Caring for your pet during the senior years seems a long way off. However, pets can reach the senior and geriatric stages in as few as five or six years depending on the breed. And each year that goes by considerably increases their age in human years.
Keeping your dog or cat healthy throughout its lifetime helps improve longevity, quality of life and happiness. Here are four tips to remember when caring for your senior pet:
- VETERINARY VISITS
Your veterinarian is your partner and the best person to discuss care from year to year. During the senior stage, care will include a greater focus on dental care, regular bloodwork, specific checks for potential problems and diseases, and maintaining required and recommended vaccinations.
During the senior and geriatric stages, at least two wellness visits a year are recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). The increase in the number of visits provides the opportunity to address any health problems before they appear or reach an advanced stage. Older pets can experience the same health concerns as aging humans, including arthritis, cancer, diabetes and heart disease to name a few.
As your pet ages, nutritional requirements can change. Just as food during the first life stage promotes growth and development, nutrition during the senior years is formulated for easier digestion, fewer calories, and may include special anti-aging nutrients. Proper weight management helps avoid or manage health concerns associated with obesity like arthritis, heart disease and diabetes.
- RECOGNIZING PAIN
Senior pets with age-related health issues like obesity and osteoarthritis can experience chronic pain. As a survival tactic, dogs and cats instinctively hide pain making it difficult for owners to recognize a problem. Knowing the signs of potential pain in dogs and cats can help you talk with a veterinarian about changes in your pet’s behaviors. Today, with greater emphasis on understanding pain in animals, veterinary professionals are able to better assess the level of pain a pet is experiencing and offer treatment options.
- EXERCISE & DRUG-FREE THERAPIES
Maintaining a level of exercise appropriate to your pet’s age and abilities supports good physical and mental health. If your pet is experiencing pain or limited mobility, talk to your veterinarian about a diagnosis and treatment plan.
An integrative medical approach combines conventional and alternative medicine to create highly-individualized veterinary care. Alternative or holistic veterinary medicine includes drug-free therapies such as veterinary acupuncture, laser treatments, food therapy, and herbal remedies.
Senior pets often experience a loss of mobility or pain and inflammation due to joint disease such as arthritis. Acupuncture and cold laser therapy are two drug-free treatment options with proven results. Natural options can help avoid challenges with pharmaceuticals like unwanted side effects or possible drug interactions. Food therapy can help with weight management.
To set an appointment for acupuncture sessions or to discuss your pet’s health, call Doylestown Veterinary Hospital at 215-345-6000. Call Holiday House Pet Resort & Training Center at 215-345-6960 to learn more about the lodging services and activities recommended for senior pets.