Pets transition into senior adulthood stages at different ages depending on size, species and breed. As pets age, their needs change significantly. Since they can’t tell you about their challenges as they age, the best way to care for your beloved pets is to remain aware of aging symptoms and observant of behavior changes that warrant your attention.
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1. Feed a Specialty Diet
All pets need quality nutrition, but seniors may require a fully balanced formula that supports whole-body health. Older dogs and cats tend to have trouble with hydration and nutrient absorption, as well as missing or broken teeth. Feeding a raw, probiotic-rich wet food may help to optimize digestion without causing discomfort. You can also prevent bacteria from harming your best friend by keeping enclosures, food containers and water bowls clean and disinfected.
2. Add Nutritional Supplements
As pets get older, they often suffer from vitamin deficiencies that impact their health and mobility. For senior dogs, supplementing with fatty acids, DHA, and glucosamine chondroitin help to boost natural immunity and support joint and bone health. You can find many quality formulas at your local pet store at affordable price points. Ask your veterinarian which nutrition supplements are best for your aging pet.
3. Provide Necessary Accommodations
According to leading veterinarians, some of the most common conditions older animals face include osteoarthritis, obesity, dental disease, confusion and blindness. When your dog becomes too tired and frail to jump up on the bed with you at night, it may be time to purchase a specialty pet bed or a ramp to aid mobility. If your pets enjoy the outdoors but you worry about them wandering or getting injured, then you may consider building a fence around your yard to keep them safe and secure.
In addition to protecting your animals, certain improvements add value to your home and entice potential buyers with pets of their own. When making updates and house modifications, be sure to document work and keep receipts for future appraisals.
4. Lower Stress
Many pet owners find that their pets’ behavior changes as they age. Dogs may become more anxious and less tolerant of loud noises, while cats may become more prone to stress-related health problems such as urinary tract infections. Also be aware of changes in eating and drinking habits. As a result, it is important to take steps to lower stress for an older pet. One way to do this is to create a quiet, safe space for your pet to retreat to when they feel overwhelmed. This could be a room with soft bedding and no toys or objects that could startle them.
5. Buy Appropriate Toys
Older domesticated animals like cats and dogs can become fragile, especially if they suffer from a degenerative illness. Therefore, they may not be able to move and play as much as younger pets. Many elderly pets still love to walk, ride in the car and chase a ball, but others are content to interact with their humans in a calm, relaxed setting. When choosing toys and activities for senior animals, consider their preferences as well as their limitations.
6. Increase Regular Vet Visits
In addition to diet and exercise, senior pets require more specialized veterinary care. During regularly scheduled visits, your veterinarian should conduct full-body checkups and look for signs of cancer, organ deterioration and metabolic disease. Many conditions are diagnosable with simple urine or blood tests. Most vets recommend biannual visits for older dogs and cats, but more frequent lab work may be required depending on your pet’s age and medical history.
Your aging pet’s needs largely depend on individual issues such as genetics, environment and nutrition. When you raise an animal from youth, you have more control over these factors. If you adopt a senior, you may not have knowledge of previous care. Regardless, your pets rely on you to make healthy decisions for them, and you can help them live long and healthy lives as treasured members of your family.