The benefits of pet ownership impact our lives so much that we never want the time to end. Unfortunately, the universal truth is that pet owners are more likely to live longer than the pets they adopted, nurtured, trained, and cared for.
Since our best friends cannot live forever, it makes sense to care for them as long as possible – and in the most meaningful ways. Senior pet wellness is a little different than caring for a younger pet, but it is no less gratifying. In fact, it may even be more so!
Around the age of 6 or 7 years old, we recommend increasing your pet’s routine wellness exam from once to twice a year. This not only gives us a chance to shower your senior pet’s greying muzzle with praise and affection, but the more we see them the better we can stay in front of age-related illness.
Early detection of various illnesses or injuries can have a significant impact on treatment and outcome. Without the opportunity to examine and test them, problems can develop beyond safe or effective treatment.
A major facet of senior pet wellness is recognizing that your buddy isn’t able to do some or many of the activities they previously enjoyed. You can make it easier on them with ramps that help them into the car or on top of the bed, orthopedic bedding, draftless spaces, and extra heat.
Vision and hearing loss is a common side effect of aging. Be sure that your senior pet can navigate throughout the house and yard without obstacles or safety hazards, like stairs. Install gate systems to prevent falls.
As your pet ages, they may suffer from pain. Whether this is attributed to osteoarthritis, periodontal (gum) disease, or other age-related illness or injury, managing their pain can drastically improve senior pet wellness. This can mean therapeutic treatments (laser therapy, massage, etc.), physical therapy, surgery (to remove broken teeth, for example), and possibly prescription medication.
The behaviors of senior pets can change as they age. This can often be explained by pain or sensitivity of specific areas of the body (like the legs or teeth), but can also stem from cognitive decline. If your pet has become irritable, grouchy, or even aggressive it is time to figure out why. Remember, animals in pain can lash out to protect themselves, and can bite or scratch beloved family members.
Please let us know at your next senior pet wellness exam if your pet exhibits any of the following symptoms of cognitive dysfunction syndrome:
Changes in activity
Altered sleep cycle
Puzzling interaction with other household pets or family members