Growing old is just as difficult for pets as it is for people. Because your furry pal doesn’t understand the aging process and what is happening to their body and mind, their spirit may take a beating, diminishing their quality of life. Fortunately, you have myriad options for supporting your senior pet’s body, mind, and spirit to help them age with grace. Our Greenfield Veterinary Clinic team shares our top tips for supporting aging pets, helping you ensure your furry pal remains happy, healthy, and comfortable.
How to support your senior pet’s body
Senior pets often endure osteoarthritis pain, dental and chronic disease, and organ dysfunction. While you can’t prevent your pet from developing many of these problems, you can lessen these conditions’ severity or slow their progression. To support your senior pet’s physical health and comfort, follow these tips:
- Maintaining a healthy weight — Obesity is a common problem for older pets, and the excess pounds can increase their risk for numerous health problems. Help your senior pet stay at a healthy weight by calculating their caloric requirements, measuring out meals, and giving them healthy treats.
- Engaging in regular activity — If your pet does not exercise regularly, maintaining a healthy weight is impossible. Remember to prevent your senior pet from putting excess pressure on their aging joints. Encourage your pet to perform low-impact exercises, using gentle or moderate intensity, such as swimming or walking.
- Modifying your home — Help your senior pet get around your home by installing pet steps or ramps, so your furry pal can access hard-to-reach places. In addition, you should install carpet runners or rugs on slippery floors, and plug in nightlights in dark areas.
- Implementing an at-home dental care routine — Dental disease is a common problem in pets of all ages, but the condition can take a serious toll on your senior pets’ health by interfering with their food and water intake. Strive to brush your pet’s teeth daily, and offer approved treats, chews, and other oral health products that reduce plaque and tartar buildup.
- Improving nutrition — Senior pets have unique nutritional needs, so swap out their diet for one that is specifically formulated for older pets to help their immune system fight disease and preserve their health.
- Scheduling frequent wellness care visits — During your senior pet’s biannual or quarterly wellness visits, our Greenfield Veterinary Clinic team can detect disease early, before your pet’s signs become severe, allowing for effective treatment and an improved prognosis.
How to support your senior pet’s mind
Older pets often experience a cognitive function decline, but this condition’s development and progression can be slowed when owners proactively exercise their furry pals’ minds. To help keep your pet’s mind sharp, incorporate mental exercises into their daily routine. Brush up on old tricks or teach your senior pet new tricks, or enroll your pooch in a canine sport class such as agility or scent work. Swap out boring food bowls for puzzles that encourage your furry pal to work for their meal, and make them earn their treats by performing a series of skills. When you encourage your furry pal to exercise their natural behaviors, such as climbing, scratching, digging, and sniffing, you also help stimulate their mind.
How to support your senior pet’s spirit
As your senior pet’s body and mind begin to fail, they can become confused, anxious, and fearful. They don’t understand why they can’t take the stairs two at a time anymore, or leap with ease onto the kitchen counter to drink from the faucet. Worsening eyesight and hearing can cause your pet to become unsettled, and forgetting familiar faces can be especially frightening.
Make an effort to understand how your senior pet might be feeling as they age. Strive to keep your furry pal’s lifestyle, routine, and environment constant to help minimize their anxiety and stress. In addition, make a point of including them in the family. Older pets often spend more time alone because their cognitive dysfunction or impaired mobility prevents them from getting up to follow their owners around the house. So, set up a cozy resting spot for your senior pet near the household area in which your family spends most of their time. If your pet is unable to walk, carry them to the area in which the family is gathering or use a mobility aid to support their weight as they come to join in family time.
If your senior pet is no longer able to partake in their favorite activities, such as climbing a tower to look out the window or sniffing every post, bush, or tree during a walk, modify these activities. Install a ramp up to the top of a lookout tower, or tote your dog along in a wagon so they can still sniff without becoming too tired. Ensuring your senior pet can continue to participate in their favorite activities will do wonders for their spirit and quality of life.
Support your senior pet by ensuring they have frequent wellness care visits to monitor their health. Schedule your senior pet’s next wellness visit with our Greenfield Veterinary Clinic team, and help your furry pal stay happy and healthy throughout their golden years.