Senior pets need (and deserve) special care! After all, they are family member too. Here are some things to keep in mind when caring for a senior dog or cat:
1. Senior pets need increased medical care and frequent Veterinary visits. We recommend a physical exam every 6 months with blood work and a urinalysis. Senior pets are subject to many health problems such as cancer, heart disease, kidney and urinary tract disease, liver disease, diabetes, arthritis, cognitive dysfunction, and dental problems. Remember, animals are masters at hiding signs of illness until disease is advanced. Veterinarians are specially trained to detect signs of illness at early stages. Problems are easier to manage when caught early.
2. Be careful what you feed a senior pet. Feed a good quality, grain free diet. Animals with medical issues may benefit from a therapeutic diet. Animals with dental issues benefit from canned or moist food.
3. Monitor your senior pet's weight. Gaining a lot of weight due to arthritis pain can make matters worse. Also watch for weight loss, which can signal a medical problem.
4. Maintain mobility. Senior dogs will benefit from short walks, or supervised swimming. Be sure to get a doggie swim vest for your pooch! Many senior pets benefit from a good quality glucosamine with MSM supplement and probiotics.
5. Maintain mental health. Keep your pet's brain stimulated through regular play sessions or food puzzles.
6. Tailor your senior pet's environment to help them. Senior pets may need stairs to get up and down from the bed. Arthritic pets appreciate soft warm bedding, throw rugs on slippery floors. Baby gates can be used to keep them away from hazards. Senior cats appreciate litter pans with low sides (such as ferret litter pans) in convenient areas. If your cat has arthritis, please have a litter pan on each level of the house (not just one in the basement.)
7. Massage your senior pet. Who doesn't love a good massage? Your pet will thank you, and your bond will grow deeper.
8. Watch the following for changes: Appetite, water consumption, urinary and bowel habits, irritability. Changes in any of them can be a sign of a medical problem.
9. Also watch for signs of cognitive dysfuntion (doggie senility): Confusion, disorientation, barking or meowing a lot, pacing, house soiling, anxiety, decreased grooming, wandering, repetitive activities, changes in sleep/wake cycles. If you note these changes contact the Vet right away.
10. Manage pain in senior pets. Many options are available for pain management, ranging from medications to herbs, cold laser therapy and acupuncture. Make their senior years golden! Don't let them suffer in pain.
11. Grooming concerns. You may need to trim your senior pets nails more often if they are not as active. Overgrown nails make it difficult to walk, and can cause painful trigger points in muscles. Be sure to brush your senior pet frequently - they tend to get matted easily if grooming themselves becomes difficult due to arthritis pain.
Please feel free to contact us at (630) 859-0471 or Email us at Foxridgevet@yahoo.com if you have any questions!
Fox Ridge Veterinary Clinic
Judy L. McBeth DVM, CVA
Your pet's family doctor - since 1994