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Taking Care Of Our Aging Pets

by Heather Carter November 01, 2021

Taking Care Of Our Aging Pets

How To Care For Your Senior Pets

Thanks to improved diet and veterinary care, our pets are now living longer than ever! This gives us more time to spend with our furry friends but also means that, like us, they experience age-related conditions and challenges as they get older. This leads to ongoing changes in their daily needs that are not always easy to determine.

Our pets age at different rates than us and can seem like a puppy or pony one minute and then suddenly turn into a senior overnight. So, how do you ensure that your aging pets remain happy and healthy seniors?

Here are some tips and tricks to help give our aging pets remain happy and healthy for as long as possible!

How Old Is Old?

Our pets age at much different rates than we do, so how do you determine at what age they are a considered a senior? According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), you dog is considered a senior around the age of 6-7, while horses are typically considered a senior at 15+ years of age, with their life spans now expanding well into their 30s (or even 40s).

But age is just a number and is not always the best way to classify our pet as senior. Some horses can look haggard and old while only in their teen years, while others can be quite vigorous at age 30.

Our happy seniors can develop many of the same physical problems that humans experience, such as, heart disease, diabetes, vision/hearing problems, and joint issues. They might also experience behavior changes such as confusion, increased anxiety, or changes in sleep cycles.

Signs of Aging

Aging is a gradual process, but the changes are similar in all species and can include:

  • Appearance of gray hairs on the face and throughout the coat
  • Decreased skin elasticity
  • Decreased muscular strength
  • Loss of elasticity in tendons and ligaments
  • Joint stiffness
  • Reduced digestive efficiency
  • Gum and dental disease
  • Reduced mental alertness and increased napping
  • Osteoporosis
  • Trouble maintaining weight
  • Reduced tolerance for extreme heat or cold
  • “Slowing down” — less interest in movement in general
  • Reduced resistance to infections and parasites
  • Development of allergies

Taking proper care of our pets, well before their senior years, can help keep their overall health and well-being high and their happiness even higher!

Double Their Vet Visits

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends doubling the amount of vet visits our pets experience as they grow older. Taking our pets for wellness checks once, to twice, a year can help determine their changing health needs and allow early detection that can be crucial in maintaining their overall health.

Maintain a Balanced Diet

It is common to want to spoil our favorite furry friends with lots of fatty foods and treats but maintaining a balanced diet with high-quality ingredients is a much better way to show them how much we love them!

Giving our pets a boost with joint supplements containing glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, vitamin C or Omega-3s fatty acids, can aid in their skin, joint, and overall immune health and keep them active and happy for longer throughout their life.

Contact your vet for specific recommendations of food and supplements that will help keep their joints from hurting and keep their hearts ticking!

*Don’t forget the importance of proper hydration! Always give your pets access to clean water and pay attention to how much they are drinking. (Over drinking or not drinking enough are both signs of health problems that should be expressed to your trusted veterinarian as soon as possible.)

Extra Brushing!

Regular grooming is important to our senior pets. As our pets age their ability to maintain their own grooming can become a struggle. They may no longer be able to keep up, or even reach, the areas in need of a good brushing, so taking the time to groom them has never been more important. This is also a great chance to check for any new lumps, bumps, cuts, scrapes, or irritation, and get them the treatment they may require.

Plus, all that affection and attention is good for them too!

*Don’t forget their teeth! Schedule regular dental care, and work with your vet on diagnosis and treatment of any issues. Poor dental hygiene can lead to pain and trouble eating and can increase the risk of heart or kidney disease.

Exercise

Keeping your pets physically fit as they age is crucial to their overall health. Studies have found that regular exercise can prevent the muscle loss that comes with aging. Exercise also helps maintain bone density, improves the health of joint cartilage, and helps minimize joint stiffness.

Slowing down is a natural and normal process of aging and can mean that your daily runs turn into daily walks instead but keeping your pets active and engaged can mean all the difference in their later years!

*Don’t forget to keep their minds active too! Mix up your walks, play new games, or bring them new toys so that their minds can stay sharp and active too!

Show Them Lots Of Love

The most important thing we can do to keep our pets happy and healthy throughout their lives is to shower them with lots of love and attention! Taking a trip, playing together, or just spending some quality cuddle time together is what our happy seniors love and cherish the most. And, fortunately, that is exactly how we feel too!

They might not be able to run and jump like they used to and might require more paw or hoof-holding than before but getting the most out of our time with them is an honor and never a burden. Especially after all the love and attention they have shared with us over the years!




Heather Carter

Author



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