What are the Most Common Diseases to Affect Older Pets?

Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco
Chew toys can help prevent dental disease, a common affliction in older dogs.
Chew toys can help prevent dental disease, a common affliction in older dogs.

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.

It's good for aging pets to continue daily exercise routines.
It's good for aging pets to continue daily exercise routines.

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.

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Discussion Comments

myharley

When I first heard about pet insurance I thought it was kind of a crazy idea. This was until I had an older dog who developed cancer and I was faced with some big vet bills to take care of him.

My whole thought process changed on this issue after this happened. Now I think that insurance for older pets is a good idea. Like all insurance, it is best if you buy it when your dog is healthy and isn't having any problems. You just never know when you are going to need it, and the relief from the financial burden is worth it.

bagley79

Older dogs are not usually as active as younger ones, and it is easy for them to put on weight. My dog had put on more weight than she needed to, and the vet said this was hard on her joints.

I began exercising her more often and this turned out to be a bonus for both of us. We both lost a little bit of weight in the process and she loved taking regular walks.

I also cut down on her food and this helped her lose some pounds. I think this was harder than the exercise because she acted like she could eat 24 hours a day. She ended up losing 10 pounds, and the vet said I probably added a couple of years to her life by doing this.

LisaLou

I noticed that as my lab got older, she had a harder time getting up and around. By this time she was considered a senior dog, and I had her on a special dog food for her age.

I also started adding a supplement that had Glucosamine in it. This had made a difference for my Dad who was struggling with arthritis, and I was told it was also very beneficial for dogs.

The main thing is to be consistent with it. This is something that she will need to be on the rest of her life if I want her to have better mobility. It is not good to start it and stop it, but to give it on a consistent basis for best results.

It is nice to see her able to get up and down the stairs easier and not struggle so much to get up.

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    • Chew toys can help prevent dental disease, a common affliction in older dogs.
      By: biglama
      Chew toys can help prevent dental disease, a common affliction in older dogs.
    • It's good for aging pets to continue daily exercise routines.
      By: Mat Hayward
      It's good for aging pets to continue daily exercise routines.