Pets typically reach senior status between 6 to 8 years of age, and whether they are starting to slow down, or still as active as when they were young, they need more care as they face age-related issues. Our team at Otay Pet Vets wants to provide tips, to help ensure your senior pet receives the best possible care.
As pets get older, they face age-related health conditions that aren’t always evident by their behavior. Pets, especially cats, are excellent at hiding illness, and some conditions don’t affect your pet’s quality of life until the disease has progressed to later stages. Catching these conditions early can allow our veterinary team to manage your pet appropriately, to prolong their good health, and life. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends that senior pets receive a veterinary wellness check every six months. During these wellness visits, our veterinary professionals will perform a thorough physical examination, which will help us pick up conditions such as heart disease, abdominal tumors, dental disease, cataracts, and arthritis. We will also perform diagnostics, to help us detect diseases such as diabetes mellitus, kidney disease, liver disease, and thyroid conditions. In addition, we will ensure their vaccinations and preventive treatments are up to date.
As pets age, their nutritional requirements change, and they typically tend to gain weight. Obesity is linked to several serious health conditions, including cancer, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, and arthritis, and keeping your pet at their ideal weight will not only help decrease their risk of developing these issues, but will also improve their quality of life. Steps to take include:
Poor dental health can be painful for your pet, and can sometimes lead to a fractured jaw. Also, bacteria that accumulate under their gum line can travel in the bloodstream to major organs, such as the heart, kidneys, and liver, causing serious health issues. Take your pet in for regular professional veterinary dental cleanings, to avoid serious consequences. Brushing your pet’s teeth daily at home also promotes their dental health.
Senior pets are susceptible to cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS), a condition similar to Alzheimer’s in humans. While no cure is available for CDS, early detection and disease management can help slow progression. Signs include:
Pets need regular physical and mental exercise to stay fit and mentally engaged, and to help prevent CDS. Good physical exercise options for dogs include neighborhood walks, hikes, fetch games, and swimming. Cats tend to enjoy laser pointers and wand-style toys. Mental stimulation is also important. Ideas include:
Follow these tips to ensure your senior pet stays happy and healthy. If you would like to schedule a wellness exam or dental check for your senior pet, contact our team at Otay Pet Vets, so we can make their golden years their best years.