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Your Senior Pet

Congratulations! Your pet is a senior citizen. Because of this, he needs a little extra attention and a more observant eye from you, the owner.

An older pet is not unlike an older person. They are subject increasingly to the infirmities of old age and will be healthier and live longer if they re well cared for. Nutrition, exercise and preventative medicine play an important role in maintaining the health of an older pet. What follows are what we hope are some helpful guidelines to help you care for your senior pet.

Preventative Medicine:

Just as with humans, as a pet ages, things predictably start to go wrong. Because of this, we recommend semi-annual physical examinations and annual blood and urine analysis to help detect small problems before they become big ones. Potential warning signs of a problem in a senior pet are:

Significant change in weight, either gain or loss. The easiest way to monitor this is by petting your animal over his backbone. You should be able to just feel the top of the spine.

Change in appetite, either increase or decrease.
Change in water consumption or urination
Change in activity level

Should you become aware of a change in any of these areas, you should contact us.


As our pets age, their metabolism slows and their nutritional needs change. The most common nutritional disorder of pets is obesity. Preventing obesity is a two- step process: Proper nutrition and proper exercise. In terms of diet, an appropriate senior diet should have several qualities. First, as with all diets, a quality company should produce it, so stick with premium brands. Senior diets should have a lower protein and lower fat level than adult diets. The lower fat levels help fight obesity by reducing caloric content and are also more easily digestible. The lower protein levels also relieve some of the burden on the kidneys, an organ that frequently fail in senior pets. Many senior diets also contain supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin that aid in the prevention of arthritis. Based on your senior pet's body condition, you may need to modify the amount of food you feed your pet to maintain proper body weight. In general, you should be able to feel your pet's ribs but they should not be visible. By feeding a proper senior diet, you will help prevent problems as your pet ages.


Adequate exercise is probably the most important and most often overlooked aspect of senior care. A Number of factors conspire in older pets to decrease their muscle mass and joint mobility, and unless we make sure that they receive regular exercise, pets can quickly become overweight, out of shape and debilitated.

The cycle of the old dog is seen at this clinic every day. They are usually somewhat overweight and hence reluctant to exercise. They also usually have some degree of arthritis that adds to their reluctance to exercise, resulting in additional weight gain. Because they fail to exercise, they develop muscle atrophy, become weaker and less willing to exercise. Eventually, they grow into obese, arthritic dogs unable to ambulate. A three-pronged approach to this cycle is usually successful. Proper diet is important. Next, judicious use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID's) such as Derammax, Rimadyl, and Zubrin will help ease your pet's arthritis pain and allow him/her to start a gentle exercise program. Finally, sensible regular exercise on a gradually increasing schedule will help to rebuild his muscle tone. With proper diet and exercise, you can add years to your pet's active life.

By providing regular check ups, proper nutrition and regular exercise, you can assure that your pet enjoys his senior years.

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