Older Pets are like older people in many ways. They may walk stiffly and have trouble getting up and down stairs. You may notice a dull, dry coat and hazy eyes. They can have many of the same physical problems people do-failing eyesight and hearing, arthritis, heart, kidney, and liver problems and bad breath from dental disease. Early discovery and treatment of the diseases of aging often makes treatment less expensive.
The Biological Clock moves much faster for pets than it does for people. Instead of taking 18 years to reach physical maturity as people do, cats and dogs mature when they are slightly more than one year old. A “senior” cat or dog is usually one over 7 years of age-even younger for some large breeds.
COMMON OLDER PET CONCERNS
Protect older pets from drafts and chills. Play regularly, but less strenuously and for shorter times. Establish regular times for meals, companionship, rest and sleep.
Routines are important to older pets. Disrupting them causes irritability.
Leash your pet outdoors. It may not hear well enough to react to danger. If lost due to failing vision and sense of smell, a visible ID tag may be your older pet’s ticket home.
Arthritis is as common in pets as it is in people. New pain management medications allow us to help make your pet more comfortable.
Vaccinations and Boosters are inexpensive protection against costly treatment or premature death of your pet. We assess risk factors and recommend the specific immunizations your pet needs.
Diet, slowing metabolism and lower activity levels make older pets more prone to obesity. Extra pounds place a burden on heart, lungs, kidneys, joints and muscles. Obesity can reduce life expectancy 30-50%.
Nutritional Needs of your older pet are substantially different from its younger, growing days. Less, but higher quality protein, along with fewer calories and salt, plus more vitamins and minerals may be indicated. In contrast, some older pets have reduced appetite and digestive-absorptive capacity, resulting in inability to maintain optimal body weight. Smell and taste may be diminished with age along with poor oral health which can affect your pet’s desire to eat. Your veterinarian can help determine a nutritionally balanced diet for your older pet.
Pet Wellness Screening is a special need we provide to help extend the life span and quality of life for your pet. To determine the specific needs of older pets, a “senior well-pet work-up” may be prescribed. This type of exam includes a physical with blood screening, urinalysis, fecal exam, and when indicated, ECG and X-rays. Other tests may be a part of a comprehensive physical exam. Many problems can be detected and corrected in their early stages, or their progression and damage slowed down.
How Long your pet lives is influenced by heredity. But, the care and treatment received from YOU can be even more important to his or her longevity! Aging is a natural process. Your love, companionship, understanding and patience, along with proper diet and following your veterinarian’s well-pet care program are vital in helping provide your pet with many more comfortable years.