As we celebrate Senior Pet Month, let’s take a moment to appreciate all the joys of living with pets who are in their golden years. Older pets bring many benefits to their owners – besides the obvious love and companionship, they tend to be calmer than young animals and require less work and training. Enjoying our older pets, or adopting an older pet, can be extremely rewarding. However, there are also challenges involved with caring for an aging pet. Senior pets often require more medical attention as they begin to experience the health problems that come with age, and it can be difficult to watch a loving companion experience the discomfort that accompanies many of these issues. So what can we do to give our senior pets the best quality of life possible? Here are several strategies that can help:
1. Regular veterinary visits. Having senior pets checked out with an exam and bloodwork every 6 months allows us to catch any health issues early, which typically leads to a better treatment outcome if concerns do arise.
2. Maintain a healthy weight. Many pets, young and old, are overweight or obese. This is a problem for any pet, but even more so for senior pets, as it increases the stress on their joints and can lead to arthritis and other joint concerns. Maintain senior pets at a healthy weight by feeding appropriate amounts, feeding a senior food, and providing regular exercise. Starting a joint supplement can also help with mobility issues.
3. Environmental considerations. As pets get older, they tend to have more trouble with stairs and jumping up onto furniture. Sometimes hardwood floors become difficult to walk on because they are too slippery. Being aware of these changes can help you modify the environment as needed – for example, adding area rugs to hardwood floors.
4. Pay close attention. Often the signs of a health problem begin as very subtle changes in behavior and attitude. Aging pets can also experience mental changes. Watching your pets closely can help catch any signs early.
Our senior pets add so much to our lives with their love and companionship – they deserve the best golden years that we can give them.
Sources cited: AVMA, adoptaseniorpet.com