Pet Wellness and Aging
At Run Those Dogs, we care deeply about the health and safety of your pets. Its why we started the business. Because October is National Pet Wellness month, we put together this post to help pet parents think about the many aspects included in “wellness” and things to consider as our fur babies age.
National Pet Wellness Month was first established as part of an initiative to change the standard of pet care. In addition to increasing awareness of pet aging, their goal was to shift from annual veterinary visits to twice a year.
Their logic behind the shift is sound. By age two, dogs and cats are “adults” and by age seven, they are young senior citizens. So visiting the vet once a year is like you visiting the doctor once every six or seven years! A lot can change for a pet in a human year, especially as they age. Although the standard of care for veterinary visits remains annual, there are a number of elements to consider to ensure your pet remains healthy and happy between those visits, which may feel far apart to your pet. Here are just a few topics to consider for your pet, no matter what their age.
We recently blogged about Holistic Pet Care. Go take a look to find more information on these important elements:
- Diet and nutrition,
- Preventative care, and
Mental & Physical Wellness are Connected
We’ve also blogged about how proper exercise can improve your pet’s “behavior.” Behavior is just the very tangible product for your pet’s mental wellness. So if behavior is an issue in your home, go take a look at the post and then give us a call to schedule your free initial consultation or an appointment for exercise.
Considerations in the Advanced Years
For dogs, aging varies according to adult size, often determined by breed. Smaller dogs can often live to over 15 years while medium and large dogs will only bless us with 10 to 13 years. Giant breeds like mastiffs and danes live only 7 or 8 years.
Cats vary of course, but many can approach their senior years as early as age 8 while living to a ripe age of 14 to 20 or more.
Like humans, dogs and cats may have long periods of their early life with little or no medical complications. But the advanced years can bring changes in hearing, vision and mobility. Skin conditions, appetite and energy levels may changes as pets age, often related to changes in their digestive and immune systems. Medical conditions such as cancer, renal failure, arthritis and joint conditions may appear in the later years.
But because our pets cannot tell us that these things have changed, we must be more alert, like a private investigator looking for clues, so that we can notice the early signs and seek veterinary advice if needed.
The changes may sneak up on us but if we’re watching, we may notice the signs. A pet may play, run or jump more conservatively or gingerly. Their agility and strength may lessen. They may walk under a fence instead of over. They may not catch a frisbee or feather as well. They may refuse to continue on the usual full walk or run. The signs are there if we’re looking and our veterinarian can sometimes offer suggestions on how to improve our pet’s quality of life in their later years, despite any age-related limitations.
It is best for pet parents to plan and prepare mentally and financially for aging pets. Pet ownership is a commitment for the life of the pet, not just when they are well. Shelter’s and rescue organizations like our favorite NOAH Center in Stanwood, WA will tell you that there are a higher number of older pets in their care. That, in part, is due to a combination of owners who could not afford or handle the needs of their aging pet and the fact that older pets are adopted less often than their younger friends.
When Your Pets are Ill
If your aging pets do become ill or show signs of chronic disease, be sure to discuss it with your veterinarian right away. Don’t wait until your annual visit. If cost is an issue, discuss options with your vet. Many have low cost options, mobile clinics or events, financing and donation programs to help keep your costs lower.
Try also to keep an open mind about health care alternatives when standard care isn’t right for your aging pet. For example, we’ve blogged here about the use of titer testing when vaccination is too taxing and the uses of hemp seed oil over pharmaceuticals in pets with compromised immune systems.
Its also important to keep an eye out on your pet’s dental health. In aging pets that can be the cause of low appetite and weight loss.
As your pets age, its more important than ever to consider microchips and ID tags. Older or ill pets may wander and not remember their way home or they may be less skilled at avoiding predators, vehicles and other threats. Proper ID will ensure you’re reunited if separated.
Keep Run Those Dogs in mind too. We have experience administering medications and treatments for aging and ill pets so you’ll know your pets are well cared for when you’re away.
Where ever your pets are in their life, Run Those Dogs is here to support you in their care. Give us a call to discuss your pet’s unique needs. We’ll be here to help you make sure they have long, happy, healthy lives.