Senior Pet Health and Wellness

BeverlyHills_iStock_000050862996_LargeThere will come a time in nearly every pet’s life when age begins to compromise certain aspects of health and energy. You may start to notice that your pet is sleeping a bit more or has lost interest in those long walks he once held so dearly. Or, perhaps your senior pet has just been diagnosed with arthritis, a condition common to older pets.

No matter what the signs happen to be, your once vibrant cat or dog, so full of youthful vim and vigor, has started to get older. You may wonder if there is anything that can be done to bring back some of the health and energy of the younger years. And, the good news is yes, there are some ways to make your pet’s golden years shine.

Enhancing the Health of Your Senior Pet

We are fortunate to now have a greater understanding of the aging process in pets, as well as the resources and medical advancements to give pets longer, healthier lives. Where pain or discomfort might have plagued an older pet, we now have many options to alleviate discomfort and increase capacity for healing.

Here are some of the key elements of senior pet wellness and daily care practices that will help your pet continue to thrive.

Biannual wellness examsWellness exams are the foundation of pet health. These exams catch any changes that are not visible to the eye via diagnostic tests, including blood chemistry, urinalysis, and thyroid tests. Wellness exams are also a great place for you to ask questions about daily care, nutrition, and exercise. At Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates, we recommend twice yearly exams for pets over 6 years of age.

Pain management – In many cases, seniors experience some levels of pain as mobility decreases (usually due to degenerative joint diseases). In this case, treating the pain as well as offering supplemental supports, such as physical therapy, can help your senior pet better cope with chronic conditions.

Diet and nutrition – Proper nutrition is increasingly important for your older pet, since portion requirements and nutritional needs change with age. For some pets, supplements and a specialty diet to address age connected diseases like diabetes or arthritis will help enhance immunity and slow down the progression of the condition and its toll on your pet.

Nutrition also plays a key role in weight management, as obesity can lead to numerous health problems, particularly in older pets.

Exercise tailored to your pet’s abilities – All pets need exercise, even our senior pals. However, that five mile hike may now be out of the question. To help senior pets acquire some daily activity that is tailored to address mobility issues, we recommend consulting with us to find the right choice of exercise for your pet companion.

At-home modifications – Along with adjustments to diet and exercise, older pets benefit from certain changes within the home. These might include a more supportive, comfortable bed (especially for arthritic pets), controlling temperature, and adding carpet to slippery tiles or stairs.

Emotional well-being – Finally, it’s important to be consistent in providing interaction and opportunities for socialization and play. While your senior fur friend may not have puppy or kitten energy levels anymore, love, attention, interaction, and enrichment are all still very important to wellbeing. Simply make some adjustments to help support your aging pet.

There are many ways we can better care for our senior pet pals and many of them just require some easy modifications. We welcome you to ask questions about how you can increase your pet’s quality of life at his or her next senior pet wellness exam.