As our pets get older, it’s only natural that we, as pet owners, start to see changes in our senior pet’s behavior. Just like us, these changes are natural and are often a result of physical and cognitive health. If you have noticed your senior pet developing any behavior issues, please read on to learn more.
Senior Pet Overall Health
Often, a change in your senior pet’s behavior can stem from changes in their health. Arthritis and other conditions of the bones, joints, and muscles are a common cause for your cat or dog to become cranky, irritable, and even aggressive.
Likewise, if your pet is losing his or her sight or hearing, it is not uncommon for him or her to show signs of aggression, as well. This is often a form of protection on your pet’s part, as even partial blindness or deafness can cause your cat or dog to startle easily and feel threatened in the process.
If your senior pet has started showing signs of irritability or aggression, please bring him or her in for a wellness exam before reacting in a harsh way. It’s likely that the change in your pet’s temperament is his or her way of telling you that something is wrong, and it’s up to you to get them help.
Senior Pets and the Brain
Just as physical changes can affect your senior pet’s behavior, so can changes in the brain and nervous system. Whether it’s a decrease in your pet’s ability to control bladder and bowl function, or the onset of an Alzheimer-type of cognitive dysfunction resulting in disorientation or increased vocalization, changes in the brain can affect behavior as well.
Again, it is important that you are sensitive to your aging pet’s needs and consult with your veterinarian if you’re concerned about their behavior.
How You Can Help Your Senior Pet
Sadly, many pet owners feel that the changes in their senior pet’s behavior means that there is no hope for improvement, resulting in many senior pets being abandoned at shelters where there is little hope of finding a new home. But there is help.
By working together with your family veterinarian and a behavior specialist, helping senior pets through the changes they are facing is not impossible. At Union Lake Veterinary Hospital, we are fortunate to have the resources you and your senior pet need to age gracefully. Our staff can work together to ensure that your pet’s health concerns are addressed, while working with you both on the behavior issues that are affecting your relationship.
To learn more, please visit our pet training page as well as our senior pet care page. Together, we can make your pet’s golden years truly shine.