Once your pet reaches the age of 7, for dogs, and 10 for cats they are now considered a senior. Things that must change once they get to this age including diet & supplements, exercise, medical care and much more.
Educating yourself on senior pet needs is crucial to help them live comfortably through their later years. First let’s list some of the issues we see in senior pets, as these are the driving factors for the changes that need to be made. The main ones are mobility issues, brain dysfunction, kidney and liver disease, cancer, diabetes, hormone problems, and heart abnormalities. Just like humans, as our pets age, their health declines.
Diet & Supplements
Many veterinary-grade diets have been scientifically proven to be therapeutic to animals that suffer from most of the conditions that were listed above, and most are available in feline and canine diets. Therapeutic diets are helpful but sometimes additional supplements need to be given, for example, pets with mobility issues greatly benefit from these. A great supplement is green-lipped muscles; they are an excellent natural source for joint support.
Mobility, or the ability to walk around with comfort, is a major factor that comes into play when you have a senior pet. You may have to lower the areas where you cat likes to nap or start taking shorter walks with your dogs. Exerting themselves too much can cause them to be very painful afterwards.
There are many orthopedic beds available on the market. These are very helpful for senior pets because they are more firm which helps them to have a stable surface to get up on.
Teeth and gums become much more fragile as pets age, so buying them special senior toys can help if your pet’s gums are looking irritated after some toy fun. Good examples are plush toys or toys made of a softer plastic. It makes it easier for your pet to chew with significantly less discomfort. There are also many toys on the market that can help with brain dysfunction. These toys are often problem-solving feeders that make your pet sniff out the treat and think about how to access it.
Regular blood work is a must for senior dogs. Catching any disease at an early stage can significantly improve their quality of life for much longer. Since pets cannot tell us how they feel, and often hide signs of discomfort, we rely on diagnostics such as blood work, x-rays, and ultrasounds to give us the answers. Be prepared to have to purchase medications. If, or when, a disease is diagnosed, seniors are usually put on a drug long term to help them feel better; this could be as hormonal disorders, arthritis, heart disease and the many others. Watch out for lumps and bumps that are turning up; it’s always a good idea to have your vet check them out to make sure they are not dangerous for your pet.
Preventative medicine is the best medicine, and that goes for seniors as well, ensuring they are taken care of in their old age is our responsibility as pet owners and is what they deserve after all the years of joy they have given us.
Written by Kaitlyn Sammut VA