As with people, pets are certainly living longer and healthier lives today. There are several things that animal guardians can do to help their pets live as long as possible. Certainly past middle age it is important to have proper veterinary physical exams at least twice yearly. Given the high incidence of periodontal disease in pets, and the link of periodontal disease with other organ health issues of the heart, liver and kidneys, it is important to begin a proper at-home dental hygiene program at a young age. Products such as C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste and PetzLife are two of my favorite at home dental products to use to help maintain healthy teeth and gums.
Many pets past middle age will often need proper dental exams and possibly ultrasonic teeth scaling to help remove unwanted plaque and bacteria from the teeth. This often requires general anesthesia at the veterinarian, but there is also an increasing availability of anesthesia-free dental services now available.
Another important part of maintaining a healthy pet through the senior years is having annual to semi-annual blood and urine tests to make sure that all of the organs are functioning properly. Probably the most critical aspect of helping a senior pet live longer is feeding a natural diet free of preservatives and byproducts. Some of my favorite diets include PetGuard, Wysong, Halo and Nature’s Variety.
It is important to maintain an ideal body weight for pets, as well as allow proper access to sunlight and adequate exercise. I often will recommend several nutritional supplements for senior pets, including probiotics and enzymes such as Naturvet Digestive Enzymes, antioxidants such as Proanthozone, and omega 3 fatty acids such as Nordic Naturals Pet omega 3 fatty acids. Maintaining senior pets on year-round heartworm preventative, as well as some sort of external flea and tick control program is also important.