Weight-loss in our senior pets

As our pets age, we sometimes notice they are also looking thinner than usual.  Many people think that weight loss is part of the natural ageing process, but this is not the case. 

A number of medical conditions can cause our pets to lose weight - and with appropriate treatment, some of these conditions can be successfully managed to maintain a healthy and happy pet.

Diseases affecting any body system may be involved - from causes such as worms, food allergy or dental disease, through to major body systems such as the heart, kidneys, liver, mouth, gastrointestinal and urinary tracts.  Any infectious or inflammatory processes resulting in pain or an elevated body temperature may cause weight loss.  Some of the more common diseases afflicting the elderly patient include hyperthyroidism (an over-active thyroid gland) in cats, diabetes, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, diseases of the liver, kidney and heart and cancer.

Other indicating signs which may help the vet with their diagnosis would be the animal's eating, drinking, and toileting habits and whether the animal vomits, coughs or retches.  Further questions which might be asked would include whether the animal is breathing normally, or is as active as usual, the duration of time weight loss has been occurring and whether there is any access to toxins.

On physical examination, there may be obvious abnormalities such as an abnormal heartbeat, enlarged thyroid gland or decaying teeth.  To gain a full picture of the animal's health status or in instances where the cause is not obvious, additional diagnostic procedures such as blood testing, urine and faecal samples, x-rays or ultrasound may be indicated.  Some disease processes may be simply treated such as worming for parasites or performing dental extractions on decaying teeth; others such as heart disease and hyperthyroidism may require life-long therapy.

To help manage our pets through their senior years (eight years and older), we offer six-monthly and annual health checkups so we can recognise and treat disorders as early as possible.

To schedule a thorough health check for your pet, or for further advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

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