If your pet is in his or her senior years, there are a few things that you want to remember to ensure that they enjoy the best level of well-being. When you know about how pets might change once they reach this age group and about the lifestyle alterations that are important, you can make sure that your pet is always comfortable and living the best life possible.
It is important to note that pets can be considered seniors at different ages. For example, the general consensus is that a cat is in their senior years once they reach nine to 11 years old. However, dogs are a bit different. Certain larger breeds might be considered a senior at age five where small breeds might not be considered a senior until they get to ages eight to 10. Your vet will be able to give you the specifics concerning your pets to help you determine when they get to the senior stage.
Find the Right Products
As pets get older, they can start to develop arthritis or mobility issues just like humans can. Because of this, you want to make sure that the products that they use each day are easily accessible. Raised water and food bowls are a good place to start so that your pet does not have to bend down too far. You also want to ensure that your cat’s litterbox has sides that are not too tall so that climbing in and out is easier for them. Their bed should also follow this guideline so that it is easier to get in and out.
Keep in Contact With Your Vet
Just like with humans, your pets should get a checkup once a year and this is even more important once your pet is considered to be in their senior years. In fact, once your pet is a senior, checkups every six months might be an even better idea. This gives your vet a chance to catch any issues early while also making sure that your pet’s weight and dental health are good. When you are able to catch health issues in their earlier stages, this gives your pet the best shot at a better prognosis.
During the visits, you can also discuss preventative care with your vet. For example, you want to make sure that you are treating for fleas properly and that you are doing everything possible to prevent parasites, such as heart worms. You can also make sure that your pet is up-to-date on their vaccinations. All of these will play a major role in your pet’s general health throughout all stages of their life.
Keep An Eye Out for Cognitive Dysfunction
When you think about cognitive issues, you probably think of humans, but older pets are at risk too. It is important that you know the signs so that you can quickly have your pet evaluated should they occur. The following are considered to be signs of cognitive problems in pets:
Pay attention to your pet’s routine and behavior. Any changes should be discussed with your vet. If your vet feels that cognitive dysfunction is at play, you will likely get a recommendation to see a veterinary neurologist to help determine the best course of treatment.
Treating Your Pet’s Aches and Pains
Just like with humans, pets can develop some aches and pains as they start to get older. However, pets tend to be very good at hiding discomfort, so you really have to pay attention to be able to notice them in most cases. The following are common signs of aches and pains in older pets:
Keep in mind that as pets get older, it is not uncommon for them to slow down a bit. You want to look for more sudden and acute changes in their behavior and activity level. For example, if your dog used to love walks, but no longer wants to go, this is something to report to your vet. Or, if your cat used to love the scratching post, but suddenly ignores it, this means that you want to discuss the change with your vet.
There are treatments that can help with your pet’s aches and pains. These can help to make them more comfortable so that they are able to live a more active life.
Watch Their Diet and Exercise
When pets get older, they tend to not be as active and this can result in weight gain. Excess weight can be problematic for your pet’s total health, so you want to make sure that their diet is ideal for their level of activity. Your vet can give you a number that is ideal for their daily caloric intake. Make sure that you are measuring out their food properly and that you are careful with treats and snacks. If your pet is already overweight once they enter their senior years, your vet can help you to put them on a diet that will be safe and effective.
Your pet will likely slow down with age, but this does not mean that they need no exercise at all. You can find interactive toys, such as balls and chew toys, to help to keep them active. When they are moving around more, this not only helps them to maintain a healthy weight, but it is also good for various aspects of their health, such as the overall health of their joints and their heart health.
With this information, it is easy to see that making sure that your senior pet has what they need is not too difficult. If your pet is not yet a senior, it never hurts to start preparing in advance. This ensures that you are easily able to keep up with their needs concerning health, socialization, comfort and everything in between.
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