Apr 29 2015

Our Senior Pets Are Great!

Rockdale Animal Hospital has many senior patients that we love to see. If you have one of those seniors you know how special they are.If your pet is not a senior please don’t stop reading , because yours will be a senior one day.   Senior pets need special veterinary care just like human patients.  While every animal is different, there are general guidelines to determine when they become “senior citizens.” Cats are considered mature at 7 to 10 years, senior at 11 to 14 years, and geriatric at 15 or older.Dogs, in general, may be called senior at seven years of age, but larger dogs age more quickly. A Great Dane is a senior at 6 or 7, for example, but 7 is only middle age for a Chihuahua. Ultimately your pet’s genetics, nutrition and environment will all play a role in determining when he is a senior.

Here are some great tips to keep your pet comfortable and happy through their ” golden years”.  The pictures in our blog are some of the staff’s senior pets. We would love to have pictures of your senior pets for our on line photo gallery  – please e-mail them to Lisa at hospital@rockanimal.com.

 

1. Make the Veterinarian Your First Stop

jaz

Jaz – 16 years old

Regular check-ups are essential to your pet’s health, and become even more important as your pet ages. Age-related diseases can be subtle, and symptoms may be easy to miss. Through regular exams and blood tests, your veterinarian can establish a baseline of what is normal for your pet. This will help alert you when something is not right. If you notice any changes in your pet’s behavior, appetite, or energy level, be sure to check with us immediately.  Rockdale Animal Hospital recommends a senior exam every six months.

2. Choose the Right Diet

If your older pet is less active, he will need fewer calories. Try feeding fresh vegetables or high quality commercial treats, and limiting portion sizes at mealtime. Over half of American pets are overweight, and obesity contributes to many diseases and puts more stress on your pet’s joints. Dogs with joint problems may benefit from supplementation with glucosamine or fish oils; there are even special foods to improve issues with joint disease or mobility. Pets with kidney or heart disease may also need special diets. During your exam our veterinarians can help design a weight plan that addresses your pet’s specific nutritional needs and make recommendations if supplementation or a specialized diet will help.

3. Get Moving!

Exercise helps your senior pet maintain a healthy body weight, and it helps slow the degeneration of joints from arthritis. Walking is excellent exercise. Start with short walks — 10 to 15 minutes each — then gradually increase the length. Listen to your dog: if he seems tired, it’s time to stop. Many elderly dogs will try to keep up with you and won’t know they’ve reached their limit. Make sure to keep water available, and don’t spend long periods outdoors in overly hot or humid weather. If you have access to a pool, supervised swimming is a great low-impact exercise and is naturally relaxing for many dogs. Dog swim vests can be used for those having trouble staying buoyant.

buddy collins

Buddy – 13 years old

4. Practice Proper Dental Hygiene

Remember the old saying, “Be true to your teeth, or they’ll be false to you”? Well, dental care is just as important for pets as it is for us. Dental disease is painful and may make it difficult for your senior pet to eat. Ideally, you should start brushing your pet’s teeth early, but if you haven’t, don’t despair; you can still take action. The first step is an  exam and professional dental cleaning. Then, schedule regular follow-ups and brush daily at home. If your pet won’t tolerate you brushing its teeth, consider dental treats, dental diets or dental toys designed to help keep the teeth clean and healthy.

5. Safety First!

Senior dogs and cats may experience loss of sight and/or hearing. If this is the case, you need to take extra care to keep them out of harm’s way. Remove dangerous objects from their path, and use pet gates to create a safe space for your pet when you are not able to supervise. Use hand signals to communicate with a pet with hearing loss.

6. Accessibility

stinky3

Stinky – 9 years old

Older dogs and cats may develop arthritis or other joint problems, which can make it harder for them to get around. You can help by providing ramps to help them navigate around the house, get up on the bed, or get outside. Make sure litter boxes are easily accessible. Orthopedic pet beds, with or without heating elements, may help keep your pet comfortable and relieve pressure on the joints. Hydrotherapy and therapeutic massage are also effective therapies for dogs with joint pain.

7. Mental Stimulation

Yes, you can teach an old dog (or cat) new tricks — in fact, it’s a great way to keep them young at heart. Try enrolling in a basic training or tricks class with your senior pet. You can also give them “puzzle toys,” which require them to actively figure out the puzzle in order to get the food treat inside. For dogs and cats, keep plenty of toys handy, and engage them in lots of interactive play to keep their minds and bodies working.

8. Physical Contact

Nothing tells your dog that you love him like a good belly rub. As your pet ages, physical contact is more important than ever. Therapeutic massage is great for animals with joint pain, and equally enjoyable for those without. Pets that have a difficult time grooming themselves may benefit from extra brushing. Every moment you have together is precious, and increasing the physical connection between you will strengthen your bond immeasurably. Maximize every opportunity for bonding with your pet – you will both be glad you did.

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Gizmo – 11 years old

 

  • The oldest recorded age of a cat is 34 years.
  • The oldest recorded age of a dog is 29 years.

 

Age: Human Equivalents for Older Pets

Cat years Human years
7 45
10 58
15 75
20 98

 

Dog years Human years (*dog size lbs)
7 Small – Medium: 44-47
Large – Very large: 50-56
10 Small – Medium: 56-60
Large – Very large: 66-78
15 Small – Medium: 76-83
Large – Very large: 93-115
20 Small – Medium: 96-105
Large: 120
*Small: 0-20 lbs; Medium: 21-50 lbs; Large: 51-90 lbs; Very large: >90 lbs

 

Last week’s question was : In what year did Earth Day start?

 

And the winner is Lori Todd  who answered : 1970

 

And this week’s question is : How many times a year is it recommended that a senior pet see their vet?

 

Please leave a comment to this blog with your answer or send us the answer via e mail to hospital@rockanimal.com by noon on Friday  to be eligible to win the weekly prize.

** Please note , you can win more than once and you can win consecutive weeks , so keep on answering the questions!

 

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One thought on “Our Senior Pets Are Great!”

  1. Kristen Parzych says:

    Every six months

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