Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

Dr. Gene Pavlovsky, medical director of the University of Illinois Veterinary Medicine South Clinic in Urbana, is here to advise on how pet owners can help their pets age gracefully.

“When I think about what aging gracefully may mean for pets, I think of a dog or cat that is not hindered by obvious pain and mobility problems, significant chronic conditions, or anxiety/stress, whether these are absent or just well-managed,” explains Dr. Pavlovsky.

He believes that pet owners are best positioned to make decisions regarding their pets’ health. Veterinarians serve as advisers and offer their expertise in guiding healthcare decisions.

The key to giving pets their best golden years is to take a preventive approach. That way we may be able to mitigate things like arthritis and tumors or detect them sooner.

Nutrition and weight management: By giving your pet proper nutrition and preventing excessive food intake, you can keep your pet at an ideal body weight throughout life. Obesity contributes to conditions such as osteoarthritis and diabetes.

Annual veterinary visits: It’s very important to stay up to date with veterinary exams, vaccines, and year-round flea/tick, intestinal parasite, and heartworm prevention.

Professional and at-home dental care: Effective dental care for pets should include regular professional dental cleanings done under anesthesia as well as at-home dental care. Tooth brushing done at least every other day is most effective. There are also commercial products to help keep pets’ teeth clean at home.

Exercise: Just like people, pets need exercise to promote heart health, optimal body weight, muscle tone, and joint mobility. Regular low-level exercise (as opposed to infrequent high-intensity exercise) will contribute positively to your pet’s overall health.

College of Veterinary Medicine – Veterinary Medicine at Illinois