Have you noticed a little grey on the muzzle of your fur “baby”? Aging in pets sometimes happens before we know it! And, with access to better veterinary care, our understanding of what pets need to thrive, coupled with better nutrition, pets are living longer than ever.
Of course, aging comes with certain conditions and ailments; but age is not a disease! We can make some small adjustments to keep our senior pets comfortable. And, if we meet their health needs, they can live active, happy lives well into their golden years.
Come along with Mobile Vet, MD as we explore senior pet health.
Early Detection of Disease
You know it’s important to have your pet’s preventive care exam on a regular basis. One reason is that with regular examination, we can often find small problems and treat them before they become big issues. Cats and dogs age much faster than humans do, which is why we should see them twice a year after age 7 in order to monitor age related changes.
Lab work and other screening tests are an important part of the process. By looking for any abnormalities in body systems, we can treat earlier, meaning better outcomes for your pet and less of an expense for you. Screening tests often include blood work, urinalysis, chest x-rays, and blood pressure measurement.
Some age related changes that we can detect early with screening tests include:
- Dental disease
- Addison’s disease
- Cushing’s disease
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
- Hip dysplasia
- Lumps and bumps
- Arthritis and other joint diseases
Often, pet owners assume their pets are “slowing down” due to age, but often pets are suffering from pain and discomfort that can easily be remedied with proper and often simple treatment.
Golden Years Vigilance
Pets (especially cats!) are masters at hiding signs of pain and discomfort, so it’s important to pay attention to any behavioral changes that your pet may be exhibiting. Watch for:
- Hiding more often than usual
- Being more affectionate than normal
- Urinating outside the litter box
- Messy eating
- Drinking more water, urinating more often
- Bloody stool
- Bad breath
- Stiffness, decreased mobility
- Brittle coat/hair loss
- Sleeping more
- Changes in weight
Creature Comforts for the Senior Pet
In addition to being aware of how to keep your senior pet healthy, there are a few things you can do around the house to keep them comfortable. Small changes can make a big difference in senior pet health.
Get cozy – Aging pets are more sensitive to variations in temperature. When it’s cold, provide your senior pet with a cozy and warm bed. When it’s hot, make sure they can retreat to a cool place in the house (preferably in air conditioning).
Easy access – For senior pets with joint or mobility problems, simple changes to their necessities can make a world of difference. Move your pet’s bed, water bowl, and food bowl and litter box to a location within easy reach, and where they don’t need to navigate stairs. Consider a ramp for dogs if they need to get down stairs to outside. And evaluate your kitty’s litter box entry if they have a hard time jumping up (or in) to access it.
TLC – Your pet may be experiencing mental changes as well as physical aging. Older pets appreciate a stable routine with their feeding, walking, and bathroom breaks. Take extra time to snuggle, pet, and groom them everyday. A little attention and love from you makes a big difference in their quality of life.
Pain management – If you worry that your pet is in pain for any reason, please contact us. We can talk about creative solutions for pain that can help your pet feel better.
We are your partner in compassionate senior pet care, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns.