Ask the Vet: The veterinarian’s secrets to keeping senior pets healthy
Over the years animal guardians have relied on periodic reminder cards from the veterinarian to keep their pet up-to-date on vaccinations. It’s no secret many veterinarians relied on the “hook” of these reminder cards to also perform checkups on pets during their visit for shots. However, there continues to be increasing awareness of vaccinations remaining effective longer than initially anticipated, as well as the potentially harmful effects of over-vaccinating companion animals. As animal guardians become aware of this, veterinarians must reeducate the public that the principal reason for veterinary evaluations should not be based solely on “shot reminders.”
In fact, aging pets should be taken in for veterinary exams twice each year for thorough physical and oral exams, as well as blood and urine testing to search for early signs of degenerative and organ based diseases.
Keeping pets at ideal weights as they age can lessen the likelihood of obesity-related illnesses including degenerative spinal/joint disease and diabetes in both dogs and cats. Therefore, I recommend feeding aging and senior pets diets made with quality protein sources and low in processed carbohydrates and fat. In addition, I often recommend starch-free diets for pets such as the brands Wysong Epigen and Halo.
Unfortunately a high percentage of adult and senior pets have significant periodontal disease which can lead to diseases of the liver, kidneys and heart. It is important for animal guardians to implement routine dental care. Further, brushing your pet’s teeth can significantly help reduce dental issues.
In both my traditional and holistic practice of veterinary medicine, I recommend that my clients consider the benefits of supplements to help counter the effects of a pet’s declining body function. Since overall health often begins and ends with an optimally functioning digestive tract, I recommend supplementing with quality probiotics and enzymes such as FortiFlora and NaturVet digestive enzymes. As free radical inflammation is often involved in degenerative diseases, it is critical to include antioxidant supplements, such as Proanthozone, as well as Omega 3 fatty acid supplementation. Evidence has shown Omega 3 fatty acid supplementation may help in many areas of a pet’s body, including a healthy skin and coat, heart, kidneys, liver and brain/central nervous system function.
In short, the veterinarian’s secret(s) to helping aging and senior pets is to:
- Schedule at least two veterinarian visits/checkups each year
- Modify your pet’s diet
- Practice routine dental care
- Supplement with probiotics, antioxidants, and Omega 3