Ask A Vet: Pawp Online Vets Talk Joint Issues & Caring For Senior Pets

In this week's Ask A Vet, Pawp's online vets talk senior dogs and cats, preventing & treating joint issues, and if senior pet insurance is worth it.

Pawp's Online Vets

Updated May 25, 2023 • Published October 26, 2020

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Ask A Vet: Pawp Online Vets Talk Joint Issues & Caring For Senior Pets

Whether you’re concerned about your dog or cat or just have a general question you wanted answered, an online vet can help. Pawp’s vets are available 24/7 to talk about your pet — whether it’s 2 a.m. and your dog is throwing up or it’s the middle of the afternoon and you’re wondering why your cat’s skin is so flaky. Talking to a vet online can arm you with the expert information you need to take better care of your pet.

Every week, Pawp’s online vets answer questions about dogs and cats from pet parents. In last week’s Ask A Vet, the online vets discussed dog overgrooming and vocal cats. This week, the online vets discuss senior dogs and cats, joint issues, and how to care for them as they age.

How to care for senior dogs

How do you care for dogs differently as they age?

Every dog is different (and different breeds have different lifespans), but generally a dog is considered senior around the age of 7 or 8. You may notice they slow down or nap a bit more. Caring for a senior dog means going to the vet more often, maintaining a healthy exercise routine, and feeding a hearty senior-specific diet. You should also play with interactive dog toys to challenge their minds and keep them sharp. Your dog is changing and you’ll need to pay attention. Respect their boundaries and don’t push them beyond what they’re capable of doing. And, of course, continue to pet and love them thoroughly.

Read More: 6 Ways To Care For Your Aging Dog

How do you prevent hip & joint problems in dogs as they age?

Hip & joint issues are common in dogs, especially larger ones. The best thing is to get out in front of the issue with preventative measures. Making sure your dog is a healthy weight is most important; you can limit the pressure put on their joints. You should keep your dog exercising a healthy amount and get them on a joint-specific supplement or dog food.

If you notice your dog is showing signs of limping or arthritis, talk to a vet as soon as possible before the condition worsens. Dogs can tolerate a lot of pain, so showing signs of it means it can be serious. Talk to a vet: anti-inflammatories may help along with alternative therapies such as acupuncture or hydrotherapy.

Read More: We Asked A Vet About Dog Supplements & Joint Issues

How do you care for cats differently as they age?

Cats can live a very long time, making “older” a relative term, but a cat is generally considered senior around 11. As cats age, they’ll need to see the vet more frequently. They’ll also need more hearty food like a senior-specific diet that shows their kidneys some special love (make sure your cat is hydrated!). They may need some help accessing a litter box (if it’s out of reach or difficult to climb into). Make sure your cat has a comfortable place to sleep they can access that still feels safe and away from prying eyes. You may also need to help your cat with grooming as contorting into all those bizarre positions becomes more difficult. Most importantly, make sure they’re comfortable and well-loved.

Read More: 6 Ways To Care For Your Aging Cat

How do you prevent hip & joint problems in cats as they age?

Keeping your cat a healthy weight with quality age-specific food and a good amount of exercise goes a long way to preventing joint issues in cats. Being overweight will put an undue strain on your cat’s limbs. So dedicated a good amount of time to play. You can also supplement your cat’s diet with hip & joint specific toppers or additives.

If your cat is limping or showing signs of arthritis, you can talk to a vet about anti-inflammatories or other pain relief medications. Most cats won’t tolerate alternative therapies, like hydrotherapy or acupuncture, but you can make their time at home easier with ergonomic food bowls, ramps for any steps, and an easily accessible litter box.

Does pet insurance make sense for senior pets?

As you might expect, pets often experience more health issues in their senior years, making premiums expensive and pet insurance tricky. Many pet insurance companies have upper age limits and won’t allow pets of a certain age to enroll. And while there are some that do, no pet insurance covers pre-existing conditions, meaning an insurance plan may not pay out on the worst of the expenses (despite a costly premium). Senior pets may benefit from a pet insurance alternative like Pawp that will help shoulder the burden of unexpected vet bills.

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