• Shelley Beyer

Caring for Your Aging Pet


Time marches on for all creatures, and your beloved pet is no exception. For cats and dogs, old age usually starts around seven years. This new stage of life comes with many changes that may creep up on you. So it is essential to prepare ahead of time!



Things to Prepare for



Increased Veterinarian Care


Plan on taking your pet in for semi-annual visits instead of annual visits when they get older. They’ll need to be checked more often for new potential diseases. If your pet has not been neutered or spayed, then they are at a higher risk of cancer in their reproductive organs. There may also be additional vaccines required. Due to their age, they cannot fight off diseases or heal as fast as they did when they were younger, so you’ll need to refer to your vet for advice on more options, and of course, early detection.



Diet and Nutrition


Food needs can change dramatically with age as well. They will generally need easier to digest foods, new calorie levels, and even different ingredients. Your pet may develop new food allergies over time too. You may also need to switch their food to something easier to eat.



Weight Control


Weight issues are problems for your pets, too. Older dogs may be more susceptible to being overweight, where cats are more likely to lose weight. If their eating habits change too much, be concerned, and talk to your vet about options.



Deterioration of the Senses


Your pet’s vision and hearing may degrade with age. Be aware of what’s going on with your pet. If your dog or cat seems less responsive to visual or audio cues, then you should refer to your vet to determine just how far the damage has progressed. In the meantime, you can work with your pet to keep a safe environment for their new reality.



Behavior Changes


Your pet may suddenly struggle with bladder control, bowel movements, social interactions, and grooming. All those things that used to be natural and manageable may become challenging to do. Or maybe they forgot how to do it entirely.



Mobility


Achy joints aren’t just for people. Your pets can develop mobility issues and arthritis, too. You can help by providing daily exercise, pain drugs as necessary, and by making your home more accessible to your pet. Pet ramps, stairs, strollers, and carriers can all help your pet get around safely. Make sure that your pet has places to rest comfortably too. Their favorite spots may not be as comfortable anymore, so see if there need to be adjustments.



Mental Health


Your beloved pet can go senile on you. It's a possibility that your cat or dog might get confused and even get lost in what used to be familiar areas. They may even sit in the middle of the room, frozen. Keep them mentally stimulated with interaction and games.




As with all health concerns, if something changes or becomes a problem, you should seek a veterinarian’s advice on how to handle the situation. Your vet can run tests to determine the problem and treat it. Keep an eye out for signs of these changes so you can tell the vet exactly what you’ve noticed.



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