Bannock Animal Medical Center

Keeping Your Senior Pet Healthy

What would we do without our beloved furry friends? We all love our pets, and always make sure to give them the best care possible, but that doesn’t always mean the same kind of care once they start getting older. Senior dogs need different types of attention and care in different ways than they did in their younger years, so it’s important for owners to know how to care for them now that it’s changing. Here are some tips for caring for your aging furry friend.

What’s Considered “Senior”?

First, you’ll need to know if this information applies to you and your pet. Because dogs vary so much from breed to breed, there is not one all inclusive age that is considered “senior.” A dog is a senior when he or she is within 25% of their breed’s life expectancy. Cats are less breed-specific, so they’re considered in the “senior” age group once they are older than 10 years old.

Healthy Feline Friends

On average, cat owners might take their cat to the vet once a year or less, which is not often enough to ensure good health. It is important to take cats in for routine checkups often because if you don’t, small problems can turn into big problems. What happens often in cats is their teeth are never cleaned, and then by the time they reach the “senior” phase of life, they’re experiencing severe, painful periodontal disease and need several teeth extracted because of the severe infection. That is just one example of the many things that can happen if you’re not taking your cat into the vet on a regular basis. This becomes more important and more frequent as your cat is aging. During these visits, your vet might perform blood tests to see whether kidney disease is present. If it is, and it is caught early, dietary therapy can be an effective treatment. During this time of their life it is also important to make sure that they are maintaining a healthy weight and exercise level. Cats who are overweight are at a greater risk for lots of health problems, some of which being diabetes and bladder issues.

Keeping Man’s Best Friend Healthy

Visiting the vet routinely is just as important in senior dogs. The three things that veterinarians do a lot with senior dogs are monitor for cancer, preventing weight gain, and promoting mobility. It has been proven that almost 50% of all dogs over the age of 10 will develop cancer of some kind. This makes it a huge focus that the vet looks for during every check up. You can help out in-between check ups by monitoring for skin cancer by feeling them all over and looking for bumps. If you find any foreign lumps that weren’t there before, get it checked out. It has been proven that keeping your dog at a healthy weight will help them live longer, and also have a higher quality of life while they’re alive because they will have less health problems. The weight of the dog is closely related to his or her mobility level. Once weight becomes an issue, more stress is put on the joints, and after their activity level has significantly declined, the muscles may start to atrophy. This means that their muscles are not strong enough to carry them around anymore. Going to the vet can help this problem a little bit. They can give your dog medications that decrease the joint pain, allowing him or her to move around more.

The most important part to remember is to take your pet to the vet to be aware of what they might be susceptible to, and stop harsh injuries and diseases before they become costly and painful. When was the last time your dog had a check up? Call your vet today!