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Senior health "disease or dementia"

Thursday, 27 February 2014
When behaviour problems appear in our senior pets they are often put down to old age and are not investigated to find out if there is an underlying medical condition. Common problems seen include house soiling, change in activity level, excessive vocalisation, decreased or increased interaction with owners, change in appetite, disorientation.
Some of these problems may not be due to old age but due to medical conditions such as hormone responsive bedwetting, overactive thyroid (in cats), diabetes and arthritis along with other conditions.
Disorientation is often a telling sign of cognitive dysfunction (Alzheimer’s), behaviour such as wandering aimlessly and getting stuck behind doors and furniture. Dogs are more likely to develop cognitive dysfunction than cats.
If a senior animal appears to have problems it is best to rule out the easily treatable. Sometimes owners avoid a visit to the vet because they dread bad news. Often they are surprised that there are many ways we can make our seniors life more comfortable.
A full clinical examination and maybe some additional tests often means that once a diagnosis is made then a management protocol, established in consultation with the owner, will make the seniors life more comfortable.
Even if cognitive dysfunction is present, there are drugs that can be prescribed to help, along with special diets and activities to keep the brain active.
So don’t always assume your pet is too old to benefit from a senior assessment and discussion about future management with our vets