Celebrating Seniors

Senior PetsSeptember is Celebrate Senior Pets Month here at Country Oaks! Dogs and cats are considered senior at the age of 7, much as we hate to admit it. (My eldest cat, Lockheed, is 9, and much on his dignity – when the other cats are watching.) Just like humans, senior pets often become prone to more medical complaints than when they were younger. And just like human physicians, veterinarians recommend that older pets get yearly blood panels to check how things are going. Many diseases are much easier to treat when caught early!

Running blood panels every year also allows your vet to compare values for successive years, and detect subtle changes that might indicate developing problems.
Wellness bloodwork includes a serum chemistry profile, a Complete Blood Count (commonly called a CBC, it’s a tally of all the different types of blood cells, like red blood cells, the five zillion different types of white blood cells, and platelets), a thyroid test, and urinalysis, plus yearly heartworm and fecal screening.

Our senior pets deserve extra TLC!

Glaucoma in Dogs

Glaucoma is a common condition in dogs, as it is in humans. There are several causes, but essentially what happens is the fluid in the front chamber of the eye – between the lens and cornea – is unable to drain properly, and pressure builds up. That pressure can damage delicate tissues in the eye, especially the retina. This can lead to permanent loss of vision quite quickly.

It can be a painful disease, but is not necessarily so. (I had glaucoma as an infant, and Mom says it didn’t seem to bother me very much.) It is, however, a medical emergency and needs to be treated right away in order to prevent blindness.

Treatment of glaucoma varies depending on the underlying cause. Topical medicines can be used, but often don’t work as well for dogs as they do for humans. Surgery is often the best option. A veterinary ophthalmologist might use a laser, or put in tiny shunts in the eye in order to allow the fluid to drain properly. Sometimes the inner contents of the eye must be removed and replaced with a prosthesis – a silicone ball. Or, if there are other problems such as intractable infection, or neoplasia, if no other treatment has been successful, the eye can be removed entirely. The other eye can often be saved, once the underlying cause has been determined – learning from the first eye and thus knowing what lies ahead. (As was the case for me. I lost the retina in my left eye, but they saved the one in my right!)

Five Early Glaucoma Signs to Watch For:

  • Pain – rubbing or pawing at eye. Squinting or fluttering of eyelid.
  • Dilation of pupil – it may still react to bright light, but slowly.
  • Cloudy cornea – the clear covering over the iris and lens.
  • Increase in blood vessels in the white of the eye – “bloodshot” appearance.
  • One eye seeming larger or protruding more than the other.

12 Common Medical Complaints in Senior Pets

  • Heart disease
  • Skin problems
  • Kidney failure
  • Obesity
  • Dental disease
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Senility
  • Thyroid disease

– Ronda, RVT

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