If you’ve noticed a little grey around your fur-baby’s muzzle, you may have a senior pet. According to the AVMA, as a result of better pet nutrition and access to advanced veterinary care, pets are living longer lives. This means that our beloved companions can be seniors for longer portions of their lives.
But just because we have a senior pet doesn’t mean we should expect them to be unhealthy. Age is not a disease, and senior pets can live active, pain free lives with proper care. Your veterinary team at Sunrise Boulevard Animal Hospital can also help make this a reality.
What is a Senior Pet?
First, what does it mean to be a senior pet? Generally speaking, pets enter the senior life stage around age 7, depending on their species and breed. Your veterinarian can make a determination about your pet’s senior status. This is one more reason that annual preventive care exams are so important.
Early Detection of Disease
Another reason we want to see your senior pet twice a year for exams is that pets age much faster than humans do. In addition to a physical exam, we can use screening tests to help us detect age related conditions before they become advanced. Pets are very good at hiding signs of disease, and finding and treating disease in earlier stages helps them feel better faster and saves you money.
Special Attention for the Golden Years
When your pet is a senior, you may notice outward signs of aging. But your pet’s internal organs, behavior, and activity level may all be going through changes too. Keep a close eye on your pet and bring any of the following to our attention immediately.
- Changes in weight
- Hiding more than usual
- Changes in appetite
- Increased thirst or urination
- Persistent cough
- Foul mouth odor
- Difficulty getting up or mobility problems
- Increased vocalization
- Difficulty breathing
- Bouts of weakness
- Increased sensitivity to noise
- New lumps or bumps
Healthy Habits For Seniors
Senior pets will require certain adjustments to their environment in order to maintain their comfort. Small changes can make a big difference in their quality of life.
Get cozy. Senior pets are more sensitive to changes in temperature. During the winter, provide warm sleeping spots and beds for your senior’s comfort. When it’s hot out, make sure they have access to shade, fresh water, and are able to cool off, preferably in air conditioning.
Eat right. Senior dogs are prone to obesity, which can shorten their lifespan. Make sure your pet eats a balanced, high-quality diet, and that you are feeling the appropriate amount for their age and activity level. Talk to us about a nutrition plan that’s right for your pet.
Keep your senior moving. Exercise on a daily basis not only maintains a healthy weight, it also aids digestion, improves joint health, and provides mental stimulation. If your senior pet seems uncomfortable, talk to us about pain management techniques to help her stay pain free.
Take care of her mouth. Senior pets often suffer from years of deferred management of oral health problems. Dental disease affects over 85% of pets, and can result in a painful, infected mouth. Dental care at home coupled with professional dental cleanings can help keep your senior’s mouth healthy and pain free.
Don’t forget the TLC! Just as in people, aging pets appreciate and need the close contact and interaction with their people in order to thrive. Pay special attention to your senior pet with an extra walk, regular grooming, petting, and playing. Even if your older pet doesn’t respond physically to your touch or voice, he needs your companionship and attention for mental health and emotional well-being.
If you have any questions about senior pet health, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are your partner in compassionate senior pet care.