5 Groundbreaking Treatments for Aging Pets

Medical Options Can Extend Quality of Life

As our pets begin to age, the onset of senior-related health conditions can happen rapidly. This doesn’t mean your pet doesn’t have options.

Conditions exacerbated by age, such as arthritis, anxiety and cancer, can be improved by veterinary treatments. The sooner your pet is diagnosed and treated for any of these conditions, the better chance he has for improvement and quality of life.

Here are five groundbreaking treatments currently being used by veterinarians to treat aging pets.

1. Cold Laser Treatment for Pets

Cold laser therapy is used by veterinarians, often to help treat pet arthritis.

This noninvasive procedure uses light to stimulate cells and increase blood circulation.  Pain signals are reduced and nerve sensitivity decreases. The procedure also releases endorphins, or natural painkillers.

The procedure is based on the idea that light is absorbed into the cells. The process, known as photo-biotherapy, stimulates protein synthesis and cell metabolism, which improves cell health and functionality.

The therapy can take as little as eight to 10 minutes on a small dog or cat, or about a half hour for bigger dogs with more arthritic areas.

Cold laser therapy is not recommended for animals that have cancer because the device can stimulate blood flow to cancer cells.

2. Medical Acupuncture for Pets

Acupuncture tools

Medical acupuncture is used to help reduce pain and inflammation in dogs by stimulating the energy within their bodies to help jump-start the healing process.

Modern veterinary acupuncture actually uses a number of systems to help treat your dog’s problems, including standard acupuncture needles, needles and electric stimulation or lasers as a source of stimulation.

This form of treatment has proven very effective in improving mobility in pets with arthritis, enabling many to walk and move comfortably again.

3. Anti-Anxiety Treatment for Pets

According to the AVMA, anxiety is one of the most widely-reported behavioral problems and diagnoses for dogs. Up to 40% of dogs are referred to behavioral specialists for anxiety treatment.

One medication veterinary behavioral specialists are using is trazadone, which has proven effective in treating anxiety in pets, particularly separation anxiety, on-set senior anxiety and post-surgical anxiety.

Trazodone was developed as a human antidepressant in Italy in 1966; veterinarians started prescribing it to anxious and phobic dogs in the mid-90s. In recent years, it has become more popular in treating pet anxiety as the medication doesn’t harm the liver and pets don’t need to build up a certain level in their system for it to be effective — it can be given daily or only as needed.

Within an hour, its effect is evident; however, veterinarians recommend giving it to pets before they become anxious otherwise the medication is not effective. It is also often used in conjunction with fluoxetine, otherwise known as doggy Prozac.

4. Radiosurgery for Pet Cancer

Elderly golden retriever

Cancer is the No. 1 cause of death in dogs. With medical advancements in pet oncology, more veterinarians are able to treat their patients with a successful outcome, either eliminating cancer or slowing down the growth of cancer cells.

Radiosurgery (also known as stereotactic radiosurgery) is a way to target cancerous tissue with a very high dose of targeted radiation while avoiding doses to surrounding tissue.

While this technique has been used successfully for years when treating humans, it is relatively new in veterinary medicine. Because this treatment is so precise, it thereby reduces the amount of radiation treatments typically needed. This also means fewer sessions involving stress, anesthesia and side effects for your pet.

5. Monoclonal Antibodies for Pet Cancer

Cat arthritis

Veterinary oncologists are beginning to use monoclonal antibodies to help treat pet cancer.

Monoclonal antibodies are designed to attach to cancer cells. They work by mimicking the antibodies naturally produced by the body as part of the immune system’s response to germs and other invaders.

Used in conjunction with traditional chemotherapy over a treatment course of 12 weeks, the antibodies are believed to shorten the length of treatment and make it more effective.

The chemotherapy kills cancer cells while the antibodies turn on the pet’s immune system. While this has been a positive development in treating pet cancer, pet owners should take note that monoclonal antibody treatment is not necessarily a cure for cancer, but an extension of survival and quality of life.

If you think your pet is a candidate for any of these groundbreaking treatments, discuss thoroughly with your veterinarian who is familiar with your pet’s medical history.