As pets age, it is important to pay close attention to any changes and address them as soon as they are noticed. We recommend having senior pets examined every six months, or at least once per year. As cats and dogs age faster than we do, a lot can change in six months. Bloodwork is often recommended for senior pets as well, as certain levels in the blood can reveal more than a physical exam can. The more frequent that exams and bloodwork are done, the sooner we can address problems and initiate treatment if necessary.
Owners often want to know what to watch for at home that could indicate an underlying issue. Here is a list of common changes that could have significant meanings:
- Increase/decrease in water consumption
- Increase/decrease in urination/bowel movements
- Unable to walk or jump comfortably
- Whining, whimpering when being touched or picked up
- Weight loss/gain
Like any life stage, it is important to feed seniors a diet that is formulated specifically for their needs. Senior foods have specific ingredients that target senior health needs. For example, botanical oils for cognitive function, glucosamine for joint support, anti-oxidants for the immune system, and omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. Food is fuel and feeding the right food can help our pets thrive in ways that a less suitable food cannot. Along with food, there are other things we can do to aid our senior pets. Here is a list of ways to increase your pet’s comfort as they age:
- Keep their mind busy- use treat balls/cubes to make them work for their food or treats. This is also a great way to get them moving.
- Exercise is key to keep weight in a healthy range- walks, chasing toys, swimming (a great low-impact option)
- Easily accessible food – they may need their dishes higher up off the ground or bigger so that they are easier to eat from
- Easily accessible litterboxes/low-lip litterboxes, allow easy access to outside for bathroom breaks more often/right before bedtime
- Grip socks/boots for slippery floors or sidewalks
- Comfortable bedding- orthopedic/cushioned beds for joint comfort
It is undeniable that like ourselves, our pets will age. The best thing that we can do as pet owners is give them care and comfort. It can be hard to know if something is wrong or if something hurts inside of our pets, even as veterinary professionals this can be a struggle. We want to make your pet comfortable as much as you do, so if you have any questions or concerns about your senior pet, please contact us to book an appointment and we can work together to give your pet the care they deserve.