It's National Senior Pet Month! Senior pets are some of the most loving and caring pets. They have some very specific needs, that when adequately fulfilled, can lead to a long happy life with you and your family! Here are some tips to help keep your senior pet healthy.
1) Twice Yearly Veterinary Exams: This is quite possibly the most important part of keeping your senior pet in good health. Pets age much faster than people; veterinary exams every 6 months is equivalent to people seeing their doctor every 2-3 years! Health concerns with seniors tend to be more chronic (long term) rather than the acute (pop-up) conditions found in young pets. Having a veterinarian who becomes familiar with the needs and conditions of your aging pet can greatly improve their awareness of subtle changes in your pet’s exam and/or diagnostic testing. This will allow them to partner with you to develop the most comprehensive medical treatment plan specific to your pet and family needs.
2) Preventative care and diagnostic testing: Like people, there are various medical conditions that can occur in aging pets which are not typically seen in younger pets. Conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, kidney or liver changes and more. Routine physical exams and diagnostics from your veterinarian will help screen for many of these diseases.
3) Nutrition/Feeding: Feeding your pet a proper diet is essential to their overall health. An effectively mapped diet will help meet the specific needs of your pet, along with the introduction of dietary supplements under the guidance of their veterinarian. Obesity is especially dangerous in senior pets, as it can be a catalyst to various health conditions. Consider feeding two small meals daily rather than one large meal to allow for better digestion and maintenance of energy.
4) Maintaining dental health: Dental disease can lead to many serious health complications. Prevention of dental disease includes proper home dental care and yearly professional dental cleanings. Even with the best home dental care, dental disease can slowly develop, but with continued attention, you and your veterinarian can prevent your pet from progressing through the various stages of dental disease and keep them healthy and comfortable.
5) Active lifestyle: Staying active is very important for senior pets. Mobility decreases with arthritis and other conditions. Consistent walks, games and senior safe exercises will go a long way in keeping your pet mobile.
Simple observation is the most important thing you can do to help your senior pet. Be observant of symptoms or changes in your pet’s demeanor (loss of appetite, lumps and bumps, lack of energy, signs of pain, etc). Proactive awareness and veterinary care can lead to prompt and appropriate medical attention. Our senior pets do so much to bring love and affection to their families, hopefully these tips will help you to return the favor!