Let’s hear it for the OLDIE’S BUT GOODIES! Senior Pets rock! Yes puppies & kitties are adorable but not everyone wants that hyper energy most little ones have, not to mention potty accidents, destructive behavior and all around time to put into training. Most Senior pets are already trained so they know what to do and what not to do and have mastered the art of the chill, so they are great nap takers. They know how to go with the flow, better yet how to adapt to your flow. And the best part they’ve learned manners so they will not be chewing up or destroying your possessions.
All they want is to be with you, be loved and have some comfort. Most people shy away from senior pets because they think they’ll die soon, or they will have sicknesses. Well they may be true, but I’m here to tell you they still have a lot of pep left in their step and they have tons of love to give. Think of that cool grandparent you had or have, that you love to hang out with and go to their house.
Why not adjust your mindset and give a senior pet a try you may be surprised. Did you know LOVE is an awesome power that gives healing and extends life. It has been proven that LOVE is a miraculous life force of it’s own and rejuvenates anything in it’s path.
As a pet ages, they will start to have less energy, might develop cataracts or hearing problems, and their organs will eventually stop working as well. This means that senior pets are at higher risk of getting kidney or liver disease, diabetes, or become obese just like humans.
Not all pets are considered seniors at the same age, and it mainly depends on the breed and your pets unique traits. Small breeds of dogs are considered old when they are 10 or 11 years of age. Medium sized breeds, like Golden Retriever, become seniors at the age of 8-10, and giant breeds are considered old by the age of 5 or 6. Cats are considered seniors when they turn 6 or 7 years old.
Below are the essentials for caring for your senior DOG or CAT as they age
Essentials for your SENIOR DOG
1. Make sure they have an Age-appropriate diet
A balanced diet plays a big role in maintaining your dog’s health even when they age. Older dogs are at higher risk of developing obesity since they no longer have the same levels of energy as before. So it is important to find the best dog food that is specially designed for senior dogs in order to prevent weight gain.
These are often low in fat and have fewer calories that will complement the nutritional need of your dog. And since older dogs often suffer from some condition, you can consult with your vet if your dog has a need for a special type of senior dog food for their condition.
2. Regular exercise is a must
Regular exercise will help your dog maintain their ideal weight and will also have a beneficial impact on their overall health. You can talk to your vet and ask for a recommended exercise program given the health and limitations of your dog. Make sure not to push your dog too hard, remember all they want to do is please you even though it m ay cause harm to themselves, so be extra observant to when they’ve had enough.
Always be patient, start slowly and build your dog’s stamina with regular walks and light jogs if they are able to run. As a dog ages, they have lower energy levels, so even though your pup was able to run for half an hour before, they might not be able to do it once they get older.
3. Regular vet checkups are highly recommended
Regular vet care is one of the most important things when it comes to caring for older dogs. As your dog ages, their immune system becomes weaker, which makes them more prone to all sorts of ailments.
That’s why most vets recommend taking an older dog for regular checkups once every six months. This will give your vet a chance to figure if anything is wrong at the beginning and provide the best possible treatment for your dog. Remember prevention is the key to longevity.
4. Maintain oral health
The truth is no pet likes getting their teeth brushed. Most old dogs don’t get the proper dental care during their adult life, so it is not uncommon to see older dogs with a few missing teeth. Dental care is an important part of grooming and should be performed regularly from a young age.
To keep your dog’s teeth healthy, you need to wash them every day, and if your dog isn’t a fan, start giving them dental treats. Also, you should take your dog to the vet once a year in order to have their teeth professionally cleaned.
5. Vaccination and parasite protection
Your dog’s age doesn’t matter when it comes to flea, tick, and worm protection. So you should continue administering proper treatments just like before.
But when it comes to vaccines, older dogs don’t require them at the same intervals. Usually once every three years is enough, but you should consult your vet since they will know what is best for your dog’s individual needs.
6. Regular grooming
As your dog ages, so do their coat and skin, a once luxurious and shiny coat can become dull looking and brittle. Seniors can also suffer from dry, flaky, and irritated skin that can become even worse if not cared for properly. Also many pets hair can also turn grey just like a humans, and the grey hair will be less tamable than their hair when they were young.
This means that you will have to brush your dog regularly, especially to avoid the development of mats and tangles. I also recommend that you use only natural shampoos that will nourish and heal irritated skin and coat & weekly brushing is a plus.
7. Provide special accommodations
Older dogs often develop arthritis or other bone and joint problems that affect their mobility. Furthermore, a blind dog will also have trouble jumping on the bed or sofa at night.
In these cases, your dog can benefit from soft bedding and an easily accessible bed that won’t require jumping or climbing. Also, climbing up and down the stairs can prove to be difficult and your dog should avoid doing so.
If there is no way for your dog to avoid stairs, you can buy or build a doggie ramp that will make their movements that much easier. Another solution is to simply install doggy proof gates and restrict their access to the stairs.
That will mean that you will have to move your dog’s bed, food and water bowls downstairs if possible. Also, it is a good idea to place carpets and rugs around the house to help an arthritic dog gain their footing and ease their movements a little bit.
Some older dogs can go completely blind, so you’ll have to make sure that they are able to navigate through the house. That means that you shouldn’t move furniture because this will confuse your dog and make them bump into things unnecessarily.
8. Spend time with your pup
Aging is a completely normal thing, but it is very difficult and painful to witness all the changes that aging may bring your beloved dog. The best thing you can do is to live in the moment and cherish all the memories and every day spent with your pooch. Remember to take lots of pictures.A geriatric dog can easily become anxious if they don’t sense their owner by their side, and that makes them terrified. So try to spend as much time as you can with your pup. Remember to play soft, smooth jazz for your fur baby, music is so calming for them.
Even though your dog might not be able to see or hear you like they used to, they still need your presence and attention in order to stay emotionally and mentally healthy. So instead of dwelling on your dog’s age, take them for a walk, play with them, and give them treats. Yep even old doggies still love to play.
Treat your dog like your best friend, deserving of your love and attention every single day. Our pets love to hear you talk to them, I truly believe they understand more than they are given credit.
Not all dogs age the same, what is certain is that they all get old at some point. Aging is the natural process of things and every owner should be prepared for it.As a dog becomes senior, they will have less energy, more trouble walking, and may develop cataracts or hearing loss, among other things. This might sound scary, but in fact, these things won’t happen overnight and your pup and you will have time to adapt to new circumstances.
Older dogs may have some special needs that need to be met and you will have to learn how to care for a senior dog. With proper elderly dog care and attention, your dog will maintain their health and continue to lead a happy life for many years to come.
Essentials for your SENIOR CAT
1. Schedule Regular Wellness Check-ups.
Work to develop a close relationship with your cat’s veterinarian while he is still healthy. Your veterinarian can get to know your cat and detect subtle changes that may indicate a health condition or disease. Remember 2 heads are better than one.
Your cat needs to visit their veterinarian more often as they age, usually about every 6 months, even if your cat appears healthy. Please remember 6 months in cat years is roughly equivalent to 2 years for a person and a lot can change in that time. Also cats are not like dogs who will let you know if they are not feeling well, in most cases they will hide it from you when they are sick. So developing a regular schedule with the vet every 6 months now will save you and them in the end.
2. Set Your Senior Cat Up for Success.
Reduce the stress of veterinary visits by getting your cat comfortable with his carrier. Make the carrier cozy with soft, familiar bedding. This makes it easier to get your cat into the carrier on the appointment days. I like to have relaxing, soft, music playing to help take the edge off. Remember to leave plenty of time to arrive so you are unhurried and calm.
Ask the veterinary office if they have a cat-only waiting area, cat concierge service, or if you can go directly to the waiting area. This helps keep your cat calm. Always prepare a list of questions or concerns to ask your veterinarian at your cat’s wellness check-up so you don’t forget anything to ask while you’re there.
3. Learn Your Cat’s Habits and Pay Attention to Changes.
As I mentioned earlier Cats are masters at hiding illness. Changes are often subtle and easily missed. If you notice a difference in behavior, such as sleeping more or hiding, don’t ignore it! Speak up and tell your veterinarian.
It can be helpful to keep a diary of their appetite, vomiting & bowel movements. Tell your veterinarian about any changes in your cat’s behavior, even if they are minor. You know your cat and his routines better than anyone.
4. Beware of Changes in Weight.
Both weight gain AND unplanned weight loss requires a visit to your veterinarian. Weight gain can make your cat more likely to get chronic diseases and have a shortened life span.
Weight loss in senior cats is usually a sign something is wrong. Some of the most common diseases causing weight loss – hyperthyroidism, intestinal disease, and diabetes – occur with a normal or even increased appetite.
Gradual changes in weight are hard to notice. Monitoring your cat’s weight is one of the most important reasons for regular wellness examinations by your veterinarian.
5. They’re Not Just “Slowing Down.”
Keep in mind slowing down is often a sign your cat is experiencing underlying discomfort in pain. Arthritis is present in most older cats. Appropriate treatment can help him remain active and engaged. If your cat has difficulty going up or down steps, does not jump like he used to, or isn’t using the litter box, talk with your veterinarian.
6. Look When You Scoop.
Are your cat’s stools softer, harder, or changing color? Is he defecating daily? Constipation is a common, yet under recognized, sign of dehydration in older cats. If attended to early, your veterinarian can help your kitty to feel comfortable again. Also there are plenty of homeopathic remedies that can resolve this for you instead of drugs. Always ask questions.
Has the amount of urine in the litter box changed? Increased urine output can signal some of the most common illnesses in elderly cats – from diabetes or an over active thyroid gland to kidney disease and high blood pressure.
7. Take a “Cat’s Eye View” of the Litter Box.
Yep just like you would for a human baby keep an eye on their potty habits. If your cat starts to miss the litter box and have accidents around your house, there may be a medical issue causing him to house-soil.
Urinary infections, constipation, arthritis, and muscle weakness are just a few of the reasons an older cat can develop litter box issues. Or it could be emotional, your veterinarian can look into medical issues and help you with home or environmental concerns that may be causing the changes in your cat’s behavior. If it’s emotional call me so I can resolve it for you. Below is a checklist for you to answer.
Is the litter box easy for your elderly cat to get in and out (i.e., there isn’t a high step into the box)?
Does the location make it easy for your cat to access so he doesn’t have to go up or down stairs?
Is the litter box in an quiet area that is protected from other pets that may startle or frighten your older cat?
Are you scooping and cleaning the litter box often enough to keep up with that increased urine output?
Is the litter gentle on your senior cat’s paws?
8. Your Cat’s Needs Will Change.
You will need to make some adjustments in your household for your senior cat.
As cats grow older, they often need extra padding and warmth for comfort. Provide soft sleeping places and make their preferred sleeping and resting spots easily accessible with stepping stools, ramps, and other assistance.
9. Know How Much Your Cat is Eating.
Nutritional needs change for healthy older cats and those with chronic diseases. Discuss nutrition with the veterinarian and get recommendations for your cat. Cat caregivers are often unaware how much their cat is actually eating on a daily basis, especially in households with multiple cats.Monitor food intake so you know immediately if your cat is eating less. This helps your veterinarian intervene when there are problems.
10. Enjoy Your Special Bond.
Bonds with our older companions are special. We rely on our cats as much as they rely on us. Elderly cats often crave more attention than they had earlier in life. Always set aside Mommy & Me or Daddy & Me time for your fur babies, you will find them looking forward to it if you schedule it.
Also make sure to continue to provide physical and mental stimulation by petting, playing, and interacting in your special ways. Yes senior Cats still love to play, it may be different from when they were younger but they still want to engage in fun time with you.
Help out with grooming by gently brushing or combing, and keep nails from becoming overgrown with regular nail trims.The nails of older arthritic cats sometimes overgrow into the paw pads, and this is painful. To stay on top of this home groom your Cats once a week.
Well there you have it. Enjoy your senior fur babies until the last drop of the time they have to spend with you. Time is so precious, until next time remember PETS RULE!