TLC for Senior Pets
Around the age of seven, we start to think of pets as older and suggest stepping up preventive care. While the years might have flown by, pets age more rapidly than humans. Check out cool free apps to help you calculate your pet’s human equivalent age.
The good news is that, just like people, pets are living longer and healthier lives. We want to make certain that the individuals in your animal family do, too.
Seniors Require Special Attention
We recommend your senior pet see us twice a year for examinations. We watch your senior pet more closely for signs of disease, since a number of age-related disorders can sneak up in a fairly short period of time. More frequent clinical laboratory testing to assess the function of major bodily organs and systems may be advised. Many diseases can be treated, managed, and even cured if identified early on.
Age-related conditions we check for include:
- Arthritis and other painful joint or mobility issues
- Dental and periodontal disease
- Diabetes, thyroid problems, and other hormonal disorders
- Progressive organ dysfunction in liver, heart, kidney, and intestines
As your senior pet’s health and mobility declines, you may wish to adapt your home and routines to accommodate new limitations. It is not uncommon for older animals to experience cognitive changes similar to dementia in humans. Suggestions for home care and TLC include:
- Maintain good nutrition to guard against weight gain and preserve muscle.
- Continue to play with and exercise your pet but adapt to gentler, shorter sessions if stiffness occurs.
- Provide nonslip surfaces such as mats or carpeting for your older pets, especially large dogs.
- Consider providing ramps for stairways or steps to sleeping surfaces.
- Keep pathways clear of obstructions throughout your home.
- Buy a low sided litter box for cats and consider multiple litter boxes around the house.
- Brush you cat more frequently, especially in hard-to-reach spots.
- If changes in housebreaking or litter box use occur, it is especially important to rule out medical or behavioral explanations before assuming that it is a cognitive change. One website, created by The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, provides excellent information for keeping the indoor cat healthy and happy.
If your cat or dog is experiencing other behavioral changes, such as confusion or apparent cognitive changes, and we’ve ruled out other medical explanations, try to be patient and accepting. There are some useful treatments for geriatric cognitive disorder, so be sure to talk this over with your veterinarian. Other suggestions include:
- Try not to change or rearrange furniture.
- Maintain a routine feeding, watering, and walking schedule.
- Keep commands short, simple, and compassionate.
- Encourage gentle and involved movement. You may also want to massage your pet.