Just like humans, of course, many factors influence the health and longevity of our pets. Diet, lifestyle, and genetics all influence your pet's health as they age. Here are 10 senior pet care tips to help you give your furry friends the golden years they deserve.
1. Watch for changes in behavior
Your pet can't speak, but her behavior can give you big clues into her health. While an older dog is naturally less active, paying attention to unusual behaviors can help you catch problems early. Look for signs like:
2. Schedule regular vet visits
Your veterinarian can advise you on the best routine, but whether that's every three months or just once per year, it's important to get your pet to the vet. Regular medical exams give you and your pet the advantage in catching age-related health problems.
3. Change their diet
Older pets are less active and therefore need fewer calories. This is especially important as weight gain can lead to or exacerbate a lot of health problems. Again, talk to your vet to determine the best diet for your pet.
4. Keep moving
Like humans, dogs need regular exercise as part of their senior pet care program. Your dog might not jump the way she used to, and she might not chase the frisbee like before, but movement keeps the joints healthy, the weight down, and the mental stimulation going.
5. Look for signs of arthritis
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, arthritis is a common ailment in older pets. Contact your vet if you notice any of these symptoms for an extended period:
Your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatories, but you can also make accommodations to ease your pet's pain, such as special diets or low-impact exercise.
It's important to note that you should never give your pet over-the-counter human pain medications unless specifically prescribed by your vet.
6. Make your home senior pet-friendly
Your dog may not be able to get around as easily as before, but you can make changes to their surroundings that can help them.
7. Be patient
Pet MD points out that senior pets "may experience loss of sight and/or hearing." Give them extra time to get around the house or out on walks.
8. Help them stay clean
As your dog ages, she may have trouble keeping herself clean and groomed. Assist her in keeping her teeth clean by brushing them regularly. Use a brush to gently keep her fur neat and clean. The bonus is that this is also a good time for the two of you to bond and enjoy each other's company.
9. Be aware of the signs of cognitive dysfunction
As your dog ages, she may become confused and anxious. Other common signs of cognitive dysfunction include:
You can help them by keeping a strict schedule of activities, such as feeding, walking, and bedtimes. Anti-anxiety medication may also be helpful.
10. Focus on the quality of life
Your pet may not be able to go on those long hikes anymore, but she can still enjoy her senior years. You know your pet (and what she'd like) better than anyone. Give her extra cuddle time on the couch. Buy her favorite treats. Talk to her more often. Your dog's later years can be beautiful. And the more quality time you can spend together, the better her quality of life will be.