Your pet has been with you a long time, and that’s a wonderful thing. But as your pet ages, you will need to make some adjustments to their care. Read on for a few tips and tricks to keep your senior pet happy and healthy as long as possible, presented below by TheEyeCreative.
Defining a Senior Pet
Most veterinarians agree that pets reach their senior stage around seven years of age for cats and small dogs and around six years of age for larger dogs. Their behavior will vary by animal, of course. Some pets remain active much longer than others and have fewer health problems. Others, due to past experiences, breed, and general health, may age more quickly. Your vet can help you decide when your pet has entered into the geriatric range.
Making Sure Your Senior Pet Has Proper Nutrition
Older pets generally have changing nutritional needs. They may not need as many calories if they aren’t as active. Your pet may also have to eat special food to aid digestion or keep a health issue or disorder in check. Your vet can guide you about what food to give your senior pet. Be aware that special foods do cost more, so budget for that. You’ll also want to introduce your pet to a new food gradually, mixing it with their usual food at first and then slowly increasing the proportion of new food to old.
Exercising Your Senior Pet
Just because your pet is getting older doesn’t mean they no longer need exercise. In fact, exercise becomes even more important. Keep your cat active with some extra play time with a favorite toy. Take your dog for walks as always, but be aware that you might have to shorten the distance. Take a look at a Walk Score map to find the best local walking areas. You may also invest in a dog treadmill if your dog just doesn’t have the stamina to walk outside or play at the dog park. Be sure to get a treadmill that is the right size for your dog, and account for weight limits, speed, and noise.
Setting Up the Right Environment for Your Senior Pet
You’ll also have to make some environmental adjustments for your pet. Use ramps to allow your pet to access favorite places, and move food and water dishes, the litter box, and your pet’s bed to more convenient locations. You may even have to elevate your pet’s dishes so they don’t have to bend so far to reach them.
Lastly, ramps can help with certain mobility problems by providing a gentle slope that senior pets can use to navigate stairs and other obstacles. Ramps can be made from a variety of materials, and they can be easily installed in most homes. Read up on different products to ensure you’re getting the right one.
Watching for Warning Signs
Finally, as your pet ages, you must be on the watch for warning signs of health problems. Pay special attention to your cat’s litter box habits, for instance. If they aren’t using the box properly, call the vet for advice. Watch for stumbling, changed eating or drinking behaviors, and a lack of grooming. These can be signs of an issue that needs to be addressed. You should also watch for signs of stress such as frequent biting or scratching or appearing overly submissive or aggressive.
Loving Your Senior Pet
You may face some challenges as your pet ages. So, make sure they get plenty of exercise, use ramps to help them with mobility issues, and be aware of health-related warning signs. They may be getting up in age, but with some love and care, they can share many more years with you!