Here are 9 steps for keeping your mature pet healthy:

Visit a veterinarian for a senior health care exam at least every six months to monitor changes in your pet’s health.

1. As your pet approaches senior status, a veterinarian may recommend basic blood and urine tests as a baseline for measuring future changes. Regular blood testing can help identify diseases in their earliest and most treatable stages.

2. Note changes in behavior or appearance and see a veterinarian. Treat simple medical problems, such as incessant ear-scratching, immediately. A trip to the veterinarian can get problems under control early, before they become major problems requiring more extensive treatment.

3. Switch to a quality senior food that provides enhanced levels of key nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamin E and beta-carotene, plus gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a fatty acid important to skin and coat health. Consult a veterinarian for the appropriate senior diet for your pet.

4. Have your pet’s teeth checked and cleaned if necessary and follow the cleaning with recommended dental care at home.

5. Provide moderate exercise. This will help with weight control and keep muscles toned.

6. Talk with a veterinarian if your dog or cat tires easily or has trouble breathing.

7. Groom your senior pet at least once each week. Check for lumps, sores, parasites and foul-smelling ears or discharge. Older pets may need to be bathed with medicated or moisturizing shampoo.

8. Maintain a familiar routine and environment to minimize stress.

9. If your pet has not been spayed or neutered, ask a veterinarian about having this done to avoid tumors of the mammary or prostate glands.

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The Best Ways to Improve the Life of Your Mature Pet