Aging Gracefully: A Focus on Senior Pet Care
Do you have a senior pet and are unsure if you are doing your best to care for them? Not to worry, The Mobile Vet Company can guide you. We are exclusively mobile offering Veterinary Services. For many senior pets, in-home care is the best way to meet their health needs. Older dogs and cats can struggle making it to the veterinarian, and often have a stressful experience.
We are passionate about providing quality in-home care because of the way it can transform the value of veterinary care for older pets. Instead of trying to fit everything in a 15-minute exam, we can take our time, and can be incredibly thorough, and educate you about what’s going on with your pet. We can see your pet’s home environment and point out adjustments you can make to improve their quality of life and avoid risks. We can examine your pet when they are calm so that we can get a much better baseline for their health and behavior.
The first time we set eyes upon our bouncing puppy or kitten we are elated. Play time is 24/7 and sometimes we find it hard to keep up! Where do they get such energy? We watch them transition into adulthood and for some pets, this means a more mature look on life…well except for those of us who have our lovable goofballs who still think they are giant puppies.
Unfortunately, our fur babies age a lot faster than we do and what may be a few years in our life may translate to half their lifespan and before we know it, we have a senior pet.
For dogs, geriatric age may be as early as 5 years for larger breeds and 7 years for smaller breeds. Cats generally have a longer lifespan and can be considered geriatric at approximately 8 or 9 years. This means that our senior babies will require a little more TLC as they start slowing down.
Here are some suggestions that may help you and your senior pet as they transition and help them stay as comfortable as possible.
Watch their weight
It’s tempting to feed a hungry senior pet who will eat everything. Heavier pets are at an increased risk for certain diseases like hypertension resulting in heart or eye disease, diabetes and worsened arthritis. Treats don’t have to be calorie-dense goodness. Low calorie options such as carrots, melons or crackers are a joy for some fur babies. And if they love that beef jerky, breaking a piece into several servings works just as good.
Balanced Diet for Seniors
Remember that metabolic requirements for different physiologic states vary from puppy or kitten to adulthood to senior-hood. Senior dogs and cats are at higher risk for muscle wasting and require more protein than fats and carbs. There are several brands that make dog/cat foods suitable for senior pets. Look for one that has actual meat as its first ingredient and is formulated for senior pets.
Maintain An Exercise Schedule!
Contrary to popular belief, aging pets still need a decent amount of exercise to maintain good body condition and muscle tone. They may not be as active as they used to be as puppies or kittens or even young adults but going for regular but short walks or trotting in the case of dogs or making use of toys which encourage movement in the case of cats can be super beneficial.
Increased Resting Periods
After all that up and down with exercise, your older baby will need to get lots of sleep. This will help them to regenerate a lot more energy and allow their body to recover.
Joint Support Supplements
Start your pets who are about to enter their senior years on glucosamine/chondroitin supplements and Omega 3 fatty acids. These can help to spare much of the joint tissue that wears as they age. These will not be enough for your pet most of the time and we typically recommend weight loss/management, pain meds and even anti-arthritis injections to help but they certainly have a place in maintaining healthy joints such that your pet may not need additional therapy until a later time.
Bi-Annual Vet Check-ups
Older pets need to be seen by the vet more often. Some veterinarians may recommend biannual visits and this is for good reasons. Aging pets are at higher risk for kidney, liver, heart disease, certain cancers and other illnesses. Some of these issues can be discovered early by your vet and treatment can be started . Kidney disease, for example, may not be curable but changes in diet, certain medications and lifestyle changes may be able to slow disease progression and give your pet a longer and better quality of life.
This falls under increased veterinary visits. Your veterinarian may recommend routine screening blood work such as a Complete Blood Count (CBC) which assesses your pet’s red and white blood cell counts, platelet counts and hemoglobin, Blood Biochemistry which can either be comprehensive or selected for certain parameters that assess liver and kidney function among others and Symmetric Dimethylarginine (SDMA) which is the earliest marker for kidney dysfunction.
Keep those teeth clean!
Don’t ignore your pet’s dental care as they get older. Dental plaque is a leading cause of heart disease and can cause a lot of harm. Your pet may also have broken teeth, gingivitis and worse periodontal disease that needs to be addressed. Toothaches are pretty painful and so having regular yearly routine cleanings unless otherwise recommended can spare your pet an achy mouth.
Love and Attention
Your senior pet will require different levels of care based on their individual needs. Maybe they can’t climb the stairs anymore and need to be lifted, require a little encouragement or adding toppers on their meals, needing the house furniture to stay exactly the same because of poor vision, and maybe even more hugs and kisses because they can’t follow you everywhere anymore.
Senior pet care can become simpler once you are guided on the know-how’s of what to do and what to expect. If you have a senior pet, give the Mobile Vet Company a call to schedule your first appointment.
At your appointment time, Dr. Buchanan will arrive at your house. She takes the time to get to know your pet, to understand the relationship you share with them, and to work side by side with you to meet your needs. She can help educate you and your family about the deeper “why” of your pet’s health needs, guide you through any important decisions in your pet’s life, and will make sure that you always feel supported, cared for, and empowered.