While there are many diseases that are seen more frequently as pets get older, arthritis being arguably the most common, old age itself is not a disease. There is no cure or treatment for old age, but there most certainly are treatments for arthritis and some of the other diseases associated with aging.
On a daily basis, we see pets for their annual checkups, and when asking about their current health status, we hear “Fluffy/Rover is doing fine I guess, just getting old.” This is followed with statements such as “he is slowing down”, “she can’t jump in the car any more”, “he just isn’t the dog/cat he was a few years ago”.
Aging happens to us all, humans and pets alike. As humans age though, we do all we can to alleviate the symptoms, and maintain our quality of life and stay active. We do this through medications, health supplements, diet, appropriate exercise, and therapies such as physiotherapy and chiropractic. We generally do not suffer in silence, nor should we.
Unfortunately, many of our pets do just that, most likely because they are more stoic than most people and because it is part of their nature not to want to show any sign of weakness; this does not mean that the discomfort is not present. This is especially true for cats. Additionally, many people are just not aware that virtually any treatment/therapy available for humans is likely available for our pets.
At the first sign of “slowing down” or even before, starting joint supplements will help to keep pets’ mobility at an optimal level for as long as possible. As symptoms progress, medications can be added to keep them comfortable. If pain is controlled, normal movement and function will be better maintained, which in turn will prevent muscle loss and further decreases in mobility. Using alternative treatments such as therapeutic laser, underwater treadmill, and chiropractic adjustments will keep pets comfortable and mean lower doses of pain medications can be used. These treatments can also be very valuable for pets who cannot take medications due to other health concerns.
Consulting with your veterinarian to develop a plan to maintain your pet’s comfort and mobility will greatly enhance their senior years and keep the human-animal bond strong between you and your beloved furry family member. One important thing to consider long before you pet shows age-related symptoms is that many pet insurance plans will cover not only prescribed medications but also the additional therapies such as physio and chiropractic, as long as the policy is in place before a diagnosis of arthritis or other orthopedic problems is made.
Do not go gentle into that good night……..rage, rage against the dying of the light.