The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) is synonymous with outstanding veterinary care for small animals. Their newly released 2023 Senior Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats is yet another example of why.
According to the AAHA, many pets are living longer than ever before due to advances in veterinary care. Currently, 44% of all pets fit into the senior category. It is important to recognize that age truly is just a number for many pets who remain healthy well into their senior years, but even those pets can benefit from a senior care plan.
Part of a senior wellness plan is performing diagnostics to catch any developing problems as early as possible. That means a twice-a-year physical exam, with some screening bloodwork suggested every six to 12 months. For a healthy senior, that is the best way to catch a change in health. Once health problems have been identified, your pet should have a custom health plan set up. That might include recommendations for certain supplements, medications for any identified health conditions, and changes you can make at home to your pet’s environment and care management to make those golden years a bit smoother.
Along with body condition scores and weight tracking, your veterinarian will look for changes in behavior that may be associated with aging. Certain dietary supplements may help your older pet age more gracefully and make life easer for everyone. Nutrition should be evaluated to see if diet changes are warranted. Assessments for pain and dental care are important.
Sadly, senior pet care also includes thinking ahead to end-of-life decisions such as hospice care and/or euthanasia. These updated guidelines will help your veterinarian to help you and your older pets.