Pets are like fine wine–They just get better with age. Well, while your Golden Retriever is far from a merlot, we do believe that pets continue to offer us their best, even as their muzzles gray. What makes senior pets so special? They fill our hearts, homes, and lives with love. At Cloquet Animal Hospital, we love our senior patients and will always go above and beyond to provide what they need to continue to enjoy their lives to the fullest. If you have an aging pet, you will want to read these tips that can make your pet’s golden years brighter, richer, and happier.
1. Be Vigilant for Developing Health Issues
Aging pets are more likely to develop an array of health problems. With early diagnosis, these issues can be a small blip on the radar instead of a roadblock to enjoying life.
Some of the most common health conditions that arise during a pet’s later years include:
- Dementia: Alzheimer’s and dementia aren’t unique to people. Pets can lose cognitive awareness and function, as well. Some warning signs to look for include acting lost, confusion about daily routines, a sudden change in schedule, or vocalizations at odd times.
- Cancer: Older pets are more prone to cancer than younger pets. In fact, cancer is a leading cause of death for pets over the age of ten. About 50% of pets will develop cancer in their senior years. Luckily, cancer can be treated when caught early. Be on the lookout for lumps, bumps, or unusual sores around your pet’s mouth, jawline, and other areas. Because some types of cancer act rapidly, it’s vital to bring your pet in for regular checkups.
- Arthritis and Joint Issues: You may notice your older pet is slowing down. Arthritis may cause stiffness and make your pet reluctant to participate in once-loved activities. You can provide your pets with joint supplements, containing glucosamine and chondroitin to help protect and repair joints. If your pet expresses pain through vocalization or becomes defensive, make an appointment ASAP. These are signs of acute pain.
- Hearing and Sight Loss: As your pet gets older, their sight and hearing may become less sharp due to deterioration. (Your dog hasn’t been ignoring you–they just didn’t hear you). You can accommodate for these issues with night lights, a flashlight on walks, and speaking a bit louder. If you notice your pet ignoring you a bit more or cloudiness in their eyes, you will want to bring them in for a checkup.
Not only does catching problems early help protect your pet’s quality of life, but it also increases their lifespan.
2. They Do Make Doggie Dentures… But You Don’t Want It to Come to That
A healthy mouth often means a healthy pet. Maintaining your pet’s dental health is imperative as they age. Not only does a clean mouth reduce the likelihood of infections, but keeping your pet’s teeth healthy prevents pain. Not only does your pet’s dental health affect their mouth, teeth, and gums, but studies now show that periodontal disease has been linked to organ damage.
Where should you start when it comes to your pet’s smile? A dental exam and cleaning will set your pet on the path to a lifetime of dental health.
3. Keep Your Senior Pet Moving
One of the most common reasons senior pets come in is because of slips, falls, strains, sprains, and breaks. Exercising with your senior pet is a great way to strengthen your pet’s muscles and keep joints limber. Maintaining your pet’s muscle tone and joint flexibility can prevent these injuries and keep your pet mentally stimulated.
4. Your Senior Pet’s Nutritional Needs May Have Changed
Like people, as pets get older, their metabolisms slow down. This often means they need fewer calories. Some older dogs also develop food intolerances and allergies that can be remedied with a change in diet. During your next appointment, ask us about your pet’s diet, and we can steer you in the right direction.
5. Senior Pets Need More Frequent Check-Ups
We recommend you bring your pet in for a wellness exam at least twice per year. We can track your pet’s progression and health along with catch any small issues before they become big problems. From teeth to toes to tail, we will thoroughly check your pet’s health and answer any questions you may have.
Want to Spoil Your Senior Pet? Invest in some Must-Have Comfort Items.
When it comes to repaying our pets for their love and companionship, we must remember that they never ask for anything. So, if you want to give your pet the best, pick up a few of these items that can make aging a bit more comfortable for your furry friend.
- Joint support supplements or treats with glucosamine and chondroitin
- A sweater or winter coat for walks
- An orthopedic pet bed
- Pet ramp or stairs to help your pet access those favorite spots.
- A few extra rugs on slippery surfaces
- A litter box with lowered walls for easier access (for cats)
Your Senior Pet Deserves the Best Care
Looking for the best gift you can give your pet? Give your pet the gift of health and give yourself the present of peace of mind. We love all pets, but we have a special place in our hearts for senior pets. At Cloquet Animal Hospital, we give each pet the best care for a long, happy, healthy life. Make an appointment for your senior pet’s wellness check.
Photo Credit: Pexels.