Aging with Grace: Advice for Caring for a Senior Pet

Senior pets are awesome!Some things get even better with age, and pets are no exception. An aging pet is like a good friend- he knows and loves you and all your quirks, for better or worse. Likely, the feeling is mutual.

If you are wondering how you can do your best when it comes to caring for a senior pet, look no further. Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates has all the best information about how to do your faithful friend justice in their golden years.

A Little Thought Goes a Long Way

Aging pets experience some very special challenges and needs. Thinking about these when caring for a senior pet can help them to live a more comfortable and happy existence.

Consider that aging pets may have:

  • Decreased mobility
  • Less strength
  • Decreased traction
  • A change in metabolic rate/nutritional needs
  • Pain
  • Limited senses, especially vision and hearing
  • Medical needs

Be sure to help your pet get around by providing ramps or stairs. A non-slip surface is also needed. Throw rugs or bulk rolls of yoga mats cut down to size are usually helpful.

It is more important than ever to keep a senior pet’s nails trimmed. Long nails can cause decreased security on many surfaces and may result in pain due to abnormal mechanics when walking.

Encouraging frequent, low-impact, and gentle exercise can help to maintain function and decrease discomfort. Watch your pet’s reaction and stamina to assess how hard to push.

Older pets are often less active and may need fewer calories overall. Weight gain can be extremely detrimental to a pet’s overall health and comfort, so adjusting diet as part of caring for a senior pet can be quite important. Other pets may have trouble maintaining good body condition. Please talk to us if you need help assessing your pet’s diet.

Passive range of motion exercises and gentle massage techniques can also add some comfort to your pet’s day. Ask us about nutritional supplements and/or medications that can aid in improving your pet’s function.

Caring for a Senior Pet Through Medicine

Caring for a senior pet often involves proactive medical care. Like any other animal, a geriatric pet needs to have wellness evaluations, screening tests, and preventive care, such as vaccinations and parasite prevention.

Wellness visits An important part of good care for any pet, frequent wellness visits become even more important as a pet ages. We recommend senior pets visit us at least twice annually. Even if you are not aware of any issues, this is a good time to closely monitor weight and other vital signs. It also allows us to get to know your pet more intimately and increases the odds of identifying an issue, such as pain from osteoarthritis.

Screening tests Tests for apparently healthy pets can include heartworm tests, fecal parasite screenings, basic blood work, and even radiographs. These tests are recommended in order to detect abnormalities early, aiding in more effective management. They also allow us to build a baseline of what is normal for your pet.

Preventive care As a pet ages, proper vaccination and parasite prevention remain very important. Aging animals often have decreased immunity and may be at higher risk of serious complication from disease, making it very important to continue good preventive care strategies.

Senior animals are often affected by one or more diseases or conditions that may require medication or ongoing management. We will make personalized recommendations for your pet’s care, depending on their individual needs.

Your aging animal deserves some extra attention, and we are here to help you be sure that they get what they need. Caring for a senior pet can be more work, but it is one that is extremely worthwhile. Please call us for more information or to schedule an appointment.