Like us, our pets need extra attention to their health as they age. Of course, they age more rapidly than we do and dogs and cats are generally considered seniors at seven years of age. Some of the conditions affecting older pets are obesity, arthritis, and periodontal, heart, kidney, liver, and thyroid disease.
Many preventive measures can be taken to prevent illnesses, relieve symptoms of disease, extend life expectancy and enhance quality of life. First, older pets should receive regular wellness exams every six months. Second, routine blood testing is recommended to obtain a baseline of a particular animal’s normal values and to detect various diseases. When problems are diagnosed early, medications, supplements, and appropriate nutrition can be used to treat, slow down the progression of, and alleviate symptoms of disease.
Another important consideration is dental care. Tartar buildup and gum disease can cause infections and disease elsewhere in the body including the heart, liver, and other organs. A daily tooth brushing is effective in preventing tooth decay and gum disease. In addition to brushing and dental chews, regular dental cleanings should be done.
Arthritis is one of the most common diseases of older pets. Although prescription medications are available to alleviate pain, many animals respond well to supplements that reverse or minimize the effects of arthritis. Regular exercise can also play a role in increasing overall health by maintaining muscle tone and preventing excess weight gain.
From regularly scheduled exams to a healthy diet and daily exercise, we can do a lot to maintain the health and happiness of our best friends.