Pets are living longer and healthier thanks to better care and nutrition. However, they need extra attention and care and a few adjustments to their environment as they age. It is best to remember that age is not a disease. Your senior pets can live happy, pain-free, and active lives well into their twenties with the help of excellent veterinary care.
Contrary to popular belief, your canine companion does not age at the rate of seven human years for one dog year. The age at which pets become old varies with the species and breed. Smaller dogs and cats generally enter their senior years at age seven, but larger dog breeds tend to have shorter life spans. Your veterinarian can help you determine if your furry friend is a senior. That is an excellent reason to schedule regular pet wellness exams.
Is your aging pet slowing down? Like humans, aging pets are more at risk for various age-related conditions. Fortunately, regular, solid preventive care can help them live active, healthy, and happy lives in their senior years. The crucial components of a pet wellness exam for senior pets are:
A dental evaluation
Nose-to-tail physical exam
Behavioral and cognition assessment
Discussion about changes you see at home
Using diagnostic and screening tests to assess your pet’s health
Adjusting your pet’s lifestyle to account for weight gain and other age-related changes
Comparing your pet’s health baseline from previous exams to identify any changes
Veterinarians recommend several screening tests for senior pets to gain valuable health information. Early detection of diseases helps veterinarians address minor problems before they develop into full-blown illnesses that are more difficult to treat. These screening tests can detect the following age-related conditions:
Joint disease and arthritis
One of the most significant factors in aging gracefully is whether your pet is at a healthy weight. Keeping your furry friend in good shape can increase mobility and encourage more playtime. It can also reduce the risk of weight-related health issues that affect senior pets. These include skin irritation, joint pain, lung and heart problems, tumors, cancer, and cartilage deterioration.
External and internal parasites can take a toll on your pet and trim years off their life. Older pets are at increased risk of death from parasites because their immune systems are weaker. Their organs weaken as they age, making heartworms especially dangerous. External pets can cause anxiety, mental distress, discomfort, and lack of sleep for your pet.
Unfortunately, scratching to eliminate the parasites can lead to scrapes, cuts, and possibly infection. So, you should get your aging pet immediate help if you notice any signs and symptoms of parasites.
It would help if you also encouraged mobility while reducing the risk of slips and keeping your pet’s brain active. Your pet’s golden years mean more vigilance. Paying attention to your animal companion will give you valuable clues about their health. It will also help you know if your pet needs your help.
Once you address their urgent health concerns, you and your vet can work on a supportive and beneficial care plan. You can improve your aging pet’s quality of life with a few minor adjustments.
For more on senior pet care, visit Lone Oak Animal Clinic at our office in Paducah, Kentucky. Call (270) 554-0385 to request an appointment today.