Supportive Health Care for Aging Pets

By Taylor Smith

 Dogs and cats are typically considered “senior” when they reach 7 years of age. Depending on individual health, older pets may require more frequent exams to monitor any changes in health status.

While it is recommended that all pets receive annual bloodwork, senior pets may also require testing for the following symptoms: changes in appetite (both increased and decreased), changes in thirst (particularly increased thirst), increased urination, changes in bowel movements, limping, stiffness (taking longer to sit down or stand up), restlessness at night, decreased general movement, and increased sleeping.

Keep in mind that what’s normal for one pet, may not be normal for another. Only you, as the owner, understand what is truly typical and atypical of your loyal companion. For cats, this could mean a noticeable loss in balance, inability to jump on the furniture, or cognitive disorientation. Such subtle symptoms may be indicative of an emerging issue.

One ailment common to many senior dogs is osteoarthritis, a gradual deterioration of the cartilage that covers the joints. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight, along with supplementing their diet with omega 3 fatty acids, curcumin, and collagen, may provide some natural relief from stiff joints. Growing in popularity among pet owners are treats and supplements containing CBD, an active cannabinoid compound that is derived from the leaves and flowers of cannabis plants. The non-psychoactive oil has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effect on senior pets. Potentially, CBD can be used to treat inflammation, arthritis/joint pain, seizures, digestive problems, anxiety/stress, and pain. Owners should consult with their veterinarian before administering any supplements to their furry friend.

Lastly, routine dental care can significantly extend your pet’s lifetime. The chief reason is that as pets age, their immune systems weaken and they are less able to effectively fight off disease and infection. Bacteria that settles in the gums can easily enter your pet’s bloodstream and pose a risk. For example, plaque and tartar buildup may calcify, inflaming the gums and resulting in periodontal disease. Non-invasive methods of care like finger-brushing (as little as once per week) and dental chews (Greenies Dental Treats is a recommended brand), are worthwhile additions to help keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy.