Hooray for SENIORS!
November is National Senior Pet Awareness Month, and part of raising awareness is making sure that pet owners understand their aging pet’s special needs and dietary requirements. Below are some “tech insights” for keeping up with senior pets (my 17 year old cat still runs circles around me lol):
Bi-annual exam-Because pet age faster than we do, it’s good to remember that an exam with your veterinarian every 6 months is your best, first chance at addressing health concerns that you may not even be aware of yet. Your pet will be going through physical changes as they age, and not all changes are obvious. For instance, arthritis pain, in its early stages, can be easily hidden by a cat or dog. Another example, dental decay, can wreak havoc on your senior pet’s health long before they show signs of a “tooth ache”. Prevention is the key to your pet’s longevity.
Lab work-Generally, your veterinarian will recommend annual lab work; this can include bloodwork, a urinalysis and a stool check; but additional tests may include cultures, ear cytology, tear testing and biopsies.
Radiographs-Certain disorders can be detected early by using radiographs (ie:Xrays). Bone loss, cardiac changes and internal masses are just some of the more dangerous changes that your pet may face in later years; but radiographs can sometimes help your veterinarian detect these changes in their earlier stages.
Diet-As pets age, their bodies may require more nutrients that they did as young adults; this is where the lab work and radiographs may come into play and give your veterinarian a better idea as to what special dietary requirements and supplements may be required to keep your pet in optimal health.
Exercise-Your aging pet may not want to play like they did years ago but playtime is still a healthy part of your cat or dogs development, even into advanced age. Speaking with your veterinarian about age-appropriate exercise and weight control can add years (and happiness) to your pets life.
Medication-Heartworms and fleas do not discriminate; even elderly pets are at risk for infection and/or infestation. Remember, in Florida especially, Heartworm prevention is lifelong. Yearly vaccines are also something that should not be neglected; some veterinarians may opt to decrease the number of vaccines needed as your pet ages but this decision will be made on a case by case basis, by your veterinarian.
The best thing that you can do when your pet hits the 7yr mark is to visit your veterinarian to discuss the changes and challenges that your senior pet may face. On a personal note, my house is currently full of senior pets and I find that even though it can be a little more work, I’ve never been happier. (Also, all of my seniors tend to sleep in just a little longer on the weekends, and that’s just fine with me!)
pictured is “Maverick” a 12yr old Miniature Pincher, owner by the author