By David J. Merrick, QuincyAnimalHealth.com. For Pets Best, a pet insurance agency for dogs and cats.
November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month, so we asked David Merrick of Quincy Animal Health to discuss senior pet wellness.
As dogs and cats get older, they need more attention and special care. Senior Wellness Programs can help your pet remain fit and healthy as he or she ages and can help catch any potential problems earlier, when they’re easier to treat or manage.
Three tips to keep senior dogs and cats healthy
1. Regular veterinary exams can actually help your pet live longer
- Before your dog or cat reaches senior status, it is recommended that you bring your pet in for a baseline exam and diagnostic workup. This gives a record of what’s normal for your pet so we can keep track of any changes.
- Senior Wellness checkups are recommended when your dog turns 7 years of age or your cat turns 8 years of age.
- Diagnosing diseases and certain conditions early is important throughout a pet’s life, but it becomes even more critical when your dog or cat enters his or her senior years. Our dogs and cats may not show any signs of even serious diseases until they are quite advanced.
- Veterinarians can treat many symptoms that are commonly attributed to age; including those associated with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (similar to Alzheimer’s in humans).
- Your veterinarian can also improve your pet’s quality of life in many ways: by identifying and preventing or reducing pain, recommending an appropriate nutrition and exercise plan, and suggesting environmental modifications to keep your pet comfortable.
2. Be aware of cognitive changes
One of the easiest and yet most often overlooked area of senior pet wellness is behavior changes associated with Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS).
Many of behavior issues are related to the classical signs of CDS
- inappropriate house soiling
- decreased social interactions
- changes in sleep habits
- New phobias or forgetting known commands
However, the idea of cognitive issues with our aging pets is new to the client. In fact as stated above many pet owners may think their pet’s old age issues are normal and not treatable.
3. Maintain a Healthy Senior Diet
Because older pets tend to eat and drink less than normal, it is more important than ever that your pet is maintaining their regular intake of nutrition and fluids. This not only helps to ensure that they are getting all of the essential nutrients and vitamins that they need in their senior years, but it also helps to keep up their energy levels and fight off any sickness or health issues.
Photo above by Matt Hands
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