Ask A Vet: What Are Some Tips on Taking Care of Senior Pets?


Welcome to our weekly 'Ask a Vet from the SF SPCA' feature on Dr. Jeannine Berger, DVM, DACVB is a board certified veterinary behaviorist who counsels guardians whose pets’ issues are beyond the scope of training. Think of her as a pet shrink…at your service. Ask your own questions in the comments!

Q: My dog is a senior. What's the best way to take care of him?

A: First of all keep in mind that age is not a disease – as our pets get older, we need to keep a few things in mind:

Mental health: Changes associated with brain aging are called cognitive dysfunction, and symptoms are seen in dogs and cats. Mainly due to the toxic free radicals that increase with age lead to age–related decline. Subtle signs can be seen in about 50% of dogs and cats older than 11 years old as shown in recent studies. Sixty-eight percent of dogs and 49% of cats older than 15 years old show at least one sign. The signs are disorientation (getting lost in own home, getting stuck in corners), change in human interactions (increase or decrease in affection), inappropriate elimination (house soiling), less active and changes in sleep wake cycles. Should your pet have one or more signs of cognitive dysfunction, treatment can help to slow down the process.

Physical health: There are many age-related physical problems that can slow down an older dog or cat. Regular check ups at the Vet are therefore recommended. It is recommended to check blood and urine for such diseases like Thyroid problems, diabetes and Cushing’s. Joint and arthritic pain are very common in dogs and cats, and sometimes pain management is needed to keep an older pet comfortable. Walks or trips to the litterbox can just be too painful and therefore avoided. In order to maintain a healthy aging pet it is also important to feed an age-appropriate, balanced diet. For dogs, there is even a “brain diet” available from Hills that might help improve memory, learning ability so that even an old dog can learn a new trick

Ask the Vet yourself, tomorrow at The Whole Enchihuahua!

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