The Golden Years: Senior Pet Care

While they may still seem like puppies and kittens to us, dogs and cats over the age of six are actually considered seniors. Just like humans, senior pets need special care so that they can continue to live a long, happy, and healthy life. To help you navigate your way through senior pet care, we have made a short list of important health considerations for your over-the-hill pet:

Start Semi-Annual Wellness Exams

Considering that your pet ages seven times faster than you do, bringing him or her into the vet only once a year is comparable to you or I going to the doctor once every seven years. If you’ve been bringing your pet in for once-a-year wellness exams up to this point (or skipping them all together), now is the time to transition to bi-annual senior wellness exams, instead. These important check-ups are the single best way that you can ease your pet into his or her golden years, and mitigate the effects of old age before larger problems develop.

Alleviate the Pain

You may be surprised to learn that dogs and cats get arthritis too. At your next appointment, we will be checking your senior pet for signs of arthritis. If you’ve noticed that your pet has had include trouble going up and down stairs, jumping up on furniture, or is slow to get up after lying down, please let us know.

Your vet may also feel your pet’s joints for conditions such as inflammation or cartilage loss. If your pet is living with arthritis, your vet may prescribe pain medications, a  special joint-health diet, or special supplements that will ease the pain of arthritis (or even eliminate it all together).

Check for Lumps and Bumps

Part of the aging process for dogs, cats,  and humans alike is acquiring some unwanted lumps and bumps. While some of them may be harmless others could be a sign of cancer.

Your veterinarian should be able to tell you his or her recommendations and treatment options after giving your pet’s “old age bumps” a look and feel.  Based on the size, shape, and growth pattern of a lump or bump, your vet may suggest some additional diagnostics, such a fine needle aspirate or growth removal and biopsy to determine if the growth is benign or malignant.

Senior Pet Care From the Inside, Out

Your pet may look great on the outside, but how do you know what the inside looks like?  Unfortunately, the only way to answer this question is to perform some blood tests. A workup done by your veterinarian will reveal the inner workings of the kidneys, liver, and thyroid, among other things.

Usually a complete blood count and chemistry as well as a urinalysis will be included in basic testing. Based on the results of these tests, your vet may suggest additional testing. Changes in appetite, water intake, activity, or rapid weight loss without diet change could be a sign there is something more serious going on inside of your pet. Since every pet is individual, doing a complete blood workup is also a good idea for providing your veterinarian with a baseline or in other words, something to compare follow up blood work with.

Just because your pet is getting older doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that can be done to help them live the longest, happiest, and pain-free life possible. Pet owners in Bayville and Lacey can contact our staff at Berkeley Veterinary Center to discuss any issues that your senior pet may be currently having, and schedule an appointment at (732) 269-3600.