As our pets grow older, what they need to remain happy and healthy begins to change. Much like us, the physical and psychological health of senior pets can begin to decline and, as pet owners, we need to plan ahead for those changes. If your pet is approaching, or past, the age of seven, read on to learn how you can proactively protect the health of your senior pet.
Signs of Aging in Pets
For many pet owners, the first clue that their pet is starting to age is a noticeable change in the pet’s behavior. These behavior changes are usually in response to changes in his or her health, such as the development of arthritis, loss of hearing or vision, or the development of cognitive dysfunction syndrome (similar to Alzheimer’s).
If you are noticing the following behaviors in your pet, it may be a sign that he or she is slipping into his or her senior years and requires senior pet care:
- Changes in behavior toward family and strangers
- Sensitivity to being touched in specific areas, most noticeably the hips and hind quarters
- Changes in elimination habits (not able to “hold it” or going indoors)
- Decreased mobility
- A noticeable change in hearing or vision
- Lack of interest in favorite activities or toys
- Changes in appetite and water consumption
- Changes in your pet’s sleep patterns
Protecting Your Senior Pet’s Health
As a pet owner, the most important thing you can do to help your pet through the aging process is to be proactive in protecting his or her health. Bi-annual wellness exams and routine dental screenings and diagnostic testing are all important aspects of protecting your pet’s health.
This proactive approach to aging will help to ensure that any developing health conditions are caught before they become too severe, meaning that treatments can potentially have a greater chance for success.
At Union Lake Veterinary Hospital, we have developed a variety of cost-saving wellness plans to make the care your cat or dog needs more affordable and accessible throughout his or her life. Be certain to check out the senior care plans and please feel free to call us with your questions.
Helping Your Senior Pet at Home
At home, be mindful of your pet’s needs and try to make life a little easier on your four-legged friend. Get your pet a padded, orthopedic pet bed with a plush covering to curl up on to help ease the aches of arthritis. Or consider getting a small stool or set of steps so he or she can easily join you on your couch or bed, if invited.
And don’t forget to keep your pet active. Even a short, daily walk around the block can work wonders when it comes to keeping your pet limber, not to mention the good some fresh air will do for your pet’s mental health, as well.
If you are concerned that your pet may be slipping into his or her golden years, or if you have any concerns about his or her health, please give us a call. We are happy to schedule you and appointment and answer any questions you may have.