Wednesday, October 5, 2011

FROM OUR VETS: Senior Pets

Are you living with a senior citizen pet? Aged animals have special requirements. With attention to these needs, you can extend the life span and quality of life of your elderly pets.
Senior Dog
Photo Credit:  Akita Dog Profile by Kim Newberg

Continual dental care is very important. Many ailments such as liver and kidney disease, heart problems and arthritis can be attributed to infected teeth and gums. Also the foul odor and taste accompanying dental diseases must be uncomfortable for the elderly pet.

The primary heart disease of older dogs and cats is congestive heart failure. Dry, persistent coughing may be the first indicator. Medications can help your pet live comfortably and live longer.

Kidney failure is one of the most prevalent old age problems and a leading cause of death. Special diets can reduce the demands on the kidneys and so extend their longevity.

Infectious diseases such as Feline Leukemia and Canine Hepatitis are as dangerous to older as to younger pets. Elderly pets should continue to receive their annual vaccinations.

Unfortunately, malignant and benign tumors show up in senior dogs and cats. Depending on how early they are noticed, many tumors can be removed.

Weight control is as important in pets as in people, especially as they get older. Aging muscles lose some of their tone and cannot adequately support additional weight. This leads to joint weakness and arthritis. Obesity places more demands and stress on older hearts.

Do not forget routine health care. Bathing, grooming, eye and ear care, toe nail trimming and parasite control all contribute to the happiness and well being of every pet. Most importantly, tender loving care (TLC) will let your senior citizen pet live more comfortably with you.

(from the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association)