Dogs and cats can be particularly adept at hiding their age, but as the hair around their eyes turns white and their bodies slow down, aging pets require special care and understanding about their health and well-being. Here are some tips on how to improve your pet’s quality of life in their senior years.
When is my pet considered a senior?
The age at which a pet is considered senior depends on their genetics, general health, and environmental factors. Many dogs can be considered senior by age 7 and cats by age 12. Sometimes the pet’s weight can add years too.
Common signs of aging include lightened or white hair, especially around their face, impaired vision and hearing, sleeping more frequently or more soundly, and changes in eating habits. Most of these changes are a normal part of aging but sometimes they can be symptoms of something more significant. Older pets are more prone to conditions like arthritis, respiratory issues, endocrine issues, heart issues, and cancer, but with advances in veterinary medicine, these conditions are becoming increasingly treatable.
Caring for your senior pet
“The key to senior pet care is preventative care and early detection of health issues,” said Dr. Sarah Nold, veterinarian at Trupanion, a medical insurance provider for dogs and cats. Dr. Nold offers the following guidelines to keep your pet healthy and happy in their senior years:
- Go to your veterinarian more often. Senior pets should have more frequent wellness exams to detect any illnesses or other problems early. Your veterinarian will be able to help you decide on that frequency.
- Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations. Be sure to discuss, understand, and follow your veterinarian’s recommendations.
- Keep your pet at a healthy weight. Older pets are more susceptible to weight fluctuation than younger pets. Talk to your veterinarian about the best weight for your pet and how to maintain it.
- Help your pet stay mobile. Enabling your pet to get some exercise and play will help improve their mood, flexibility, and strength.
Prepare for senior veterinary care with pet medical insurance
Treatment for some of the conditions more likely to happen to a senior pet can be expensive. Depending on your pet’s health, caring for your senior pet can be costly, so it’s important to plan ahead for the extra veterinary care. This is where medical insurance for pets can be a solution, allowing access to the best medicine without the high cost. The best time to enroll is typically when a dog or cat is a puppy or kitten, before your pet shows signs of a health concern. No pet medical insurance company currently covers pre-existing conditions. However, even pets with pre-existing conditions can benefit from coverage if something unrelated arises. When deciding if medical insurance is right for your older pet, pet owners should do their research and know what to expect.
Each pet ages differently and the best personalized advice will come from a veterinarian that knows you and your pet. A little extra care can give your pet years of comfort and keep them healthy and happy throughout their life.