Cancer & Arthritis in Geriatric Pets: How do their Final Days Fare!
The average age of pets has gone up substantially in the past few decades due to improved veterinary care and better dietary practices. In general, pets now live longer than ever before. While that’s a good thing on face value, pet owners now face a new challenge – age-related conditions.
In particular, cancer and arthritis are the two most common malaises affecting geriatric pets on a wide scale. Before going into the details of these two maladies, let’s decipher the term ‘geriatric’.
When are pets considered geriatric?
The term ‘geriatric’ is related to old age, the end-of-life care stage to be more specific. It varies between different breeds and species of pets. Dogs are considered geriatric from the age of 7 (54 years in human terms). Larger dog breeds have a shorter lifespan and are considered geriatric from the age of 6. Cats also have a comparable geriatric period. Both these species have a lifespan ranging from 9 to 14 years.
There are, of course, exceptions. The highest recorded age of a dog is 29 years, while it is 34 years for a cat.
Pet cancer, or malignant neoplasia, is not uncommon in geriatric. According to estimates, 1 out of every 4 dogs will develop neoplasia at some point in their lives. Other cancers, such as lymphoma, are found more in cats.
Unfortunately, pet cancer is not preventable as the reason for neoplasia is yet unknown. Some forms of cancer are treatable if detected early. There are a few procedures that may reduce the chances of cancer such as neutering, which eradicates the chances of testicular cancer. However, the best opportunity that pets have against cancer is early detection and subsequent treatment.
Arthritis is even more prevalent among geriatric pets than cancer. Over 90% of dogs and cats above the age of 10 suffer from this condition. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, more commonly referred to as a degenerative joint disease.
Along with old age, several other factors such as diabetes, obesity and old injuries may aggravate the condition. Timely diagnosis of arthritis in pets is rare as they tend not to disclose soreness or pain.
Arthritis, while not completely treatable, can be controlled with the right medication. Chondroitin sulphate, glucosamine and several other supplements are used on pets with arthritis.
The increased life expectancy has also increased the number of geriatric pets. As they grow older, it becomes all the more important to pay attention to every little change in their behaviour and habits. It may reveal some conditions they might be experiencing. As the owner, awareness is your key to an early diagnosis of geriatric pets.
In : Preventive care
Tags: arthritis cancer preventive care