An estimated 47% of dog owners and 43% of cat owners have an aging pet. While it varies by breed, most dogs and cats are considered geriatric at age 7.
Senior pets can be affected by various health problems — like cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and kidney disease — and typically need different care than younger pets. Read on to learn more about caring for an aging pet.
Semiannual Veterinary Visits
Regular checkups are a must for older pets, and many veterinarians suggest scheduling visits twice a year. Your vet will do an in-depth examination of your pet, which may include bloodwork and checking for signs of disease that are common in older pets. They’ll also make sure your pet is up to date on vaccines and is on the proper preventative medications. They might also recommend additional therapies your pet should be on due to his age or other concerns.
Proper Diet & Healthy Weight
A high-quality diet is important for pets at any age. A nutritious, balanced diet will help keep your pet’s weight in check, and your veterinarian may recommend a specialty diet. These therapeutic diets help manage health conditions common in older pets, like kidney disease, obesity, or joint issues.
Regular Exercise & Mental Stimulation
Keeping your pet active is another great way to help maintain a healthy weight, along with healthy joints and muscles. Short, easy walks are ideal for aging pets, as they may not be able to handle long exercise sessions. Exercise also provides mental stimulation for your pet, which you can also do through toys and food puzzles.
Improper dental care and tartar buildup can lead to serious diseases and damage the kidneys, liver, and heart. Maintain a good oral care routine to keep these issues at bay, and make sure a professional dental cleaning is part of your veterinary visit.
Older pets may have trouble getting around, experience discomfort from joint pain, or have issues with incontinence. Help alleviate these issues by incorporating special accommodations around your home — rugs over hard surfaces for better traction, ramps so your pet can navigate stairs better, special bedding for arthritic dogs, and pet diapers or belly wraps to contain accidents.
With regular checkups and preventative care, you can help your senior pets enjoy their golden years. Talk to a veterinarian about what you can do now to keep their health in tip-top shape.