Aging is something inherent to all living beings. Everyone and every living thing is born with a biological clock marking our genome and depending on the environmental characteristics, life habits and random factors, that clock will get stopped sooner or later.
It is a fact that time passes by differently for us than our pet animals. In general, it is said that one human year is equal to 7 years in our dogs. However, this is something inexact since we have to consider that small sized breeds live longer than big or giant sized ones. For example, 12 years for a small dog would be equal to 62 human years, while that same age for a big or giant sized dog would be similar to 85 or 90 human years. 12 or 13 years is just one period in our lives, but unfortunately this usually is the sole existence of our pets. It is very common to find some couples who had a baby at the same time they had a puppy at home and they have been able to see how their children were growing up at the same time their pet was getting old, so when their children finish primary education, their dogs are very old.
With aging, there is a gradual deterioration of the delicate interrelations of the body systems which predisposes the animal to develop some acquired diseases. In my experience after many years practising small sized animals medicine is that many owners visit the clinic with their pets when some of these disorders related to aging are advanced and we can do practically nothing, possibly because they had not noticed anything in advance. There are a number of pathologies related to aging, that if they are detected early enough, we can possibly act and try to reduce their effects and give quality and even an extension of life to the animal.
Some diseases such as arthritis, heart and kidneys problems, cataracts, diabetes, tooth calculi and periodontal illnesses, prostate in males, different endocrine pathologies etc can be detected early and receive treatment to reduce their advancement. This is why it is important for the owner to assume the age of their animal and to adapt food and life habits to its needs. In the same way, it is very important to have complete tests to detect these problems. At our clinic in Puerto de Mazarrón, we offer for example, a test to for older pets which needs two hours per animal and consists of a complete anamnesis, examination with machines and systems, blood and urine tests, ECG, thorax and abdomen radiographies and abdominal scan for only 60€. These tests will show any abnormalities which can then be treated, possibly giving your pet a better life in its later years.
Although aging is an irreversible process, delaying this and providing your dog with a suitable quality of life is in our hands. In the same way as we have increased human life expectancy over the last decades, something similar has happened for our cats and dogs, although it is true that many owners are not still able to notice the signs and disorders due to aging (probably because they cannot see it for themselves). We recommend visiting the vet to make examinations from 7 years of age in big sized dogs and from 9 years in small sized ones.
Obviously animals cannot speak for themselves, but having these tests will possibly give your pet a few extra years of enjoyment for them and you.
Article written in conjunction with Paco,
Clinica Veterinaria, Puerto de Mazarrón