The worst part about pet ownership is that our beloved cats and dogs never live long enough. As their golden years draw near, it’s time to think about how you can best preserve their health and maintain their quality of life. Here are four guidelines to follow as your aging pet’s health care needs change.
#1: Protect your senior pet’s joint health by supporting their mobility
As your pet ages, their joints inevitably will deteriorate, making it more difficult to navigate stairs, slick surfaces, and furniture. Help your furry pal reach their favorite spots with ease by providing:
- Carpet runners on slippery floors
- Stairs or ramps up to furniture
- Orthopedic beds
Your senior pet also will appreciate an elevated food and water stand to avoid crouching down on painful elbows to reach their bowls. Additionally, older cats will be less likely to eliminate inappropriately if you switch to a low-sided litter box.
#2: Provide optimal nutrition for your senior pet
While proper nutrition is essential for your pet at any age, the golden years require a unique diet to keep your furry pal in tip-top shape. Many senior pet diets have reduced calories to prevent weight gain as metabolism slows, antioxidants to fight free radicals, and omega-3 fatty acids to support joint health. If your older pet has developed a chronic health condition, like kidney or liver disease, a specially formulated prescription diet can be a beneficial part of a treatment plan.
#3: Engage in daily enrichment activities with your senior pet
Cognitive dysfunction is a common issue seen in senior pets, although many pet owners believe it is a normal aging change. Declining cognitive function can impair your bond with your senior pet, however, and cause them to become fearful, irritable, or restless at night, or eliminate in your home. Keep your furry pal’s mind sharp by engaging in regular interactive play, like training sessions, hunting for treats, and walks in new places.
#4: Invest in regular veterinary care for your senior pet
Senior pets are more likely to rapidly develop illness, which makes more frequent veterinary visits crucial for catching a disease in its early stages. Ideally, senior pets should have biannual wellness exams and be seen more often if they have a chronic health condition.