Old age is not a disease, but it can come with some baggage. It is estimated that, in the United States, more than 18 million dogs and 22 million cats are considered senior citizens. Advances in veterinary health care have resulted in our pets living longer, healthier lives. However, senior pets can develop symptoms of old age, like osteoarthritis and neuromuscular diseases, which can greatly diminish their quality of life. Many clients assume that old age is slowing their pets down, when it may actually be pain.
Most people are aware that dogs can develop hip dysplasia and arthritis, but cats get arthritis and back pain too. A recent study showed that more than 90% of cats over age 10 showed signs of arthritis on their x-rays. However, cats are much less commonly diagnosed with arthritis than dogs because they hide their discomfort so well.
Limping, difficulty in sitting or standing, and favoring one limb over another could be signs that your pet is suffering from the chronic pain of arthritis. Therapy programs designed with the elderly pet in mind can help to reduce pain and improve movement.