As the years pass, our furry companions will experience changes. They may move a bit slower, you might notice a distinguished salt and peppering of their fur, and perhaps they’ve mastered the art of the all-afternoon nap. These changes are a natural part of the aging process. As they age, our special senior pets need extra attention to maintain their well-being.
When our furry friends enter their golden years, they gain wisdom, but they also become more susceptible to health issues like cancer, which according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is the cause of death in almost half of dogs and about a third of cats over ten years old.
Other health problems that can crop up include heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, degenerative joint disease and cognitive changes. These health issues often develop silently, often without any warning signs in their early stages. That’s why regular veterinary exams and geriatric blood work screenings are so important—detecting abnormalities when the diseases and illnesses are more manageable and less costly to treat.
These exams provide your veterinary team with essential information to make informed decisions about your pet’s health. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) guidelines for 2023 stress that senior dogs and cats should have comprehensive wellness exams at least every six months.
Through consistent health check-ins for your senior pet, your veterinary team sets a health baseline. Any deviations from this baseline can tip them off to potential issues, giving the team a chance to step in early. This is particularly essential because senior pets can experience rapid physical changes, and spotting these changes promptly is key.
It’s not just exams you should be thinking about, but dietary adjustments, weight control, parasite management, and tailored vaccinations—these are all essential tools in assisting your pet as they age. Make sure to ask your veterinarian any questions you may have about your golden oldie.
As our pets navigate and nap through the years, keep in mind that their quality of life relies on your proactive care. Taking all of the above steps will help them live their best lives, no matter their age.