What can we do to extend our pets’ lifespans?
Part of the answer lies in how optimized their health has been up to this point. Good nutrition, parasite prevention, disease prevention, and exercise all play major roles in current and future health. For example, it is well known that periodontal disease and obesity both reduce life expectancy. That being said, with age comes degeneration, no matter how healthy an animal is, which leads to conditions like kidney failure, senility, and osteoarthritis, to name a few. With degeneration comes malaise, depression, lethargy, and sometimes pain. We may look at our aging pet and think that he/she is “just getting old,” but many times they are living with discomfort, confusion, or other symptom that prevents or reduces their enjoyment of life. The beautiful thing is that we can help alleviate these symptoms, especially if we take action at early onset. What can be challenging is noticing a change in our pet’s behavior that clues us in to a change in their well-being. Early signs can be subtle: the first sign of kidney disease is increased water consumption and urine output; the first sign of osteoarthritis is a decreased activity level to avoid using the uncomfortable limb; the first sign of senility may be increased sleep, or occasional break in house-training. We may not realize that something is amiss because these signs can develop gradually. This is why we want to discuss with you any new behavior from your pet. Sometimes, a medical condition is first diagnosed on routine bloodwork. Starting at the onset of the senior years, we recommend annual screening lab tests that can help us to find medical conditions when they first develop, when they are most easily and successfully managed. Success is defined by prevention or reduction of symptoms so that the pet experiences good quality of life for as long as he/she is able. Every year we have new products and medications that we can use in our arsenal against aging; let us help your pet live optimally!