Our pets are truly members of the family, offering us love and companionship.
It's not always easy to see our beloved pets enter their senior years, but understanding their needs can help keep them happy and healthy. Here are a few points to consider.
It is important to take your pet to the veterinarian for regular wellness care. The doctor may suggest routine lab work to monitor for abnormalities. Just like humans, pets can develop issues with organ function as they age. Medications can help regulate the functioning of their heart, kidneys, liver, and thyroid, and this will increase their comfort and potentially help prolong their life. Also like humans, pets are susceptible to developing arthritis. Supplements, medications, acupuncture, or physical therapy can help their ability to remain active.
Like humans who become senile or develop dementia, animals can have cognitive dysfunction. We may relate many of these symptoms to normal aging - symptoms such as pacing, forgetting daily routines, or having accidents in the house. A doctor can help diagnose cognitive dysfunction. If properly managed, it is possible to reduce the symptoms and increase your pet's quality of life.
Switch your pet's food to one that's specially formulated for seniors. A specialized diet can address an aging lifestyle. You will find a number of diets that increase fiber and add in supplements for joint health. Fatty acid supplements like fish oil can help maintain healthy skin and a healthy coat.
Comfort is key. Make sure you provide your senior pet with plenty of cushy bedding around your home and in your car. Try laying down rugs or runners to help your pet with traction on tile or hardwood. Does your pet love being social or going on walks but isn't as physically capable? Think about getting your pet a wagon or stroller, allowing relaxation while enjoying the things they love! Have them join you at outdoor cafes for some low-key socialization. Kitties who enjoy the outdoors may benefit from a screened-in patio, bringing the outdoors inside.
Stay active, or as active as possible. Keeping your pet mobile will help keep muscles and joints healthy. Keep up the frequent walks and throw the ball around, but limit exercise time so your pet won't overdo it. Also, monitor for overheating on warmer days. Don't forget to encourage an active mind; practice training exercises and engage your pet with toys that provide a mental challenge. For the food-motivated, play games that offer treats as prizes!
Allowing your pet to maintain its familiar lifestyle is paramount during the senior years. This, combined with routine medical care to manage physical health, can make all the difference in quality of life. For more guidance on senior pet care, call The Pet Vet on Patton to schedule a consultation (828) 232-9990.