Senior Pet Wellness: September is Healthy Aging Month

Has your Hannah Pet gotten a little slower, or a little gray in the face? It may be time to consider them a “senior Pet,” and to adjust your home care accordingly.

Before we get too far into it, let’s define exactly what constitutes a, “senior Pet.” Environment, nutrition, and genetics all play in a part in how your dog or cat ages. Genetically, we’re talking breed. While you might consider a Golden Retriever a senior Pet around 8 to 10 years old, a Great Dane could make that classification by age 5. Most cats are considered seniors between 11 and 14. For more information, here’s an explanation from the American Animal Hospital Association. In general, “senior” just denotes that your Pet has been around a while. That was the goal! You’ve done great to get here!

Senior Pets are entering the final 25% (or more, if we’re lucky) of their life and require a little more specialized care than their youthful counterparts. Remember: getting to care for a senior Pet isn’t a chore, it’s a privilege. These are their “golden years,” and here are a number of tips to help you make that gold shine as brightly as possible.

The Obvious Thing You Knew We Were Going To Tell You

We’re a Pet hospital, so here’s the easiest tip: schedule regular visits to Hannah. A timely check-up can be the difference between an afternoon inconvenience and a tragedy. If we don’t provide the info automatically, ask your PetNurse about doing body condition evaluation. That will help you know if your Pet is overweight, underweight, or just right. Knowing that will inform your next several steps. If you’re interested, a Hannah PetNurse can even show you a few tips and tricks for continuing to evaluate your Pet’s body condition at home.

Preventive Care Is Your Friend

Brush your Pet’s teeth when you can. Hannah Pet Hospitals often have complimentary toothbrushes! It probably seems weird to brush your dog or cat’s teeth for them, but they can’t do it themselves, right? Dental chews are a helpful alternative. As your Pet ages, they may run into some unexpected dental woes. If you’ve been keeping up with their hygiene, they may be able to avoid the worst of it. Less pain in your Pet’s mouth equals less pain your heart watching them suffer.

Another valuable way to practice preventive care with your Pet is, of course, exercising. Don’t be afraid to modify your Pet’s routine to match their physical output! They aren’t being graded or tested, and they don’t have to move like they did when they were younger. Just keep their bodies engaged as they age. While you’re at it, keep in mind that not all exercise plans are created equal; what could be an easy walk for a large senior dog could feel like a marathon to a senior chihuahua.

Mental exercise is another area of your Pet’s health to prioritize. Keeping toys around will help your Pet stay moving — especially if you’ve got a senior cat, who might not fancy a stroll around the block. Food puzzles are another great trick for mental engagement, and for maintaining a healthy weight. Here are a few examples courtesy of New York Magazine.

Set Them Up For Success

If your Pet loves jumping on the bed or couch but is having a harder time than usual getting up, consider picking up some Pet stairs to make it easier. A portable ramp can be a Godsend for senior Pets on car trips.

Putting down a rug or carpet on hard floors can give a break to an arthritic Pet’s bones. So can a soft bed, or readily available blankets for sleeping.

Consider A Special Diet

Another lifesaver for some senior Pets is a high quality diet. Overweight cats and dogs run into a myriad of problems just like people, from heart and skin diseases to diabetes and even cancer. Obese Pets are often challenging to feed as they reach “seniorhood,” because you want to make sure you’re giving them the nutrients they need to stay healthy while still allowing for weight loss.

Speak to a Doctor or PetNurse at Hannah about fortifying your senior Pet’s diet with fatty acids to help with mobility, or other modifications to help with heart and kidney troubles. A low sodium diet can be a boon for a healthy heart, and kidney disease can be tremendously helped by diets that monitor phosphorus, calcium and other electrolyte levels.

Continue Doing What You Do

Keep them safe when it’s hot outside. Keep them inside when the air quality gets rough. Hug them, kiss them on their face, and tell them they’re great. These are the deeply special Pets we’ve decided to share our lives with, and you are the very special You with whom they’re spending the last, hopefully happiest part of their lives.

Don’t forget to e-mail us or give us a call if you have any more questions. Get your senior Pet on the books for their next visit!

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