Pets are generally considered geriatric when they have reached 80% of their expected lifespan. On average, cats live considerably longer than dogs. Small dogs live longer than large dogs.
The term “old age” is heard often by us at Quietus Vet. It is a description of what has been happening to a pet over the previous months or years before we meet. It is most often used when a pet’s behaviour begins to change, and there is nothing else to see – no lumps, no bumps, no coughs. The term “old age” is used when we recognise there is something wrong, but we don’t really know what it is.
In fact, as vets, we recognise that old age is not a single disease. It is a description of an ageing dog or cat who is struggling in their daily routine. As pets get older, their systems don’t work as well. Their muscles become weaker. The heart isn’t as strong. Their liver doesn’t work as well. Their digestion is less effective at coping with unusual or too much food. This is true “old age”.
This is the sort of old age where owners can help their pets by selecting the right foods, by moderating the amount of exercise, and by reducing stress.
Dogs and cats who are aging gracefully simply slow up. They are less active, and they sleep more.
The problem for owners is how to tell the difference between slowing up and illness. As many people now recognise, cats and dogs hide their pain and illness well. They don’t moan and groan like humans. Instead they sit still in a quiet spot away from everyone if they can.
A cat that changes the way he eats – maybe he makes a mess around the bowl, or suddenly prefers dry food – may be suffering from dental problems. Bad or broken loose teeth perhaps.
Young cats sleep a lot, but when an old cat begins to sleep all day and only moves for food and toileting, then we should consider arthritis. A 13 year old dog maybe eating less and drinking more than usual, but it only becomes a problem when she starts to wet her bedding overnight. Is this her kidneys getting old, or maybe diabetes?
A natural next step is to go to the vet for an opinion. That’s all. Just get an opinion. It helps the owner with their decisions. If the vet says do some tests, then an owner can agree or not. If the vet suggests tablets or surgery, then the owner can agree or not. Most vets would rather see a dog or cat for a simple examination than imagining a pet at home suffering in silence.
A common problem with the vet visit is that many owners are worried that if they take their pet to a vets, they will advise euthanasia. And many owners worry that they will be “bullied” into doing it there and then.
So if a vet recommends either treatment or euthanasia, then go home and think about it. You can then go back to the vet, or phone Quietus on 07761 419 501. You only get one chance to do this right! Quietus Vet was set up so that owners and their dogs and cats could experience a better and easier pet euthanasia. We are concerned about the welfare of both pet and owner and we know that being put to sleep should be done at home and in good time.
By offering a welcoming voice and a reliable (bookable) home visit when owners phone, He is making it easier for people to make the decision to put to sleep their pet.
Quietus Vet wants to help pets in pain and distress.
For more information on out services please contact us on 07761 419 501 or by web form at your convenience.