One Senior Citizen Ticket Please!

Hi Everyone!  I have definitely expressed my extreme adoration for puppies and kittens. I mean, what veterinarian didn’t secretly go to vet school to play with puppies and kittens all day? However, it truly melts my heart when an elderly patient hobbles through my doors, with its grey whiskers and hair coat, and the look of a long happy life and bond with their family in its eyes. I absolutely adore my elderly patients and making sure they live a long healthy life with their owners is my top priority.

With more than 18 million senior dogs and 22 million senior cats, it is important to help build greater awareness of the special care that aging animals require. Many changes occur in dogs and cats as they age, including deterioration of skin and coat, loss of muscle mass, more frequent intestinal problems, arthritis, obesity, dental problems and decreased ability to fight off infection. I encourage owners of pets ages 7 and older to visit their veterinarians more frequently for senior care checkups.  More medical attention is required for senior pets and detecting diseases early on is the key to a longer and healthier life.

  • Take your senior pet to the veterinarian for a checkup at least every six months. This is important in monitoring changes in his or her health.
  • During your senior pet’s regular checkups, regular blood and urine testing can help identify diseases in their earliest and most treatable stages.
  • Look, listen and feel for bumps, signs of pain, or behavioral changes. Disorientation, changes in sleep, loss of house-training, weight fluctuation, increase in thirst and/or urination, or any change in your pet’s normal behavior could be a sign of a health problem.
  • Speak with your veterinarian about nutritional needs for aging pets. Different diseases require specific prescription diets which help slow the progress of the disease and aid in overall health. I put many of my senior pets on supplements, such as glucosamine or omega 3 fatty acids, for joint disease, skin problems, and other conditions.
  • Your pet’s gums and teeth can be indications of health problems- dental or otherwise.
  • Maintaining a familiar routine with your animal and providing exercise is an easy way to minimize stress, control weight, and keep muscle tone.
  • Give your pet the love and attention you have always provided.

I have loved and lost many senior pets over the years. My pets have watched me grow up and seen me through veterinarian school. They were there for my first job, when I got married, when I found out I was pregnant, when I had my first baby, and when I built my animal hospital. Our pets share the biggest parts of our lives with us and show us unconditional love and dedication throughout. The least I can do in return is help provide some tips and advice so our pets live a longer and healthier life. As I say goodbye to many of my patients and my personal pets as well, it brings me comfort knowing they lived a long, happy, and healthy life with the best care and family. Thank you for providing your pets with the best life that they so deserve!

 “They might only be a part of your life, but to them, you are their whole life!”


 “Nemo” Birken


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