The Golden Years: How to Love a Geriatric Pet
Our sweet pets. They love us unconditionally through all of our family expansions, strange hair-dos and weight gains. We’re quick to place them into the arms of strangers when we go on extended trips, arrogant in our expectations of them to behave. They move with us from one state to the next and never ask why. We, in turn, expect them to adjust without questions. They buffer our irritable moods with sloppy face licks. They yearn secretly for our arrival home in the form of neat meows. Pets are a reflection of the best parts of our humanity.
Eventually, it will come to pass … the time in their lives that we’re never prepared to face. The first signs can be anything from a waning appetite to not coming immediately when we call them. The signs are often subtle at first, so subtle that we look the other way hoping that it’s nothing major, that our pets are entitled to having a bad week just like us. Then we notice that singular bad week stretching into a string of bad weeks. We soon realize that what we thought was disobedience is in fact hearing loss and the lack of grooming is not a manifestation of laziness, but just plain weariness.
This month’s issue of the HealthyPetNet News is dedicated to our senior dogs and cats, pets that have spent their entire adult lives caring for us in their own special ways. Through early detection of age-related problems and successful management of illnesses, it is now our turn to care unconditionally for them so that they can age as painlessly as possible.
The Age Barometer:
Any creature, whether it is a cat, dog or human, attains geriatric status when 75% of its life span has elapsed. Therefore, according to this equation, when a cat reaches 10-13 years of age, it has officially become a senior citizen of the cat world. However, not all cats (or dogs for that matter) age at the same rate. A cat’s biological age depends on its breed, genetic background, the quality of diet and the overall quality of environment throughout his or her life. Research suggests that old age for cats occurs somewhere around the 8th or 9th birthday. The following is an overall guide that veterinarians use to determine aging, regardless of genetics or environment.
Small Dogs (less than 20 pounds)
Medium Dogs (21-50 pounds)
Large Dogs (51-90 pounds)
Giant Dogs (over 90 pounds)
Cats (Most Breeds)
With that said, when our pets start getting close to a decade old, we need to start raising our eyebrows in their direction and watching them a little more closely. The first key to helping your pet age as gracefully as possible is early detection of any abnormality. While many aging conditions are inevitable, caught early they can often be slowed down or managed so that our beloved pets continue to be comfortable and happy. HealthyPetNet wants to be part of your pet’s golden years. This is the time, more so than ever, to provide our precious aging pets with a more holistic, wholesome and natural approach to life. HealthyPetNet products are based upon the belief that our pet’s health reflects their daily life and that every feature of it should promote health and happiness with wholesome foods and treats, natural grooming products and natural supplements.
Aging doesn’t just happen, it occurs throughout our pets short lives. It’s so easy to see that the more wholesome our pets lives are from youth to senior, the healthier they will be even in their golden years. Knowing how devastating it is to watch our senior dogs and cats limp with pain as they walk, we suggest bone support nutrients before their senior birthdays.
What to look for includes: seeing and hearing loss, decreased or increased thirst, excessive urination, weight gain or loss, hair loss, skin problems, joint problems, disorientation, growths, heart problems, kidney problems, breathing difficulty, less tolerance for hot and cold temperatures, irritability, change in sleep patterns and appetite, gas, constipation, tooth and gum problems and blood sugar problems.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Yes, you’ve guessed it! Pets have the same exact symptoms of aging as we do.
Upon Becoming a Bonafide Geriatric
Frequent vet visits:
The moment you start noticing subtle changes in your pet’s behavior, you should see a veterinarian. Speaking of veterinarian, it’s important that you establish a healthy relationship with the best vet you can find, if you haven’t already done so. Once you’ve taken your pet to a veterinarian, you may find that these initial symptoms (such as change in appetite or sleeping patterns) are just a normal part of the aging process. However, a vet can also determine whether your pet has symptoms of underlying age-related health issues. If the vet decides that your pet is in fact starting to age, even if your pet is aging gracefully, you should now increase the routine visits from once a year to twice a year. This is standard for aging pets. Older pets need frequent routine care to detect potential health problems as early as possible.
Keep in mind that geriatric examinations are more extensive than simple check ups. Your vet will not only conduct a standard physical examination, but also an oral and a rectal examination. She may also check ears, eyes, thyroid glands and may even run some laboratory work.
As pets age, it becomes harder for them to groom their own furry bodies. As a result, skin problems can emerge. It’s advisable that you bathe and groom your pet more often. Besides keeping your dog clean, you may find that it gives you the opportunity to look for unwelcome guests on your dog. Ticks, fleas and burrs tangled in the fur are just a few examples of what you might find. Be on the look out for any bumps, lesions or hair loss. Nails should be kept trimmed on both dogs and cats to give them sure footing on floors. It’s also important to brush your pet’s teeth daily to help stave off tooth loss and gum problems.
Since some of us can’t brush our pet’s teeth at all or can’t brush them often enough, keep your eyes open for treats that promote good oral hygiene. If your senior has lost teeth, soft dental treats can be of assistance. HealthyPetNet Gourmet Dental Treats are always special for dogs, no matter how many teeth they have, young or old.
Feed your pet properly. If you’re not already, you should be buying your pet the best food you can afford. Your pet needs food that makes the best use of its calories … food packed with wholesome protein and life-sustaining nutrients including antioxidants. Important: Try not to overfeed. Aging pets gain weight more easily because their metabolism starts to slow. As a result, they have a much higher chance of becoming obese. If you have an overweight dog, you may want to look into HealthyPetNet’s Canine Zone Healthy Weight Loss Food to help balance insulin and hormonal levels to help keep the fat off. It’s much harder to find a weight loss food for cats. Contact your vet o get tips on good weight loss methods.
As pets become older, it becomes harder for them to digest their food. As digestion worsens, smaller and more frequent meals are the best way to go. To help with digestion and other internal functions, make sure fresh, cool water is always accessible to your pet.
Encourage moderate exercise:
It is crucial that you keep your aging pet in good shape. Exercise your pet to maintain muscle tone, digestion, circulation, cardiovascular capabilities and an overall good attitude. Walking is always good. entle fetch games keep them mentally alert and interactive with you. Although senior cats like to stay put, a thick string with something tied at the end is likely to get them to pay attention and perhaps even to attack it.
Beware of keeping your pet outside too long in extreme temperatures, whether it is heat or cold. Just like elderly humans, pets have less tolerance for extreme weather.
Include your pet:
Many people tend to leave pets out of family activities and the poor animal becomes an outcast just for being old. This is the wrong approach. Never alienate your pet from the family because she is no longer the dashing dame she used to be. Include your pet in your family’s life more than ever. Don’t push her out.
Retrain if necessary:
Does your pet respond to word commands but not signals? Or vice versa? In the likely event that your pet’s seeing or hearing may wane, make sure you train by ear and by sight so that your pet can still follow commands when some sensesbecome disabled. A blind or deaf animal can be perfectly content.
Take care of their joints:
Aging joints are very common among aging pets. It is not as inevitable as people think. The presence and the severity of jointconcerns somewhat depends on how we treat a pet’s body throughout his or her lifetime.
There are a few things we can do throughout our pet’s life to help pomote a more painless old age and buffer potential joint problems. Joint support supplements can be given from early adult hood. HealthyPetNet just so happens to have one that works well and is so tasty that dogs and cats whose sense of smell has become compromised still gobble them down. Once the golden age crawls near, it’s a good idea to give your pet soft bedding to sleep on as opposed to the hard tile kitchen floor. Keep their nails clipped to keep good traction. Gentle massage of your pet’s joints and limbs can improve flexibility and circulation not to mention intimacy between the both of you. These are all the little hings you can do.
HealthyPetNet’s Agility with Glucosamine & MSM
HealthyPetNet’s Agility is recommended for senior cats over 10 years of age, small to medium sized dogs over 6 years of age and large breed and long-backed dogs of all ages. This holistic formula contains Glucosamine, MSM, sea mussels, special herbs and fish oils. All of these ingredients support the biochemical functions necessary for healthy bones and joints. By holistic, we mean that even though every ingredient has a specific mission in our pets’ joints, they all work together maximizing each individual one. Potentiation is the term used when one ingredient enhances the other, as in Agility.
Often prescribed Steroids and NSAIDS can be damaging, especially to our older pets. Agility with its many different types of ingredients is an all-naturalsupplement and it has no side effects. Agility is a great soothing gent for mobility loss, stiffness and joint pain.
In case you’re wondering what is so special about the ingredients in Agility, we will give you a brief breakdown so that you will understand why this formula works as well as it does.
MSM is a naturally occurring nutritional sulfur that is th key component in the formation and maintenance of cartilage and connective tissue. It is found in the tissue of all plants and animals. It seems that seniors just don’t have enough. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring substance in the body and is one of the main building blocks of cartilage. Studies show that the need and presence of glucosamine in the body increases when the bone is stressed such as after a bone injury or with years of wear and tear. Sea mussels provide an extra helping of substances akin to glucosamine. This natural whole food also contains amino acids, enzymes, chelated minters, carbohydrates, vitamins, RNA and DNA and omega-3 fatty acids. Sea mussels have been clinically tested and have demonstrated themselves as beneficial in supporting joints in humans as well as dogs. Alfalfa and yucca are antioxidant-rich herbs that battle the free radicals, which contribute greatly to joint problems as pets get older. Alfalfa in particular is a perennial in the pea family rich in chlorophyll, beat-carotene and vitamins B6, C, E and calcium, which is great for bones. Nature knows what is needed. That’s why this herb has become an established folk remedy for soothing joints. And lastly, the omega-3 & omega-6 fatty acids help soothe muscles, tendons and ligaments for maximum mobility.
Our senior cats may not be able to run up stairs two at a time or our senior dogs may not be able to jump up on the highest chair. But, when Agility allows them to get to the places they like, HealthyPetNet calls that love.
Article provided by HealthyPetNet: http://www.healthypetnet.com/newsletter/september/home.asp
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