As our pets enter and move through their golden years, they need special care. As the years tick by, the risk of certain ailments, aches, and pains increases. Here’s how to keep senior pets as happy, healthy, and comfortable as possible.
No one knows a pet better than their person. The first signs that something is abnormal in their habits, attitude, and behavior will come to those who love, care for, and are closest to pets. If you notice any changes in your pet, take notice, watch closely, and seek the care of a veterinarian when concerns arise.
Get Regular Wellness Checks
Many conditions including cancer, lumps and bumps, diabetes, periodontal disease, arthritis, kidney failure, and cognitive decline can arise and worsen with age. Because signs of painor disease are often subtle or absent, regular wellness checks are important.
During wellness exams, we can look for and detect as early as possible any disease or abnormality. The sooner we know of something, the sooner we can treat it. We can also make a care plan and monitor its effectiveness. Senior pets may need extra visits to the vet, depending on their level of health.
Keep Pets at a Healthy Weight
Daily activities such as grooming, playing, walking, sitting, and rising may become difficult for pets as they age. Carrying extra pounds on their bodies makes life even more difficult for senior pets than if they were at a healthy weight. Being overweight can also significantly shorten pets’ lives by causing many health issues such as heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Provide Proper Diet and Exercise
Senior pets’ nutritional needs sometimes change. This depends on any conditions they may suffer from or because they need fewer calories or more fiber than when they were young. Every pet, along with lifestyle, activity level, and health condition is different. The best way to know which food suits your pet is to speak to your pet’s doctor.
When it comes to exercise, pets need it even when they turn grey. They may not zip full speed around the house or dog park, but mental and physical stimulation is still vital. Shorter rounds of lower impact exercises that are easy on the body may be best.
Temperatures, rough surfaces, and long walks affect senior dogs more than they do younger dogs. Watch for signs of over excursion, stiffness, or pain. Swimming is a great low impact way to keep most dogs active. Gentle indoor play and treat puzzles also help keep dogs physically and mentally healthy. For cats, use treat puzzles, catnip, toy rotation, and possibly a bird feeder outside their favorite window.
Discuss physical activity with your veterinarian who knows your pet’s state of health and what, if anything, may make exercise a bad idea.
Give Pets Comfort and Easy Access
Even the healthiest senior pets need a little extra care to keep them comfortable. Bedding should be sufficiently padded for old, achy bodies. Self-heating pads, which are non-electric and use pets’ own body heat, also provide comfort. If you allow pets on your bed or other furniture, give them easy access with pet stairs or ramps. Make food, water, and potty as easily reachable as possible. Keep them downstairs in open rooms and avoid changing locations. Use litter boxes that are easy to enter and exit.
Help Cats Groom
Cats can find that grooming themselves is a challenge with bodies that can’t bend as easily as when they were young. If your cat neglects their hygiene, it’s time to see your veterinarian to diagnose and treat or rule out an underlying condition or arthritic pain. You can help your cat keep clean with gentle brushes, wipe downs, and baths when necessary.
Senior pets may be slower, messier, and creakier than when they were spring chickens, but they can still be happy and healthy. It all starts with being in tune to their changing bodies and attitudes. Get regular wellness checks and collaborate with your veterinarian to develop a health plan. Create a home environment of comfort and ease. All of this will ensure the best life possible for aging pets.