Caring for Aging Pets

The Vet Scoop Team

Our pets are living longer than ever before, and that means we need to learn more about how their needs change as the age. In this video, Dr. Evan Antin shares his tips for ways that we can help our pets live a healthy and happy life, long into their golden years.

Transcript:

Hey, I’m Dr. Evan with VetScoop with my little buddy, Henry.  Henry is 13 years old. I adopted him when he was about four months, but as an older guy, we’ve had to accommodate to his lifestyle being a little bit different. So, some of the things I want to have pet parents, like you, keep in mind when you have older pets, is that we need to accommodate to them.  And this includes things like making easier access to their food and water, making sure they have good gripping surfaces within the home. A lot of our pets have arthritis as they get older, especially some of our bigger dog breeds. So making sure that they’re comfortable getting around and not slipping is important. Veterinary care is very, very important as these guys get older. They can live long, amazing lives, and we just want to stay on top of their health.

So routine annual exams, at least, and often when dogs are nine or 10 years old and older, I recommend regular blood work. Just like how our human doctors recommend with us, same thing for pets. And we want to stay on top of their health because a lot of things can show up in the blood before we can start seeing clinical symptoms at home. 

Another important topic to discuss with your veterinarian is nutrition because as pets age, depending on their overall health and metabolic health, their nutritional needs can change. And so it’s important to have them on the appropriate diet that’s going to best suit them and their overall health.  With our pets, it’s important to remember that they don’t always vocalize when they’re in pain as people often do. So they’ll show us in other ways, such as limping, or maybe not being as excitable when people come to the door. Maybe cats stop jumping on and off furniture, maybe pets aren’t as excited to go outside or go for their walks.

These are signs that maybe our pet is experiencing some pain and discomfort. And it’s really important to discuss this with your veterinarian. They can help better evaluate your pet’s health, and if we need to intervene medically, or with diet or their weight, or what have you.

Our senior pets can have every bit as quality of a human animal bond as our younger pets, but it’s important that they have good healthy brain function. Cognitive dysfunction, or senility is common in people and pets. We see it in our parents and some of our older relatives and we can also see it in our pet dogs and cats and even other animals. And so we want to make sure they’re nice and sharp, and there are things we can do with their life in terms of enrichment and even in diet and nutrition to improve their cognitive abilities and their day to day enjoyment and the human animal bond that they have with you.