We know that animal’s age at a much quicker pace than we do and pet owners who want their pets to live a long, healthy life need to provide the proper pet care to make it happen. But how do pet owners know when their pets are turning the corner from middle age to their retirement years and what is the best way to care for them?
No one wants their beloved fur babies to age and the fear of them leaving us is always at the forefront of our brain, especially when they show signs of aging.
Dogs and cats are great at hiding their health problems and as an owner, it’s your responsibility to keep an eye on your senior dog to ensure that you are adjusting his routine to match changes in his body that make him less able to cope with physical and environmental stresses.
Routine exams, preventive medicine and adjustments to your dog’s lifestyle can help your pooch stay healthy even as the years creep up.
This guide will help you understand what it takes to keep your senior dog happy and healthy.
How To Care For A Senior Pet
How do determine if a pet is a senior?
While each dog reaches their “golden years” at different ages, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) considers small cats and dogs geriatric at 7, while larger dog breeds are geriatric at 6 years old. Although we hate to watch our family pets grow old, it’s important to know the signs of aging and common conditions to look out for helping keep your pets as healthy as long as possible as they grow old.
Common conditions in senior pets.
As our pet’s age, they experience age-related health problems, as you might expect. Some of the most common conditions in senior pets according to Vet Street, are:
- Vision loss
- Hearing loss
- Kidney disease
- Cognitive disorders
- Liver disease
- Intestinal problems
- Dental disease
Senior Pet Wellness Exams
It’s just as important for your pet as it is for you to have regular health checkups. Most veterinarians suggest that senior pets have exams at least every six months. This exam promotes their health and longevity and to recognize and treat any health-related issues and provide preventive care.
- Most senior wellness exams include:
- Blood pressure
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Liver and kidney screen (CHEM)
- Thyroid function test
- Heartworm test
- Fecal Test
Veterinarians agree that all dogs and cats should have this exam at least once a year to monitor any developing health issues. Tracking your pets health history from the time you bring your pet home is a great way for their vet to have a baseline of their health from the start and to better track them as they age.
Do senior pets need hospice care?
As animals get older, their health needs can become more complicated and the average pet owner does not have the skill set to ensure their pets’ well being. Having help during this time in your pet’s life can be both beneficial for both you and your pet.
What is pet hospice care?
According to The American Veterinary Medical Association, “hospice care focuses on providing the best quality of life possible for a pet with a terminal disease or condition until the pet dies or is euthanized. Hospice care also helps the pet owner by providing the owner with time to adjust to the coming loss of their companion.
They tailor the pet care to the needs of both the owner and the owner’s pet […]
A pet hospice service typically includes on-call availability of the veterinarian to provide urgent care as needed; extended appointments including counseling and support for decision-making; in-home care; medications and other therapies administered to relieve discomfort, stress and pain; euthanasia options tailored to your and your pet’s needs (which may include in-home euthanasia); and pet loss support/grief counseling.”
How hospice can be helpful for both you and your pet.
Often our pet’s medical needs become too complicated for an owner to administer. Why compound the stress of watching your treasured pet’s health deteriorate before your own eyes when professional hospice care provided by a veterinary team can relieve you of the burden and provide your cherished critter with the pet care they deserve.
How you can help your senior pet.
- Following are things you can do to help your senior pet as they age.
- Watch for changes in behavior
- Schedule regular vet visits
- Change their diet
- Keep moving
- Look for signs of arthritis
- Your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatories, but you can also make accommodations to ease your pet’s pain, such as special diets or low-impact exercise.
- Be patient
- Help them stay clean
Do pets absolutely need hospice care?
Not exactly, but it is the best for them.
Seeing our senior pet’s health decline is never easy. Hospice care can help the transition for your pet to the rainbow bridge a little easier. Our pets have given us everything. And we can help their last days be some of the most comfortable and some of their best.
Our pets are like our children. Our best friends for years upon years. They really deserve the best care while they are aging and during their end-of-life stage.
Ever have a pet in hospice?
Please let us know about your experiences. We would love to hear all about them. And even if your older pet is not in hospice, but needs more care than your schedule allows please let us know. Our sitters will be more than happy to come and help your senior pet stay comfortable during this difficult time.
Nicole founded Miami Pet Concierge in May 2007, with a mission to provide Miami, Florida’s pet parents with personalized pet care plans based on their pets’ species, age, breed, health, and lifestyle. All while keeping their pets “happy at home.” In addition, offering pet care education for all pet owners to guide them to become great pet parents.