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Your pet as an OAP - part II

Q: How common is cancer in older pets?

A: The rate of cancer increases with age. Cancer is responsible for approximately half the deaths of pets over ten years of age. Dogs get it at roughly the same rate as humans, while cats tend to have lower rates. Some cancers, such as breast or testicular, are largely preventable by spaying and neutering. A diagnosis may be based on x-rays, blood tests, physical appearance of tumors, and other physical signs. The ultimate test is through confirmation via a biopsy.  

Q: My pet seems to be in pain, and isn't as active as they should be. What should I do?
A: First, talk to your veterinarian and examine your pet. It might have
arthritis. Older pets, especially large dogs, are vulnerable to arthritis and other joint diseases, and the signs you see can vary.  Signs of arthritis often are similar to signs of normal aging, so if your pet seems to have any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, the best thing to do is to get your veterinarian to examine it, and then advise you as to what treatment plan would be best to help your pet deal with the pain. Arthritis treatments for animals are similar to those for humans, including healty diet and exercise.

Healthy diet and exercise to help maintain proper weight

  • Work with your veterinarian to find a drug treatment that helps relieve the pain.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): the most common treatment for arthritis in dogs, are similar to ibuprofen, aspirin, and other human pain relievers.

  • Over-the-counter pet treatments, such as pills or food containing either glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate or omega fatty acids. Both have shown to help relieve the symptoms of arthritis in dogs.

  • A veterinarian-prescribed NSAID and an over-the-counter treatment that together may help decrease pain and disease progression.

  • Diets with special supplements may also help decrease the discomfort and increase the joint mobility.

  • Do not give human pain medications to your pet without first consulting your veterinarian. Some human products, including medications, can be fatal for pets.

  • Changes in the home environment may also help you deal with an older pet which is experiencing stiffness and/or pain. Orthopedic beds, stair steps to help an animal up to higher places (so they don't have to jump), raised feeding platforms, etc. can help make your arthritic pet's life more comfortable.

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