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Senior pets are some of my favorite patients! This is when our dogs and cats have truly reached their pinnacle and when we, as their caregivers, learn to cherish every moment. As a veterinarian I see many clients who are on the lookout for changes in their senior pet – some notice every subtle detail, others are more concerned with the big picture. I want you to know that we are here to help each and every client navigate this time in their pets life. Here are some tips that can help us help your pet to live a longer life.

Hands On
Take time every day not only to give your pet a good massage but feel with your fingers all over their body to notice any lumps or growths on the surface of the skin or underneath the surface. It is also a good time to notice if there are any areas of his/her body that are tender or tense. Take note and bring it to my attention when you bring your pet in for a visit. I recommend that we aspirate any lump or mass present on your pet to determine whether it is cancerous or not.

Keep Moving
It is very important that all pets, but especially senior pets stay active and fit. Muscle loss is a major concern for senior pets and maintaining mobility into senior years. Most of our pets would be happy to lay on the couch or a comfy bed for 22 out of 24 hours a day:) So it is up to us to keep them engaged and active by taking them for walks every single day. Letting them out to go to the bathroom is not exercise! They need to explore new ground to engage their mind and navigate varied terrain, such as hills, to keep their muscles toned. A healthy weight is the number one most important factor in managing arthritis and I can’t stress this point to my clients enough. If you have questions about your pet’s weight or how to get them to lose weight we can help!

Regular Check-Ups and Testing
I would like to examine senior pets at least every six months – more often if they have an ongoing illness or condition. It is important to discuss changes in your pet’s behavior or activity to be able to address any problems before they get worse. Routing blood work and urinalysis are an important aspect of evaluating your pet’s health. Kidney, liver, and thyroid problems are among the most common abnormalities I unveil with routine labs but there are many more and our goal is to address any abnormalities BEFORE they are causing any symptoms in your pet.

Remember – doing SOMETHING is better than doing NOTHING!

Dr. Gagliardi
Hospital Administrator
Chathams Small Animal Hospital