We all know that aging is simply part of life, even for our pets. And with that, it’s important to understand that just like us, as our pets age, they have different care requirements. Their bones aren’t as strong, eyesight can become limited, they can even become prone to different illnesses their younger selves didn’t have to worry about.
Senior pets face a great deal of change. But, it doesn’t mean that they can’t age in comfort and grace. Older pets still have many wonderful years ahead. Your job, as their caretaker, is simply to help them face their golden years with the same health-focused attention as you did when they were younger.
It’s all about being proactive and taking care to watch out for those early signs of aging so that you can get ahead of any potential hurdles your pet could face down the road. So, let’s look at some tips that can help you keep your beloved companion happy and healthy for many years to come:
- Diet Adjustments – When it comes to pets, an age-appropriate, balanced, nutritious diet is essential at every stage of life. It’s the first step toward maintaining optimum health for your four-legged companion, and this is especially true in those later years. As pets age, they tend to become less mobile; they’re not as spry and energetic as they once were. This means that they’re at higher risk of becoming obese. So, making dietary adjustments, with the advisement of your veterinarian, is key to ensuring they maintain a healthy caloric intake.
- Exercise – Regular exercise is essential to your pet’s overall well-being. Not only will this help combat the effects of weight gain, it continues to stimulate the mind and muscles so that your pet doesn’t give into those lower energy levels and just lay around the house. Even if your pet suffers from the effects of joint deterioration or some of the other many effects of aging, you can still form an exercise routine for them. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations based on their individual limitations and needs.
- Grooming – Older pets often aren’t able to groom in the same way as when they were younger due to mobility issues and pain. But, as pets age, so do their skin and coats. So, get in the habit of regular grooming sessions. Take time to bathe and brush them for both their comfort and well-being and to keep an eye out for any new skin developments that might require veterinary attention (e.g. flaky or irritated skin).
- Lifestyle Adjustments – Senior pets may require special accommodations, especially those suffering from joint pain affecting mobility. It may become harder for them to jump or climb into beds, so be sure to bring the comforts they crave right to them. Make sure they have soft bedding they can easily access. If their food and water bowls require them to go up or down stairs, move them to a place where they don’t have to take as many steps, or consider building a ramp. For pets suffering from vision impairment, make sure pathways are clear for easy navigation.
- Checkups – Most senior pets will require more frequent veterinary checkups, about every six months (depending on their condition). Just like humans, their immune systems become weaker with age, and they’re more prone to all sorts of conditions, ailments, and even injuries. Routine checkups can help combat these realities and ensure early diagnosis and care for those who are suffering.
Aging can be a strange and sometimes scary process, even for our pets. So, the most important thing is to share your love with them. Spend time with your senior pet, and let them know that you are there to help and comfort them. Remember, even if they start to seem disinterested, they still require your presence and attention to remain emotionally healthy. And, with a few adjustments to their care routine, you can help them continue to live their happiest life for many years to come.