It’s often said that dogs are man’s friend and while that may certainly be true, the same can be said for all pets in the United States.
It is estimated that between 70-80 million dogs and 74-96 cats are owned in the United States.
For all the comfort and companionship that cats, dogs and other pets provide, it’s important to take care of them when they get sick. Too often we think that are pets are never going to get old and it makes it that much harder when they do. Maybe a dog’s eyesight slowly starts to go or maybe one day you notice your dog or cat looks a little older than they used to. Further still, maybe there’s a serious health problem that occurs.
When it comes to caring for a senior pet, identified as a medium-sized dog who is seven year old or a cat that is 10 years old, here are some steps you can take:
- Regular checkups: Vets suggest twice yearly visits for older pets. Blood work is also important for older animals who may be sick or have a disease long before any outward signs are apparent.
Diagnostic testing can identify disease and help to monitor changes in the body such as the breakdown of major organs and the body’s response to any kind of medication. Taking your pet in for checkups will keep them healthy and hopefully avoid trips to an emergency vet for a serious issue.
- Movement: Dogs need plenty of exercise to stay healthy and it’s especially true of senior pets. Over time your dog or cat might not be as playful as they were in their younger days, but movement stimulates them and helps manage their weight.
- Monitor Diets: Older cats and dogs tend to be less active and that means they require fewer calories. Maintaining weight is important for older pets and it’s advisable that you consult a vet for the best way to approach your pet’s diet. As a place to start, this guide can give you some nutritional guidelines for your senior dog.
- Practice patience: Watching our pets get older is never easy, but as they age it’s important to allow them more time to do everyday things. Maybe they walk a little slower outside or can’t jump as high or aren’t as interested in play as they used to be. Practice patience with your pet and help them enter their golden years in a happy way.
- Cleaning: As pets get older it’s very important that they stay clean. That means brushing them, bathing them and brushing their teeth if need be. Although vets routinely explain the importance of brushing, 65 percent of pet owners don’t brush their pets’ teeth. This can have adverse effects as an estimated 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of dental disease by age three, leading to abscesses, loose teeth and chronic pain.
Caring for senior pets as they age is important and an emergency vet can help your pet if any serious health issues arise. In the meantime, it’s very important to monitor young and healthy pets too.
In dogs and cats, one of the most common aliments is heartworm. Treatment for it can cost up to $1,000 and one million dogs are estimated to be heartworm positive in the United States each year.
Infected dogs may have 30 or more worms in their heart and lungs while cats have six or fewer. The severity of the disease is related to the number of worms in dogs, but just a few can make a cat ill.
Diseases like EIAV and heartworm illustrate the importance of veterinary diagnostics and the veterinary diagnostics market. Diagnostic testing such as blood work can help veterinarians track a pet’s health and help treat them if and when health changes occur late in life. Additional testing on things like urine and feces can help identify and help eliminate parasites and can help recognize health problems before they occur.
If your dog does require emergency care or the care of an emergency vet, The ASPCA offers some tips on what constitutes emergency care in pets and how an emergency vet can help.