The Needs of Older Pets
Senior Pet Care
Thanks to advances in veterinary care our pets are living longer lives. With old age comes the need for owners to learn about the special needs of aging cats and dogs. Our pets age at different intervals than humans. A small to medium seven-year-old dog or cat is 44 – 47 years old in human years. A seven-year-old large dog is 50 – 56 years old by human standards.
Senior pets are susceptible to many of the diseases we see in elderly humans like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and liver, kidney and bone disease. In order to combat these health concerns the frequency of your veterinary visits should increase with age. Your vet can advise on specifics given the dog or cat’s medical history.
As your dog or cat ages you want to ensure their quality of life doesn’t change. In order to maintain their health and comfort, focus on the following:
- A Nutritious Diet
From puppy and kittens to adult furry friends, the kind of food you feed your pets is crucial to their well-being, especially as they age. The food we eat gives us energy and keeps us balanced with the right amount of vitamins. The food you feed your pet does the same. Learn to read the labels to ensure you are helping your dog or cat grow stronger.
- Staying Active
A busy pet is a happy pet. The same goes for the mind. Our furry friends need to keep their minds as active as their bodies. Ensure they are getting enough exercise on a daily basis. For your senior dog that could mean a 15 – 20 minute walk each day, or a bi-weekly trip to the dog park. For your senior cat a new toy will stimulate their mind and keep them from getting bored.
- Physical Contact
Petting our pets and spending time with them is how they interpret our love. As your pet ages physical contact becomes increasingly important. If your pet has joint pain, a daily rub down can help. If your dog or cat needs regular grooming you can comb their hair.
- Oral Hygiene for Dogs
It is easy to laugh at the idea of brushing the teeth of a dog, but canine oral hygiene becomes more important as they age. A clean mouth helps fight off gum infections and general bad breath. If your dog won’t sit still for a good brushing you can ask the veterinarian to do it or give them doggie treats that fight plaque.
Aging pets may require more of our attention and if they have special needs you should make every effort to meet them. For example, if your dog or cat is losing his or her eyesight you can move obstacles out of the way. If your pet suffers from arthritis take the time to research ways to keep them engaged and active without the extra stress on their bodies.
Extensions of the Family
Our pets are more than animals; they are extensions of our family. As they near the end of their lives spend every minute you can with them – you’ll be glad you did.
- Senior Pet Care, by AVMA
- Grooming Senior Pets, by groomingangel.com
- Caring for Senior Dogs: Dental Care, by Petfinder
- Aging Pet Care, by ASPCA
- Age Related Health Conditions, by drsfostersmith.com
- Senior Dog Food, by pets.webmd.com
- Caring for Older Dogs and Cats, by 2ndchance.info/olderpet.htm
- The Special Needs of the Senior Cat, by Petfinder
- Homemade Cat Food for Senior Cats, by pets.thenest.com
- Senior Pet Products, by seniorpetproducts.com
- Resources to Help Senior Pet Owners, by David Smidt, SeniorDiscounts
- Three Things Every Owner of an Older Pet Should be Doing, by healthypets.mercola.com
- About Pet Insurance for Older Pets, by petsbest.com
- Aging Pets Need Special Care, by Debra Garrison
- Geriatric Pets: Health and Safety Concerns – Part 1, by Spectrum Generations
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- Resources for Rescue and Financial Assistance, by The Senior Dogs Project
- Pet Care, by AVMA
- Older Dog Health Care, by peteducation.com
- Complete Care for Your Aging Dog, by Amy Shojai
- Your Dog’s Golden Years, by Jennifer Kachnic
- Dog Eldercare, by Amy Morford
- When your Best Friend Becomes your Old Friend, by Gina Stewart and Don & Kellie Rainwater
- Banfield Pet Health Tracker, by Banfield Pet Hospital, available on iTunes for free
- Purina Pet Health, by Nestle Purina Petcare co, available on iTunes for free