If cats and dogs aged at the same rate that humans do, we’d be able to live with our best friends for much longer. Unfortunately, they age about 7 times faster than us, or approximately 7 years for every one of ours.
The good news is that with routine preventive care and early screening of age-related diseases, senior pets over the age of 7 years old are living longer, more complete lives. Growing older is a natural part of life, and with a proactive approach to senior pet health, special pets can live far into their golden years.
From 1 to 2
We typically see pets annually until they reach the age of 7. At that point it’s highly recommended to examine and screen senior pets two times a year. By that times, pets are accustomed to the nose to tail examination. Due to the heightened risk of age-related health issues, we check out the following areas much closer:
- Mouth, teeth, and gums (the majority of senior pets have periodontal disease)
- Eyes and eye pressure for any signs of glaucoma
- Internal and external ears
- Skin (looking for any masses)
- Palpation of the eck, abdomen, and lymph node system
- Rectal and prostate
- Blood pressure
Realistic and Proactive
The prevention of disease in pets is a priority throughout their entire lives. With routine scheduled vaccinations and parasite prevention, pets are best protected from contagious diseases and destructive bugs.
Additionally, professional dental cleanings and oral care at home can thwart dental disease.
Senior pet care goes a bit further with diagnostic testing, such as a comprehensive blood panel. Results can indicate infection, inflammation, chronic disease, organ and gland functions, bone strength, and more.
Screening, detection, and treatment as early as possible saves you money and improves the quality of your pet’s life. Symptoms of chronic age-related illnesses aren’t always obvious until irreparable damage has already happened. As in the case of kidney disease, if it’s caught early on and managed properly through diet, senior pet health can continue for years to come.
Brain and Bones
Arthritis is very common in older pets. It may seem counterintuitive, but senior pet health hinges on continuing to exercise. Daily doses of exercise help keep weight gain to a minimum, and also diminishes joint pain and increases flexibility.
The other great thing about exercise is that it boosts mental health. The opportunity to “smell the smells” while out and about with their best friend, or the fun or playing around at home, cultivates well being.
Threats to Senior Pet Health
We encourage owners of senior pets to keep a journal. That way, you can reference oddities as they occur over time. For instance, if you notice that your pet skipped a meal, started to limp, soiled inside the house, the journal provides a place to keep track of any changes.
If you do happen to jot down any of the following threats to general senior pet health, please let us know:
- Uncharacteristic or sudden lethargy
- Increased thirst and urination
- Drastic weight change
- Decreased appetite
- Incontinence or constipation
- Changes to the appearance and feel of the skin and/or coat
- Lumps or bumps
- Vision difficulties
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Confusion or disorientation
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Inability to get comfortable
- Panting without exertion