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Ask Dr. Anna: Tips on how to keep your senior pet healthy

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For all columns with Dr. Anna visit her blog here.

Anna Coffin is the Veterinarian at Guthrie Pet Hospital and can be contacted at (405) 282-8796.

Anna Coffin is the Veterinarian at Guthrie Pet Hospital and can be contacted at (405) 282-8796.

I’m sure all of you followed my advice after reading my last article and went an adopted a senior pet.  So here is what you need to know about senior pets.  Most pets age seven years to our one year so it’s very important to monitor animals that are 8-10 years of age for signs of illness. In fact, giant breed dogs age much faster and their average life span is about 7 years.  Detecting illness early helps us to slow the progression of the disease. Symptoms to monitor include drinking and urinating more than normal, decreased interaction with family members, decreased appetite, weight loss or weight gain, difficulty jumping, stiffness and limping.   Here are some tips to keep your senior pet healthy.

1.  Dental hygiene:  Daily brushing is the best to keep your senior pet healthy from dental disease!  Encourage your pet to chew on appropriate objects to help reduce dental plague and tartar buildup.  Dental cleaning as recommend by your veterinarian is very important to help stop the progression of periodontal disease.   85% of senior pets have some sort of dental disease and left untreated can lead to heart, liver and kidney failure. Symptoms of dental disease include bad breath, difficulty eating and drooling.

2.  Twice a year veterinary exams:  Twice a year physical exams and yearly blood work will help us to detect diseases early, so that we can slow the progression of the disease and prevent pain and discomfort.  Depending upon your senior pet’s health, electric cardiogram and blood pressure may also be recommended by your veterinarian.

3.  Nutrition:  Good nutrition is important to keep your senior pet healthy!  It’s important to pick a diet with high quality ingredients so that they can be digested and utilized by the body properly.   The amount of protein and calories that each pet needs can vary greatly from pet to pet.  Animals with kidney disease need to have the protein content restricted and overweight pets need to have calories restricted.  However, there are some senior pets that could benefit from increased protein and calories.  So it’s important to talk with your veterinarian about an appropriate diet.

4.  Medication:  It is normal for dogs to become less active with age; however, dogs that are lame, reluctant to move or exercise are exhibiting signs of arthritis and are in pain.   36% of dogs suffer from arthritis and you can keep your arthritic senior pet healthy with glucosamine supplements and pain medication.  In fact, decreasing the pain can help your pet become more active and improve its quality of life.  18% of dogs suffer from canine cognitive dysfunction (similar to Alzheimer’s in people).   Antioxidants and other nutritional supplements can be very helpful in slowing down the aging process.

Please e-mail me with your questions at ACoffin@aol.com and put “Ask Dr. Anna” in the subject line or mail your questions to 123 West Harrison Guthrie, OK 73044.

Spay and neuter your pets!

“The reason dogs have so many friends is because they wag their tails and not their tongues.” author unknown

Categories: Column, Pets
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