4 Tips to Care For Your Aging Pet
Your fur babies have been with you through thick and thin, through the good times and the bad, the years you were in school and when you bought your first house. Even though we might always see them as the adorable little puppy or kitten we brought home from the shelter all those years ago, time inevitably starts catching up with them.
Realizing your pet is not the (perhaps literal) spring chicken they once were can be distressing and a little scary at times. Here are a few tips and guidelines to follow to ensure that your old friend ages with grace and has many happy years ahead of them.
1. Vet Visits: The sooner you start anticipating your aging pet’s needs the easier it will be to handle them as they arise. Many pets start to develop health concerns around ages six and seven (which is about 40-45 human years). They are still plenty young and have many years ahead of them but this is when you are going to want to start taking precautions to avoid future issues. You are the first line of defense for your pet and any ailments they may be developing. If you notice their behavior changing, for example they seem more tired or stiff or their coat has started looking dingy, you should take them to the vet. It is also important that you schedule regular visits to keep track of the things you can’t see. The older your pet gets the more trouble their immune system will begin to have and so the more important it becomes to put preventative measures in place. Even if you just keep them on the yearly visit schedule for a while you might want to do something as simple as ask your vet about switching their food to a more age appropriate brand.
2. Hydration: You will want to make sure your pet is drinking enough water. As your pet gets older they start running the risk of developing a number of common ailments such as kidney problems (especially cats), lower immune systems, diabetes, and arthritis. Just like humans need water to boost our immune systems and make sure our bodies can recover from injury, making sure your fuzzy roommate has fresh water is paramount in problem prevention. One method to keeping your friend hydrated is to invest in a water bubbler. If you have a cat that tries to drink out of the sink or a dog that prefers the drops from the faucet in the tub this might be the thing they are looking for. Another option if your pet is at a healthy weight is to start giving them a can of wet food every so often as this helps keep them hydrated and gives them a great treat at the same time. It is sometimes difficult to tell if our little buddies are drinking enough, but it is much easier to notice when the wet food is gone.
3. Food: The next essential aspects of health to consider are diet and weight control. Like people, animals run a higher risk of developing diabetes when they are overweight. Also, controlling your pet’s weight decreases the chances of their developing arthritis and joint pain. This will make them more likely to want to go on walks with you and play. If their muscles begin to ache they will be reluctant to chase after balls or laser pointers.
4. Exercise: Not only is this a considerable factor to controlling their weight but frequent walks and play keeps your pet’s mind active and diminishes the likelihood of them developing senility. Feeding them treats through puzzle toys are a great way to keep them mentally agile and help alleviate some of their boredom while we are at work or school. As an added bonus, making sure your pet gets exercise can be the boost you need to get yourself off the couch as well. Oftentimes what you need to do to stay healthy is the same thing your furry friend needs as well.
Don’t let any of these manageable concerns worry you too much. There are many preventative measures you can take to ensure a long happy life for your most reliable friend. Additionally, don’t let thinking about the needs of a senior ‘crittizen’ deter you from adopting an older pet. Don’t miss our article on the benefits of adopting a senior pet from the shelter. If you really want to make a difference in the life of a homeless pet, sweet seniors are the ones who need it most.
Do you have an older pet? Tell us their story and any helpful tips by leaving a comment.