Senior pets are near and dear to our hearts here at PetParent. Because September is Senior Pet Wellness Month, we could think of no better time to highlight a few tips that will make your senior dogs life a bit healthier and happier.
Veterinary medicine and dog-food formulas have come a long way in the last few decades and our pets are living longer and healthier lives. Yet, many pets are considered seniors when they are just six or seven years old, so it becomes our responsibility to begin caring for their aging needs at this time. Many vets state that our pets age seven years for every one human year. You can understand then, why it is vital that you pet does not miss their yearly check-up exam. Missing just one year for them is like us humans avoiding our doctor for SEVEN years!
There are a few key things you can do as a dedicated and devoted Pet Parent to make sure your dog ages gracefully:
1. Bi-Annual Vet Visits: If 1 year for us ages our dogs 7 years, then it only makes sense that as seniors, they probably need to see their vet more often. A regular vet exam is the way many Pet Parents find and treat illnesses early-on that could have become detrimental or even life-threatening to their dogs.
2. Note Behavioral Changes: Changes in our dogs’ normal behaviors are a strong indicator that something could be wrong. Many times, our dogs behaviors change before there are any medical signs that something is wrong. Changes in sleep cycles, eating patterns, interactions with their family, or bathroom habits are all clear signs your dog should seek the advice of their veterinarian.
3. Weight Change Woes: In our house, if Bear doesn’t eat, we know there is something REALLY wrong. This has only happened once in his life- and we took him to the vet immediately. For dogs, many of them have a tendency towards obesity in their senior years, while cats often have trouble keeping on weight. If you notice your pets weight is dramatically changing- give their vet a ring and set up an examination to find out what could be ailing your companion.
4. Keep Them Moving: One mistake that many senior pet owners make is that they completely sign their pet off of any sort of exercise program because they are old. This is a mistake that can have lasting health concerns for your pet though! Keeping your pets moderately active into their senior years can actually help them live a longer, fuller life. With Bear, we’ve started going for more low-impact walks around the neighborhood, lessened our trips to the dog park as we’ve noticed he takes a day to recover.
5. Be Aware Of Breed Restrictions & Lifestyle Concerns: Certain breeds have more health risks associate with them. Pets that have never been spayed or neutered will also have a higher risk of developing tumors in their reproductive organs.
As our pets age, they are prone to developing many of the same issues and illnesses that us humans face as we age. Things like cancer, heart disease, kidney problems and more are all within the realm of possibility. We are constantly monitoring our boys for changes in behavior or diet. We have a close relationship with our veterinarian, and also use at-home testing tools like Petnotstics to help us keep tabs on our pups’ inner workings.
Here are some additional articles on caring for senior dogs, and senior cats. How many of you are PetParents to a senior pet? Do you have any tips or tricks to share about senior pet care? Leave us a note in the comments!