Senior Pet Care Tips
The way you care for your pet as he or she matures can help control some of the health problems associated with advancing years. Here are some tips to keep in mind in caring for your older pet:
General Care for Your Older Cat
Make any changes in your cat’s environment gradually – Your cat has habits and hangouts. Sudden changes can cause undue stress.
Keep your cat comfortable – Your cat’s bed should be in a dry, draft-free area. Since an older cat is more sensitive to temperature changes, don't leave him outside for long periods of time in cold weather. Dry your cat thoroughly after exposure to rain or snow. In hot and humid weather, use air conditioning to help keep your cat cool.
Provide regular grooming – Grooming helps remove dead hair and helps prevent hairballs that may cause vomiting or intestinal impaction. Grooming also gives you a chance to inspect your cat for parasites, skin disorders and unusual lumps or lesions that call for a visit to your veterinarian.
Encourage moderate exercise – Though older cats tend to rest more, it’s helpful to play, stroke, talk and cuddle with them.
Keep your cat’s litter box clean and in the same place – Older cats may sometimes forget a lifetime of litter-box training due to disorientation or loss of balance. Litter box mishaps also may indicate a health problem and require you to contact your veterinarian.
Keep your cat’s surroundings familiar and try to make as few changes as possible – This helps compensate for reduced hearing, eyesight and smell. As a cat gets older, the recovery period from stressful conditions, such as illness and exposure, take longer.
Observe your cat for changes in behavior, eating habits or other signs of illness – Prompt diagnosis and treatment by a veterinarian is recommended. When detected early, many conditions can be stabilized, and some degenerative processes can be slowed, enabling an aging cat to lead a more comfortable life.
General Care for Your Older Dog
There are some specific things you can do to make your older dog’s life more comfortable:
See your veterinarian more often – It is more important than ever that your dog receive total health care from your veterinarian. Ask your veterinarian about special geriatric screenings and procedures for your dog.
Give your dog more exercise – The exercise that you provide may be slower, but walks and play keep your dog in better shape, both mentally and physically.
Don’t let your older dog pack on the pounds – Obesity can lead to serious health problems. Control his diet and make sure she exercises regularly.
Continue to groom your dog and care for his teeth – Brush and clean his coat to keep it at its softest and healthiest.
In general, older dogs do not like change – Don’t move his bed, shift his routine, or force him to adjust to too many new situations.
Keep your dog’s environment as comfortable as possible – A soft, warm place to sleep and protection from the elements are recommended to keep your dog happiest and healthiest.
Show extra patience and spend extra time with your senior dog – Things may take longer and may be more challenging. Make an effort to provide the extra emotional support your dog needs by spending as much time with him as you can.