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Care for Your Senior Dog or Cat

Your pet is considered a "senior" at the age of 7, or earlier for some large breeds of dogs. As the aging process occurs you will find yourself with a pet who has different medical and home care needs. With the advancements of veterinary care and nutrition, dogs and cats are living longer lives. But, just as with humans, the passage of time has its effects. Read on to learn how to better manage your geriatric pet's health and ensure that you both enjoy this final stage in your pets life.

Dogs and cats tend to show aging signs just as a human would- mobility is not as good due to aging joints, reflexes are not as sharp, sight, hearing, and the sense of smell may deteriorate, and energy levels decrease. These processes may occur as early as 6 or 7, or your pet may not show any signs of old age until much later in life. In either case, a veterinarian should see your pet every 6 months.

Taking your dog or cat in to see a veterinarian every six months will allow for needed tests, blood work, vaccinations, and allows time to discuss changes that you've noticed in your pet. During these visits, it is important to keep your veterinarian informed. Something that you may perceive as "just old age" may actually be related to a treatable medical condition - such as a decrease in energy or weight loss. Not only is veterinary care important to your senior pet, but diet and comfort are also things to keep in mind.

As your pet ages, your pets dietary needs may also change. An older pet's energy decreases and metabolism slows, making normal adult food too high in fat. Their diet may also need to change for health concerns such as kidney or urinary problems. Not only should diet changes be taken into consideration, but the comfort of your aging pet is something to think about also. A pet who once was able to jump, run stairs, and eat comfortably, may now find it pain-full to do everyday actions. Specially designed ramps, elevated food bowls, and soft beds may make it easier on old bones and joints.

Being aware of the natural changes that can occur as your pet ages, as well as making necessary changes in your pets care will help both you and your pet enjoy his or her golden years. Remember that old age is not a disease.

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