Just as we as humans change as we get older, so too do our pets. This also means that the care we need to provide for our pets as they get older could be significantly different, and as conscientious pet owners, it’s important that we know what we need to do to support them. With this is in mind, here are our top tips to help you adapt to the changing needs of your senior pet.
One of the best ways to care for your senior pet is to make regular trips to see your veterinarian. Routine check-ups and dental appointments allow you to steadily monitor your pet’s health and ensure any issues are addressed early on before they can have a severe impact on your pet’s health or quality of life. Your vet can offer you essential advice on how to best care for your pet to ensure that they remain happy and healthy.
Sore and arthritic joints are a common problem among older pets, and a soft, comfortable bed somewhere warm and quiet can provide them the support they need to get a good night’s sleep. It’s also a good idea to keep a bowl of water nearby so that your pet can avoid any unnecessary trips around the house if they are suffering from joint problems.
Staying active is a great way for your pet to avoid piling on the pounds as their metabolism naturally gets slower with advancing age. Excessive weight gain can lead to medical issues later on, so it’s important to manage their diet accordingly and provide them with regular exercise tailored to suit their age and ability. Your vet can advise you about the changing nutritional needs of your pet and recommend the best diet for them to follow.
It’s important to keep your pet’s skin, coat, and nails healthy at every age, including when they reach their senior years. Regular baths can be beneficial for many pets but take extra care not to dry their skin out. Since less exercise generally means that their nails won’t be worn down as much as before, it’s a good idea to schedule regular trims or carry them out yourself. Grooming their coat often will help to remove any dirt, dry skin, and dead hairs and will stimulate their blood flow – something which is good for all animals. And don’t forget to use this opportunity to check their skin and body for any unusual lumps or bumps which could require further investigation by your vet.
It’s important to keep your senior pet’s brain active too, as the cognitive decline is a common problem among older animals. A variety of toys to play with stimulates their brain and provides them with plenty of entertainment. Some toys, like balls and frisbees, can help keep your pet active, while others like food puzzles, support weight loss too.
There are things you can change in your home to make it a safer environment for your senior pet too. In keeping your floors free from clutter, a senior pet with limited mobility, sight or hearing problems is less likely to slip and fall as they make their way through the house. Carpeted floors allow your pet to gain footing more easily than on slippery hardwood floorboards and installing pet ramps can make stairs easier for your pet to navigate.
As important as your pet’s physical health may be, it’s equally as important that they are cared for emotionally too. Keeping a consistent routine can improve your pet’s emotional wellbeing as well as their physical health. As their senses start to deteriorate, it’s wise to avoid sudden loud noises or approaching your pet too quickly as this could cause them stress and confusion. It’s important to be patient with your pet as you both adjust to these changes and enjoy your time together.
For more advice on how to take care of your senior pet, don’t hesitate to speak to our dedicated veterinary team.