- Is your dog struggling to play fetch for as long as they used to?
- Is your cat not jumping as high and as easily as they used to?
- Dog finding it harder to get in and out of the car?
- Cat failing to use the litter box?
- Are they having difficulty getting up and downstairs?
- Gone off their food?
Chances are your pet may be getting a bit long in the tooth.
Here are some tips to consider to help care for your senior pet and to make the transition a smooth one into their older years:
Did you know pets need their teeth cared for just like humans? That’s right, without proper dental care, your animals (especially those in their older years) can experience dental disease. It is not uncommon for Vets to find evidence of dental problems in cats and dogs as early as 2 years of age, but this becomes more common as your pet’s age. If your pet’s dental problems go untreated, not only can it cause bad breath and gingivitis, but can lead to heart disease. While bad breath can cause the pet owner some smelly discomfort, gingivitis can cause your pet extreme discomfort leaving them having difficulty eating their meals, resulting in a loss of appetite and ultimately weight loss. Ensure you are providing dental care for your cat and dog’s teeth to help keep their mouth healthy. Dental care doesn’t just mean you have to brush your dog’s teeth, as many pets won’t allow their parent to do this, there are many other alternatives for dental care including water additives, dental treats and simple applications of dental gel that will help keep their teeth clean.
Visit your vet
Regular check-ups for your pet are essential, but it is even more crucial that they are being examined by a vet or pet expert at least annually as they get older. Many illnesses and diseases in animals are not easily detected and it takes a check-up with a professional to assess your pet’s overall health as they get older. Pets cannot tell us when they feel unwell, therefore early detection is the key to prevention.
Exercise your dog
This may be a more difficult task than first expected as your dog is showing signs of slowing down and not able to keep up to their usual exercise routine, but they also need adequate exercise to ensure they maintain a healthy weight and overall wellbeing. This may just mean adjusting their exercise regime to something more age-appropriate for them. Some dogs start to slow down so much as they age, they essentially become couch potatoes and gain weight as a result. Obesity is actually a major health issue in dogs of all ages with senior dogs being even more susceptible to falling into an unhealthy weight range. Exercise is not only good for your dogs’ weight and wellbeing but helps them also maintain healthy joints and muscles.
It is also important that you are tailoring your dog’s exercise needs to his specific requirements, size and breed. Keeping your pet should be active at least once a day to aid in circulation, maintaining muscle tone and in preventing obesity. If your pet is intolerant to their normal long walks, perhaps several smaller walks throughout the day or indoor activities that promote movement and exertion are some better alternatives to keep them active.
Encourage your cat to still play
Exercising your ageing cat is important to help them maintain a healthy weight. Playing with them with their favourite toy is a good way to encourage movement in an older cat. Your cat’s joints and muscles can become more sensitive and sometimes cause them pain as they get older so being mindful of this during playtime will help aid any discomfort for them.
Switching up their diet
Your pet will most likely become less active and lack energy as they age therefore having the ability to store weight more easily due to the decrease in their activity. Now is the time to be reassessing your pet’s diet and having a properly formulated diet implemented with their mature lifestyle as they also experience significant changes in their ability to digest and absorb nutrients as they age. Two of the major problems in older pets are kidney and heart disease. Excess of proteins and salts in your pets’ diet can contribute to these diseases. Consider fortifying your senior furry friend’s diet with fatty acids such as DHA and EPA to help aid with arthritis, mobility issues and other joint diseases. Your local Just For Pets store can help you choose the best food for your pet based on their individual situation.
Assess your pet’s environment
As your companion ages, signs of arthritis might kick in. Your cat or dog may benefit from a softer bed and more blankets to sleep on. There are also some fantastic orthopaedic beds that have been made with senior pets in mind. To make stairs and car access easier for them there are now a range of ramps and pet stairs available. Soft flooring for your pet will aid in comforting arthritis and aging joints and make it easier for them to get around.
Look out for these other early signs of aging in your pet
- Loss of housetraining
- Confusion or disorientation
- Persistent cough
- The appearance of lumps or bumps
- Bad breath, plaque, or bleeding gums
- Diarrhoea or vomiting
- Change in sleep patterns
- Ear odours, redness, scratching, or head shaking
- Excessive drinking and/or urination
If you have any concerns about your aging pet or need further advice please visit your local Vet or your nearest Just For Pets store.