As your pet ages, many of their basic needs, such as diet and exercise, will begin to change.
Pets are very good at hiding health problems and as an owner, it's our responsibility to keep an eye on them to ensure that we adjust their routine to match changes in their body and immune system that make them less able to cope with physical and environmental stresses.
Routine pet wellness exams, preventative medicine and adjustments to your pet's lifestyle can help them stay healthy even as the years creep up.
Different sized dog's age at varying rates, with larger dogs reaching senior status much sooner than smaller dogs. While each dog reaches 'senior hood' at a different age, most canines become seniors after seven years including cats. It is important to know your pet's age so you know when he becomes a senior and can ask your vet about when you're pet's needs may begin to change.
As your pet ages, different diseases might potentially come into play. These diseases include arthritis, cancer, cognitive disorders, vision and auditory problems, liver, kidney and dental disease, diabetes, and heart disease. Just as with people, regular health checkups become increasingly important as pets grow older and should be seen at least once every six months. The purpose of these wellness exams is to promote your pet's health and longevity, recognize and control health risks and detect any illnesses in early stages, which may improve treatment options.
A typical exam will include health-related questions in order to build a snapshot of your pet's medical history. During the check-up, the vet will check for body tumors, signs of pain, body appearance and condition along with examining the eyes, ear, nose, and mouth for irregularities as well as listening to the heart and lungs. Many times a number of diagnostic tests will be ran including CBC (complete blood count), chemistry screen to check the liver and kidney, urinalysis, thyroid function, and heartworm and fecal test. Baseline laboratory tests should be ran early before your pet becomes a senior as this allows your vet to monitor any developing trends in your pet's health status as it changes from year to year.
As an owner, you should consistently monitor your pet's health between vet visits. Signs to look for include incontinence, lumps, constipation or diarrhea, breathing abnormalities, coughing, weakness, changes in appetite, water intake or urination, stiffness or limping, increased vocalization and uncharacteristic aggression or behavioral changes. Fluctuations in weight can be an early sign of an underlying disease and should be checked frequently. By keeping a close eye on your pet, this will allow a better insight for your veterinarian to be able to recognize abnormalities.
Adjusting your pet's nutrition is very important as these senior foods are designed to have less fat and salt, therefore decreasing the stress on the different body systems. Frequent bathroom breaks are also warranted for a smooth transition into those elderly years to come. These may seem like simple adjustments but they are very important for a happier healthier companion.
Along with being more watchful over your senior pet's health, it's crucial that you keep up with routine preventative care such as parasite prevention, dental care, vaccinations and nutritional management. As your pet's immune system weakens with age, the importance of routine basic care only increases. Always create a comfortable environment for your ageing pet with easy access to food and water and supportive bedding along with old fashioned TLC which is beneficial to both you and your pet.
Undoubtedly, your veterinarian is key to helping in your pet's transition through these senior years, but as an owner, you are also key to your pet's life. Together, your pet is on track for a long and healthy life.
Call today and schedule your senior pet care appointment and make sure they are on the healthy track to living a long and happy life.
One of the biggest challenges that dog owners face is managing their pet's weight especially when the animal also has problems moving or staying active due to joint health issues.
A new dog food option -- Hill's Prescription Diet Metabolic + Mobility was introduced this spring designed to help with both challenges. In fact, a member of the Pipestone family was one of the first to try the new product when it became available.
Max is a ten year old, yellow lab mix that is owned by Pipestone Veterinary Services employee, Kim Lape. He has arthritis in his knees and hips and torn ligaments in both knees.
"When the Metabolic + Mobility product came out, Dr. Weber thought Max might be a good candidate to try it out," said Kim. At the time, Max weighed 102 and was having difficulty with moving around the house and with some of the activities that he had always enjoyed.
Max had been eating Hill's Prescription Diet JD, which was designed for joint issues, and didn't have any issues transitioning to the new food.
"He loves it. He began eating it right away and hasn't had any problems at all," said Kim.
Max has lost just over 10 pounds, weighing in at 91 pounds in September.
"He has had a healthy rate of weight loss, about two percent of his body weight each month, which is exactly where we want him to be at," said Dr. Nicole Weber, small animal veterinarian at Pipestone Veterinary Services.
"Even more important than the weight loss, there has been improved mobility and the positive impact on Max's quality of life," said Kim. "He is now able to go up and down flights of stairs with no problems and is back to some of his favorite activities."
"He is a very energetic and outgoing dog who loves to go on car rides. Before, we had to help him get in and out of the car, but now he is able to climb in by himself," she said.
"The challenges that Max was facing are not unusual," said Dr. Weber. "About 50 percent of the pet population is overweight."
"One of the primary reasons that dogs have arthritis and joint issues is excess weight," she said. "If we are able to decrease their overall weight, we can often improve their arthritic condition without medication."
The Science Diet Metabolic + Mobility dog food contains a special formula of ingredients that helps dogs feel full longer. It contains a synergistic blend of ingredients which works with your pet's unique metabolism. This food combines high levels of omega-3 fatty acids with special fiber blends from fruits and vegetables. This special combination is designed to help pets feel full and satisfied without depriving them of their daily meals. Not only does Science Diet Metabolic + Mobility decrease joint inflammation, but it also helps to rebuild joint fluid, creating comfort.
'One of the hardest things for pet owners to deal with is helping their pets lose weight because they feel guilty about depriving their pets," she said. "With this diet, that isn't a problem because the dog feels full. They are able to decrease total calories without depriving their pets at all."
When the new diet was tested in a blind taste test, dogs were given the food without owners knowing what it was designed to do, said Dr. Weber. The owners were pleased to see the dogs losing weight and moving better as they stayed on the diet.
"A dog can stay on the Metabolic + Mobility diet as long it needs to" said Dr. Weber. "Once the pet reaches its target weight, they can either stay on this food and increase amount per feeding or switch to another diet option, such as Science Diet JD."
Pet owners should keep an even sharper eye on their animal?s mobility as the weather changes.
"When we transition from warmer to colder weather, pet owners may see a difference in their animal's movement," said Dr. Weber. "If your pet is getting up more slowly, or showing signs of limping or lameness, they may be having difficulty with arthritis or joint issues and owners should talk to their veterinarian about whether the Metabolic + Mobility diet is a good option for them," she said.
Question: My ten year old dog seemed sore after a walk and is now limping on the left hind leg. I gave him an aspirin the last two days, is this something I can continue for his arthritis?
Answer: It has been thought, over the years, that dogs can tolerate and should be given aspirin for pain. In recent years it has been shown that even one microscopic dose of aspirin can cause ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding.
Once in their system, aspirin is slowly excreted causing it to linger for almost seven days. Aspirin cannot be combined with many other pain medications that we tend to prescribe. For arthritis in pets, I strongly recommend scheduling a consultation appointment where we assess the source of pain and get the pet started on safer medications. These medications may often be used in conjunction with other joint supplements so we can provide maximum comfort levels while minimizing the risks of long term effects to overall health. In addition to these items, ice and rest do wonders to alleviate some mild cases of discomfort.
If you think that your pet is experiencing discomfort from arthritis or another reason, please give us a call to discuss options prior to administering anything from home.
Question: My 10 year old dog seemed sore after a walk and is now limping on the left hind leg. I gave him an aspirin the last 2 days, is this something I can continue for her arthritis?
Answer: It has been thought over the years that dogs can tolerate and should be given aspirin for pain but in recent years it has been shown that even one microscopic dose of aspirin can cause ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding because once in their system, aspirin is slowly excreted causing it to linger for almost 7 days. Aspirin cannot be combined with many other pain medications that we tend to prescribe.
For arthritis in pets, I strongly recommend scheduling a consultation appointment where we assess the source of pain and get the pet started on safer medications for pet pain management. These medications may often be used in conjunction with other joint supplements so we can provide maximum comfort levels while minimizing the risks of long term effects to overall health. In addition to these items, ice and rest do wonders to alleviate some mild cases of discomfort.
If you think that your pet is experiencing discomfort from arthritis or another reason, give your vet a call and discuss options prior to administering anything from home.