Do you have a senior pet? How can you tell? Check out this article from the AVMA for tips on caring for aging pets “Senior pet care”
Tips for keeping your pets healthy and active in their senior years:
It’s senior pet month, and we want to take a moment to acknowledge all that our senior pets mean to us. They give us their best every day, and we owe it to them to take the little extra steps that they need as they age, to ensure they are as happy and comfortable as we have the power to make them.
The life expectancy of house pets has doubled in the last fifty years. This is due in large part to improvements made to pet food and supplements, the development of many new medications to treat common pet diseases, and lifestyle changes, specifically, allowing pets to live in the house.
There are three things you can pay attention to that will have an impact on your senior pet. They are regular veterinary clinic visits, a healthy senior diet, and regular exercise.
Regular veterinarian appointments and screening exams become increasingly important as dogs reach seven years of age, and cats reach ten. This will often help you catch any health problems or conditions that could affect your pets’ health and well-being.
A healthy senior diet is important because senior cats and dogs tend to eat and drink less as they age. So it is important to ensure that they get all of their essential nutrients and vitamins. It can also help to keep their energy level up and enable them to fight off illnesses.
Even though your pet may be slowing down over the years, regular exercise is an important part of maintaining your cat or dog’s quality of life. It can even help slow down the aging process. Keeping your pet fit can help keep not only their physical health in top form, but it also helps with their mental and emotional health as well.
A healthy pet is a happy pet, and that is a wonderful gift we can give them in their senior years.
Treat your senior pets with the care they deserve
Cats and dogs are living longer these days. It’s wonderful that we get to have them with us for more years, and there are some special factors to consider when caring for them.
- They often require extra attention. They may be frailer and more vulnerable to injury or certain diseases. They may experience vision or hearing loss which means you have to be more vigilant about ensuring their safety.
- Senior pets need to have an age appropriate diet. Some pets may be overweight and require a reduced calorie diet, while others may be underweight and need a nutritionally dense food. Pets with specific conditions such as arthritis or kidney disease have their own unique dietary needs as well.
- Senior pets may need more encouragement to play and exercise. Remember, exercise keeps joints flexible and muscles strong. Play also provides mental stimulation, keeping them young at heart. If there are special issues, you may want to check with your vet about what level of exercise is safe for your pet.
- Senior pets may need some adaptations in their environment to address issues of comfort and accessibility. Some of these adaptations may include softer or heated beds, and ramps to chairs or the car. For cats, you may want provide ramps to perches and favorite sitting spots, and lower sides on the litter box.
- Senior pets also require regular visits to the vet. Early disease symptoms may be difficult to detect at home. Your veterinarian can identify problems early in their development. Treating a problem early can prolong your pet’s life, make him more comfortable, and be less expensive for you than waiting for a health crisis to develop. We recommend exams twice a year for senior pets.
Of course all of us with older pets want to make sure they are happy and healthy as long as possible. These are just some things to consider as they move through their golden years. At Claus Paws Animal Hospital we are honored to care for your aging pet. Call for an appointment today.
As a Vancouver WA Veterinarian, the winter months often find us seeing pets with unexpected signs of discomfort that were not as obvious during the warmer months of the year.
Unexpected aches and pains are not unique to humans. As we age, many of us feel stiff and creaky when we first get up, especially in the cold weather. With similar joints, our pets often feel the same way. Unfortunately, they can’t take many of the same pain relievers that we use; in fact, acetaminophen (like Tylenol), ibuprofen (like Advil) and other similar non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are TOXIC to pets. Even though we experience similar problems, the solution can be a different class of medication for our pets.
However, there are some things that can be beneficial for pets and their people. Many over-the-counter commercial senior dog foods contain glucosamine for joint health, and there are prescription diets like Science Diet J/D and others that help pets cope with the changes that come with aging. Fish oil supplements containing Omega 3-6 fatty acids can also help dogs and cats. It is important to remember that the ratios that are beneficial to people are not the same as for dogs and cats – there are different formulas designed to benefit each species’ unique metabolism. It is very important to talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s specific needs.
When supplementation isn’t enough, NSAIDS may be recommended. Again, human medications are not made for animals and they can have severe, life-threatening side-effects. Our veterinarians will examine your pet thoroughly and ask you about your pet’s lifestyle to help them determine the best course of treatment for their joint pain/arthritis.
We all experience changes as we age, but they don’t need to be negative changes. Call us today to set up your senior pet’s wellness checkup, and learn how to help them age gracefully, in comfort as they deserve.
We have often heard that dogs age seven years for every one “human” year. For cats and small breed dogs, the ratio is about six years to one, but giant breed dogs age more rapidly, at a rate of about nine to one. Generally, the heavier a pet is, the shorter the lifespan. This is not to scare those of us who love our big dogs, but just to get us thinking about the different needs each individual pet may have.
We recommend annual physical exams for all pets, just as your physician recommends for you and your family. Our veterinarians recommend exams twice a year for senior pets (or anytime there is a significant change in personality or health). Can you imagine your grandmother visiting the doctor only once every five years? Think of all the changes that occur in that time frame – and pets undergo the same types of changes in a compressed time frame.
How do you know if it is time for your older pet to come see the veterinarians at Claus Paws Animal Hospital? If you are noticing these changes, it may be time to bring your dog or cat for a check-up:
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Increased thirst and urination
- Changes in activity level
- Difficulty getting up or laying down
- Changes in urination or defecation habits
- Inappropriate urination
- Urinary or fecal incontinence
- Soft stool or diarrhea
- Vomiting or lack of appetite
- Changes in vision or hearing
- Skin condition/hair coat changes
- Changes in social behaviors
- Staying away from family
- Growling/biting at other pets of people
- Seems confused or lost in the home
All of us at Claus Paws have lived with aging pets, and we also see them come in with clients every day. If you have noticed these changes or have other concerns, please feel free to call and talk to our knowledgeable staff. We believe that if you are concerned enough to call, it may be time for an exam. It is easier to treat disease processes in an early stage, rather than trying to “catch up” with an advanced problem. Bringing your senior pet in for regular exams helps keep them healthier, for longer lives!