Older pets are more prone to certain diseases and conditions that are rarely seen in younger animals. Because animals are living longer than they used to, these diseases are becoming more and more frequent. If you have older pets — over ten years old — it's important to remember that many diseases are curable if detected early and treated aggressively. Nobody knows your pet better than you, so always keep an eye out for noticeable changes in behavior, body weight, or lifestyle patterns, and consult your veterinarian as soon as possible to rule out serious problems.
Older pets have a high chance of becoming obese. While obesity in itself is not disease, it can contribute to the onset of certain diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. In fact, diabetes mellitus is a common problem in older pets, with many animals, especially dogs, becoming insulin dependent. Obesity also makes it harder for older pets to have an active life and to enjoy everyday activities as they used to.
Dental disease is another common malady to affect older pets. This in turn can lead to kidney or liver problems, as the bacteria often gets into the bloodstream. Tartar buildup and gum disease should be treated by a veterinarian even if your pet doesn't seem bothered by it. Tooth brushing and chew toys can help prevent problems, but in older pets that already have advanced dental disease, an in-depth dental scaling may be the only choice.
Older pets are also prone to arthritis and degenerative joint disease, which is especially common in large dogs. Arthritis can be treated with prescription drugs and Glucosamine supplements, but daily exercise also helps. If you have a pet that has suddenly become less active and seems to have a hard time getting up and moving around, have him checked for joint and bone disease.
Cataracts are common among older pets that have a history of diabetes or high blood pressure. The good news is that cataracts can be safely removed through surgery in up to 90 percent of cases, and many pets are also good candidates for intraocular lenses implants, so make sure you ask your doctor about it.