We all wish our pets could be around forever, but unfortunately our pets age much faster than we do. A dog is considered to be senior starting between the ages of 7 and 10, depending on size and breed. Cats enter their senior years between 8 and 10. What can you do to make sure your pet’s senior years are happy and healthy? Here are some tips.
- Schedule regular wellness exams with your vet for early detection of chronic or life-threatening illnesses like diabetes, arthritis, cancer, or liver and kidney disease.
- Talk to your vet about switching to a senior dog food diet. Senior dog foods normally contain less fat than regular dog food.
- Start brushing your dog’s teeth if you’re not doing it already. Controlling plaque and tartar at home can help prevent costly dental procedures.
- Make sure your home is comfortable for your senior dog. Provide ramps and soft bedding for dogs with arthritis and keep the temperature moderate because older dogs are less able to self-regulate body temperature.
- Switch out those long, demanding hikes for shorter, moderate walks to keep your dog fit as she ages. You can also consider water exercises, especially for dogs with arthritis.
- Talk to your vet about modifying your cat’s diet if she’s becoming overweight with age. Some cats will become thinner as they get older; check with your vet to make sure the weight loss is not the result of an underlying medical condition.
- Older cats may do less grooming and not use the scratching post as much. Regular brushings and nail trimmings will keep your cat in good condition.
- Kidney disease is common in older cats. Switch to an all-wet food diet if your cat is still eating dry food. Make sure your cat gets plenty of fresh drinking water.
- Provide a soft bed in a warm cozy spot. In the winter, consider placing the bed near a heat source like a radiator, or put a hot water bottle under the blanket.
- Place the litter box in an easy to access location to prevent accidents. The litter box should be on the same floor as your cat if she has difficulty with stairs.