AGING PETS

The aging process of a pet varies with breed and lifestyle. Additional annual screening for diseases and other age-related problems should begin at age 7 for most cats and small to medium sized dogs. Large and giant dogs should be screened starting at the age of 5 or 6.

It is important to maintain appropriate weight of your dog. Middle-aged dogs and dogs in the first stage of their senior years are apt to gain weight as their metabolism slows down and their activity decreases.  You need to balance the amount of food you feed your pet and the type of diet, with the creativity level of your pet. Their energy requirements stay about the same through their adult lives.  It is important to ask your vet about an appropriate diet for your aging pet.

Regular exercise is important to maintain bone strength, muscle tone and stamina. Taking daily walks and playing with your pet are excellent methods of promoting physical activity and sharing companionship. However, if your pet has difficulty standing up or walking, you may need to slow down, take shorter walk, or try alternative activities such as swimming. Your veterinarian can recommend the appropriate forms of exercise for your pet based on his/her lifestyle, weight and overall health.

It is important to give dental care to your pet. When routine dental care is neglected, tooth loss and gum disease become more common as pets age. 70% of older cats and 80% of older dogs have gum disease. Your vet will be able to perform dental exams, and let you know when cleaning is needed and teach you the basics of home dental care.

Many pet owners give up on their pets when they start aging, but is important to pay even more attention to your pet at that point in time as they need more love and care.

Credit given to the American Animal Hospital Association.

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