How to Keep Your Senior Pet Going Strong
It seems like only yesterday that they were just a puppy or kitten, a mischievous but clingy ball of fur desperately in need of all the love and attention you could give them. Now they’re older, and they need that devotion from you now more than ever.
Like humans, pets increase in strength, speed, and intelligence as they grow into adults, when they require little in the way of care other than food, water, and some exercise to stay fit. And when it comes to loyalty and companionship, they often give more than they receive.
But also like humans, they’re health begins to decline in old age. Not only do they lose some of that vigor they had when younger, dogs and cats become susceptible to arthritis, cancer, and cognitive dysfunction. If you want to help them ward off those conditions and continue living in comfort, you need to take action. Here’s how.
Your canine companion or feline friend is not as quick as they once were, so give them time to make their way to the food bowl, walk down the stairs, or come inside when playtime is over. They may need it since their bones and muscles have grown weaker with age, making running and playing more difficult than it once was.
Watch Their Behavior
When your critter is in pain, you’ll know it — if you pay attention. Dogs often signal distress through whining, howling, whimpering or yelping. As for cats, they’ll meow or purr incessantly, then often hiss or growl when you come near. You should also be alarmed by any decrease in appetite or lack of interest in playing with you.
Keep Them Active
As with humans, older dogs and cats tend to gain weight, which can frequently lead to other serious health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Although they may not be as fast to fetch or frisky with a ball of yarn, your furry friend does need to keep moving on the regular to burn off excess fat and maintain muscle tone.
Tickle Their Brain
This is mainly to ward off cognitive decline, though mind games are fun in themselves for dogs and cats alike. It’s not very hard to get them off and running with a round of hide-and-seek or a spirited treasure hunt, as long as there are some special treats involved in the game. Remember to keep it simple so they’re not discouraged.
Change Their Diet
Let’s talk about those snacks you give them. You should keep these treats light, as the metabolism of cats and dogs slows down with age, in much the same way as humans. Felines, however, do require more protein after they pass seven years, and your woofer might require a senior diet, but that often depends on their size and breed.
Brush Their Teeth
Brushing their teeth prevents periodontal disease, which plagues the vast majority of dogs over the age of 3, often causing them to lose some of their teeth. Although that’s painful enough as it is, the resulting build-up of bacteria in the gums often spreads to the bloodstream, causing more serious health conditions that can be deadly to senior dogs.
Improve Mobility at Home
Improving mobility around the house often means making a few modifications for them to get around more easily. According to Scampering Paws, placing ramps or shallow stairs near couches and beds so that your senior dog or cat can get up and down more easily without putting undue strain on their fragile bones and weakened muscles.
Visit the Vet More Often
Once a year is fine for adult dogs and cats, but they’ll need to be seen more frequently in old age for a physical exam as well as updates on vaccinations, a blood count, and urinalysis, according to a writer with the Independent. Doing so will allow you to detect health conditions early and begin treatment as soon as possible.
With that little bit of extra effort, your senior pet will enjoy many more years in your company, and you’ll grow even closer during that time. Take comfort in their love and affection because there’s nothing else like it in the world.
Image via Pixabay