Caring For Your Aging Pet
Aging in pets happens. We all know that bringing home a fluffy kitten or bouncing puppy can be a momentous event and that will entail changes and lifestyle adjustments for everyone involved. What is often overlooked, however, are the adjustments necessary to properly care for an aging pet. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association cats and small dogs are considered seniors at the age of 7 while larger dog breeds enter their geriatric years at age 6. Just like in people, there are many small changes that can be made to help ease some of the stressors a beloved puppy or kitten might encounter as they enter their twilight years.
Diet And Exercise for Older Pets
One of the most important considerations for older cats and dogs is their diet and body condition. Consider switching your dog or cat to a diet made specifically for senior pets and consult your veterinarian about your pet’s body condition. Having an appropriate weight can play a large role in joint health and general well-being. Also, ongoing exercise is great for older pets but be aware that stamina and energy may decrease even if their desire to please and keep going the extra mile won’t. It will be up to you as their pet parent to make sure they stop an activity when they should but that shouldn’t mean that your favorite game of fetch or chase the feather is off limits.
Veterinarians Are Important
Another great way to ensure the health of a senior pet is to take them to a veterinarian for regular visits. A veterinarian can monitor the health or your cat or dog and make recommendations for any necessary changes in diet, exercise, or extra supplementation to address specific issues such as joint pain or skin and coat dullness. Regular health exams also play a vital role in catching issues like kidney or heart disease early enough to initiate preventive treatment. Older pets can also be more susceptible to diabetes or certain cancers and a veterinarian can help detect and treat these and other similar diseases that threaten to shorten your time with your beloved companion.
Dental health is another often overlooked area. Periodontal disease in dogs and cats can be just a big a risk as it is in people, causing detrimental changes to heart, liver, and kidney muscles. Though prevention for dental issues should start before a pet is technically considered a senior, continued vigilance in the dental hygiene of older cats and dogs is crucial to their health. More information about dental care can be found here.
If you are ever in doubt about how to care for an aging companion you should not hesitate to contact your local veterinarian. The more information you have the better prepared you will be to make your friend’s transition into old age as easy and comfortable as possible. We all want as many wonderful years as possible with our furry friends and a few small changes are all it takes to ensure as many happy moments as possible with them.