aging dog with a white face being pet; caring for senior pets

November is Senior Pet Month and we’re thrilled to celebrate our older pets! Whether you adopted a senior pet or raised them from puppy- or kittenhood, there’s something special about caring for senior pets. Here are some of our top tips to help you care for your older dog or cat. 

When Is My Pet Considered A Senior? 

You’ve likely heard that one human year is seven dog years, but that’s not entirely accurate. The truth is that different animals age at different rates. For example, smaller dogs tend to age slower and have longer lifespans while larger dogs tend to age faster and have shorter lifespans. A lot of things will impact how your pet ages, including their breed, size, lifestyle, and other health factories.

In general, the senior pet categories are: 

  • Small breed dogs: 10 to 12 years old
  • Medium breed dogs: 8 to 9 years old
  • Large breed dogs: 6 to 7 years old
  • Senior cats: 8 to 10 years old
  • Geriatric cats: 11-14 years old

Caring for Senior Pets

As our pets get older, they may need a little extra love and attention. This includes everything from more frequent veterinary visits to changes in their routine and home environment. To keep your older pet happy and healthy, we recommend: 

More Frequent Wellness Exams

Things can change quickly for older animals! That’s why senior pets should see the vet at least once, preferably twice per year. Since pet owners see their animals every day, it can be hard to spot subtle changes like weight loss, muscle wasting, signs of joint pain, and more. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam, checking your pet’s skin/coat, joints, internal organs, eyes/ears, and more. Catching signs of illness early on can help keep small problems from becoming bigger issues. 

Senior Lab Work Panels

On top of a thorough physical exam, your veterinarian will likely recommend senior-specific lab work and blood panels. These diagnostics give your pet’s care team important information about how their major organs and body systems are functioning. Commonly, senior pets benefit from complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and thyroid hormone testing. Your doctor may also recommend blood pressure assessments for your senior kitty. 

To celebrate Senior Pet Month, we’re offering 20% off all senior lab work panels. Book your appointment before November 30th!

Proper Nutrition

As they get older, our pets’ dietary needs change. It’s important to feed them the right type and amount of food. A specially-formulated senior diet will provide high-quality protein and vital nutrients while containing fewer calories. This helps older, less active pets maintain a healthy weight. A complete and balanced senior pet diet can keep your pet living better for longer. 

Proactive Pain Management

Veterinary researchers estimate 45% of all cats and 90% of cats over age 10 are affected by arthritis in some way and 1 in 5 dogs suffers from canine arthritis. If you’ve noticed your senior pet slowing down, playing less, or moving more stiffly, it could be time for pain management. Luckily, there have been significant recent advancements in pain management options for chronic pain in pets. From acupuncture and laser therapy to supplements and medications, your veterinarian can discuss options based on your pet’s breed, age, and health history. 

Keep Older Pets Moving

Older pets might spend more time snoozing and less time moving, but exercise is still important for their well-being! For older dogs, shorter and more frequent walks can help keep them active. Make sure to plan plenty of time for rest and always carry water, especially on hot days. While senior cats might not jump and run like they did as kittens, they can still benefit from daily play sessions. Try getting your kitty a new feather wand or turn dinner into a game by tossing kibble for your cat to hunt. 

Pet-Proof Your Home

If you got your pet when they were young, you probably took some time to puppy- or kitten-proof before they arrived. The same process can help keep your senior pets safe! Turn a critical eye to every aspect of your house. Is your dog having trouble walking on the hardwood or linoleum? Consider getting extra rugs or yoga mats to help with traction. Is your cat having a tough time hopping onto the bed? A ramp or stairs could help them get to their favorite cozy spot. Always make sure their essentials (food, water, bed, toys) are easily accessible. 

We Love Caring for Senior Pets!

There’s something extra special about appointments with a sugar-faced senior. Whether we’ve known them from day one or are meeting them for the first time, we have a soft spot in our hearts for our older patients. We’re proud to provide comprehensive preventative care and advanced diagnostics to pets of all ages. Give us a call to book an appointment, and don’t forget to schedule your senior pet’s exam this month for 20% off all senior lab work panels! 

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