Senior pets require increased attention, including more frequent visits to the veterinarian, possible changes in diet, and in some cases alterations to their home environment. Extra considerations might include:
• Increased veterinary care – Pets should have more frequent veterinary visits so signs of illness or other problems can be detected early and treated.
• Diet and nutrition – Geriatric pets often need food that is readily digested, and has a different calorie count and list of ingredients, as well as increased joint care supplementation.
• Weight control – Weight gain in geriatric pets increases the risk of health problems, whereas weight loss is a great concern for geriatric cats.
• Parasite control – Lower immune systems can result in less ability to fight off diseases or heal as fast as younger pets.
• Maintaining mobility – Keeping older pets moving through appropriate exercise helps keep them healthier and more mobile.
• Vaccination – Your pet’s vaccination needs may change with age. Talk to your veterinarian about a vaccination program for your geriatric pet.
• Mental health – Pets can show signs of senility. Stimulating them through interactions and enrichment can help keep them mentally active.
• Environmental considerations – Older pets may need changes in their lifestyle, such as sleeping areas to avoid stairs, more time indoors.
For Your Old Cat
• Make the Meal Appetizing: Adding just a bit of hot water to canned cat food will help enhance the aroma and make it more appealing to a cat with a diminishing sense of smell.
• Eliminate Access to Stairs: Elderly cats may have problems with arthritic joints or loss of vision, making it difficult to travel up and down the stairs. Make your apartment safe for your furry friend by eliminating access to the stairs with a gate.
• Avoid Major Changes: Sometimes major changes to your household can be stressful for an elderly cat. Try to keep its surroundings as familiar as possible.
For Your Old Dog
• An Elevated Bowl: For bigger dogs with arthritis problems, leaning down to get something to drink can put a strain on their joints. By using an elevated dog bowl, they can quench their thirst without putting unnecessary stress on their back and neck. Always make sure your dog has plenty of drinking water available, older canines can become easily dehydrated.
• A Comfortable Dog Bed: Older dogs may need additional support for their joints and a cozy dog bed can help provide comfort. You can even make your own and save yourself lots of money. All you need is a regular dog bed and an egg crate mattress. Cut the mattress padding and fold it to size to fit in the dog bed. When the weather gets cold, heating pads can be used on its bed to warm old bones.
• Utilize Gates: If your dog has trouble getting up and down the stairs, you might want to close off those areas with a gate to eliminate any potential danger.