With more than 18 million senior dogs (seven and older), and 22 million senior cats out there, Pfizer Animal Health has created a Senior Care Health Program to help build greater awareness of the special care aging animals require. It's an educational initiative that encourages owners of pets age 7 and older to visit their veterinarians more frequently for a Senior Care checkup.
The company is celebrating senior pets and helping owners understand the changing needs of their aging animal, as well as the importance of partnering with veterinarians to make sure older pets get the attention they need.
"Just as humans need more medical attention as they age, pets, who become seniors around age 7, benefit from additional checkups by their veterinarian," says Bernadine Cruz,
D.V.M, Laguna Hills Animal Hospital, Laguna Hills, Calif. "Providing that special care is fundamental to improving their quality of life."
The Senior Care program, established to create a new standard of care for senior pets, has already seen success in the improved healthcare of thousands of older pets across the country. "You can detect and prevent a lot of problems with Senior Care. We found out about Clover's thyroid problem after having blood work done as part of a senior exam," said Sharon Frazier, owner of Freckles, a 5 -year-old mix breed dog; Calico, a 17-year-old cat; and Clover, an 18-year-old cat. "Senior Care Health Exams are as important as food, water and love - the basic care my pets deserve."
The Senior Care Program offers the following seven tips to help give your beloved senior pets a better quality of life in their golden years.
1. As results of the program have shown, taking your senior pet to the veterinarian for a checkup at least every six months is an important aspect in effectively monitoring changes in his or her health. Part of frequent vet checkups is building a strong partnership with your veterinarian. "Creating a good partnership with a pet and his or her caregiver is very important," says Cruz. "When a pet owner begins vet checkups while the pet is still young, he or she comes to realize that the vet is there to help and wants to work with the owner as a team for the pet's benefit."
2. During your senior pet's regular checkups, your veterinarian may suggest running basic blood and urine tests prior to procedures requiring anesthetic to help determine the presence of existing diseases. Regular blood and urine testing can help identify diseases in their earliest and most treatable stages.
3. Look, listen and feel for bumps, signs of pain, or behavioral changes. Any physical or behavioral changes in your senior pet could be significant. Disorientation, changes in sleep or loss of housetraining could be indications of a health problem. Weight fluctuation, increase in thirst and/or urination, or any change in your pets normal behavior could also be a sign of a health problem. Some of these include canine arthritis or canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, common senior diseases that can be managed with medications.
4. As pets get older, their nutritional needs change. Immune and digestive systems can become more delicate. Pets can lose muscle mass, and gaining weight is common due to reduced activity levels. Switching to a senior pet food may help promote a long, healthy life and provide enhanced levels of nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamin E and beta-carotene, plus fatty acids that are important to skin and coat health.
5. The health of your animals' gums and teeth can be indications of health - dental or otherwise. Periodontal disease can be painful and cause other serious complications, including respiratory infections, liver disorders, kidney infection, inflammation of the heart and brain damage.
6. Maintaining a familiar routine with your animal is an easy way to minimize stress in his or her life. In your pet's younger years, exercise is a key part of this routine and should not be forgotten as your pet grows older. Providing moderate exercise will help with weight control and keep muscles toned. If you notice that your pet tires easily or has trouble breathing while walking, be sure to bring that to the attention of your veterinarian.
7. Last and definitely not least is to continue giving your pet the love and attention you have always provided. From puppy and kitten stages to their golden years, animals - like humans - may need a little more attention during both of these stages of life. Love and affection, combined with regular veterinary checkups, can help keep your furry companion content in the later years of life.