Pets of all ages have a lot of love to give — especially older pets whose unsurpassed sense of appreciation and contentment makes for amazing, faithful and loving companions. Since our pets mature differently as compared to us humans, we have to take into consideration the extra care in handling and maintaining their overall wellbeing. We’ve devised some age-old tips on how to help keep your senior pet stay in tip-top shape.
Regular visits to your veterinarian (typically every six months) for thorough check-ups, as well as blood tests, are essential to your pet’s wellbeing — especially as your pet ages. These routine check-ups can help your veterinarian look out for signs of any age-related illnesses at the earliest stage possible so that they can promptly commence treatment if your pet is diagnosed.
As your pet ages their energy levels decrease, which in turn means that they require lesser calories. If your pet is obese, try to limit their meal portions and replace fattening foods with fresh vegetables and high-quality foods instead.
Obesity in pets may contribute to certain diseases such as arthritis from the added stress on your pet’s joints. If your pet is suffering from arthritis or other joint issues, try including supplements such as glucosamine or fish oils in their diet; these can help aid in and improve flexibility and mobility.
Dental problems can be painful, which makes it harder for your senior pet to enjoy mealtimes. If you notice your pet having trouble eating or chewing, try introducing softer foods into their diet.
You should also practice early prevention by brushing your loved one’s teeth regularly, as well as introducing dental treats, dental diets or dental toys designed to help keep their teeth clean and healthy. If you suspect that they might have dental disease — excessive drooling or lack of appetite — consult your veterinarian immediately.
Safety & Accessibility
At home, it’s important to make sure that your senior cats and dogs are comfortable and safe within the confines of your home. If your pet has joint problems, try adding ramps in your home to help your senior pets navigate around the house. Likewise, you could also opt for an orthopaedic bed for your loved ones for the utmost support and comfort.
Many cats and dogs experience vision problems and loss of hearing as they age. Make sure to clear their paths from potentially dangerous objects that may harm them along the way. Alternatively, you could also install pet gates in your home to create a safe space on days that you will not be able to supervise them.
Physical & Mental Stimulation
Maintaining regular, moderate activity and daily playtime with your pet is crucial in promoting your pet’s overall wellbeing. You should, however, make sure that the frequency and duration of physical exercise accommodates your senior pet’s abilities. Look out for signs your dog is tired and take that as an indicator to scale back your dog’s exercise regime. Consult your vet about an appropriate exercise regime and types of exercise for your senior loved ones.
You might also want to continue stimulating your pet’s mind with toys or games that require cognitive stimulation. For cats and dogs, keep plenty of toys handy and engage them in lots of interactive play to keep their minds and bodies working. If not, you could take your seniors out on a ride to new locations so they can explore and take in the foreign sights, sounds and smells. While some senior pets appreciate familiarity, simple things like a new environment can bring some excitement into their lives.
Tender Love & Care
A short belly rub goes a long way in letting your pet know that you love them dearly. As your cat or dog ages, showing them extra attention and affection is critical in maintaining a healthy bond between you and your pet.
Therapeutic massages can also help soothe senior pets with arthritis and provide relief from muscular stiffness and discomfort; while also being equally enjoyable for those without. Each memory you’ve made with your pet is everlasting so make sure to spend more time with your senior ones and immortalise the special bond you have with them.