Top 10 Health Tips for Older Cats and Dogs
Getting older means some significant changes for your pet. As a conscientious owner, it is your responsibility to continue to support her health as she enters her senior years.
To help you do this, here are our top 10 health tips for older cats and dogs.
1. Be sure to visit your veterinarian regularly
Many owners think that it is only necessary to take their pet to the vet when she is sick. However, regular check-ups give your vet the opportunity to closely monitor your pet’s health – something which could enable them to detect a problem early and start treatment promptly, before it has chance to have a significant effect on your adored animal. Ideally, these visits should be every six months, or at the frequency recommended by your vet.
2. Adjust their diet accordingly
Our pet’s nutritional requirements change with age. Once she reaches her senior years, she will need less food to sustain her since she won’t be moving around as much. If she is experiencing problems with her teeth, she may also need to switch to a soft-food diet so that she isn’t in pain when she eats, or she may have a health problem that necessitates a specific diet. Your vet will be able to advise you what your pet should be eating.
3. Watch their weight
Our animals naturally start to slow down once they reach their senior years. Since they aren’t burning as many calories, they don’t need as much food. Overfeeding and giving too many treats can lead to weight gain, and this, in turn, can increase your pet’s risk of developing serious health problems including diabetes and heart disease.
4. Stay on top of their preventative care
Preventative care is important at all ages, not just when your pet is wrong. In fact, your furbaby is more vulnerable to infectious diseases when she is older since her immune system will naturally start to become less effective. Don’t let your pet’s preventative care slip as she needs it now more than ever. Your vet will be able to advise you which preventatives your pet needs.
5. Adapt their exercise
Getting sufficient exercise is still important as it will help to preserve your pet’s muscle tone and keep her bones and joints strong. However, she may not be as energetic and mobile as she once was, so it is essential that you adopt the exercise that you offer so that it is manageable and fun and doesn’t cause your pet any discomfort.
6. Don’t forget about dental hygiene
Dental care is something that is often overlooked by pet owners, but it is crucially important if your pet is to retain her teeth for the duration of her lifetime. Periodontal disease is the biggest dental issue facing dogs and cats, and this is caused primarily by poor oral hygiene. Make sure that you are continuing to brush your pet’s teeth regularly and are getting the support of a veterinary dentist at least once or twice each year.
7. Pay attention to new behaviors
Animals are experts at masking illness and signs can be so subtle that they are easily overlooked. However, it is down to you to notice if your pet is behaving out of character in a way that suggests that she might need veterinary care so pay attention to how your furbaby is being.
8. Adapt your pet’s environment if needed
Many older pets suffer from issues such as arthritis which can make it tricky for them to move around. One of the best ways to counteract this issue and make life a lot more comfortable if needed is to adapt to their environment. This could mean relocating her water bowl nearer her bed so that she doesn’t have as far to travel, installing a ramp if her joints are making her uncomfortable or clearing away clutter if her sight seems to be impaired as this will prevent her from hurting herself.
9. Strengthen your bond
Your cat or dog needs just as much attention as a senior pet as she did when she was younger. When your pet has slowed down, it can actually be easier to spend more time together and to continue to cement the bond that has already performed between you.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Veterinarians are experts in all aspects of animal care and are your best source of information and support for your older pet. Don’t be afraid to contact your vet for advice if you have any questions or concerns!
Need more health tips for older cats and dogs? Contact our offices today and speak to our knowledgeable veterinary team.