In honor of Adopt a Senior Pet Month, we’re shining the spotlight on these gold-hearted, gray-faced pets who deserve to spend their remaining years with a loving family in peace and comfort. Whether you plan on adopting an older pet to share your home, or you already have an elderly cat or dog, these senior pets deserve to be pampered and spoiled. After a lifetime of love from your senior pet, what better way to repay them than by ensuring their golden years are happy, healthy, and comfortable? Try the following six ways to show your gray-muzzled pal how much you love them.
#1: Upgrade your senior pet’s bed
Has your four-legged friend been lounging on the same bed for months, or perhaps years? If so, the padding has likely compressed and is offering minimal support for stiff, achy joints. Treat your senior pet to a firm, orthopedic bed that provides maximum cushion and support for painful arthritic joints. After all, your older pet probably spends much of their time sleeping, and would appreciate a high quality, orthopedic bed. If your pet always seems cold, despite living in Chula Vista, consider a heated bed or pet-safe heating pad to further soothe aches and pains.
#2: Encourage your senior pet to be active
Although resting and relaxing is a natural part of “retirement,” too little activity can cause your senior pet a whole host of health issues. Without routine, low-impact exercise, their muscle mass fades, making normal activities more difficult. Daily walks and short games also help stave off arthritis by keeping your pet’s joints lubricated and less painful. Additionally, exercise releases endorphins that help boost your pet’s mood, since cognitive dysfunction-related depression is common among older pets. Regular exercise helps your pet maintain a healthy weight, which can minimize their risk for diabetes, liver disease, arthritis, and some cancers. While an intense game of fetch may be out of the question, incorporate less rigorous activities into their exercise regimen, and keep your senior furry pal moving.
#3: Keep your senior pet’s mind sharp with mental enrichment
Like muscle mass, your pet’s mental skills can decrease without regular use. Keep your furry pal’s mind sharp with a variety of enriching activities, including:
- Food puzzles instead of dishes
- Nosework training
- Daily training sessions
#4: Change your pet’s diet to an appropriate formula as they age
As your pet enters different life stages, their nutritional needs change. Senior pets often require fewer calories, as they are less active, but each pet is an individual. For example, if your older pet has a medical condition that can benefit from a certain food formulation, a prescription diet can likely help. Kidney disease, liver dysfunction, thyroid problems, diabetes, arthritis, cognitive dysfunction, and many more health issues can benefit from a treatment plan that includes a prescription diet. Increased omega-3 fatty acids are excellent for brain, joint, and heart health, while proper protein levels are essential for easing the workload on your pet’s kidneys. Speak to your Otay Pet Vets veterinarian to determine which diet will provide your senior pet with the best nutrition.
#5: Make your home easier for your senior pet to navigate
As we age, hiking up and down the stairs becomes more challenging, along with many other activities. The same holds true for your senior pet. Older pets often struggle with stairs, tall furniture, slick floor surfaces, low food and water dishes, and litter boxes with tall sides. The following changes in your home will make navigation easier on your senior pet:
- Place carpet runners on slick floors.
- Raise your pet’s food and water dish.
- Place your pet’s necessities (i.e., food, water, bed, litter box, toys) together in one area.
- Invest in a short-sided litter box for your senior cat.
- Install ramps for going in and out of your home, and to your pet’s favorite piece of furniture.
#6: Monitor your senior pet’s health with biannual wellness exams
Since pets age much more quickly than people, their health status can rapidly change. With biannual wellness visits, our team can keep a closer eye on your senior pet’s health, and monitor them for early signs of organ dysfunction, arthritis pain, dental disease, cognitive dysfunction, or other illnesses. Routine physical exams and screening tests provide the best chance of catching a disease in its earliest stages, affording the best outcome for your furry pal.
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Have you recently welcomed a sweet, gray-faced pet into your family? If so, schedule your new pet’s free* wellness exam to ensure they’re in tip-top shape and can enjoy plenty of happy, healthy years with you. Give your Otay Pet Vets team a call to set up an appointment.
*The wellness exam is free for all adopted pets if completed during three weeks from their adoption date.