Senior Pet Care: Supportive Health Care for Aging Pets

Senior Pet Care at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital

With some variation, dogs and cats are considered to be seniors when they reach seven years of age. Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital understands the changing needs of aging pets, and our veterinarians work with clients to provide the support and care that their pets need to continue to live healthy and active lives.

What kinds of behaviors are treatable and which are just conditions of an aging animal?

Sometimes people put too much emphasis on aging as a disease instead of recognizing it as a process. Old dogs can get sick just like young dogs can and many of the illnesses they get are treatable with full recovery.

Our veterinarians encourage people to have their senior pets checked if their behavior has changed—we often find an underlying and very treatable condition that can not only make the pet more comfortable, but also restore health and extend life. Some common issues that should be checked include:

  • Changes in appetite—Both increased and decreased
  • Changes in thirst—Especially increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Not moving around as much
  • Limping
  • Taking longer to sit down or stand up
  • Restless at night
  • Cats reluctant to jump up on furniture
  • Sleeping more

Any changes in behavior should be checked by our veterinarians—anything a pet owner would be surprised to see in a young pet could also be an issue in an older pet. We encourage pet owners to call us for a consultation whenever they are concerned about the behavior or condition of their pets.

How often should my senior pet be seen for regular checkups?

Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital recommends that all pets be seen at least twice per year. Depending on any complicating medical conditions, some senior pets need more frequent exams.

How often do senior pets need blood work?

All pets should have annual blood work, but seniors may require more frequent blood work depending on condition and any changes in health or medication.

Our veterinarians prefer to have a baseline of blood work so we can track any subtle changes over time. What is normal for one pet may not be normal for another, and changes in blood work can be an indication of a larger issue. The sooner we catch issues, the easier it is to treat the pet and restore health.

Are there other health tests senior pets should have?

While it varies from pet to pet, some more common health tests for seniors include:

  • Urinalysis
  • Blood tests
  • X-rays
  • Ultrasound
  • EKG heart health screening
  • Tonopen—Eye pressure test for glaucoma
  • Schirmer tear testing—For KCS (dry eye)
  • Blood pressure monitoring

My pet has arthritis. Is there anything that can be done to restore his or her mobility?

Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital uses a multimodal approach to treating pet arthritis and has found that pets can find much greater comfort and mobility restored to their normal lives.

  • Pet nutrition—In addition to the importance of maintaining healthy weight, some pets benefit from a specialized diet or the use of nutritional supplements. Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital carries pet food diets and supplements that are specially formulated to support healthy joints in pets with arthritis. Our doctors will evaluate your pet’s condition and make the appropriate recommendations.
  • Modifying exercise—Just like humans, pets with arthritis benefit from staying active but they cannot necessarily continue to do the same activities they did when they were younger. Maintaining strength by taking longer walks or modifying their favorite activities is an important step in curbing arthritis.
  • Medications—Some pets respond very well to pet medications that are similar to human pain relieving and anti-inflammatory medications. It is not safe or recommended to use many of these human products in our pets. Our veterinarians will work with you to determine the proper type of medications for your pet.

The senior years can be the most bonded time that people have with their pets, and Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital is committed to helping families enjoy and extend that time as long as possible.