How to Care for an Elderly Pet
If you have a pet that’s reaching her senior years, you need to be observant of any changes in her eating habits as well as any physical or behavioral changes. As a caring, responsible pet owner, you’ll want to make your pet’s senior years as enjoyable and comfortable as possible. Knowing how to care for an elderly pet is essential.
Exercise for Elderly Pets
Aging dogs can benefit from exercise as long as it’s compatible with the dog’s ability. If you notice your dog resisting during a long walk, it may be due to pain. Reduce the distance of your daily walks, and walk more often. Let your dog set the pace.
If you have an older cat that has become sedentary, introduce some new toys, hide treats in toys to make her work for it, or spend some time each day in interactive play with your cat. Sticks with feathers are a great interactive toy.
Health Concerns for Aging Pets
For your senior pet to live as comfortably as possible, she needs regular veterinary care. Having an established relationship with an animal hospital near you will help assure that your senior pet’s health is being monitored so that health problems can be prevented or treated quickly. You’ll likely be the first person to notice changes in your pet’s behavior, eating habits, grooming habits or mobility. Relaying as much information as possible to the ve4t regarding your observations will be helpful.
You may want to switch from adult dog food or cat food to senior food so that your pet gets the nutrition she needs in her senior years. In general, older dogs and cats need a low-calorie diet. Senior pets are less active and have a slower metabolic rate, and continuing to feed them the same food you fed them when they were active can lead to obesity which can cause a myriad of health problems in your pet.
Orthopedic pet beds can help keep your elderly dog or cat more comfortable. If your pet begins acting strangely such as not coming when you call her, getting a little disoriented from time to time, or becoming unnaturally fearful, it could be that they are experiencing hearing or vision loss. Your vet can do an assessment, and if your pet is losing sight or hearing, you can make adjustments to the home environment to make it more comfortable. Never let a hearing-impaired or sight-impaired pet outside your home unless he’s on a leash. Talk louder or move close to him when you’re trying to get his attention. Don’t rearrange the furniture or change the location of your pet’s feeding station or a cat’s litter box. Pet ramps are an excellent way to make life easier for pets with mobility problems.
Your pet has been your companion through good times and bad. Show her how much you love her by making her senior years as pleasant as possible.
Guest Author: Dixie Somers (see BIO below)