While we realize that our animals have a much shorter lifespan than our own, many of us fail to take into account the effect that this actually has on their body. A shorter lifespan means that your pet’s body will age much more quickly than your own. Experts agree that a cat’s body ages 25 years in the first two human years of its life, and a further four years for every human year following that. Meanwhile, for dogs, every human year equates to 7 canine years. So sure, your dog may ‘only’ be ten years old to you, but in doggo years this makes him the ripe old age of 70 and he is most definitely classed as a ‘senior citizen’.
These rapid body changes mean that we need to adapt the care that we provide to our pets at various stages of their life much sooner than we might think. It is important to ensure that we make these adaptations at the correct times to ensure that our animals have the right nutrition, preventative care and general support that they need to remain as healthy and happy as possible during their senior years.
Here at the Geneva Veterinary Clinic, we are pleased to be able to offer a comprehensive senior pet healthcare service that is tailored specifically to the needs of your older animal.
WHAT DOES SENIOR PET HEALTHCARE ENTAIL?
Senior pet healthcare can comprise of a range of different elements, provided by your veterinarian so that they can use their training, skill, and experience to give your furbaby the best care possible as he enters his senior years.
Regular wellness checks
One of the most important aspects of senior pet healthcare is attending regular wellness checks. These visits, which are much like general check-ups with your own doctor, are designed to assess and track the wellbeing of your senior pet, even if he isn’t showing any signs of being unwell. This is important because all animals have a natural tendency to mask signs of illness for as long as possible. Often this means that by the time we realize our pet is sick, whatever is ailing them has had a chance to progress and cause damage to their health. By spotting a potential problem early and arranging for prompt treatment, it may be possible to avoid irreversible damage to your pet’s health and unnecessary pain and suffering.
Wellness checks are usually performed annually for adults, but this frequency may be increased to 6-monthly for senior animals. Elements of the check may include:
- A nose to tail physical examination
- Observations of temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen levels and more
- Weight check
- Urine and fecal testing
- Thyroid testing, as thyroid function begins to deteriorate with age
- Blood testing
It is just as important to keep a senior pet properly protected from infectious diseases and parasites as it is a younger animal. His immune system function may start to deteriorate with age, and this could leave him more susceptible to both contracting illness and fighting it. Our expert team of veterinarians will be able to advise you which preventative care is necessary for your pet and devise a schedule with which the various elements should be administered. This includes vaccinations against infectious diseases such as parvovirus or feline calicivirus, as well as oral, topical or injectable preventatives against parasites such as fleas, ticks and heartworms.
Nutrition advice and support
You probably have already seen your pet’s nutritional requirements change as he has progressed from an infant to an adult. However, you can expect them to change once he reaches his senior years too. He may require a specific diet to support his health, such as one containing joint supplements if he has been diagnosed with arthritis, or one that is designed with a specific health problem in mind. He may also require less food overall as he will probably be moving around less and overfeeding him could cause weight gain and the development of other health problems.
Our experienced veterinarians understand the nutritional requirements of older pets and will be happy to work with you to ensure that your furbaby is eating the right diet and quantities of food to keep him healthy.
If you would like to arrange for an appointment for your senior pet, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert team by calling our veterinary offices in Geneva, OH on 440-703-8100.