Your senior pet has shown you a lifetime of love and devotion, always there for you through thick and thin, and you want to ensure they feel happy and cared for until the end of their days. Although your pet is getting older, you don’t have to automatically think about the end. Instead, focus on how you can make their golden years fun, comfortable, and full of TLC. Here are five ways to provide extra love and care to your senior pet.
#1: Continue to engage your senior pet in mental and physical activity
Despite the frequently used phrase, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” nothing is further from the truth. And yes, you can also teach your senior kitty some new skills, though they may deem performing for treats beneath them. The key to teaching your senior pet new tricks is patience. They may be suffering from osteoarthritis, or their eyesight or hearing may be failing, so train new skills slowly, or simply brush up on existing skills.
In addition to teaching new tricks, you can spice up your pet’s life with fresh mental and physical activities by:
- Feeding them from a food puzzle rather than a dish
- Creating interesting new games to play at home, like building a feline Whack-a-Mole game out of a simple cardboard box and a feather wand
- Choosing a walking path in a different neighborhood or park
- Rotating their toys to keep them fresh and exciting
- Investing in interactive, robotic toys to encourage your pet to chase, hunt, and pounce
Although your pet may be content following the sunbeams across the rug each day, they will appreciate the extra time devoted to fun and games, which will keep their mind sharp and their body in shape.
#2: Modify your home for your senior pet’s comfort
If your home has multiple levels and your senior dog needs to navigate a set of stairs to head outdoors, consider adding a ramp to take the strain off overtaxed joints. Older kitties can also suffer from osteoarthritis and would appreciate all their resources being on one floor, including the litter box, food, water, and resting areas. Your senior pet also may struggle with slick surfaces, such as tile or hardwood floors, so consider laying down carpet runners on your pet’s main walkway and keep nails trimmed to maximize traction.
When modifying your home for your senior pet’s comfort, consider resting places carefully. Many older pets can no longer leap onto beds and couches, or they struggle to climb their lookout perch for a nap. Place warm, well-cushioned beds in easy-to-access home areas, close to your pet’s previous favorite resting spot.
#3: Change your senior pet’s diet as needed to maintain a healthy weight
A slowing metabolism is one of the worst parts of aging, for pets and people. The same as we can no longer eat greasy fast food without gaining an ounce, as in our college days, your pet cannot scarf down high-calorie treats and maintain a healthy weight. During your pet’s senior wellness visit, our Livingston Veterinary Hospital team will discuss your furry pal’s changing nutritional needs as well as recommend joint supplements to keep your pet moving.
#4: Implement a regular dental-care regimen for your senior pet
While we strongly recommend implementing your pet’s dental-care program as soon as you welcome them home, many pet owners still choose to delay such care until they notice a problem. Ideally, we would perform prophylactic dental cleanings during your pet’s early years. When paired with at-home care, these cleanings can help stave off dental disease. Unfortunately, many older pets suffer from gingivitis, tartar accumulation, and oral infections. Anesthesia becomes more risky in senior pets, who may have other disease processes, such as kidney, heart, or liver failure. By staying on top of your pet’s periodontal health, you reduce their risk of needing critical dental care when they are older and potentially experiencing age-related diseases.
#5: Schedule routine wellness visits for your senior pet
It’s no secret that pets age faster than people. Routine wellness visits are more crucial for older pets, who can develop a variety of age-related diseases that can be successfully managed for years, if diagnosed early. With biannual preventive care exams and bloodwork, we can catch early disease and create a treatment plan designed to extend your pet’s life comfortably.
Is your senior pet slowing down and beginning to show their age? Call us to schedule a senior wellness visit to discuss the best ways to care for your beloved companion.