Can pets age gracefully?

Like every year, the team of the MTLVET network takes advantage of February to shine the spotlight on caring for our senior four-legged friends and preventing illness linked to your pet’s advanced age. Aging is not easy, neither for humans nor for our furry companions! Therefore, it’s time to take some precautions, so that your dog or cat can enjoy your love for a long time to come.

From the age of seven, when your pet enters its senior years, it’s a good idea to see your veterinarian to have a senior profile done. Like with humans, this evaluation enables you to take stock of your pet’s health, in order to prevent all the little problems that come with aging. It consists of a complete examination, including weighing, palpation of the thyroid gland, a mouth inspection, a blood and urine test, along with various other tests to screen for arthritis, hypertension, cataracts, etc.

Dogs and cats cannot express their aches and pains, so it is very important that you tell your veterinarian about their lifestyle, eating habits, activities and body language, as well as changes in behaviour. These details will help us accurately determine your pet’s health status and, if needed, create a wellness program with you to ensure that your pet stays healthy and lives long.

Of course, it’s not easy to admit that your pet is getting old. Like with any loved one, you experience fear, stress, and anxiety. When your pooch or kitty begins to show symptoms of old age, you want to help, but often feel helpless. You should talk about this with your veterinarian, so that you know how to respond to these changes and preserve the cherished relationship you have with your pet.

Tips for healthy aging

Food is a pillar of your pet’s wellness. A diet must be balanced, rich in nutrients, and adapted to age and daily requirements. For example, a low-activity dog should eat less than a dog that loves long walks along the river every day.

But beware, diet is not enough! Your stay-at-home companion needs at least some exercise each day to preserve its respiratory and cardiac health.

Don’t wait for your dog or cat to have bad breath before you clean its teeth. It’s essential that your pet have healthy teeth throughout its life, to prevent dental infections that could worsen and infect vital organs.

Also, to keep your furry companion young and spry as long as possible, you should keep its mind occupied. Play with your pet. Use a puzzle feeder to hide its food, and, if you feel so inclined, invest in a so-called “smart bowl,” a nifty little gadget perfectly suited to your pet’s age and wisdom!