As your pet heads into their golden years, they will have different health and wellness needs than their younger counterparts.
Senior pets require increased attention, including more frequent visits to the veterinarian, possible changes in diet, and in some cases alterations to their home environment.
We know how heart-breaking this can feel when they start to show signs of slowing down.
However, there are many ways we can help improve the quality of their life and make them feel better!
1. Bring them in for regular check-ups
Our senior pets require more care and attention, which includes regular visits with your veterinarian. In fact, many veterinarians recommend that senior dogs should be examined twice a year, even more so if the dog has serious health issues. You veterinarian will be performing thorough physical examinations to uncover any potential health issues that can impact your pet’s life and comfort level, such as dental disease, arthritis, heart disease, kidney disease and more.
2. Watch for changes in behaviour
Our pets are masters of disguise – they are experts at concealing illness and poor health, and we must watch them closely. Why? Changes in your dog’s behaviour may be a symptom of disease, pain, or discomfort.
Things we want to watch for - look closely for any changes in your dog’s appetite or water consumption, urinary/bowl habits, and changes in sleep patterns. If your dog suddenly becomes irritable for no reason, it may be because he is in pain, having difficulty seeing, or having a hard time hearing properly. Any changes in your senior pet’s routines or behaviours should prompt a consultation with your veterinarian.
3. Help them get around with ease
Our senior dogs may not have the agility and mobility they once did, and they may have pain caused by arthritis or other health issues which can slow them down. One day, you might notice they have difficulty getting into the car or onto furniture! It can take awhile for us to recognize that our doggies are slowing down. You can consider providing ramps or stairs to allow your senior dog to access furniture, and you could even look at placing some carpeting on slippery floors – and let’s be honest, helps us ALL gain our footing!
4. Consider their nutritional requirements
Just as our diets change and evolve as we age, so will your senior dog’s nutrition plan. Our senior dogs can have a tendency to gain weight, whereas some have a difficult time holding on to a healthy weight, and older dogs with diseases may need to address certain dietary requirements for best treatment and/or prevention. Your helpful veterinarian can help you sort through the "nutrition noise" and help you choose an appropriate diet for your pet.
5. Make sure your pet’s bed is extra cosy!
This is a great way to say “Thank You” to your pet for being such a valuable part of your family for all of these years. Help your senior dog rest easier by ensuring they have a comfortable, quiet space to sleep. Pad their bed with extra pillows and blankets, and if needed, consider a special orthopaedic bed made just for senior dogs. These can have a denser form to help cushion your senior pet’s joints, and can even be equipped with a heat and/or vibration source. This is great for increasing circulation and reducing any stiffness – ideal for our doggies with arthritis!
When in doubt? Give us a call. We love our senior pets - let's ensure their lives are as happy, healthy, and pain-free as possible.
Do you have a senior cat? Be sure to read our tips for caring for our senior felines, too!
THIS MONTH ONLY, RECEIVE 20% OFF YOUR SENIOR PET EXAM @ SUNRISE. (THIS IS FOR PETS 10 YEARS OF AGE AND OVER.)
From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis.