Taking Excellent Care of Your Senior Pet
From tiny youngsters to rambunctious adults to mellow seniors, pets go through many changes during their lives. So naturally, their care needs will also change. While it may be hard to believe how fast the time flies, the reality is that pets reach their senior years much faster than humans.
Taking good care of a senior pet means understanding the changes that will occur, as well as the supports your pet will likely need as he or she grows older. To meet your pet’s essential care needs, the team at Hallsville Veterinary Hospital has created some basic guidelines to better care for your sweet, older, senior pet.
Senior Pet Wellness
Once your pet turns 6 or 7 years old, your veterinarian will often recommend twice yearly exams. Since many diseases correspond to age, it’s important to catch any changes in a pet’s health early on. This ensures greater success with treatment and encourages a better prognosis.
As a pet ages, the risk of diabetes, heart disease, dental disease, and conditions affecting the kidneys and other major organs increases. Additionally, many pets develop joint conditions or osteoarthritis, which can limit movement and cause pain.
The aim of senior wellness care is prevention and improved quality of life. Some of the important factors we address when examining your older pet include:
- Nutrition and weight management
- Early disease detection screening or diagnostic testing
- Exercise and lifestyle changes appropriate for your pet’s age and health
- Behavioral and cognitive changes
- Dental health
Depending on your pet’s overall health, we may also look at other supports or therapies that can benefit your fur friend and give him or her the best life possible.
Tips for At-Home Care
There are also beneficial ways pet owners can help support their pets through the golden years. Since many older cats and dogs begin to experience changes in mobility, keeping things like pet beds, food and water bowls, and litter boxes on one floor of the home can help your pet better cope with any joint or orthopedic conditions.
Raised water and food bowls prevent the need for bending down, and several pets enjoy orthopedic beds or additional cushioning to their regular sleeping areas.
For stairs or to enter/exit a car, we also recommend a ramp for your pet’s safety and comfort. Older animals tend to be more affected by heat and cold, so plan to keep the home at a good temperature. Pay close attention to how your pet is feeling on warmer or colder days spent outdoors.
Over half of all cats and dogs in the United States are considered overweight or obese, so it’s vital that your pet maintain a healthy weight. Extra pounds can have a detrimental impact on health and worsen existing conditions. Talk to your veterinarian to learn more about prescription diets and how to keep your pet at healthy weight.
We hope these tips and guidelines for senior pet care inspire you to make some positive changes for your best friend. With a focus on prevention and great daily care, your pet can live a long life full of vitality and lots of love, meaning you’ll have “More Good Years Together”!