Taking Care of Our Old Friends

 

As pets age, they fall susceptible to many of the same age-related diseases that we do.  The most common signs of aging are stiffness and pain, along with loss of vision and hearing.  Although it can be difficult to acknowledge that our pets are getting up in years, there are things we can do for them to make life a little easier.

Changes in Physical Well-being 

Just like us, pets experience arthritis, organ disease, obesity, and sensory changes (loss of vision and hearing). Regular veterinary care has been proven to make life much easier, and even extend the lifespan of your beloved pet. 

Arthritis – You may have noticed that Bowser isn’t as active as he used to be. Maybe he’s reluctant to jump up into the truck, or he groans while getting up in the morning. We have many tricks and tips to help lubricate those old joints better, and improve life quite a bit for arthritic pets. Our qualified veterinary staff may recommend a joint supplement, food change, or even  anti-inflammatory drugs to help your pet get back that spring in their step. We tailor-make solutions for each pet’s lifestyle and medical needs, so please don’t hesitate to ask. At home, there are some tools to help reduce the strain and pain:

     Ramps – Most dogs love going for a car ride, but for older dogs, especially large breeds, getting in and out of the car can be quite a challenge and often painful.  Ramps can provide an easy solution.  Folding ramps are available which allows for easy access when your pal is joining you on the road.

     Harnesses – Painful joints are not uncommon in both dogs and cats and may affect their neck as well.  For dogs, the use of a harness might be an alternative to a collar when going on walks to avoid the pressure on their neck.

     Raised food dishes – As mentioned above,  neck pain can occur in older pets and often just raising their food dish off the floor can alleviate a lot of that pain.

     Nail Trims – Long, curled nails can make it hard for a pet to place it’s feet firmly on the ground, leading to muscle and joint strains and sprains. Take care to keep up with those paw-dicures!

Changes in Organ Function – Bodies wear out over time – it’s a fact of life, and even our beloved pets canhealth-issues-common-to-older-cats-535a22b793fe5‘t escape it. Kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, and a variety of other ailments creep up on our senior friends. Our veterinarians are well-trained and experts at picking up those subtle signs in Fluffy and Princess, and will do the utmost to preserve good health for as long as possible. Medications, diet changes, or many other therapies can keep your pet healthy and strong for much of those senior days. Preventative bloodwork can detect the early signs of age-related disease, and sometimes simple modifications can keep your pet young for longer.

Vision and Hearing –  Like senior people, many pets become hard of hearing and have some vision loss as they age. Sometimes we can correct the problem, but other times, we can’t change what nature starts. Be aware if your pet has sensory limitations, and avoid hazards. Dim, evening lighting is hard on many elderly dogs, so be mindful that Fido may not see that set of stairs or pothole when walking at night or playing fetch. Other changes pet guardians can make to help a pet out are:

     Baby gates – To prevent unnecessary accidents, especially when vision loss is apparent, baby gates can be very effective.  Placing them at stairways or doorways can help to keep pets safe, especially if left alone.

     Hand signals – We encourage owners to start using hand signals when their little fur balls are young so in the senior years when your pet experiences hearing loss, they can still follow commands. senior_pets It’s never too late to teach them hand signals and will be beneficial in keeping that communication open.

     Night lights – Much like small children, elderly pets (cats especially) can become confused when their world is dark. Sometimes a simple light will help orient them and relieve distress. 

The bond you share with your senior pet is special.  Helping them stay safe and comfortable will only strengthen that bond.  And a little extra lovin’ never hurts.