Over the past month I’ve been writing about aging changes and ailments that affect our senior pets. I thought I’d wrap up this topic (for now) my offering you a checklist that you can use to objectively evaluate how your dog or cat is doing. It’s something I would encourage you to use every six months or so, because things can change fairly quickly. Remember, 6 months in a dog or cat’s time is like 3-4 years in our lives!
- Does your pet still have a good appetite?
- Does your pet refuse to eat the food he/she has been eating for years?
- Has your pet lost weight?
- Does your pet have trouble chewing or swallowing his food?
- Is your pet limping, either all the time or on and off?
- Can your pet still exercise and play?
- Does your pet have trouble getting up?
- Does your pet still go on walks willingly?
- Does your pet have trouble using steps or jumping up on furniture?
- Does your pet sleep more or less than before?
- Does your pet wake up throughout the night?
- Does your pet seem disoriented? Do you find him or her stuck in a corner?
- Does your pet seem cranky or fearful? Is he less responsive to you than he used to be?
- Does your pet pant heavily for no reason (it’s not hot and he hasn’t been exercising)?
- Does your pet have a comfortable/supportive bed to rest in?
- Does your pet have traction on flooring in your home to prevent slipping?
- Have you added a ramp to assist your pet?
- Have you purchased a harness to help support your dog when walking?
Pain Management (Talk to your Vet):
- Physical therapy (at home and possibly at the vet clinic)
- Nutritional supplements (glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM; antioxidants; fish oil)
- NSAIDs (Carprofen and others)
- PSGAG (Adequan, given as injection. Ask your vet to teach you to give this at home to save time and money)
- Opioid drugs (Tramadol and others)
- Herbal remedies
- Laser therapy
I hope this checklist will help you keep a watchful eye on your senior pet. If you find that even one of the items above has changed, it’s worth a consult with your veterinarian to evaluate what’s going on. I encourage you to take the checklist with you to the vet’s office to help guide your discussion. It’s often said that “Age is not a disease.” We have more and more tools available to help our pets age gracefully and keep them comfortable.
CALL TO ACTION: Print this checklist out and post it on your fridge or bulletin board!