Top Tips: Senior Pet Care
With any luck, your pet will have a very healthy, long life. However, as they get older, the care that you provide will need to change to suit the effects that aging has on their body. Exactly when your pet becomes senior will depend on its breed and size. For example, large breed dogs are usually classed as being senior by around 8 years old, whereas for a smaller breed, it’s typically 10 or 11. This reflects their typical lifespans, which are generally longer the smaller your dog is.
Aging slows all of us down, including our pets. They may also find certain activities more difficult than before, seem more easily scared or confused, and even start to suffer from some health problems. Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to help keep your pet enjoying the best possible quality of life as they progress through their senior years. Here are our top tips for senior pet care.
Visit Your Vet More Frequently
Most vets recommend that adult animals see their veterinarian for a check-up once each year. However, as our animals get older, they are more likely to suffer from health problems. Increasing the frequency of your veterinary vets also increases the likelihood that any issues will be detected early when they could be treated more easily.
Ask Your Vet if You Need to Alter Your Pet’s Diet
An animal’s nutritional requirements also change as they get older. Since they use less energy thanks to a slower pace and a greater reluctance to exercise, they generally need less calories to stop them from gaining weight. This is very important since animals that are overweight are more likely to develop chronic health problems like diabetes and heart disease. If your pet has any health problems, they may also benefit from a tailored diet that contains specific nutritional elements to boost their wellbeing. Ask your vet about nutritional counseling to find out what your pet should be eating.
Consider Using Supplements
There are some vitamins and minerals that are very hard to get enough of through food alone. Many older animals are prescribed supplements to help with certain aspects of their health. For example, if your pet has arthritis, your vet may recommend glucosamine supplements to help with their joints.
Evaluate Your Pet’s Environment
When your pet has been living with you for a long while, it’s easy to take their comfort for granted. Nevertheless, older animals can start to experience mobility problems that make it hard for them to sleep comfortably and move around easily and without pain. You may need to make some adjustments to the accessibility of your home – such as installing ramps to help your pet get in or out of your vehicle or up and down stairs, moving their water/food dishes nearer or to a more accessible height, and using rugs and mats to provide grip on slippery wooden flooring.
Tailor Your Pet’s Exercise to Their Age
Your pet may be getting older, but they still need regular exercise to help keep them healthy and their weight under control. Short, regular walks are one of the most effective ways of ensuring that they get the exercise they need to improve their fitness and keep their muscles strong, without being too over-exerting for them.
Keep Your Senior Pet’s Brain Busy Too
Cognitive decline isn’t limited to humans, and as our animals get older, they are likely to start to experience problems like confusion, disorientation, and forgetting training they have previously had. It’s just as important to exercise your pet’s brain as well as their body, and this can help to keep cognitive decline at bay. Whether you want to teach an old dog new tricks, or play familiar games with your senior cat, keeping their brain busy is crucial for maintaining good behavior and their quality of life.
To learn more about keeping older pets healthy and active, contact Richfield Animal Medical Center in Richfield, OH at (330) 659-6606.