Having a pet is a great responsibility. You need to make sure your pet is healthy and happy. When your pet is younger, it is full of energy. As your pet gets older you need to change how you care for it. The simplest things can become challenging for your senior pet. The things that you need to consider for your aging pet is food, exercise, health and basic needs.
As your pet gets older, you will start to see signs. These signs may include walking slower, trouble getting up, not eating bones or hard food, urinary problems or trouble getting in and out of a car. You need to look for the signs in your aging pet so you can make the necessary changes to make your pet happier.
Adjusting Diet for Senior Pets
As your pet becomes older, it may have trouble eating the harder foods. One of the problems with a senior pet is its teeth become softer and more brittle. Continuing to feed your pet hard food may cause broken teeth or pain when eating. You can help your pet by changing to a softer food. You may decide to purchase the pre-packaged soft foods or you may want to make the soft food yourself. If you chose to make the food yourself, you need to be conscious of your pet’s nutrition. You must make sure your pet is getting all the nutrients it needs.
A Different Type of Exercise
A younger pet can run, jump and play for long periods of time. The energy seems never ending. But with an older pet you need to be aware of the limitations. These limitations may not only be physical but also relate to your pet’s endurance. Your pet may only last for a few minutes before becoming exhausted. Remember not to push your pet to continue to play. If it keeps trying to sit or lie down while playing, have some down time. You might want to structure your pet’s exercise time in small increments but more often. Instead of playing for a half hour or more like when it was younger, do five minutes at a time with a ten minute break in between exercises.
Another thing is if you and your pet ran together, you need to change that run to a walk. You need to keep an eye on how well your pet is walking. As it ages walking long distances may become an issue and your pet may start limping or just stop walking. If you notice your pet having difficulties walking, reduce the length of the walk and increase the frequency. For example, in the past you would walk around the block twice but now you just walk to the corner and back in the morning and evening. More frequent, shorter walks still allow your pet to get its exercise but also give them a needed break in between.
Just like humans, when your pet gets older, they may have health issues like loss of hearing or vision, blood sugar problems and heart conditions. Some of these conditions require medications while others require adjustments to your living arrangements.
If your senior pet is having trouble seeing, it will start bumping into furniture or tripping over things while walking. You can help protect your pet by making sure area rugs or runners are secure, steps have gates, sharp corners have covers and there are no slippery walkways. If hearing is the problem, make sure you are constantly talking to your pet. This gives your pet an idea where you are and help to assure that you do not startle him or her.
Another health concern may include your pet’s hygiene. As your pet becomes older, they may develop bad breath or other odors. To keep your pet healthy, you need to begin brushing its teeth more frequently and adding more baths to keep him or her clean. If you increase the number of baths, you will want to pay attention to your pet’s skin condition as well so you do not dry it out. You want to use a very mild soap or shampoo.
Changes in Basic Needs
A senior pet has different basic need requirements. These basic needs change from the ability to go up and down stairs to needing a ramp. Your pet may require urination pads in the house because he or she can no longer wait as long to go outside.
Other Articles from our Blog that you may find helpful:
- The Importance of Blood Work for your Senior Pet
- Senior pet Health – What you need to Know and Do
- The Life Stages of a Dog: What to Expect
For more information about senior pets and their care, contact our team at Longview Animal Hospital. We are here to help you with the best care possible for your aging pet.