Although you can spend time teaching your old dog (or cat) new tricks, make sure to focus on other aspects of your senior pet’s life along with spending quality time with them. We’ve compiled a list of some areas to consider when taking care of an older pet.
Establish a relationship with your vet early on so that as your pet ages, your veterinarian will be able to notice changes that indicate any potential issues. You should also pay attention to any changes in their behavior so you can report back. Animals’ immunity becomes weaker as they get older, making them prone to more ailments. They will need to visit the vet more frequently, and it is recommended that they visit every six months.
A well-balanced diet is important at any stage of your furry friend’s life but plays a larger role in their health as they age. Older animals have less energy and have a greater chance of becoming obese. Find foods that are low in fat and contain fewer calories to help prevent weight gain. Senior pets may also suffer from medical conditions, so consult a veterinarian for guidance on food recommendations for their condition. Be extra mindful of feeding table scraps because this can unbalance their diet.
Mental and Physical Exercise
Keep your old pal in shape by starting slowly with physical exercise. If you need help brainstorming ideas, your vet will have recommendations given the current health and age of your pet. For dogs, you can build stamina with regular walks. For cats, you can use cat trees to encourage climbing and move their litter box and food to add some extra steps to their day. Additionally, you can exercise their mind with stimulating toys like the Coastal Corrugate Dumbell or Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Hide N' Slide.
Regular grooming for older pets includes maintaining oral health along with their coat and skin. Dental care should be performed regularly starting when they are young to prevent painful dental disease and decay during their senior years. Participate in regular brushing, have their teeth professionally cleaned once a year and consider using dental treats and toys.
Especially for dogs, their coat and skin age and can appear dull and brittle. Seniors may also suffer from dry, flaky and irritated skin that can worsen over time. Frequently brush your furry friend and use shampoos that will heal irritated skin and coats if needed.
With age, older animals may have affected mobility due to developing arthritis or other bone and joint problems. In addition, they may have impaired vision. With this in mind, they will have trouble climbing stairs, getting in the car and jumping on the bed or couch. Consider using a ramp or steps for reaching higher surfaces and using a gate to restrict their access to stairs.
Avoid moving furniture, which can confuse blind animals and use nightlights so cats with poor vision can navigate at night. Heated beds can help with achy joints and comfortable resting places will help your pet get a good night’s rest. Carpets, rugs and other non-slip surfaces will help them get up and move around the house with ease.