Scheduling regular veterinary examinations is one of the most important steps you can do as a pet owner to keep your pets in good health. When dogs and cats enter their senior years, these health examinations are more important than ever.
It is vital to catch and delay the onset or progress of disease and for the early detection of problems such as organ failure and osteoarthritis. In order to stay current with your senior pet's health care, twice-a-year exams are a highly recommended and at a minimum yearly lab testing.
Sensory changes are often seen in senior pets. As their major senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell) dull, you may find that your pet has a slower response to general external stimuli. This loss of sensory perception often is a slow, progressive process and it may even escape your notice.
Playing and training are excellent ways to keep their senses sharp.
Pets may also be affected mentally as they age. Just as aging humans begin to forget things and are more susceptible to mental conditions, your aging pet may also begin to confront age-related cognitive and behavior changes.
The physical changes your pets experience are generally easier to spot than the sensory changes. As the body wears, its ability to respond to infection is reduced, and the healing process takes longer.
It is crucial to consult a veterinarian if you notice a significant change in behavior or the physical condition of your pet.
Many older pets benefit from specially formulated food that is designed with older bodies in mind.
Obesity in pets is often the result of reduced exercise and overfeeding and is a risk factor for problems such as heart disease.
Exercise is yet another aspect of preventive geriatric care for your pets. You should keep them as active—mentally and physically—as possible in order to keep them sharp.
Pets experience pain just like people do. The different types of pain include acute pain, which comes on suddenly as a result of an injury, surgery, or an infection and chronic pain, which is long lasting and usually develops slowly (such as arthritis).
You can play a key role in monitoring your pet to determine whether he suffers from pain.
To help ensure your pet lives comfortably during the senior life stage, it's critical to work with your veterinarian to tailor a senior wellness plan that is best for your dog or cat.