November is Senior Pet Health Month
Why is senior pet care so important? If we screen for disease before it becomes a problem we can prevent it from worsening. By taking care of our pets regularly, we promote longevity and quality of life for them. By having a baseline of health for your pet (exam, bloodwork, etc) we as your pet’s health care team are more able to find slight changes and screen for disease quickly. We recommend semiannual exams for our aging animals.
Senior pets are hard to define as each species and breed vary vastly. The veterinary community thinks dogs over 7 and cats over 11 are in the senior category. Their systems start to age and need to be assessed regularly. Things we may find are; vision impairment, heart and kidney disease, cancer, arthritis, loss of hearing, poor immune system function, etc. Things that may tell us, or you, that your pet has something out of the ordinary would be a behavior change, change in urination habits, coughing, vomiting, sleeping more, weight gain, new lumps and bumps, etc. If your pet has experienced any of these symptoms lets schedule an exam!
In order to provide the best care possible for our pets, we veterinarians assess the pet with a thorough history (behavior change, increase in urination, etc.), physical exam, urinalysis, complete blood count and chemistry panel and fecal flotation. By running blood work, urinalysis and fecal we are able to detect mild health issues sooner. Examples include the start of diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, anemia, intestinal absorption deficiencies, endocrine diseases or inflammation occurring in the body. We can try to slow the progression of these problems by using prescription diets, supplements and medications. We would love to screen your aging pets health any time!
Areas we may focus on with your pet health include proper nutrition, attaining proper weight/body condition, parasites, pain control, vaccination, dental care, mental health and creating a suitable environment for them.
· Body condition- One area we commonly see (50% of Americas pets are overweight) and recommend to prevent disease includes having your pet at the correct body condition. Obesity can make your pet age more rapidly and places much more stress on their body. Talk to us about a healthy weight for your pet. We would love to help you make recommendations on food portion and exercise.
· Parasites- As our pet’s age, their bodies have a harder time fending off parasites. We recommend a yearly fecal flotation to look for parasites in our pets, this makes our decision on whether to deworm or not. If parasites are present, they take nutrition away from our pets who need it.
· Pain control- Arthritis is a common problem among our aging animals. There are many options available for controlling the pain. We usually start with glucosamine/chondroitin supplements, then move on to a pet appropriate NSAID, later we may add acupuncture, laser therapy, adequan or other drugs that are better at controlling the pain. Come talk to us and we will make the best plan for you and your pet.
· Nutrition- As our pet’s age their nutritional requirements change. They need higher fat and protein content in their food. We recommend feeding a senior pet diet that is formulated for them and a brand that is reputable (Hills, Purina, Iams).
· Vaccines- As the immune system ages, it has a harder time fighting off diseases. We recommend continuing vaccination schedules for our pet’s as they need boosters to promote better immunity.
· Mental health- Senility can be common among our pets as they age. We are seeing a disease known as cognitive dysfunction syndrome more frequently in our older pets. Signs to look for include; pacing, disorientation, new anxiety and house soiling. We recommend prescription diets for this, fish oil and liver supplements, increasing their exercise and having a routine schedule.
· Dental care- The health of your pets teeth can affect the rest of their body. We recommend dental cleanings under anesthesia if it is needed and then at home maintenance care with Veterinary Oral Health Council approved products to prevent dental disease.
· Environment- As our pet’s age, we recommend keeping their environment safe for them and others. Suggestions include having a properly fenced yard so they can’t wander off, having their sleeping areas avoid stairs, keeping them indoors more often where temperature is controlled and having a routine.
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Our promotions for Senior Pet Health month include 10% off screening blood work, fecal flotation and urinalysis. We would love to see you and your pet!!!