02 4721 5494

22 Belmore Street, Penrith

Penrith Veterinary Hospital


Caring For Aging Pets

Preventative medicine has improved greatly over the last 20 years, which help to improve the quality and length of our friends lives. While many conditions can be dealt with when they come along, there are several conditions that are more common in older pets that, if detected early in process, can be avoided or delayed.

Many people believe that animals normally get very thin as they get older, when in fact it is always due to an underlying problem that this occurs. There are many signs to look for in older animals that aren't associated with them being ill, that, if detected early, can either make treatment easier, or can mean prolonged life with the correct therapy. These signs include:

  • increased drinking
  • increased urination
  • increased appetite, especially if associated with weight loss
  • weight loss despite eating well
  • diarrhoea and vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • change in personality
  • difficulty rising/walking
  • loss of co-ordination

If these things are noticed, it would be wise to consult us (even a telephone call to see if it is worthwhile us checking your pet). If so, we will look at your pet, and may advise further tests.

Kidney problems, especially in aging cats, are one of the most common causes of death in aging animals. Initially, all that is noticed is an increased thirst and an increase in the amount urinated. Some animals lose control of their bladder. Further on, people notice weight loss with a good appetite, then as toxins build up in the blood stream, their appetite decreases, and diarrhoea, vomiting and general lethargy may occur. If kidney problems are detected early, then several things such as change to a 'kidney friendly' diet can help greatly, although unfortunately, most kidney problems of older animals can not be cured.

Diabetes is another disease that causes increased thirst/ urination, as well as weight loss despite often an increased appetite. Early detection and treatment is much easier than treatment when they actually become sick with it (inappetance, vomiting, diarrhoea etc.).

An easy and inexpensive test that we can do to monitor these things is a urine test. We suggest that, for any animal over the age of nine years old, having their urine checked at vaccination time is the best way to pick up on kidney disease and diabetes at the times when treatment would work best. If you wish to do this, contact us and we can provide you with a container (equally, a clean jar is fine). Testing the sample the same day as it is collected is ideal.

Tip for Cats - instead of normal cat litter, use plastic beads or fish tank gravel. That way, when the cat urinates in the tray, you can just pour the urine into a jar.

Arthritis is another common problem, especially in larger dogs. Initial signs include difficulty rising in the mornings, restricted movement in the legs, and difficulty running and chasing. Many dogs that have had exercise will be stiff and sore later that day.

There are now several very safe medications that can control the pain associated with arthritis. There are also medications that can help to improve the joints and slow down the progression of arthritis. These are most beneficial before arthritis has progressed to severe levels.

With the onset of the cooler months, the stiffness and soreness associated with arthritis is often worse. It would be worthwhile considering helping your pet before this occurs.