For most pet owners, our pets become family. Regardless of whether they have been a part of your family since they were itty-bitty or if they are a newer addition, senior pets capture our hearts. However, owning a senior pet is no small deed; they require a lot of special attention and care to remain healthy.
During your next preventive care exam, be sure to discuss the following things with your veterinarian. Keeping on top of these items will help you keep your senior pet healthy.
- Dental Health. Many owners do not think their pets need dental work; however, just like humans, pets need their teeth cleaned. It is important to note that dental problems do not just appear and then stop, especially when gums are impacted. According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), dental problems can also lead to other systemic issues and diseases. Make sure dental exams are a part of your senior care routine.
- Diet, Nutrition, and Weight Control. We love our pets, and spoiling them is easy. However, older pets are more susceptible to disease; therefore, it is imperative that owners pay attention to what pets eat. This includes discussing supplements, additives, digestibility, and even caloric content with your vet. Since older pets are generally less active than their younger counterparts, ensuring they remain at a healthy weight helps ensure their heart stays healthy too.
- Parasite Control and Vaccination. You may be familiar with heartworm and flea prevention medicine, but you will also need to watch for other parasites. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for testing and preventing parasitic infections, as these can be devastating to a senior pet. Compromised immune systems can be much deadlier for older pets. However, not all pets will require every vaccination; this depends on environment and other risk factors. Discuss updating vaccines with your vet, per AAHA recommendations.
- Keep Your Pet Moving. Just like people, when pets slow down they age faster. While their bones are weaker, there are many ways to keep your pet active and healthy. One way to do this is to take walks with them. It’s good for you too!
- Pay Attention To Mental Health Too. Mental health is easy to overlook, in both people and pets. Keeping your pet mentally stimulated helps preserve their mental health. This should be balanced with routine though, as too much new stimuli can negatively impact your pet’s health.
- Be Prepared To Change Their Environment. Like older people, older pets sometimes need accommodations. This may include changing where they sleep, helping them avoid stairs or difficult terrain, or other changes. Senior pets who have a disability will need special accommodations that you should discuss with your vet.
- Watch for Reproductive Issues and Schedule Regular Checkups. Senior pets who were not neutered or spayed will likely experience some distress in their reproductive organs. There are a variety of different but potentially fatal problems that can arise during senior years; regular checkups can help you and your vet keep an eye on your pet. In some cases, regular checkups should happen every 6 months–once a year just isn’t enough. Catching problems early is important. Increased veterinarian oversight and care can only add to your pet’s life.
Caring for senior pets can be difficult, but it is very emotionally rewarding. They give us some of their best years, so we care about ensuring their last years are comfortable. For more information about how to properly care for your senior pet, or to schedule a check-up, contact us today. We will guide you through this time in your pet’s life with caring and compassion, helping you help them enjoy their last years.