Caring for a senior pet isn’t always easy, but it is an essential aspect of being a responsible pet parent. Of course, aging includes many changes for our pets, including diet, mobility, lack of interest, and possible decrease in energy levels among aging pets. Here are some tips for caring for your senior pet during their transition into their golden years.
Consider Mobility Aids
Senior dogs often lose the ability to jump onto their favorite spot on the couch. Older cats may have difficulty scaling a scratching post. Consider offering your aging pet some help to get where they want to go with a set of steps, carpet optional, that can certainly help make your pet’s favorite places more accessible once again. If pain, arthritis, or other issues stop them from climbing or jumping, providing stairs or other means of support could help your pet get around more easily. Orthopedic equipment is also available for dogs, with everything from harnesses to a full set of wheels to keep them on their feet. There are also other medical options to help with easing the pain, especially associated with joint pain, such as adequan injections. Consult with your local veterinarian to learn more about it.
Get Outdoors Together
Even in their senior years, pets still enjoy fresh air and feeling of the wind blowing through their fur. For bigger dogs, a pet stroller or even a set of wheels can help them get outside if they become more immobile with age. Although some cats tend to be happy running around as outdoor pets, aging and poor health may require them to transition to indoor living.
For cats who enjoy roaming around outside, but can no longer do so independently, a pet backpack can be a great solution. Even for independent kitties, a bag or backpack is a helpful way to adapt to mobility challenges and get your pet to the places that they need to be.
Choose a cat-friendly backpack carrier that is large enough for your pet to sit comfortably inside. Look for durable construction, nothing that can rip or be chewed through, with plenty of ventilation. The right carrier can prevent injuries and give your pet a better quality of life.
Incorporate Diet and Lifestyle Changes
Just like humans, your pet’s overall routine may need to change as he or she ages. Advanced age is one reason to take a closer look at your pet’s daily habits. Consider changing your pet’s food to one for mature animals. You may want to think about adding supplements to your pet’s meals, but ask your veterinarian for advice on any changes or possible added medications.
If your pet is overweight, it’s not too late to begin exercising together. Overweight animals can develop health issues such as diabetes, heat intolerance, immune problems, arthritis, and even cancer. Changing your pets habits early could give your pet a chance at an extended, higher quality of life.
Furthermore, cutting back on extra treats, taking a daily short walk, and playing together are also excellent ways to help your pet achieve it's best health.
Don’t Share Table Scraps
Although pet owners want to share everything wonderful in life with their cats and dogs, human treats aren’t always ideal. When it comes to table scraps, there are many human dishes that aren’t healthy for pets. Feeding your pet table scraps can contribute to weight problems or even illness with symptoms that include vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, or, in more extreme cases, death.
Fatty foods can also create health problems in all pets, not just senior ones. If you do share treats with your pet, be sure you are sharing the right snacks. According to My Pet, only specific human foods such as lean meat without bones or skin, some raw or cooked vegetables without sauce or spices, and plain peanut butter as sparingly as possible sparingly.
In general, you should keep regular treats free of oils, salt, fat, and additives. Dogs also shouldn’t eat cooked bones, as they present a choking hazard or could splinter and result in costly veterinary bills.
Schedule Regular Vet Visits
Cats and small dogs are considered geriatric pets once they turn seven, while larger breed dogs tend to age faster. Unfortunately, older pets, even ones in generally good health, can develop age-related problems.
Health conditions such as heart disease, joint and bone problems, kidney issues, and overall weakness are common in senior pets. To help keep your aging pet as healthy as possible, schedule regular veterinary visits for wellness checks. NOVA Pets Health Center offers wellness plan packages to offer your elderly pet everything they may need for 12 months without having to pay each time you walk into the clinic.
Your vet can check your pet’s vital signs, monitor weight, and answer any questions about pets aging and health projections. Experts at the American Veterinary Medical Foundation recommend semi-annual vet visits for older pets instead of annual check ups to better track your pet’s health.
Taking care of your pet is important, and it becomes more so as your furry companion reaches their senior years. To ensure you and your pet have many years left for adventures, be sure to follow the steps above to enrich and strengthen their lives.
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