Monday, October 8, 2012

Season for Seniors

September is senior pet health month and November is adopt a senior pet month.  Taking care of your senior pet is important so they are comfortable in their old age.

Is it important to see your vet even if you don't see anything wrong?  See your vet regularly for health check ups. Your vet can catch trouble early so treatment can begin.  there are many ways to keep your pet comfortable as they age. 

Do senior pets have lots of health issues?  Not necessarily  , common problems many senior pets experience like arthritis, hearing loss, vision loss and weight gain develop slowly over time.  These problems can be managed with help from your vet. 

Do senior pets need exercise? Yes!  Even if your dog can't walk far getting out and moving is very important. Take them on car rides, over to visit friends, and slow strolls.

Top 10 Reasons to Adopt an Older Dog from ASPCA

1. What You See Is What You Get

Older dogs are open books—from the start, you’ll know important things like their full-grown size, personality and grooming requirements. All this information makes it easier to pick the right dog and forge that instant love connection that will last a lifetime. If you’re not so into surprises, an older dog is for you!

2. Easy to Train

Think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Hogwash! Older dogs are great at focusing on you—and on the task at hand—because they’re calmer than youngsters. Plus, all those years of experience reading humans can help them quickly figure out how to do what you’re asking.

3. Seniors are Super-Loving

One of the cool parts of our job is reading stories from people just like you who have opted to adopt. The emails we get from pet parents with senior dogs seem to all contain beautiful, heartfelt descriptions of the love these dogs give you—and those of you who adopted dogs already in their golden years told us how devoted and grateful they are. It's an instant bond that cannot be topped!

4. They’re Not a 24-7 Job

Grownup dogs don’t require the constant monitoring puppies do, leaving you with more freedom to do your own thing. If you have young children, or just value your “me time,” this is definitely a bonus.

5. They Settle in Quickly

Older dogs have been around the block and already learned what it takes to get along with others and become part of a pack. They’ll be part of the family in no time!

6. Fewer Messes

Your floors, shoes and furniture will thank you for adopting a senior pooch! Older dogs are likely to already be housetrained—and even if they’re not, they have the physical and mental abilities to pick it up really fast (unlike puppies). With their teething years far behind them, seniors also are much less likely to be destructive chewers.

7. You Won’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

There are those who yearn for a doggie friend of their own, but hold back because they worry what might happen in their lives in the years to come. And they are wise to do so—a puppy or young dog can be anywhere from an 8- to 20-year responsibility, which is not appropriate for the very elderly or those with certain long-term future plans. Providing a loving home for a dog in her golden years is not a less serious commitment, but it can be a shorter one.

8. They Enjoy Easy Livin’

Couch potato, know thyself! Please consider a canine retiree rather than a high-energy young dog who will run you ragged. Not that older dogs don’t require any exercise—they do—but they’re not going to need, or want, to run a marathon every day.

9. Save a Life, Be a Hero

At shelters, older dogs are often the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized. Saving an animal’s life offers an unparalleled emotional return on your investment, and you’ll feel the rewards every day you spend together.

10. They’re CUTE!

Need we say more? 

Stay on Good terms with your vet:
Senior pets need routine veterinary care.  Imagine if your 90 year old grandmother went to the doctor every 7 years.  We would think that she wasn't being very diligent about her healthcare.  The most obvious problem we see in senior pets is bad breath brought about by bacteria and tartar in the dogs mouth.  This can easily be taken care of by routinely checking their mouth and brushing the teeth.  Regular visits to the vet will allow your pets Dr. to keep tabs on changes and recommend treatment as needed.  Bacteria in the mouth spreads throughout the body and affects all of the organs.  So, if the dental health is not optimal it is affecting the whole dog.

Grooming a senior pet is important because the hair coat becomes more brittle, may fall out and mat easily.  Toenails seem to become thicker and grow longer because the dog is not walking as much.  Keeping the dogs nails trimmed allows for the foot to rest on the pads comfortably   If the nails are too long it causes the foot to rock backwards and pain in the joint and up the leg results.  Long nails also affect the gait of the dog and can exacerbate arthritis.

Less activity can mean weight gain.  Extra weight is extra stress on the bones and organ function.  Kidney and liver function change so observation for subtle changes like increased water intake or change in appetite are critical.  Diet management may be in order.  This is an area of health care that you will want to discuss with your vet and monitor with blood work.

Keeping them comfortable while they are relaxing is important. Lindy has a favorite bed made by Snoozy called Ortho-Air.  I found the bed on Amazon but some pet stores carry them.  It is a tough inflatable bed.  It has been used by three seniors and it seems to be the most comfortable.  You can inflate it to make it just right for your senior Side Kick.

This fall was dedicated to our senior pets-ones we have and ones that need a forever home.  This part of your pets life can be very enjoyable.  Take the time to savor it and show your love by keeping your senior healthy and happy.  

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