plano messonier aging animal pet

Each month, Plano veterinarian Dr. Shawn Messonnier will share his insights on topics of interest to our readers. If you have a concern you would like Dr. Shawn to address, email him at

In human medicine, doctors offer a specialized branch of medicine called anti-aging medicine. The goal of anti-aging medicine is to restore health to older people in an effort to prevent or at least reduce the incidence of diseases usually associated with the aging process.

In pet medicine, unfortunately most doctors do not focus on our aging pets with any sort of specialized care. Often, these pets are suffering from chronic diseases and are not in the best health. They are treated with numerous drugs, often experience side effects from these medications (including decreased health), and their owners spend large amounts of money maintaining these pets in ill health.

In reality, no pet is too old for proper pet care. By instituting the correct health care focusing on anti-aging efforts, we can restore health to these pets, reduce their need for chronic (often unnecessary) medications, and increase their lifespans.

Here are some ideas on how to approach anti-aging medicine with your pet’s doctor:

Beginning at 5 years of age, take your furry family member for a physical examination and blood and urine tests twice yearly (younger pets can be seen annually.) Any results that are abnormal are dealt with promptly before they get worse and the pet gets sick.

Dietary evaluation should be done to ensure the pet is eating the diet most appropriate for its age, breed and health status, based upon the exam and lab tests.

Dental disease should be treated aggressively and early as this is the most common source of infection and inflammation that contributes to poor health, as well as diabetes and diseases of the liver, kidneys, heart, and lungs.

Medications the pet is taking should be reviewed for their proper use. In most cases, some of these medications can be eliminated and often replaced (if needed) with natural therapies that have the same clinical effect but that are devoid of the side effects that may occur with chronic medical therapies.

Supplements should also be reviewed and/or prescribed. All pets benefit from some supplementation. Based upon experience, most older pets benefit from supplementation with phosphatidylcholine, vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, glucosamine, thyroid support, and adrenal support. (One product I find particularly helpful for many of my aging patients is the herbal remedy called Healthy Qi, used to support the immune system. This is my favorite supplement for any older pet and for any pet with any illness. It contains the following natural herbs: astragalus, green tea, gotu kola, and ginseng to help give your pet that extra boost to achieve homeostasis and a happy life. Ask your doctor about this product.)

Many pets fail to receive adequate care because someone considers the pet “too old.” These senior citizens of the pet world deserve their own specialized care that dignifies their age, allowing them to live peacefully and happily using the least amount of medication possible to reduce costly and serious, often debilitating, side effects. By celebrating aging the same as we celebrate youth, our pets can live much longer than expected and live happily and healthily as they age!

Learn more about natural pet care at

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Dr. Shawn Messonnier

Dr. Shawn Messonnier practices at Paws & Claws Holistic Animal Hospital, the only hospital in Plano focusing on natural healing and natural therapies for dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, and small mammals....