Like humans, there are many phases and milestones within the lives of our pets. For example, your pet has their youth, middle, and senior life stages. Similarly, important milestones for your pet might include their birthday, “gotcha” day for adopted animals, dates they overcame certain illnesses and disease, and so on.
If you are like most pet parents, odds are that you will want to care for your furry friend at all milestones and stages of their life, including their golden years. Keep reading to see five must know tips to help senior pets stay healthy in their golden years!
Your pet’s diet is an important determinant for their health. As they age, their nutritional needs will change. Hence, it is a good idea to reexamine your aging pet’s diet. For instance, elderly cats and dogs tend to require more protein to help them build and support their muscles. Not to mention, your four legged friend’s jaws and teeth can become more sensitive as they grow older. Senior pet food blends accommodate this and can help to prevent and alleviate your pet’s oral pain discomfort when it comes to eating.
Looking into the best senior dog foods and the best senior cat foods is a great start to ensuring your furry friend stays happy and healthy in their golden years! Overall, each pet has different needs as they age, so you should consult with your veterinarian before you switch your furry friend’s food.
In addition to examining your pet’s diet, you should also bring them to the veterinarian more frequently as they get older. In general, whether your pet is young or an adult, they should go to the vet once a year for a check-up. However, once your dog or cat becomes a pet, they should go to the vet for a check-up twice a year.
Different kinds and breeds of pets enter their golden years at different times. Small dogs are considered to be elderly once they are 11 years old. Likewise, medium sized dogs are said to be seniors when they turn 10 years old. Larger breeds when they turn 8, and giant dog breeds are said to be classified as senior pets when they are 7. As for felines, they are seniors when they reach the 11 year mark.
It is important that you bring your elderly pet to the veterinarian twice a year for a routine check-up because your pet could be living with an ailment or disease without showing any physical signs. When you bring your furry companion to the veterinarian they will be able to monitor their weight, check their eyes, check their teeth and gums, check their ears, give them recommendations for vaccinations, and so on. Conversely, if you notice an abnormality in your furry friend, you should bring them to the veterinarian right away and not wait until your scheduled appointment.
Another great tip to keep your geriatric cat or dog healthy is to know the physical and mental symptoms that come with aging. When your furry friend enters their golden years, their memory will begin to fade just like a human’s mind. For instance, they might start to forget commands they learned when they were young, and they could even have trouble remembering people they have met before.
Other common behavioral and mental signals you should be on the lookout for include increased barking or meowing, difficulty sleeping, peeing inside, and increased shaking and anxiety. It is important to note that these can be more common for certain elderly pets compared to others. In addition, if you notice that your cat or dog exhibits these signs consistently and not occasionally, you should bring them to the veterinarian right away.
When your furry friend is in their golden years, they will need extra care to keep them living their best life, especially when they are near the end of the road. After all, geriatric cats and dogs tend to need more medications, can have scary emergencies, and require additional care. These can really add up, so pet insurance is a great way to care for your aging cat or dog if you need help with vet bills. If something serious were to happen to your longtime companion, you will want to focus on the care they need without facing the restrictions of costs!
If your pet is older, you might have noticed a decline in their energy levels. This is normal, but it is still important to make sure your aging cat or dog stays active and gets the proper amount of physical exercise they need each day. In general, older cats and dogs should try to get between 30 minutes and an hour of exercise each day.
It can be a challenge to encourage your senior pet to exercise, but there are many fun ways to get your pet to be more active. The most obvious way is your daily walk because most dogs love to walk as it is, along with some cats! Another great way to encourage your pet to stay active is to play fetch with them. This activity is great because all you need is outdoor space and pet-friendly tennis balls. Similarly, playing tug with your pet’s favorite toy is another fun and physical activity that really works your cat or dog’s jaw muscles. Coming up with exciting ways that facilitate exercise is not a challenging task, but making the time to walk, play fetch, tug, pet hide-and-seek, etc. is where most pet owners fall short.
Lastly, keeping your aging pet mentally stimulated can go a long way when it comes to your furry friend’s health. Mental stimulation is important for your cat or dog because it helps to eliminate boredom, while increasing happiness and wellbeing. Not to mention, challenging your pet’s mind can help them build more confidence and even increase their intelligence.
There are many ways that you can keep your four legged friend mentally stimulated. Pet puzzles that contain a treat in them are exceptional for challenging your four legged friend’s intellect and preventing boredom. On the other hand, hiding treats around your home for your pet to find not only makes them engage their senses, but it also helps them to get exercise. For example, if your dog is laying downstairs, hide some delicious dog treats upstairs in the locations they normally stay away from. You will be shocked at how good their nose is at picking up distant scents. Finally, one of the best ways to keep your aging pet healthy is through socialization. Simply allowing your cat or dog to interact with others can help their brain stay in tip-top shape!
Your pet is an integral part of your family. It is important that you take care of them throughout each stage of their life, especially when they are in their senior years. Following the tips above is a solid start to making sure you have as much time as possible to continue to do all the fun things you and your pet love!
Lori Davidson is Co-founder of Pet Perennials and mom to senior cat, Snookie along with his little sister, Pumpkin. Nutrition is important in the senior cat world, and Snookie has struggled with GI issues as he ages. He's now on a diet of fish based foods, as he has developed allergies to anything with chicken, red meats, or pork as part of the ingredients.
"We've tried Rx foods, and an elimination diet for months (kangaroo based cat food), all to arrive at the conclusion we must never vary his wet food regime."
Monthly trips to the vet can be expensive, so if this is an issue please check with various options for financial help with the vet bills. We'd be interested to know what issues your senior pets have faced as they age. Dealing with seniors can be a challenge. They've been loyal and loved us their entire lives. We owe it to them to provide a safe and healthy environment, and support their needs as they travel through their senior years.
Pets are family.
PetPerennials.com offers thoughtful and unique gifts to honor a pet's memory when they've crossed the Rainbow Bridge. We also offer fun milestone gifts for gotcha days, birthdays, get well, marriage, new baby.. etc. Don't miss an opportunity to celebrate their journey!