Updated: Oct 20
It can be hard to think of pets getting old, but the fact is, they do. One day, you’re just going to realize that they’re no longer the great ball of energy that they once were. Some might even start developing pain and illnesses and other such problems. And when you start seeing the signs, you will undoubtedly want to take great pains to alleviate any discomfort and help support their quality of life. In order to do that, you will need to focus on the following.
Regular vet visits
In the same way that people need to visit their doctors at least annually, so, too, do pets need to see their vets. As your pet gets older, regular trips to the vet become more important. This is because, just like humans, pets can develop a wide variety of ailments and are more susceptible to diseases as they get older, and it is these regular vet visits that allow for early—or at least, proper—diagnosis. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of successful treatment and pain management. In many cases, these appointments can even prevent the onset of disease.
But of course, there’s the cost of veterinary care to worry about, too. In fact, this will not come cheap, especially for aging pets. Thankfully, you can alleviate much of the financial burden when you purchase pet insurance. It’s smart, therefore, to evaluate various pet insurance plans, taking into account variables like the cost of your deductible and the services covered.
A healthy diet
Now, among the special needs of dogs and cats alike as they get older is the proper diet. In fact, senior pets, especially those with conditions, often need a special diet, which will contribute greatly to their quality of life. The reason for this is simple—as pets get older, their metabolism decreases, and keeping them on the same diet that they’ve had for most of their lives may lead to unhealthy weight gain, which makes them more prone to illness. Moreover, when a pet develops a medical condition, they will likely have more specific nutritional needs, so their diet needs to be tweaked accordingly.
As a rule of thumb, pet food that has wholesome ingredients and is rich in antioxidants and fiber is great in helping maintain gut health. On the other hand, protein, phosphorus, and sodium must be reduced to mitigate the risks of cardiovascular disease and renal problems. Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all option when it comes to the optimum nutrition of senior pets, so it’s best to discuss this with your vet.
Again, as pets get older, you will notice significant changes in their energy levels. But just because your dog is now more prone to lying on the couch all day doesn’t mean that their active days are over. On the contrary, it’s more important than ever to get them moving, not just to help maintain a healthy weight, but also to fend off mental decline.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should push your senior pet to run miles with you. Instead, this calls for age-appropriate exercises that help keep them nimble, maintain spatial orientation (balance), and encourage circulation and lymphatic drainage. These, in turn, will keep your pet moving as normal, as well as help alleviate stiffness and pain.
At the end of the day, don’t forget to shower your senior pet with copious amounts of love and care. Know that getting older will come with many changes that your pet will not always understand, so ultimately, it’s important to just be there to help them navigate this strange new period in their lives. Now is a good time to be a little bit more indulgent and a lot more patient, so give them extra cuddles, and really, that little piece of bacon won’t hurt. Your pet will surely appreciate it, and you’ll have more fond memories to hold on to.
Don’t forget to have a plan for your senior animal, especially as you age as well. Senior animals are often the ones who end up in shelters, or are put out to pasture so to speak. By sponsoring or “adopting” an animal at a local rescue, you can help provide for a senior animal’s care.
Burleigh Manor Animal Sanctuary is a safe haven for senior animals. Learn more about the Adopt an Animal Program at Burleigh Manor and how you can help!