Pets age more quickly than people, and you have to be committed to providing care and understanding as your beloved furry pal develops medical, behavioral, or mobility issues. Regular preventive veterinary care and careful attention to detail can help you readily support your senior pet through their golden years. Our Burlington Veterinary Center team serves pets across all age groups and knows the best strategies for providing top-notch senior care. To meet or exceed your aging pal’s needs, learn seven ways you can provide them with comfort and ease their mobility issues.

#1: Schedule semi-annual senior pet veterinary visits

Pets become seniors when they reach the last quarter of their expected life span, which varies depending on their species and size. Pets become seniors at these ages:

  • Cats — 10 years
  • Dogs less than 20 pounds — 8 to 11 years
  • Dogs 20 to 50 pounds — 8 to 10 years
  • Dogs 50 to 90 pounds — 8 to 9 years
  • Dogs greater than 90 pounds — 6 to 7 years

Once pets reach their senior years, our team recommends they visit twice yearly for wellness examinations and diagnostic screening tests as opposed to the annual visits we recommend for younger dogs and cats. Because a senior pet is more likely to develop disease the older they get, when our team examines your aging pet twice per year, we can detect chronic diseases in their early stages. Keep in mind that senior pets also need the same ongoing care they did during their younger years, including vaccines, parasite testing, and parasite control. If your pet normally experiences fear or stress during veterinary visits, our Fear Free and Cat Friendly techniques can help.

#2: Maintain your senior pet’s dental care

Most pets older than 3 years have dental disease, which can lead to chronic pain and difficulty eating if left untreated. You may wonder whether your older pet should undergo anesthesia for dental cleanings, equating their advanced age with a higher anesthesia complication risk. However, a complication risk only occurs if your senior pet has serious health issues such as heart disease. Routine dental cleanings and at-home dental care help ensure your senior continues to enjoy their favorite toys, chews, or activities without pain.

#3: Address painful senior pet health conditions

Arthritis is a common painful problem for senior pets. If you think your pet is slowing down, struggling to jump or use stairs, or spending less time with the family, they may be in pain. Our Burlington Veterinary Center team offers myriad arthritis treatment options that will vastly improve your furry pal’s quality of life.

#4: Make household modifications for your senior pet

Arthritic seniors often struggle with mobility, but you can adjust things around your home to ensure your pet can access necessities. Consider making the following household modifications:

  • Add rugs to slick surfaces, or give your pet rubber nail grips to give them traction.
  • Cut low sides into litter boxes for easy entry and exit.
  • Keep resources (i.e., food, water, litter box, bedding, toys) on all house levels, so your senior pet is never too far away from the essentials.
  • Use ramps or pet stairs to help your senior reach their favorite places, or come and go without falling.
  • Block stairwells to prevent falls.

#5: Provide specialized senior pet nutrition

Seniors may struggle with weight control or develop medical conditions that necessitate a specialized diet. Your aging pet may benefit from a highly digestible diet with extra antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, formulated specifically for senior dogs and cats. Ask our team for recommendations if your pet has a medical condition, or you are unsure about the best diet to promote longevity.

#6: Encourage your senior pet to move more

Daily exercise is crucial for senior pets to maintain a healthy weight, keep joints and muscles in top condition, and stimulate their mind. Modify exercise to meet your pet’s current fitness level and ability. Consider including short, brisk walks in mild weather, swim therapy at a rehabilitation facility, indoor play sessions, or a food scavenger hunt. Studies show that in addition to physical benefits, pets who regularly exercise have a reduced dementia development risk.

#7: Continue activities your senior pet enjoys

Some senior pets want to continue participating in their favorite activities. If your dog enjoys canine sports but no longer competes at a high level, look for events that offer masters or exhibition divisions, so they continue to reap their favorite activity’s social benefits. Research how you can modify activities, so your pet can continue to enjoy them. For example, roll a ball straight to your senior pet rather than throwing it across the yard.

Although pets tend to slow down as they age, your furry pal plays an integral role in your family dynamic and provides the same love and companionship they did during their younger years. Follow our tips to help your senior pet age with grace and dignity. Reach out to our Burlington Veterinary Center team if you have questions about senior pet care or to schedule your senior pet’s next preventive care visit.