Our Aging Animals: What You Need to Know About Senior Pets

German wire-haired pointerLike it or not, your pet is getting older every minute. Which, when it comes to the lifetime you’ve shared, doesn’t really matter. By now you know that older pets have a lot to offer and can be true and loyal companions.

But, in order to enjoy every single moment you have with your pet, it is important to be aware of the changing needs of your senior pets.

Changes in Activity in Aging Pets

Sneior pets, typically those older than seven, often begin to show a decrease in exercise tolerance and may experience decreased mobility. Many also have some degree of discomfort due to the onset of arthritis. Recognizing these changes can help to keep pets active and improve their quality of life. Be sure to do the following for your older pet:

  • Provide them with frequent exercise appropriate to their ability
  • Use ramps and stairs to help your pet as necessary
  • Supply a soft, supportive bed and off the floor
  • Keep food and water easily accessible
  • Consider therapeutic laser treatments to help with pain and inflammation
  • Ask if your pet might benefit from a pain management plan

Just as with older people, it is important that senior pets stay active. This encourages good muscle tone, a healthy weight, and a happier animal overall. Keeping an aging pet comfortable is a vital part of caring for your old friend.

Differences in Nutritional Needs for Senior Pets

Pets often have changing nutritional needs as they get older. Senior pets may need:

  • A special diet specific to a disease or health problem
  • Decreased calorie intake
  • Increased fiber intake to maintain digestive health

Obesity is a serious problem in pets of all ages, however most of the overweight pets we see are seniors. Older animals often are not as active as their younger counterparts. They may also have a slower metabolism. These factors, along with the failure to make an adjustment of calorie intake, results in our older pets carrying a few extra pounds.

Being overweight predisposes pets to a variety of health problems including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Extra weight can also make it harder for pets with arthritis and other musculoskeletal problems to get around.

Importance of Wellness Care for Older Pets

With one “people year” being roughly equal to seven years in your pet’s life, frequent wellness examinations are a vital part of caring for any pet. During your wellness visits we will examine your pet thoroughly in order to catch problems early in their course.

Wellness visits are a great time to discuss nutritional needs, pain management strategies, and to bring to light any change you might have noticed in your older pet. We will be sure to examine any lumps or bumps and discuss any testing that we feel may be beneficial to your pet.

Preventative care is also very important. We rotate recommended vaccinations for pets so that they are spread out. We will take the opportunity at your pet’s wellness visits to discuss appropriate parasite prevention as well as dental care recommendations. Preventing most problems is much more effective than trying to treat them once they are present, making wellness care an important part of caring for any pet.

As your pet ages there will certainly be differences in how you must care for him or her. Taking a little time to understand your pet’s changing needs, though, is important to ensure a good quality of life.

Senior pets are often our best and most loyal friends, and their needs are well worth your effort.