Is your furry friend over the age of 7 years? Well, it might be time to switch some things to continue making sure they stay as healthy as can be. Below you will find some steps to help you do just that!
- You may want to start seeing your veterinarian twice a year instead of annually.
- It might be time to switch diets to a senior formulated diet.
- Yearly blood work is something you would also want to look into.
- Make sure exercise is appropriate for your pet’s age for many different reasons.
- You may have to make some environmental changes to help with mobility or mental stimulation.
Now you may be wondering why we have to change so many things for our beloved mature and senior pets. Well, let’s talk about that for just a little bit. Why would we want to see the vet twice a year instead of the regular once a year that we have done for so long? The reason for this change is so that we can pick up on things much quicker so that we have less time to possibly get worse to a point of not being able to do anything.
Ok so we understand why increasing checkups might be helpful but why would we need to change the food we have been using for so long? Simple, each stage of life has a different nutritional requirement. As our pets age, they require different things in their diets to help them. This is something you would want to talk with your veterinarian about during an annual/biannual exam because there are so many different diets and each pet may require something different based on breed, size, medical conditions ( i.e.: diabetes, kidney disease, etc..) or even just a switch to a senior food as they are now older.
That makes sense now. So, is this the same idea for annual blood work? Yes, it is. When your furry friend is younger they do not always need blood work as they are generally healthy. However, as they get older we like to have annual blood work so we can keep track of anything beginning to increase or decline such as kidneys, liver, and thyroid. This kind of goes hand in hand with our annuals as the more often we check the quicker we can find any problems that could be occurring.
Fluffy is getting older, isn’t it normal for them to be slowing down? Why would I need to change their exercise or environment? That’s just old age. Yes, that is true, however, because they may be getting older it may become more difficult to use things like stairs so you would want to make sure that their things are more accessible to them. Maybe even have everything on the same floor they use the most so they are not having to climb for their needs. They also may begin to sleep more but you still want to make sure that they can get the proper exercise needed so they do not become overweight as their energy requirements lessen. This can lead to many more problems caused such as arthritis or stiffness.
What things should I look for when bringing my friend in for senior checkups? There are a few things you would want to keep an eye on when going for your annuals/bi-annuals. Below you will find a list of the things to watch for any changes in:
- Change in water consumption
- Change in appetite
- Lethargic or depressed (listless behaviour)
- Change in urine production (amount and/or colour)
- Change in attitude (irritability)
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Noticeable decrease in vision
- Weight gain/loss
- Bad breath or drooling
- Lumps and bumps on the skin
- Excessive panting
- Breathing heavily or rapidly at rest
- Increased stiffness, trouble jumping, or walking
In short, make sure to take knowledge of any new things happening with your pet, change things to help them around, and try to been seen more regularly because as we may not be able to stop the ageing process we can at least help slow it down and help our pets get the best and longest life we can.
AVMA – https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/petcare/senior-pet-care-faq
Heartland Veterinary Clinic – https://www.laservet.ca/senior-pets.html
VCA Animal Hospital – https://vcacanada.com/know-your-pet/helping-our-senior-dogs-age-gracefully
By: Ashley Goss, Veterinary Technician