Specialist Ricardo Coedo gives us the keys to special care for older dogs and cats.
Caring for older animals is something very necessary, and not everyone has learned this. Being senior dogs and cats, they require special care that should be well explained by your veterinarian. But unless something happens to these animals, there is usually no need to seek expert advice. Therefore, in this article, Technical Manager Pets at Virbac Ricardo Coedo gives us the keys in this interview.
Bequia Mascotas: Special care for older dogs and cats
Ricardo Coedo: Both dogs and cats require special care when they reach old age, as there are a number of behavioral changes at the cellular level that must be taken into account to keep them healthy. Some are more noticeable, such as progressive muscle loss or degenerative joint and bone diseases; But there are other types of less visible consequences, such as deterioration of kidney function and weakness of the overall immune system, for which we must also be prepared.
Therefore, regular annual check-ups and choosing food adapted to the age and nutritional needs of our dogs and cats will help us maintain their health, prolong their quality and life expectancy.
BM: Differences in caring for older dogs and cats
RK: Caring for dogs and cats is very similar. It is recommended to monitor specific gravity, joint and muscle mobility, and kidney function. Now, at the weight management level, we recommend taking into account some small changes that are taken into account in our HPM Senior line of veterinary foods. For dogs, we recommend a diet with less energy than diet. in an adult dog, and in cats it’s the opposite: a diet with more energy compared to a diet with more energy. This is an adult cat. Older dogs tend to gain weight and older cats tend to lose weight, so it’s important to tailor the energy to each species.
BM: Mistakes when caring for older dogs and cats
R.Ts.: The main mistake is to consider an older dog or cat an adult. The nutritional and care needs of older animals are different from those at other stages of their lives. Your metabolism undergoes changes and many functions begin to decline, so it is important to adapt your diet, exercise and care to this stage to improve your quality and longevity.
BM: Special food for older dogs.
RK: Continuing a low-carbohydrate, high-animal protein diet will help us not only manage our senior dog’s weight, but also maintain his muscle mass and counteract the decline in physical activity that typically occurs with age. . In addition, oxidative processes responsible for aging increase in older dogs, so a decrease in the dog or cat’s physical activity predisposes them to loss of muscle mass and decreased joint elasticity. All of our products in this line contain a range of functional ingredients selected to suit the animal’s life stage. In this way, our pet will receive many health benefits by better protecting his physiological condition and overall health.
BM: Special food for older cats.
RK: For older cats, we also recommend a diet that is low in carbohydrates and rich in animal proteins because this will help them control their weight and also provide support for mobility, which is usually a little more rigid. . It is important that your best friend’s diet is high in antioxidants and low in phosphorus, which helps support kidney function and maintains your pet’s mobility levels.
BM: At what age should you change the diet of older cats and dogs?
RK: There is no exact age that determines whether a dog or cat is senior or not. Everything will depend on the size of the breed we are talking about. For example, dogs of small and miniature breeds, that is, weighing less than 10 kg, are considered to have reached the senior stage at 10 years, in medium breeds weighing 11-25 kg at about 8 years, and finally in large breeds. and giant breeds from 6 years old.
BM: Do you think there is not enough information about feeding older dogs and cats?
RK: More and more dog and cat owners are becoming more aware of the care and special needs of older animals and are receiving nutritional advice from veterinarians tailored to their pet’s needs.
BM: What could be the cause of poor nutrition in older dogs and cats?
R.K.: An inadequate diet, or a diet poorly adapted to the age of our pet, can lead to a more noticeable deterioration in the animal’s condition, since its coat and skin are one of the first organs that are not given proper care. Choosing products that contain functional ingredients will help protect your joints and maintain essential mobility, autonomy, and healthier skin and coat for longer.
B.M.: Is it worth going to the veterinarian with an adult dog or cat, even if no health problems have been identified previously, just for prevention?
RK: As we have already noted, the veterinarian should be the main nutritional consultant and indispensable travel companion for every owner, since proper nutrition and good overall health of our pet are interconnected. For this reason, we always recommend at least one annual visit, which will allow us to evaluate our dog or cat’s evolution and health at each age.
BM: What diseases are more common in older dogs and cats?
R.C.: Older animals undergo changes at a level that are expressed in visible signs for owners. The changes we see in our older dogs and cats primarily affect cognitive function and behavior and limit learning. We may also see a progressive loss of muscle mass and muscle mass. Body weight changes follow two different patterns: older dogs tend to be overweight, while older cats tend to lose or be underweight. We also see degenerative joint and bone diseases, as well as poor skin and hair conditions.
Kidney function usually begins to deteriorate, which in some cases can lead to chronic kidney disease and a weakened immune system.
BM: Finally, what are the current trends in pet care?
RK: Approximately 40% of dogs and cats already require care as senior pets, but according to a recent survey conducted by Virbac, we noticed that only 43% of owners are aware of this reality. It is clear that both companies and owners need to put more effort into raising awareness and learning about this vital stage in our pets’ lives so that we can begin to offer them the most appropriate care.