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Caring for Your Older Pet

pets senior aging geriatric

Nutrition for Senior Pets

Good nutrition is essential to keeping your older pet healthy. Keep these tips in mind when selecting pet food.

  • Buy Senior Pet Food. Help your pet maintain a healthy weight by feeding food specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of older pets. Excess weight stresses the joints. If your pet already has arthritis, gaining weight will make symptoms worse.
  • Avoid Overfeeding Your Pet. Older pets generally need less calories because they are less active. Adjust the amount of food you give your pet to avoid weight gain. Pay attention to the calorie count of treats, too. Buy low-calorie treats and limit the amount of treats you offer your pet.
  • Get Rid of Free Radicals. Free radicals, unstable molecules that can contribute to aging and hamper immune system functioning, can be neutralized with foods that are high in vitamin E and beta-carotene.

Many of the same problems that affect people as they age, such as arthritis and diabetes, can also affect your pet. Making a few changes to the way you care for your furry friend will help you ensure that your pet stays healthy and happy as the years go by.

Look for Common Signs of Illness

Changes in your pet's behavior can be a sign that something is wrong. Sick animals can become more or less affectionate than before. Some may refuse to leave your side, while others will spend more time alone. Cats, in particular, tend to find out-of-the-way hiding places when they don't feel well.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it's a good idea to make an appointment with your pet's veterinarian:

  • Changes in Eating Habits. Has your pet lost interest in eating or started drinking more than usual? A lack of interest in food can be caused due to dental issues, kidney or liver disease or a change in food, while increased thirst can be a sign of diabetes.
  • Elimination Woes. Frequent constipation or diarrhea or difficulty urinating can be signs of serious illness and should not be ignored. Housetraining setbacks can also occur as your pet ages. Sometimes, making a few modifications, such as adding litter boxes to every floor of your house for your arthritic cat or adding a ramp to your home for a dog with hip dysplasia can solve the problem.
  • Bumps, Lumps and Other Issues. Bumps and lumps can be caused by harmless cysts or may be a sign of cancer. The only way to determine the cause is with a visit to your veterinarian. Other issues that warrant a trip to the vet include frequent coughing, trouble breathing, vomiting or changes in your pet's coat.

Make Your Pet Comfortable

Older pets will appreciate anything you can do to increase their comfort, starting with a soft place to rest. Look for cat and dog beds made of therapeutic foam that support your furry friend's joints. Heated beds will help your pet keep warm during the winter months.

Staying warm is a particular concern for older pets. Pets that were perfectly comfortable on chilly days in their younger years may have trouble staying warm when temperatures drop. A pet jacket or sweater will help keep your senior pet warm, although dogs may be more likely to tolerate wearing a sweater than cats.

Daily runs with your dog may have to end if arthritis or a general slowing down due to age is a problem. Although runs may no longer be possible, it's still important to make sure your dog still gets exercise every day. Playing games with your dog or cat not only improves physical fitness, but also helps keep your pet mentally sharp.

Arthritis and other joint problems can make jumping more difficult. If your pet usually sleeps with you but has trouble jumping on the bed, buy pet stairs or a ramp to make getting into bed easier.

Regular veterinary visits are very important as your pet ages. If it's been six months or more since we have seen your furry friend, give us a call to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

PetMD: How to Care for Senior Pets
http://www.petmd.com/dog/centers/nutrition/slideshows/how-to-care-for-senior-pets

AVMA: Senior Pet Care (FAQ)
https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Caring-for-an-Older-Pet-FAQs.aspx

Petfinder: Caring for Your Senior Pet
https://www.petfinder.com/dogs/dog-care/senior-dog-care/

ASPCA: Dog Nutrition Tips
http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/dog-nutrition-tips

Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice: Nutrition for Aging Cats and Dogs and the Importance of Body Condition, May 2005

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15833567

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Testimonials

  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

  •          

    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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