The Golden Years Guide: Caring for Your Senior Pet

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17 September 2015
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The Golden Years Guide:

Caring for Your Senior Pet

By Tyler Wolfram

It seems like yesterday that you brought home your energetic puppy or kitten. They frolicked around the yard, full of energy while exploring their new home. As the years pass, you begin to notice a decline in your pet’s daily activities. Your pet is entering into their golden years. Generally, dogs and cats are considered geriatric after 8 to 12 years of age. However, cats and small dogs tend to age more slowly and live longer than larger dogs. With modern veterinary medicine, it’s not uncommon for our pets to live longer. Western Veterinary Clinic recommends annual exams, regular exercise, feeding a balanced nutritious diet, and dental care to promote the health of your older pet.

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Image Credit: (c) Can Stock Photo

Dogs and cats age quicker than humans, sometimes up to seven years faster! It is recommended that senior pets see a veterinarian at least every six months for a wellness examination. Annual bloodwork, urinalysis, and intestinal parasite screens are important to ensure that health problems are detected immediately. Aging animals undergo metabolic and body composition changes. Some of these changes are unavoidable, but others can be managed with a balanced diet and exercise. Your pet may benefit from supplements such as Motion+ or using a specifically formulated omega-3 chew for pets.

Although your pet is slowing down, physical and mental stimulation provided through exercise is still vital to any pet’s health. Your pet may not be able to hike the Appalachian Trail, but short, less strenuous walks will keep them feeling well.

Dental disease is the number one diagnosis among older pets which poses a serious health threat. It can cause gum and mouth infections, which can damage vital organs. It may be surprising, but veterinarians find evidence of dental disease in pets as early as 2-3 years of age. Dental disease can be painful, causing your pet to avoid eating meals, which leads to weight loss, tooth decay, even tooth extraction. Brush your pet’s teeth daily, use Oxyfresh (an oral hygiene solution) in their water bowl, and dental treats to reduce dental disease. Click here to learn about getting a professional dental cleaning for your pet.

Just because your pet is heading into his senior years, doesn’t mean you can’t have the same fulfilling relationship. Becoming informed about the special needs of your older pet is the first step in keeping your pet healthy. We would love to answer your questions and assist you in adjusting to your pet’s lifestyle changes. Schedule a consultation with one of our doctors to discuss your pet’s health as they age.

Tyler Wolfram works at Western Veterinary Clinic and graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Animal Science. 

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