Prairie Lane Veterinary Hospital

Senior Pet & Arthritis Care in Omaha, NE

As our beloved pets age, their bodies and health needs change. This makes senior pet care an essential part of responsible pet ownership. Understanding when your dog or cat is considered a senior, recognizing the signs of aging, and knowing what screenings are necessary can help you provide the best possible care for your furry friend in their golden years, and our Omaha, NE vets are here to help!

When is My Dog or Cat Considered a Senior?

The age at which a pet is considered a senior can vary depending on their breed and size. Generally, cats and small to medium-sized dogs are typically considered seniors at around seven years of age. Larger dog breeds may reach senior status earlier, around five to six years old, due to their shorter lifespans.

Senior Pet Care in Omaha - Why is it Important?

Senior pets experience various age-related changes that can affect their physical condition, behavior, and overall well-being. As pets grow older, they become more susceptible to health issues such as arthritis, heart disease, kidney disease, dental problems, and cancer. That's why it's crucial to provide them with the necessary care and attention to detect and manage these conditions early.

  1. Increased Veterinary Care - Regular veterinary visits become increasingly important for senior pets. Our Omaha, NE veterinarians recommend bi-annual check-ups for older animals to catch any potential health problems before they become serious. During these visits, our vets can assess your pet's health and suggest diet modifications, exercise routines, and medications tailored to your pet’s needs.
  2. Adjustments in Daily Care - Senior pets may require adjustments in their daily care routine. This can include orthopedic beds to support arthritic joints, ramps to help them navigate stairs, and changes in their diet to maintain a healthy weight and support organ function.
  3. Emotional Health - It's also important to consider the emotional health of senior pets. They may experience anxiety or confusion as their senses and cognitive function decline. Maintaining a consistent routine and providing a peaceful home environment can help minimize stress for aging pets.

Signs of Aging in Pets

As pets grow older, they may exhibit several signs of aging, including:

  • Decreased activity and more time spent resting
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Changes in hair coat, such as graying or thinning
  • Reduced hearing or visionDental issues or bad breath
  • Behavioral changes, such as confusion or irritability
  • Difficulty getting up or moving around
  • Changes in bathroom habits

Recognizing these changes early can help you address any potential health issues promptly.

Senior Pet Screenings in Omaha

To keep a close eye on the health of senior pets, our Omaha, NE, veterinarians perform a variety of screenings. These tests are crucial for the early detection of diseases and can significantly improve the chances of successful management or treatment.

  1. Complete Blood Count (CBC) and Chemistry Panel - A complete blood count and chemistry panel are fundamental tests that provide a snapshot of a pet's overall health. They can detect anemia, infection, dehydration, and organ function issues. These tests are often performed annually or semi-annually for senior pets.
  2. Urinalysis - Urinalysis is a simple test that can reveal a lot about a pet's urinary system health, including kidney function, diabetes, and urinary tract infections. It's a non-invasive screening that can be critical in catching diseases early on.
  3. Thyroid Function Tests - As pets age, they can develop thyroid issues such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Thyroid function tests measure the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood and help our veterinarians diagnose and manage these conditions.
  4. Blood Pressure Measurement - High blood pressure can be a silent killer in pets as it is in humans. Regular blood pressure measurements are necessary to detect hypertension, which can be indicative of underlying health issues like kidney disease or hormonal imbalances.
  5. Radiographs (X-rays) - X-rays are valuable in assessing the condition of a pet's bones, organs, and overall body structure. They can help detect arthritis, tumors, and heart or lung problems that are common in older pets.
  6. Eye Examinations - Senior pets can develop eye conditions such as cataracts or glaucoma. Regular eye exams can help catch these issues early, potentially saving the pet's vision and alleviating discomfort.
  7. Screening for Cancer - Cancer is a leading cause of death in older pets. Our vets may recommend biopsies, ultrasounds, or other diagnostic tests if they suspect cancer. Early detection is key to providing the best possible outcome for the pet.

Understanding Arthritis in Senior Pets

Arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease, is a condition characterized by the inflammation of joints, leading to pain and decreased mobility. It commonly affects senior pets due to the wear and tear on their joints over the years.

The Impact on Quality of Life for Pets with Arthritis

Arthritis can significantly diminish the quality of life for senior pets. They may experience chronic pain, which can lead to less physical activity, weight gain, and even behavioral changes such as irritability or depression.

Symptoms of Arthritis in Senior Pets

Senior pets may not express pain in the same way humans do, so it's important to look for subtle changes in their behavior and physical abilities.

  1. Mobility Issues - One of the first signs of arthritis in senior pets is a decrease in mobility. You may notice your pet hesitating to jump, climb stairs, or engage in activities they once enjoyed.
  2. Changes in Gait - Arthritis can cause your pet to walk with a limp or show stiffness, particularly after resting. This change in gait is often more pronounced in the morning or after long periods of inactivity.
  3. Loss of Muscle Mass - As pets become less active due to joint pain, they can lose muscle mass. This loss can be more noticeable around the affected joints, leading to further instability and weakness.
  4. Behavioral Changes - Pets with arthritis may become more withdrawn, avoid being touched, or display a decrease in overall activity. They may also react negatively to being handled, especially if it involves the affected joints.

What Can You Do to Help Your Senior Pet with Arthritis?

Though arthritis has no cure, you can help your senior pet manage pain and enhance life quality doing the following:

  1. Consult with our veterinarians
  2. Keep your pet at a healthy weight
  3. Provide comfortable bedding
  4. Modify your home for your aging pet
  5. Consider alternative therapies
  6. Consider osteoarthritis injections (Solensia for cats, Librela for dogs), a pain suppressant for pets suffering from osteoarthritis.
  7. Joint supplements

Tips for Senior Pet Care

Here are some valuable senior pet care tips for at home to help your aging companions thrive.

  1. Regular Veterinary Health Check-ups - As pets age, they become more susceptible to health issues. Regular veterinary visits are crucial for early detection and management of age-related diseases. It's recommended to take senior dogs for check-ups at least twice a year.
  2. Nutrition Matters, Tailoring Your Pet's Diet - Senior dogs have different nutritional requirements compared to their younger counterparts. Their metabolism slows down, and they may become less active, which necessitates a lower calorie intake to prevent obesity. Quality senior pet food formulas are designed to provide the right balance of nutrients, including fiber for digestive health and fatty acids like omega-3 for joint health.
  3. Creating a Senior-Friendly Environment - As dogs age, their comfort becomes a top priority. Consider providing orthopedic beds to support their joints and keep them warm. Ensure that food and water dishes are easily accessible, and if mobility is an issue, ramps can help senior pets navigate steps or get into cars.
  4. Adjusting Exercise Routines - Exercise remains important for senior pets, but the intensity and duration should be adjusted to match their energy levels and physical capabilities. Regular, gentle walks can help maintain muscle tone and joint flexibility. Always monitor for signs of fatigue and consult with our Omaha, NE veterinarians about the appropriate level of activity.

Find a Senior Pet Vet Near Omaha, NE

Finding a senior pet vet near you in Omaha is easy with our online direct booking feature. Both new and existing clients seeking care for their senior pet may schedule an appointment at our Omaha vet clinic.

Join the Prairie Lane Veterinary Hospital Family Today!

Located off of I-680 via W Center Rd. Directly between Cryer Ave and Arbor St on S 120th St.

Phone: 402-333-3847

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* We are open on select Saturdays every month, Please call our hospital for the opening dates each month.