hilst their love and loyalty doesn’t age, our pets do; cats and dogs are considered ‘seniors’ by seven years of age, and even as young as five for large breed dogs, like Labradors.
You may believe your seven-year-old cat or dog is in its prime, but on the inside the picture can be quite different.
Older pets are more likely to develop heart disease, cancer, arthritis, kidney and liver disease.
Unfortunately many conditions aren’t evident before irreversible damage has occurred.
How can you help ensure your pet’s later years are golden?
A senior health screening is vitally important for all pets aged seven and older.
These days, with the new IDEXX SDMA test, vets can detect kidney disease in cats up to four years earlier than before and up to two years earlier in dogs.
Early detection allows for prompt intervention which can help the pet live longer and improve quality of life.
According to Dr Sheri Ross of the University of California (Davis) Veterinary Medical Centre, “With the right care, you can extend your pet’s life by months, even years.”
Ross said it’s easier to prevent than treat disease.
“For older pets, the two most important things are to monitor them carefully and feed a senior diet.”
With age, the optimal range for different nutrients becomes narrower, making it easier to tip into dietary deficiencies or excesses.
“Providing the correct food is probably the simplest and most effective way you can make a difference,” said Dr Guy Fyvie, veterinary advisor at Hill’s Pet Nutrition South Africa.
“A new food, Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d + Mobility has been developed after more than a decade of research.
“It combines the very best nutritional science to help older pets remain fit, active and healthy for longer.”
Several small meals a day may be easier on an older pet’s digestion.
But avoid overfeeding – obesity can lead to numerous health problems and can shorten a pet’s life.
Have fresh water available at all times – older pets’ are less able to regulate water balance and more prone to dehydration.
Ensure food and water bowls are within easy reach of the elderly pet that may find it painful to bend, stretch or jump.
Go for walks and play together.
Appropriate exercise will help you both stay fit and also keep the brain active, helping to avoid ‘doggy Alzheimer’s’.
For further advice on caring for your golden oldie visit www.SeniorPets.co.z