Caring for Senior Pets
At Four Paws, we firmly believe that age isn't a disease. However, older pets have unique dietary, exercise, and medical needs. Pets age at a faster rate than humans and most dogs and cats are considered seniors by age 7. Medical conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, thyroid disease, and kidney disease are more common in older pets.
We all want our pets to live long and happy lives. Below are several steps to ensure they enjoy their golden years:
- A physical exam every 6 months is the first step to early disease detection in senior pets. Cats and dogs are experts at hiding illness and subtle symptoms such as weight loss are easily overlooked—even by the most astute pet owner. A bi-annual physical exam can detect heart murmurs, joint pain, cataracts, and other physical changes.
- Senior blood work can detect early changes in organ function. For example, senior blood panels sent to IDEXX include the SDMA test. This test allows us to diagnose kidney disease earlier and more reliably than we could using traditional methods such as creatinine testing. By diagnosing kidney disease early, we can make simple dietary modifications to prolong your pet's life.
- Senior pets can also develop mobility disorders. Subtle signs such as difficulty rising and jumping, trouble getting in and out of the litter box, and slowing down on walks are often the only signs of arthritis. With a wide range of options to treat pain in cats and dogs, no older pet should ever experience chronic pain.
- Just like older humans, senior pets can experience increased anxiety, dementia, and cognitive dysfunction. Nutritional supplements, diets, and environmental modifications can help senior pets cope with age-related behavioral changes.
Pets are family and it can be hard to accept they're getting older. But, early intervention and age-specific care can result in longer, healthier lives. If your cat or dog is 7 years or older, please contact us to schedule your senior wellness exam today!