either by weighing your pet, or noticing that bones, such as their hips and backbones, have become more visible; apparent weight gain – such as a swollen abdomen; lack of energy or an unusual increase in activity; finding it difficult to walk; losing their appetite; drinking more than usual; going to the toilet more or less than usual; toileting in unusual places; bad breath or one with an unusual scent.

Other signs include lumps or swellings; vomiting or diarrhoea; seeming disorientated or bumping in to things; becoming restless or making unusual noises at night.

Older pets often require some additional care, but your extra effort will be rewarded by making sure your pet is healthier in their ‘retirement’. More pet care tips on www.pdsa.org.uk/pethealth