What to Expect from your Aging Pet

November 4, 2022

Your pets hold an extraordinary place in your lives. For most people, pets are right below your kids on the list of importance. And in today’s society, many younger couples are actually opting for fur babies rather than baby babies. This just shows us how incredibly loved a faithful pet can be.

The only downfall is that pets will age much faster than their human counterparts. There is no way to avoid this aging process; the only thing that you can do is educate yourself on the signs of an aging companion. This article will give you crucial details on what to look for in an aging pet. Knowing the signs could help you give your loved one a longer, happier life

Changes in Eyesight

Chances are that the highlight of your day is seeing your pet when you get home. The same goes for them, as well. Unfortunately, as your pet ages, it may not get to experience this joy anymore. The eyesight of your aging pet is one of the more common things that can be affected. However, if you know the signs, their eyesight can be saved, too.

While it does not significantly affect eyesight all the time, most pets will develop a cloudy appearance to their eyes. The most notable effects on their eyesight might be with close-up objects. This cloudiness appears around ten years old but can begin as early as six years. This cloudiness of their eyes often happens so gradually that the owner does not notice until it gets severe.

old Irish setter dog with white hair

Another effect on the eyesight of your aging pet will be cataracts. This is the process of the eye’s lens becoming non-transparent or opaque. Cataracts will severely affect the pet’s eyesight if left untreated, eventually leading to complete blindness. Cataracts are sometimes caused by diabetes, so it is advised to get your pet tested for that if cataracts begin to develop.

As your body ages, specific muscles in your body will become weak or get smaller. This is known as muscle atrophy. The iris of your eye is a small muscle that allows appropriate amounts of light to enter the eye. As your pet ages, this iris might atrophy, making them more light-sensitive. This condition is not avoidable once it sets in and does typically not come with warning signs. The good news is pet sunglasses are a thing, and they are pretty cute on your fur babies.

The retina begins to thin as your pet ages. This will decrease night vision for them and make it difficult to walk around your dark house or yard. The use of nightlights can help them cope with this. Also, the fat behind their eyes will begin to deteriorate and lead to a sunken look to their eyes.

Changes in Hearing

Your pet loves to hear your car pull into the driveway after what seems like an eternity for them to be apart from you. Sadly, hearing loss in your aging pet is expected around the last third of their everyday life span. This hearing loss is bilateral, which means it will affect both of their ears and is unavoidable. Using hand signals during their youth can help them understand your commands later in life.

Changes in Appearance

As your pet ages, its appearance will likely change. As with humans, this is just a part of getting older. However, these changes are not all bad; some are purely cosmetic and not life-threatening.

The nose of older pets can undergo several changes. They can become dry and begin to crack. If left untreated, these cracks can worsen and begin to bleed and cause pain to your fur baby. Chapstick is a good home remedy for light cases of nose cracking. The pigment can also give the aging pet’s nose a lighter look. Both of these conditions should not affect your pet’s smell, though.

Your aging companion’s skin will also likely show signs of time. This will come in dry, flaky skin or even lumps and bumps. The cells will begin to decrease the production of certain oils that keep their skin and coat shiny and healthy. This is when you will notice the flakes. New lumps or bumps on their skin might resemble warts. These are usually benign tumors but should be examined by your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Some older pets will experience skin infections due to their weakened immune systems. This can frequently lead to strong odors from your pets. While the infection should be treated immediately, the odor is not life-threatening. However, a strong enough odor could cause a rift between your aging pet and your family.

Finally, your pet’s glorious coat of fur could be the victim of aging. The follicles could also atrophy resulting in hair loss or irregular shedding patterns. It is vital to keep up with brushing and bathing your pets in their later lives. Medicated shampoo and a hardy diet of fatty acids can help keep their skin and fur healthy.

old dachshund running on the grass

Changes in Mobility

Going for walks, hikes, or just playing with your pet are some of the happiest times in your life. Just like with yourselves, aging can limit what your pets can do. While they were once young and spry, they now suffer from different conditions that make their favorite activities too tedious or painful.

Arthritis is one of the major culprits in your pet’s mobility loss as they age. It is widespread in most pets. Arthritis will give them stiff joints, joint pain, lameness in their legs, and cause a limp. Arthritis can be treated but not cured, so once the symptoms show, you will need to alter your pet’s activities appropriately. Anti-inflammatory medications can help keep your pet lean in body weight. However, those days of running, jumping, and playing sadly might be a thing of the past.

Muscle loss is another sign of an aging pet. This is due to a condition called sarcopenia that also occurs in humans. When a pet gets to a certain age, this is unavoidable. The pet will likely look thin and frail and have difficulty doing the most rudimentary tasks, such as standing, walking, or running.

Whether it is arthritis or muscle loss, keeping your aging pet active is essential. Light, low-impact exercise will help them stave off these conditions and keep you fit in the process.

Other Changes

While vision, hearing, mobility, and appearance are the main things you will likely notice about your aging pet, there are other things to look out for. An older pet might display a muffled or weakened voice, whether barking or a purr. If you notice this, you should consider a trip to the vet, as this could be an early sign of laryngeal paralysis.

Older pets will show altered or strange breathing patterns as well. This could be a severe condition, so a trip to the vet is necessary if you wish to keep your pet as long as possible. These aging pets will also show signs of behavioral changes. This could be spurts of anxiousness, confusion, disorientation, and forgetfulness. Much like dementia patients, this could be severe so getting it checked out is a good idea.

Lastly, urine and fecal issues can arise in your older pets. This results from the muscles that control the bladder and the anal sphincter becoming weaker with age. Some medications could help with this condition.

An old ginger house cat is resting on the couch in the apartment.
An old ginger house cat is resting on the couch in the apartment.

You Aren’t Alone in Your Pet’s Aging Process!

Your pet is likely a huge part of your life. The last thing you want to do is cut your time with them short because you did not notice or take the signs of their aging bodies seriously enough. Hopefully, this article informed you of what to look for in your aging pets. Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital cares about your aging pet almost as much as you do. Let them help you diagnose and treat these signs of aging today by giving them a call!