National Senior Pet Month senior dog

National Senior Pet Month

November is National Senior Pet Month and the perfect time to share tips on caring for older pets. Pets today are living longer, thanks to new medications, advances in treatment, and more research on how to best keep pets healthy at all ages. Like most people, pets will often require different care as they age, including more frequent check-ups.  

Below is some information to help you keep your senior pet healthy and active.  

At what age are pets considered senior? This depends on their breed and species. For example, large and giant-breed dogs generally have a shorter lifespan than toy breeds, and cats typically live longer than dogs. In general, cats are considered senior when they are 8 years or older, dogs who weigh more than 50 lbs. are considered senior at 6 years or older, and dogs who weigh less than 50 lbs. at 8 years or older.  

What diseases are more common in older pets? Animals can develop disease at any point, but veterinarians often see senior pets with arthritis, dental disease, heart disease, kidney disease, neurological conditions, and other health issues. Being overweight or obese can contribute to many of these diseases, which is one of the reasons it is so important to keep pets at an ideal weight and body condition throughout their lives.  

If your pet has any of these diseases, it is important to manage them appropriately with your primary care veterinarian. With proper management, pets with chronic conditions can still lead active lives with a good quality of life.  

Is slowing down just part of aging? Often, when it seems that our pets are slowing down, walking less, lagging behind on walks, or losing interest in things they have always enjoyed, they are actually experiencing pain or discomfort, likely related to arthritis and joint pain. Helping your pet to get regular, low-impact exercise, and incorporating rehabilitation modalities such as therapeutic exercise, massage, laser therapy, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, and acupuncture can help manage pain and help your senior pets still stay mobile.  

Are mobility issues common in senior pets? As pets age, they can struggle to get up from a down position, to go up and down stairs, or to jump on furniture or into cars. You can help your senior pet by using yoga mats or rugs on slippery surfaces for better traction, and installing carpet or treads on stairs. Ramps are a good option to help pets get up on higher surfaces more easily and with less impact on their joints. Harnesses can also help pets with mobility issues.  

Do pets need different diets as they get older? Nutritional needs can change as pets age, and some diseases require special diets to help control symptoms. Talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s nutritional needs. Your veterinarian might recommend changing to a senior pet food, food to help with specific health conditions, or possibly a diet supplemented with Omega 3s to help keep your pet’s joints healthy.  

Senior pets can still have a lot of love to give and can live active, happy lives with the right care. Your veterinarian will likely recommend check-ups more frequently to watch for any changes in their health or behavior.  

Posted November 09, 2021 by Animal Surgical in Pet Health with No Comments

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