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7 Keys to a Healthy Senior Pet

7KeystoHealthySeniorPet

  1. Diet

A pet’s diet needs will change over the course of their life and as they get older.  Considerations for a quality diet include digestibility, calorie levels, and supplements that help with aging.  There are more pet food options on the market than ever before and selecting the “right” one can be daunting for a pet parent.

Check out our blog post on Reading Pet Food Labels to navigate through the marketing claims and get to the core ingredients the food offers.

It is best to check with your veterinarian before switching your pet’s food to ensure it is a good fit for your pet’s lifestyle.  Any change in diet should be done gradually over a few weeks to avoid upsetting your pet’s stomach.

  1. Exercise

Diet and exercise go hand in hand.  Even though your pet is getting older, exercise is still important for him/her to continue a happy and healthy life.  Not only is exercise a great time for you and your pet to bond, it helps keep them slim and trim.  Exercise will also keep their mind active and happy.

  1. Healthy weight

Obesity is a big problem for adult pets, and an even worse one for senior pets.  The extra weight can put stress on their joints, and can lead to arthritis.  Many pet owners chalk up a pet slowing down to their age, but a pet with an appropriate weight can continue to stay active.  If you notice your pet is at all painful, slow to get up, or generally slowing down, it is important to let your veterinarian know.  Supplements or anti-inflammatory prescriptions can help get your pet back in motion.

  1. Regular check ups

Dogs and cats age at different rates from humans, and even each other.  A pet’s aging varies by size, breed, genetics, and nutrition.  Since pets age much more quickly than humans, it is critical that they see a veterinarian at least twice a year beginning at age 7.  Getting a physical exam more frequently can help us catch early signs of aging and disease.

Some symptoms of disease may not present themselves when you are observing your pet at home.  Our trained staff knows what to look for and the questions to ask to identify any problems.

When caught early enough, some diseases can be eased with a prescription diet or supplement.  Common diseases in older pets include: kidney disease, urinary tract disease, heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.

Early detection is key to a long, happy, and healthy life.

  1. Oral health care

Oral health care is important in keeping your pet healthy as they age.  A stinky breath when he/she comes in for a kiss could be a sign that something else is brewing.  A foul odor from the mouth is not normal.  Dental disease can cause a pet discomfort, and potentially cause them to stop eating.  Tartar build up can lead to inflamed or infected gums.  The bacteria that builds up is then introduced to the blood stream and can affect major organs such as kidney, liver, and heart.

While anesthetic risks increase as a pet’s age increases, your veterinarian will evaluate this risk with your pet’s current health and level of dental disease to determine if a dental procedure to remove the tartar or any infected teeth is necessary.

  1. Parasite control

Intestinal and external parasites are not just a concern for young puppies.  Whenever a pet’s immune system is decreased, they have an increased risk of parasites.  Parasitic control should not end when they are puppies or adults.  Monthly heartworm preventatives often provide a dewormer included in the medication.  It is important to continue with heartworm preventative and flea/tick medications all year long, throughout the pet’s life.

  1. Environmental considerations

Some changes in the pet’s environment may be necessary to ensure their comfort and ease of living.   Changes in your pet’s mobility may make it difficult for them to access food, water, beds, and litter boxes.  This can lead to a pet losing interest in food/water or going to the bathroom outside of their litter box.

Consider raising food dishes to make eating more comfortable and providing pet stairs or ramps to help him/her get into the car or onto a bed or couch.  Also consider providing more padding in a pet bed to get them off of cold, hard flooring that can make stiff joints worse.