Helping Our Furry Friends Later In Life
Thanks to the miracles of science and modern medicine, our senior pets are living longer than ever before. However, these advanced stages of life can present new issues for our pets. Most of which can be prevented or managed through frequent and thoughtful veterinary care. Today we will explore various issues that can arise for your elderly pets and what to do about it!
At what age is my pet considered a “Senior Pet”?
While animals may vary in condition from one another at the same age, there are some general guidelines that can be followed to determine senior age. The American Veterinary Medical Association lists the age a cat or dog is considered geriatric as 7 years old. Certain larger breed dogs may be considered geriatric by age 6. It is important to consider that dogs and cats age differently, with cats aging at a slower rate than dogs on average.
Just as when a person gets older, pets can become subject to issues specific to old age. Common issues presented in senior animals can include but are not limited to:
- Thyroid Issues(Namely Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism)
- Heart Disease
- Liver and Kidney Disease
- Weakness of limb or body
What Can I Do To Keep My Senior Pet Healthy?
While those diseases may be frightening, the good news is there are many things you can do to help prevent these issues or mitigate their effects. It all starts with a Senior Wellness Examination.
Seeing your veterinarian 2-3 times a year for general examination can greatly increase your chances of detecting this issues early on should they arise. Veterinarians can recommend a course of action for maintaining and preventing disease.
Senior Pet Examinations include the following:
Lab Work: Senior Bloodwork and Urinalysis can be very important in making sure your pet is healthy and happy. Through this, you can determine important information such as hydration levels, internal organ functions, Anemia and the existence of infection in the body. Fine Needle Aspirates can be important in determining the nature of the lumps and bumps you may find on your pet and may catch cancer before it spreads.
Exercise: Exercise is important for any pet, including seniors! While exercise plans may have to be adjusted to suit the age of your pet, it can keep your pet healthy and mobile for as long as possible.
Diet: What and how often your pet eats can be a huge part of their health! Doctors may prescribe foods or dietary plans/restrictions that can help mitigate a variety of issues and prevent others entirely. Prescription foods can help with kidney function, dental health, and many other important parts of your pet’s general health.
Environmental Change: Simple things like the addition of an elevated food platform or incorporating small stair sets or step stools to your home can drastically help in keeping mobility challenged pets happy. Your doctor may have a variety of suggestions of this nature for you to look into!
As your pets get older they will need your help more than ever to stay healthy and happy! With the help of your veterinarian, your pets can continue being active and happy well into their golden years. Be sure to ask your veterinarian about what we can do to keep your furry friends going strong!