Senior Pet Care
It’s Important to Take the Physiological Changes of Senior Dogs into Consideration
Here at East Roswell Vet Hospital, we take delight in offering senior dogs support and care so that they can age comfortably and gracefully. It is clear to us that caring for a senior dog is a rewarding experience that enriches and enhances not only the dog’s lives, but human caretakers as well. We take pleasure in providing guidance and insights on how to take care of elderly dogs.
It is crucial not to forget that the dog experiences a lot of physiological changes during its aging process.
These changes include:
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Reduced hearing
- Changes in eyesight
- Kidney and cardiac disease
- Loss of muscle mass and arthritis
It is not easy to notice some of these changes until your dog becomes old. However, our veterinarians are well trained on how to detect changes in a dog that are hard for dog owners to notice. If these changes are detected early, the progression of diseases can be prevented hence minimizing senior dogs from suffering.
Schedule Your Regular Veterinarian Visits For Senior Dogs
Since these conditions develop progressively, it is not easy for dog owners to notice as they occur. During the crucial senior dog wellness exam, our staff and doctors will ask the owner questions that relate to health issues which are common to senior dogs. As we work together with you, we will come up with a great strategy to ensure that your dog remains medically fit.
It is good to note that the aging process in dogs happens very fast; therefore, we recommend seeing all old dogs not less than two times a year.
During this interaction, we discuss the wellness of your dog as they age. Some of the things we discuss include:
- Sleep patterns
- Daily schedule
- Family interactions
- Movement change and exercise
In addition, we look at the following as we carry out a full physical checkup for senior dogs:
- Nose and lungs
- Blood work
- Eyes and ears
- Thyroid gland
- Coat quality and skin condition
- Body condition and weight
- Gums, mouth, and teeth
- Circulatory system and heart
- Muscles and joints
- The dog’s condition from our last visit
Body Condition Assessments for Senior Dogs
The evaluation of Body condition is key in the care program of an aging dog. It’s important in checking whether your aging dog is underweight, overweight, or is at the ideal body weight. Extra weight on a senior dog will have a bad effect on the quality of the life that the dog is living. Being underweight may be a sign that the dog is ill. We will also train you on how to observe the body of your dog, which may help to assess its health between visits.
Making Right Food Choices for Senior Dogs
Dog nutrition is very important in its entire life; However, making a good food choice for an aging dog is more important. At this stage, the senior dog has a slowed metabolism and physical activities have decreased. Therefore, compared to middle-aged dogs, the senior dog will require 20 percent fewer calories.
Also, some senior dogs are not in a position to assimilate proteins and they need change or additions in certain proteins. Old dogs are likely to gain weight, and this may put them at risk of medical complications, which they avoided during their adolescence.
For instance, it can take longer for the blood glucose levels of obese dogs to go back to normal. This interrupted carbohydrate metabolism is likely to cause diabetes.
This is the reason why one needs to consult the veterinarian on the best choice of food for the aging dog. Not only is formulated food for senior dogs easy to digest, but it addresses kidney, liver, and urinary issues. It also meets other nutritional needs which are specifically for senior dogs.
Dental Care for Senior Dogs
Dental disease is common to aged dogs because it develops gradually and can go unnoticed. Older dogs simply get used to dealing with the discomfort. This does not mean that the dogs are not in any pain. Toothaches are as painful to dogs just as they are to humans. The only difference is that dogs can’t express how they feel.
We have a significant objective to identify and treat all pet dental diseases to help them live comfortably even as they grow old. We do consider if your pet is suffering from any other illness for us to come up with the best and safest way to treat your pet.
How Much Exercise Should a Senior Dog Get?
Although senior dogs can’t be that much involved in physical activities, exercise is still an important component in the care of senior dogs. Daily exercises such as short walks help them age better mentally and physically. However, the most important rule is to give them regular and restrained exercise. Continue with daily short walks until the dog becomes tired or has achieved its right level of fitness.
Exercise can do the following:
- Help retain the right body weight
- Prevent arthritis
- Arouse cognitive capacity
- Increase coordination faculties and motor skills
The senior dog’s physical condition determines the exercise frequency and duration of your senior dog. However, we recommend that you consult your veterinarian on the most suitable exercise appropriate for your dog.
Recommended Vaccines For Senior Dogs
As young dogs endure vaccinations, senior dogs tolerate it as well. Nonetheless, we consider each dog independently when determining vaccine protocol.
Since each dog has a unique vaccine schedule, you should consult with your veterinarian to be able to select the right vaccines for your dog.
Controlling Parasites In Senior Dogs
Just as young dogs are likely to be attacked by a parasite, a senior pet is also very vulnerable to these parasites. Unfortunately, they are not able to communicate or show clear indications of being infected by parasites such as ticks and fleas. It is therefore recommended that dog owners have parasite control programs for their aging pets, (both for external and internal parasites). Your veterinarians will help you do this.
Caring for Your Aging Cat
Being with your pet over their lifetime helps you get familiar with their usual behavior and habits. Anything contrary or new to their behavior and habits may be reason for concern. These changes may be a sign of illness.
Signs of illness in cats are very subtle as cats are stoic and do not exhibit overt signs of discomfort or distress. Even the most observant of owners are liable to miss some of these behavioral changes especially when the onset is gradual.
It is important to take your cats for wellness checkups routinely, especially when they’re coming of age. Cats should visit your veterinarian annually until 10 years of age and then every six months after 11 years old.
Your veterinarian will show you how to watch your cat for physical signs of change and give you advice on what can be done to keep your kitty healthy for as long as possible.
Some illnesses can be helped via nutritional methods. With the right diet and some medications, we can greatly improve your cat’s well-being.
We will discuss with you the behaviors and habits that may be indicative of clinical signs of changes in health.
- Change in sleeping pattern or circling
- Variations in thyroid function
- Reduced kidney function
- Changes in vision
- A diminished sense of smell
- Brittle/ingrown nails
- Heart or circulatory problems
- Reduced rate of digestion and nutrient absorption.
- Reduced ability to handle stress or behavioral changes.
- Difficulties in mobility/arthritis
Your Role as the Caretaker of a Senior Cat
Whether your cat is old or young, the love you have remains the same. However, there are some roles you need to assume to ensure your cat enjoys a long and healthy life during these different stages. Primarily, you need to be conscious of their behavior and habits.
Their needs may gradually start to change as they age, but they are still very much in need of the basic social interaction, affection, and enriched environment you provided when they were kittens.
While older cats sleep more, it doesn’t take away the fact that they still need your interaction and a stimulating environment to keep their body and mind engaged. This is especially true of indoor cats. So keep playing with your cat, it keeps you both healthy.
Apart from creating a stimulating environment, other things to keep in mind as cats age:
- Keep sleeping and eating areas accessible
- Ensure physically challenging areas are adjusted for the cat’s accessibility.
- Schedule regular checkups at the veterinarian
- Keep up with medications as necessary
- Take note of behavior and habit changes and discuss with your veterinarian
You’ve got a larger role to play when it comes to helping your aging cat age successfully, understanding this would make it much easier for you and keep your cats healthier and give them a longer life to share with you.
Wellness Visits and Vaccines for Senior Cats
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, it is recommended that senior cats should be seen by a veterinarian at six months intervals.
This is because the rate of cats’ aging is faster compared to that of humans. Almost two “kitty years” may pass between visits to the Vet. Don’t let time be the reason your cat doesn’t get the care it needs.
It is essential to always monitor old cats in between their visits because they’re good at concealing symptoms of disease or illness. As they age, sicknesses become increasingly likely. Therefore, you should always be prepared that your aging cat might develop one or two conditions that would affect the quality of its life and its health status.
Below are some of the things the veterinarians examine during your cat’s wellness visit:
- Detailed Habits and Behavior review
- Bodyweight and general body condition.
- Quality of the skin and coat.
- Mouth, Teeth and Gum examination.
- Examination of Eyes and Ears.
- Detailed checkup on the thyroid gland.
- Examination on the Heart and the circulatory system.
- Examination of Lungs and Nose
- Abdominal Examination
- Examination of the Joints and Muscles.
- Review on physical condition changes since the last visit.
In addition, vaccinations against certain diseases, parasite prevention and treatment for a particular condition your cat may be developing will also be addressed during your cat’s wellness visit.
All the same core vaccines and lifestyle vaccines are required for older cats just like with kittens. See our page on vaccines for more information.
Feeding Older Cats
Feline Nutrition: Feeding is very essential throughout the life of a cat, but it is even more vital in the care of your aging cat. Feeding your old cat with an age-specific diet has been reported to help in:
- Weight management
- Elongation of Lifespan
- Reduction of pain
- Maintenance of healthy skin, coat, and bodily functions
Most of the times foods for aging cats are formulated specially to meet their nutritional requirements. Their food can be served in a dry or wet (usually canned) form.
Aging cats need more water daily so some canned food and leaving multiple water dishes around the house is a good practice. It is advisable to feed them smaller but more frequent meals (3-4 times a day). This helps them digest food more easily than serving them large meals twice a day.
Dental Care in Senior Cats
Dental care is an important factor when it comes to aging in cats. Cats that go for dental checkups have a significant advantage in maintaining their health over time.
Dental disease develops slowly. It is a degenerative condition that comes with a lot of pain. Cats will rarely show obvious signs of discomfort even when they’re in severe pain.
Research has shown that most cats above four years of age are susceptible to some level of oral health issues may lead to acutely painful conditions.
The recommended interval between each dental checkup should be 6 months.
Managing Disease in Older Cats
Aging cats are more susceptible to some chronic diseases. Below is the list of the diseases commonly known to affect older cats:
- Kidney Disease
- Thyroid Disease
- Gastrointestinal Issues
- Arthritis and mobility issues
- Memory/Comprehension Challenges
Effective disease management begins with early diagnosis. Take note of changes like:
- Weight Loss
- Increase in thirst and urination
- Litter Box Habits
Share your observations with your veterinarian to help diagnose and find problems early, so that you can make a difference in your cat’s health and longevity.
Quality of Life Considerations
Over time, we all need to make various health decisions for our older loved ones. Discuss these issues with your veterinarian. We will work through any serious health issues and guide you accordingly.
- Is your cat experiencing any pain and is this pain well managed?
- Is your cat’s appetite normal and are they able to eat normally?
- Is your cat interacting with other pets and family members as usual?
- Does your cat have more good days than bad days?
- Does your cat follow predictable routines for sleeping, resting, grooming, eating, playing and socializing?
Our veterinarians are always ready to help you find answers to any of the questions you’re unable to answer.
End of Life Decisions
It is always a difficult thing to make the decision of ending your cat’s life, but with the support of our veterinarian team, you will feel better about your decision to help your cat transition.
Our supportive veterinary team is always ever ready to aid you in any way that is in your and your cat’s best interests. We understand parting with your cat will be very hard. The grief process is real and should not be taken lightly. We always encourage you to seek out grief support, you do not need to go through it alone.
We will help your loved one transition peacefully, stress-free and with no pain. Call us to discuss the options available to you.
We take great pride in servicing our companion animal community. We believe that our pets are not just companions, they’re part of the family. Schedule your appointment today and let us help you keep your cat healthy in any stage of its life.