As with humans, when pets age they become vulnerable to a wide range of age-related health conditions. We want to help you support your geriatric cat or dog, and keep them as healthy as possible as they grow older. The following steps can help.
Use a pet food specifically formulated for their needs. Older pets have different nutrition requirements than younger ones, and pet food companies provide for these needs by formulating food especially for older pets. If you feel your pet is ready for a “senior” formula, let’s discuss the issue at your next appointment. We’ll help you choose the food that is right for your pet.
Watch for signs of arthritis. Just like us, pets can get arthritis that causes aches and pains. Be on the lookout for limping, reluctance to jump, and obvious signs of discomfort when sitting or lying down. Many older pets benefit from higher quality bedding, and raised bowls to help them eat and drink comfortably. If you allow your pet to sleep in the bed with you, you might consider steps to help them get up onto the mattress comfortably. And if your pet does develop arthritis, some medications exist that can help to manage symptoms.
Monitor their vision. If your pet begins bumping into objects or walls, or seems disoriented, vision loss could be the culprit. You might also notice cloudiness, discoloration, or inflammation in one or both eyes.
Prevent periodontal disease. Older pets are more likely to experience red gums, bleeding gums, pain in the mouth, and lost teeth. Sometimes bad breath is one early sign of periodontal disease. Get your pet’s teeth cleaned annually to prevent discomfort while eating and worsening infection.
Continue to exercise. Like us, pets tend to gain weight as they age and can then be vulnerable to a wide range of weight-related diseases. Continue to encourage your pet to exercise, but go easy if your pet seems to experience pain. Let’s discuss the appropriate amount of exercise for geriatric pets at your next appointment.
Keep regular appointments. And on that note, make sure to keep regular appointments with us as your pet ages. We should continue to prevent common problems that can happen throughout a pet’s lifetime, while also discussing ways to help your pet age gracefully and comfortably.