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Senior Pets – Adopting, Loving, Living With
Snuggling on the couch with my “pup,” I saw a graying muzzle and was forced to acknowledge he was getting old! I never wanted to consider that my beloved pets age at a pace quicker than I do, but it’s true. Now that I know this, what can / should I do to ensure that my pets live long, healthy senior lives? What is a senior pet?
Generally, a senior pet is considered to be senior if it has reached the later third of its life. That means that large breeds can be seniors at five years while small ones may hit senior status at around age 10. Regardless of size, how do I support my senior pet?
Preventive care is key. If it is time for your pet’s annual physical, schedule an appointment. During this appointment, be sure to identify any new issues you notice, such as limping, being less active, napping more, even changes in frequency and appearance of urination and/or defecation. The doctor will complete a thorough physical exam and conduct laboratory tests focusing on the health of the kidneys, liver, heart, and other medical issues. She will discuss your pet’s nutritional needs and recommend the appropriate diet type and amount to keep your pet’s organs functioning properly. At some point, she may recommend that your pet receive biannual physical exams in order to catch any concerns as early as possible.
|Area of Concern
|Diet & Concern
|Senior pets often need foods that are more readily digested, and have different calorie levels and ingredients, and anti-aging nutrients
|Weight gain in geriatric dogs increases the risk of health problems, whereas weight loss is a bigger concern for geriatric cats
|Older pets’ immune systems are not as healthy as those of younger animals; as a result, they can’t fight off diseases or heal as fast as younger pets
|As with older people, keeping older pets mobile through appropriate exercise helps keep them healthier and more mobile
|Your pet’s vaccination needs may change with age. Talk with Dr. Bibb about the appropriate vaccination program for your geriatric pet
|Pets can show signs of senility. Stimulating them through interactions can help keep them mentally active.
|Older pets may need changes in their lifestyle, such as sleeping areas, to avoid stairs, more time indoors, etc. Disabled pets have special needs which can be discussed
|Non-neutered/non-spayed geriatric pets are at higher risk of mammary, testicular, and prostate cancers
|Increased Veterinary Care
|Signs of illness or other problems can be detected and treated early
If you don’t already live with a senior pet, please note, November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month. The wonderful caregivers at https://www.Americanhumane.org have some great reasons to consider why adding an older cat or dog to your family may be a great choice. Here is some of their list:
They are typically calmer and less energetic than a young pet – therefore, easier to handle
It may be easier to train or may already be trained. They just need to become familiar with your “house rules.” Often senior pets are placed for adoption because their caregiver may no longer be able to care for them.
They are less demanding and fit in well with many households, such as apartments.
Their personality is developed – their temperament, behavior, and appearance will not change over time.
They can be even more loveable – they appreciate their new family once they realize they are now in their forever home.
Remember, living with senior pets is not unlike living with senior people. There may be challenges such as hearing loss, needing a helping hand to go upstairs or into a car, and running marathons is not an option. But the love and devotion you will get from a senior pet is a true blessing. Check with your local shelter or with https://www.muttville.org for senior dogs and / or https://www.cattownoakland.org for cats waiting to have another chance at a loving home.
Keeping An Old Dog Comfortable
The Whole Dog Journal, https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/?s=senior+dog+care has great advice to help care for your senior dog. This includes exercise, diet, protecting them from weather extremes, and grooming to name a few. As you age, you pay attention to your needs; the same should apply to your senior pet. Our goal is to keep you and your pet together for very long and happy life.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has designated November as Pet Cancer Awareness Month. The Morris Animal Foundation conducts critical pet health studies. Annually 12 million pets in the United States are diagnosed with cancer, which is the number one disease-related cause of death for pets. Statistics indicate that one in four dogs and one in five cats will die from cancer.
As with human cancers, early detection and treatment are key to survival. As the pet’s caregiver, you are the link between the pet and the veterinarian. If you suspect something, please schedule an appointment and have it checked. For downloadable cancer prevention checklists, please visit https://morrisanimalfoundation.org and type cancer prevention checklists into the search bar.
Long-Term Memory In Dogs
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recently shared a report published by the Royal Society Open Science called the Gifted Word Learner (GWL). This fascinating research was conducted by the Department of Ethology, Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary, and authored by Dror S. Miklosi, Sommese, and C. Fugazza. The researchers “tested six dogs on their ability to learn, during social interactions with their owners, the names of 6 and 12 new toys respectively, in one week”. Later the dogs’ memory for the objects was tested after one and two months. What they found was the Gifted Word Learner dogs learned the names and remembered them after a period of time. The test is not to be confused with teaching actions such as sit, stay, come, etc. The actions provided names to toys and tested the retention of those names. For more details describing the testing methodologies and outcomes, go to https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.210976.
by assistant editor, Roo, aka, Super Searcher With a Nose for News.
Diabetes in Pets – November is Pet Diabetes Awareness Month
Did you know that along with people, pets are subject to developing diabetes? It is most common in older and / or pregnant pets. Once diagnosed, it will be a lifelong treatment concern, but is manageable.
Known as diabetes mellitus, it occurs when the body can’t use glucose normally. The pancreas creates insulin which usually controls the levels of glucose, but in the case of diabetes, the insulin is not properly produced and must be given by external means, injections.
You are your pet’s advocate and may notice some important signs or symptoms to tell your veterinarian.
- Excessive drinking and urination
- Eye cloudiness; cataracts develop secondary to diabetes
- Unexplained weight loss even if your pet’s appetite has increased
- Recurring infections
- Unusual hair loss
- Unusual or unexplained behavior changes
As with most illnesses, early detection is key and is why it is so important that your pet receives an annual check-up. If your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, it will be your job to monitor for improvement of signs of diabetes, and glucose blood checks are needed to stabilize the patient then to maintain proper glucose levels. Along with insulin administration, dogs should eat a high-fiber diet if recommended by your veterinarian. Appropriate daily exercise should also be discussed and implemented as directed. Female dogs should be spayed.
As for cats, generally, a high-protein, low carbohydrate diet is recommended as well as daily exercise; challenging with cats but still doable.
Newer devices like Free Style Libre in people are being used in pets to lessen the needle sticks to get a blood sample. Maintaining a regular feeding and medicating schedule as well as routine checks with your veterinarian should help your pet live a long and healthy life.
Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week – November 2-6
Most people think of animal shelters as the place a pet is taken if it is found running loose. That is true, but an animal shelter is so much more. Did you know that according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), there are approximately 3500 animal shelters across the United States, and they serve approximately 6-8 million homeless animals each year?
These shelters offer healing services and investigate animal cruelty and neglect while reuniting lost pets with their families. Shelters provide a very necessary service to the community and need support from that community. Check with your local shelters to determine what they need to help animals. They may need things such as towels, toys, food donations, or simply your support for funding before a governmental body. Your commitment is crucial for the protection of needy animals.
World Kindness Day – November 13
I wish every day was World Kindness Day, but it isn’t. Just be nicer to everyone, especially your pets.
Welcome Back Dr. Waller!!!!
Dr. Waller will be back in action Thursday and Friday mornings, so schedule your appointments. These appointments book fast!
Welcome to Our New Staff
Just in case you think you might have seen some new faces in the parking lot, you’re right. Nikki Martin and Cheyanne Manjares have joined our team. Nikki has great experience working with horses and is one of our superb Receptionists. Cheyanne comes to us with experience working hands-on with pets and loves working with your pets. Next time you call or visit, please welcome Nikki and Cheyanne to the team.
Thanksgiving Day – November 26
While humans gather to watch football and eat lots of food, please remember to give thanks for all of the blessings in your lives, no matter how small you might think they are. Remember, your pets are blessings, and be sure to give them an extra hug, not excess food!
El Gato will be closed November 25-26 to celebrate Thanksgiving and will re-open Monday, November 29.