Senior Pet Care Part I – Dog and Cat
Our senior pets have that endearing place in our hearts. They can read our mind, they are our constant companion and they have been with us through the best and worst. What should you be doing differently to accommodate their aging status? The first and foremost thing to remember is that age is not a disease. Many changes that they undergo as they age can be addressed.
Senior pets often need less calories than their younger counterparts. There are many high quality diets out there to chose from and many that will help address specific needs. For a routine maintenance diet for senior pets, Science Diet has several. Their diets can be broken up into a Mature formula and Senior 11+. They also have these available for cats. These diets are typically lower in calorie with added glucosamine/chondroitin for joint health. For a diet that meets a specific need (joint health, dental health, sensitive stomach, etc) they have Prescription Diets that are formulated to meet these needs. Consult with one of our knowledgeable veterinarians about which diet would be best for your senior pet.
This is perhaps one of the most significant preventatives that can be done to help the quality and longevity of your senior pet’s life. It has been proven that Dental Disease can affect the major organs. For our senior pets who are already battling the disadvantages of aging, adding in dental disease can increase their risk of problems. Brushing your pet’s teeth is the best way to help keep the mouth healthy. If your pet has existing dental problems (consult one of our doctors) – brushing will not remove calculus and should be started after a professional cleaning has been performed. If brushing is not able to be done, routine oral examinations should be performed by one of our doctors so that they can recommend when a dental cleaning should be done.
Early Detection Testing
The time to find out about an underlying condition isn’t when symptoms start to develop. Pets can have problems with their organ function just like people can. While this can be part of getting older, there are many things that can be done to help make their quality of life better. Just because it doesn’t happen doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn about it early. This testing should be performed once per year on healthy pets. Even if nothing abnormal is displayed on the bloodwork, having a baseline of normal values for a pet can greatly help in detecting disease at its earliest.
Aiding our senior pets with their mobility is an essential way to ensure they are not uncomfortable. Many senior pets develop arthritis or other joint issues that make what once was an everyday movement painful. While there is no cure for arthritis, there are many things that can be done to alleviate some discomfort in the early stages. These things include joint supplements, a specialized joint diet, and laser therapy. At home, modifications can be done to help your pet get around easier. Pet stairs can be purchased to help those still reach their favorite places that have a hard time jumping up. For cats who love being up high, giving them similar shelving or other objects to lessen the distance they are having to travel can keep the places these pets love to be within their reach.
Our senior pets might not have the motivation to move around as much and as such the exercise branch of their enrichment tree might decrease significantly. Other enrichment areas should be increased to give them the best quality of life possible. For dogs, teaching an old dog new tricks can be an excellent way to bond and keep the senior dog’s mind sharp. For cats, giving them a bed (with easy access) next to a window and placing a bird feeder outside the window can likewise stimulate their mind. If your dog likes other dogs, setting up a play date with another senior pet gives them a chance to exercise their social muscles without the stress of an overly energetic pet.