Caring for Elderly and Senior Pets: A Guide for Pet Parents
Just like humans, elderly and senior pets need special care. The age from which a pet is considered elderly depends upon multiple factors, such as breed, size, and health. Larger dogs age early as compared to their smaller companions. However, cats are considered senior from the age of 11. After 15, they are super seniors, while their lifespan can even go up to 30 years. Pet parents need to understand when their pets are approaching their aging years. It will help them in providing the best care to these furry friends. If you are a pet parent, you can find out how you can provide a happy and contented life to your senior pet. Continue reading!
Signs of Old Age in Pets
It’s not enough to know the age of your pet in years. You must also watch out for signs of old age. Notice changes in their sleeping pattern, walking speed, signals of tiredness, etc. Elder pets may start sleeping more, become easily tired, and walk slowly.
Senior pets require an entirely different treatment compared with tiny pups, even if they are the same breed. For example, German Shepherd puppies require a completely different care regimen as compared to older German Shepherds.
Whether it is exercise, food, grooming, or litter habits, everything is different in old age, and you must cater to it. Let’s check out what the basic needs of these elderly furry friends are:
Regular Health Checkups
Since senior pets are more prone to diseases, regular checkups from a licensed vet are important. Always make an appointment in advance so that you never get into trouble in case of an emergency.
The most imperative requirement of an elder pet is high-quality food. Treat him with the best nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. You can also take a diet chart from the vet and follow it. Make sure to get cat or dog food that is of the highest quality.
Even older pets require companionship and bonding. Unlike the mid-years, it’s recommended not to leave your pet for 5 or more hours.
Health issues are common in old age. Fortunately, there are treatment and management options for many common health problems. Be it an arthritis issue or urinary incontinence, you can help your pet with the guidance of a veterinarian. Read below to understand some of these common health issues:
Arthritis and Mobility Issues
As the pet reaches old age, he will find it difficult to go for long walks. Pain in joints is common, and he may routinely feel lethargic. However, you can take these steps for bringing comfort in his life:
- Put out multiple water bowls - Keeping your senior pet hydrated is important. For this, you can put multiple water bowls throughout the house. This will provide easy access to water, no matter where in the house your pet is resting.
- Raise the food bowl - Lowering the head for eating food can be difficult for older pets. Therefore, let them eat with ease by raising the bowl. You can get a bowl stand for them easily from a pet shop.
- Soft bedding - Stiff joints need soft bedding and comfort. So, change your pet’s bed and go for the one specifically designed for pets with arthritis issues. You should also get them the most comfortable dog crate furniture, complete with padding and rounded edges.
- Supplements and Medication - Your vet might prescribe supplements, such as joint support supplements, for your senior dog. Your vet may also prescribe medication if the pet is in pain. However, it’s important not to give your pet any medication without first consulting your veterinarian.
- No-slip socks and toe grips - Pets with arthritis and mobility issues can face severe problems if they slip on the floor. Toe grips and slip socks are available for additional safety.
Bladder issues are common in senior pets. Be it a dog or a cat, urinary incontinence is likely to occur in old age. Some common reasons for this problem include spinal issues, neurological disorders, hormonal imbalance, etc. If you are finding the wet patches because of health issues, never punish the pet. Instead, help him by providing appropriate treatment.
You can take the following steps in case of incontinence:
- Use diapers, pee pads, and linens - Pet diapers and pee pads are easily available. Give some time and train the pet to use pee pads.
- Change your flooring - If the pet is unable to use the above options, you need to make sure that the flooring is of hardwood or tile. These floorings are easy to clean.
- Upgrade the litter box - If your cat is older, entering a litter box may be difficult. Older pets find it harder to jump, and thus accidents occur around the house. You can upgrade the box by making sure that your cat does not need to step or jump high to enter the box.
Older pets are likely to feel colder than young ones. In the winter season, try to keep your house warm. If the pet is going outside for potty, use coats and booties if appropriate. You can also use blankets to make your senior pets feel warm and cozy.
Old age is linked with cognitive dysfunction. Apart from this, deteriorating physical health also has a negative impact on mental well-being. You may notice problems like sleep disturbances, decreased response to commands, anxiety, and irritability.
Use the following tips to control these problems:
- White Noise - Whenever a pet is showing aggression or panicking, try to play white noise. It is one of the best healers for depression and behavioral changes.
- Vet Visits - Unfortunately, many of us relate vet visits only to the physical health of pets. But, vet visits are also essential for mental health, which can become a cause of multiple diseases.
In short, senior pets require more care and attention. Being pet parents, it is our responsibility to fulfill their basic needs and understand when they are approaching their senior years. From medications and exercise to diet and grooming, we should keep a good check on everything. So, try to console them when they are disturbed, cherish them by giving time, and try to give as much comfort as possible.
Need to speak with a veterinarian regarding your senior pet’s health or another condition?
Click here to schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets. You can also download the FirstVet app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores.