Pets who reach the final quarter of their expected lifespan officially become seniors. During this life stage, they require much of the same care as when they were younger, but may also need some extra help. Arthritis, obesity, and mobility issues are common, and many other chronic diseases can strike in older age. 

The Tamberly Animal Hospital team believes that supporting senior pets is a veterinarian-pet owner team effort, and we want to help you keep your pet as happy and healthy as possible. Here is a checklist you can use to ensure you are providing your aging pet with the best possible life.

#1: Veterinary wellness visits for seniors

Senior pets need more frequent veterinary visits than young adults. We recommend semi-annual wellness examinations, which help our team detect subtle issues and changes you may not notice at home. During wellness visits, we will discuss vaccinations, parasite prevention, deworming protocols, dental care, and other routine services that should continue well into old age. 

The main difference between a senior visit and an adult visit is screening tests. We recommend blood and urine as a minimum baseline, and may also discuss taking X-rays, checking an abdominal ultrasound, running heart function tests, or checking blood pressure. The goal of screening tests is to check for changes from the baseline that help us identify early stage diseases when treatments are most effective.

#2: Senior pet nutrition

Senior pet bodies may digest and assimilate nutrients less efficiently, and require a highly digestible and nutrient-dense diet. On the other hand, obese, less active seniors may need a less nutrient-dense diet. Many seniors also battle chronic health conditions that may be controlled with prescription therapeutic diets. Each pet’s nutritional needs are unique, but our team can help you find a formula that works for your pet.

#3: Exercise and mental stimulation for senior pets

Exercise serves a myriad of purposes for senior pets, but often must be modified to suit individual physical capabilities. A leisurely walk or indoor play session is often sufficient for a senior and won’t strain aging joints too much. To facilitate more frequent movement, place rugs and runners throughout the house to provide traction. Here are reasons why exercise is important for seniors:

  • Reduced risk of cognitive decline
  • Stronger muscles
  • Healthier joints
  • Healthier weight
  • Mental stimulation
  • Reduced nervous energy

#4: Grooming for senior pets

Seniors often become unkempt and need extra help to maintain skin and coat health. Arthritic cats may not be able to groom certain areas, and they become greasy or matted. Senior dogs may develop oily or flaky skin conditions or skin infections more easily as their immune system function declines. Regular bathing with medicated shampoo and daily brushing will help your pet look and feel their best.

#5: Social activity for senior pets

Although some seniors will be less active, they likely still want to participate in their favorite social activities, such as greeting other pets on walks, meeting up with another mellow senior pet, and spending daily time with human family members. Highly active seniors may participate in dog sports in their “masters” divisions, but you should avoid weekend warrior injuries by keeping them in good shape between competitions. 

#6: Monitoring senior pet quality of life

The quality of life for senior pets who develop chronic medical issues, such as arthritis, diabetes, kidney disease, heart failure, or cancer, will decline at some point. Close monitoring is important to ensure your senior pet does not develop chronic pain or suffering and to give our team a chance to intervene if necessary. During senior visits, our veterinarians can give you parameters for your senior pal’s specific health conditions, so you know what to watch for and can identify when to say “Goodbye” with more certainty.

A grey muzzle is a badge of honor, and as a pet owner, you should feel proud that you’ve  nurtured your pet with the love and care that helped them live a long life. Now, the Tamberly Animal Hospital team can help you provide them with supportive care in their golden years. Contact us to schedule a routine senior visit or to learn more about recommended services for your aging furry pal.