Watching your beloved cat or dog age can be hard for any pet owner. Most pet parents struggle with the realisation that their pet is ageing, but it is a natural process of life. When you spot the signs, it’s important to start adjusting to the lifestyle needs of your senior pet.
Make sure you give your senior pet a high-quality diet. As pets age and become less active, their caloric requirement drops, so it’s important to choose a diet that’s appropriate for your canine’s age and lifestyle. Feeding a high-quality diet that’s appropriate for senior dogs or cats can help prevent weight gain as well as reduce the chances of chewing and digestive issues. Consider adding more fibre to aid digestion while making sure your dog’s food is low in fat and has fewer calories. Supplements such as fish oil or glucosamine can also be added to alleviate joint pain.
Your dog may be slowing down, but that doesn’t mean he should spend his days curled up on the couch. Regular exercise will help your furry friend maintain his ideal weight and general health. It’s important to be reasonable in your expectations for the intensity and duration of an activity. Too much of it can negatively affect your bestie’s health while too little won’t support muscle development. Because dogs have lower energy levels as they age, he may not be able to go on long hikes, but shorter, less strenuous walks will keep him in good shape.
Much like it is with people, regular health checkups are one of the most important things when it comes to caring for senior pets. Their immune system gets weaker as they age, making them prone to a number of illnesses. A good number of these health issues can be treated if they’re caught early enough. That’s why most vets recommend that senior pets should undergo health screening every six months. In addition to this, a trip to the vet gives you an opportunity to talk about your pet’s diet, exercise routine and overall health.
Dental hygiene is particularly crucial as your pet ages. If you’ve always thought brushing your pet’s teeth was a silly idea, you may want to pay attention to it as he gets older because teeth are a time ticking bombs if neglected. If your pet doesn’t enjoy having his teeth brushed, consider opting for dental treats and toys instead.
Regular grooming becomes a very important aspect of care for your senior pet. Older pets typically have special needs as a good percentage of them suffer from dry skin. Flaky and irritated skin can become worse if not cared for properly. More idle time can predispose seniors to dull-looking and brittle coats as well as long nails. Consider brushing your senior pet regularly to avoid the development of mats and tangles. Also, use only natural shampoos as they can heal irritated skin and coats.
With age comes a variety of health issues your pet may experience. Arthritis is common in ageing pets, so soft bedding in the form of a special dog bed can go a long way to provide a lot of joint support and comfort to an aching body. Also, consider a special ramp if your pet has dysplasia or joint issues. Some senior pets go completely blind, so keep food and water in areas they can easily reach and not bump into. They may also need daily eye drops to keep their eyes moist and reduce possible effects from dry eye. Be sure to monitor your pet for any odd lumps or bumps while grooming them. While these can be benign they can also be signs of something more sinister.
As pets age, they need our care and attention even more, so try to spend as much time as you can with them. Since age-related changes start small, pay attention to their health so you can pick any change in your furry friend that could be an indication of significant issues.
Is your senior pet's health deteriorating? Use this handy weekly checklist to monitor their health.
Loss of appetite
Drinking more water
Bowel changes (constipation, diarrhorea or goes inside)
Rapid weight gain or loss
Change in coat
Scratching or has a rash
Appearance of lumps
Panting more than usual
Unwillingness to exercise
Slow to get up and down
Deafness (not responding to voice commands anymore)
Vision loss (bumping into things or change in eye appearance)
This checklist does not replace veterinary consultation. If you are worried about your ageing pet, speak to your vet who knows your pet!