November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month. We’d like to celebrate, by not only recognizing the positive impact senior pets can have as a special member of the family, but also ways in which we can keep our furry senior friends happy and healthy during their “golden years.”
Senior pets are unfortunately often overlooked in our shelters; however, ask anyone who has welcomed an older pet into their home, and they will tell you that these companions have enriched their lives immensely. Given appropriate care and love, they can be a wonderful addition to your family. Below are a few ways you can assure that your senior pet lives the best quality of life possible, whether he or she is a newly adopted member or has been with your family for years.
Routine preventive care: Even in a pet’s latter years of life, routine preventive care is still as important as ever. Immunizations and heartworm/flea/tick control is imperative. While many vaccines may be stretched to three-year intervals later in life, there are still some that are required annually to be protective. Likewise, older pets are just as much at risk for internal and external parasites. In addition to vaccines and parasites, good dental hygiene and care is also of utmost importance in senior pets. We can help formulate appropriate preventive care strategies for your pet.
Proper Nutrition: At each life stage, pet’s nutrition needs can change. There are a number of excellent diets that are geared toward senior pets specifically. It is important to maintain adequate nutritional needs for our older pets. See our link to frequently asked nutrition questions for more detail.
Regular physical exams: We recommend a physical exam annually or even more frequently depending on the pet and current medical issues. Regularly scheduled physical exams can help detect issues earlier, which often allows for more successful treatment or management of the problem.
Laboratory Testing: Just as your doctor may recommend routine blood work to help detect or monitor issues, blood serum chemistries, blood cell counts, and urine testing can be valuable tools that can be used in our animal patients as well. We can assess internal organ function, detect evidence of hormone/endocrine disorders, and identify evidence of other issues such as infections and some cancers. This is particularly valuable in our patients who cannot talk to us and tell us how they feel.
Given proper care, senior pets can be some of the best companions! We hope this proves informative for you, if you currently have an older pet in your family. If you are looking for an addition, maybe it will offer encouragement to consider opening your home to a senior that might not otherwise have one.