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Staying Healthy During The Golden Years

As our pets become senior, they have different care requirements than those of younger pets.

At what age does my pet become a senior? Generally, cats and dogs are considered seniors at around 7 years of age, keeping in mind that the number does differ slightly with dogs depending on their size. Large breed dogs have shorter life spans then small or medium sized dogs, therefore, can be considered seniors around 5 or 6 years of age

What special health care does my senior pet require?

Because our pets age a lot faster than we do, it’s important to have your senior pet examined regularly by your veterinarian. With age-related diseases, symptoms can be sometimes subtle and may be easy to miss. Regular exams and blood tests are perfect because your veterinarian can establish a baseline of what it’s “normal” for your pet, and it can also show any underlying conditions your senior pet may have developed.

Does my senior pet need to be on a special diet?

When pets become seniors they can experience pain in their joints which may make your pet reluctant to exercise, this could lead to weight gain which could put even more pressure on the joints. In order to keep your pet active and healthy, they may benefit greatly from a senior diet. Senior diets often come with reduced calories (Which help with unwanted weight gain), higher amounts of fiber (senior pets digestive processes are slower), and adequate proteins and fats (helps to keep good muscle mass and healthy skin and coat). Supplements may also be beneficial to add to your pet’s diet. Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids are great, not only to keep your pets coat healthy and shiny but can also help with brain function. Omegas have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Do I need to take safety into consideration with my senior pet?

Has your pet experienced hearing or vision loss? It is fairly common for senior pets to experience one or the other as they age. There are a few steps we can take to keep our pets safe, such as making sure to remove dangerous items from the path of your pet, and putting up gates when they cannot be supervised is a great way to keep your pet from injuring themselves. If you have hardwood floors in your home, area rugs and non-slip mats may also be a good choice. If your pet suffers from hearing loss using hand signals can be a great way for you to communicate with them.

Are there ways I can help my senior pets mental health?

Yes! You can teach a dog or cat new tricks. This is a great way to keep them young at heart and to give them mental stimulation. Engaging in interactive play is great for your pet, such as using puzzle toys or toys, in general, to introduce some stimulation and fun into their daily routine. Extra physical contact may also benefit your pet and they will appreciate you for the special attention. Belly rubs, therapeutic massages, and extra grooming, especially for pets that have a harder time grooming themselves.

With a little bit of extra special attention and care, we can help our beloved senior family members live as long as possible while feeling healthy and happy!

Written by Brittni Piercey, Veterinary Assistant


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