Just as older people have different healthcare needs than younger people, senior pets require different care than required by young pets. Here at Acadia Veterinary Hospital, we recommend an exam and bloodwork/urinalysis/blood pressure check every 6-8 months in our senior pets. It is important to remember that every year for a dog or cat is equivalent to 5-7 human years!
Here are some ailments we see more commonly in our geriatric pets:
- Kidney disease
- Liver Disease
- Cognitive Dysfunction (a disease similar to dementia in people)
- Obesity (due to a combination of overfeeding and less activity)
- Hyperthyroidism (cats)
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Vision and hearing loss
- Heart disease
- Changes in behaviour/irritability
The great news is that medical advancements have allowed us to diagnose some of these diseases in their early stages, potentially adding years to your pet’s life.
In addition to twice-yearly checkups, proper nutrition is also very important for your senior pet. Your veterinarian can best recommend a senior formula dog or cat food for your older pet. There are many different kinds on the market, but we are specifically looking for ones that are formulated to help keep your older animals at their optimal weight, as well as being fortified with DHA and joint supplements. It is also important that the diet has the right balance of vitamins and nutrients to prevent the development of diseases, as well as an organ or age-related changes.
Furthermore, regular exercise, even though your pet is slowing down, is still essential for your older pet! It helps to keep their weight down and their muscles strong as well as keeping their senses sharp. It is important to tailor the exercise program to the pet with the help of your veterinarian but in most cases, a slow 10-15 minute walk a day (or engaging your older cat in play for 15 minutes a day) is beneficial for any older pet.
October and November are our “Senior Focus” months here at Acadia Veterinary Hospital, but don’t hesitate to call us at any point in the year to set up a senior pet exam!