Special Care Tips for Senior-Pet OwnersPublished September 16, 2009
Flickr User Jacob Whittaker
With all the innovative advances in veterinary care today, happily our pets' life expectancy has significantly increased by several years. This said, we need to understand the needs of our senior pets so we can continue to provide the optimum care to greatly enhance their health and happiness.
Older pets tend to need more sleep, so often nap more frequently. Their appetites may change as well, and they may consume less food. Senior pets may react negatively to a lot of commotion and loud noises in the home and since their sense of hearing may diminish, they may not respond to our voice as readily as they did when they were younger. You may notice cloudy eyes, and less acute vision, and their coats may become more rough and dull.
Of course all of these changes should be carefully monitored by regular veterinary care. Oral care is very important as our pets age as part of senior wellness exams. Your veterinarian is your senior pet's best friend, as well as a source of information and support to you. One of the best things you can do for your pet's health is keep them active. Read about some toys that you can use to keep your older dog or cat playing.
Accidents can happen. Older cats and dogs may occasionally soil floors and carpets if their nature calls are urgent and they cannot get outside or reach a litter box in time. Be patient with your seniors, and do not admonish them. Cats may become arthritic so providing them lower sided litter boxes, or a step that reaches a high sided box is very helpful for them. Since urinary tract infections and kidney problems can also cause accidents, it is essential to talk to your vet about litter box changes. Wee Wee pads for dogs are very helpful and can help prevent house soiling.
It goes without saying that an appropriate diet for elder pets is one of the cornerstones to more robust health. Talk to your vet about lower calorie pet foods, since senior pets are generally not as active as they were in the past. It is crucial to prevent obesity, which can lead to many serious medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart and kidney disease. While prescription diets can be very helpful, some senior pet owners are finding that nutritious raw diets can help to provide a well balanced and calorie conscious feeding program.
Since blindness and hearing loss are common issues that older pets face, pet-proofing the home becomes very important in keeping senior pets safe. Obstacles in the home can become difficult for pets to negotiate, and climbing stairs may become difficult as well. There are pet-sized stairs that are available on the market which can ease these problems and make life a lot easier for seniors. There are also orthopedic beds which may be purchased to give older dogs the support in which to doze more comfortably. Do make sure that any soft items are thoroughly washable in case accidents occur.
The most important thing is to continue lavishing an abundance of love on your aging pets. They thrive wonderfully, knowing that you are there for them, giving them a sense of security, especially when they may feel anxious about their bodily changes. It is indeed a gift to be able to share many wonderful years with your once young and vibrant pet who has reached their golden years. For more tips, read about how to help your pet age gracefully. And if you are thinking about opening your home to an older cat or dog, watch our video about adopting and caring for an older pet.