What does it mean when our furbabies start aging? My furbaby can’t be six going on fifty! But, given our furbabies are fifteen when they turn one…maybe it’s not too surprising.
Our furbabies may change in the way they look as they’re aging. You might start to notice changes in their coat: grey hairs being the most obvious. Some furbabies also lose shine and lustre as their coat quality deteriorates. Changes in body condition are also normal, with some furbabies putting on weight as they slow down.
That said, they may look different, but our love for them will never change.
You probably won’t see my grey hair when I’m older. I’m all white!!!
Aging gracefully: Is my furbaby getting cranky?
Another thing you might notice in your aging furbaby is a change in behaviour.
Old animals start to settle down, just like people. The tricky part is determining whether their behaviour is changing because they’re growing older or if there’s something else going on. There are many things that can result in a change of behaviour, including: pain (which may be secondary to arthritis or some other disease process), decline in their sensory function (which can cause anxiety), dementia, and other disease processes.
The furbaby-equivalent of dementia is known as cognitive dysfunction. You might notice this as your furbaby going to the toilet in the wrong spot, staring into space for a long time, or a lack of responsiveness. Some people give up thinking it’s just their furbaby getting old, but there are things we can do to slow down the progression! (We’ll talk about this in a later post.)
If something seems a little bit off with your furbaby, talk to your vet! There are things we can do to slow down the onset of cognitive dysfunction and, as vets, we may be able to detect early signs of disease that might be causing changes in behaviour.
Play ball or stay in bed? Decisions, decisions.
Aging joints: Decreased mobility and arthritis
Arthritis is a very common condition in both dogs and cats (and humans!), especially as they age. Arthritis is inflammation of the joints; as you can imagine, all this inflammation can cause discomfort during motion. Ask anyone with arthritis. It’s very painful!!!
Signs of arthritis in dogs are usually obvious. They may be less willing to jump up or go for walks. They may also seem particularly stiff in the morning and in the cold weather. Arthritis in cats tends to be more difficult to spot because they’re such tough cookies. You may notice them sleeping more or having accidents on the bed or sofas because they have difficulty jumping off from a height.
Is he sleepy or achey?
An aging body system: Systemic changes to expect
Just like people, diseases that affect the whole body become more common as our furbabies grow old. How many of your grandparents have issues with their heart, liver, kidney, hormone (endocrine) or immune system? Past a certain age, we humans get blood tests annually to make sure everything is working properly. Why shouldn’t your furbaby?
This is why it’s important to have regular check ups and perform a blood test. Furbabies age an average of 7-8 human years every year! So an annual blood test for your furbaby is like us doing it every 7-8 years.
Susceptibility to temperature change
We all have a built-in mechanism to cope with changes in temperature. As furbabies grow older, their ability to do this declines. So, make sure they stay nice and warm.
Depart from me, hooman. It’s cold.
Some changes that come with aging are inevitable, but some are not. We want to help your furbaby live a long, happy, healthy life! That’s what we do as vets!
Do you have an older furbaby? Have you noticed any changes? Leave a comment and let us know how your furbaby is going home!
Dr Yuka Kozawa
Dr. Yuka Kozawa is a veterinarian at My Vet Animal Hospital. She’s your “vet next door” with super bubbly personality. She aims to make furbabies’ lives a little bit better with every visit to My Vet Animal Hospital. Dr. Yuka loves baking and is known for her artistic nature. She has a special interest in dog anxiety and arthritis.