Senior pets- don’t discount their needs

In older pets, as in humans, the body functions of pets deteriorate with advancing age. They lose some of their hearing, vision and agility. Major organ function also deteriorates. On average, dogs and cats live 12-15 years, while giant breeds like Great Danes age faster and small breeds like Chihuahuas and cats can live longer (20 something).

As your pet ages, you might notice more white hair, sleepiness, stiff legs, blurry eyes and hearing loss. <:p>

of the most common health problems in aging pets are arthritis and dental disease. Many pets need help with arthritis medication and periodic teeth cleaning. Neglected diseased gums may spread bacteria to the blood stream, causing heart, kidney and liver infections. Heart murmur and enlargement are common and may culminate in congestive heart failure.

problems like disc herniation are seen mostly in smaller, long bodied dogs like Dachshunds. The condition is very painful and often results in nerve damage. Larger dogs and cats tend to develop spinal arthritis which is not always symptomatic. Other neurological disorders may involve the muscles and nerves of the head, resulting in stumbling, equilibrium loss, or facial paralysis.

are more common in older pets. They may be visible on the outside or internally. Most tumors are not cancerous and carry fair prognosis. Early detection and treatment are crucial.

pets may start urinating in the house due to senility, diabetes, kidney or liver disease.  Other behavioral changes and habits may arise from brain aging or other underlying medical problems.

monitor your aging pet and keep up with the daily routine such as feedings, walks and proper exercise. Train your dog using both voice and hand signs in case vision or hearing is lost. Maintain a daily routine. Brush your pet's teeth daily to prevent severe oral disease and unnecessary dental procedures that require anesthesia. Don't move too quickly or surprise your pet as older animals have dull senses and may startle. Match your pet's caloric intake with its level of activity. Facilitate elimination with clean litter boxes and frequent bathroom trips. Keep up with grooming and bathing, as older pets do not do such a good job anymore. Avoid obesity or emaciation, as they stress the body. Work with your veterinarian on weight regulation.

automatically assume that "it's just old age" when you see a change, as many medical conditions are treatable. Take your pet for regular check-ups twice a year. Periodically do blood and urine screening.

Keep your pet as happy in his "golden years" as he was in his youth.

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Yuval Nir
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