As our cats and dogs grow older, their needs will naturally change. Some of these changes will be strictly medical while others will be behavioural or dietary. Ultimately, caring for our ageing pets is all about making sure they are happy, healthy and comfortable and there is a range of ways we can achieve this.
Here are some of the changes you should consider as your pet enters their golden years.
Treat Medical Conditions
Regular medical care is always important but as your pet ages, they may require extra attention. Take your pet to the vet at least once if not twice a year and keep an eye out for unusual behaviour.
Dental care is also extremely important, so watch for signs of halitosis (bad breath) or gum bleeding. If your pet doesn’t like their toothbrush, use a dental sponge to gently remove deposits that are present on the teeth and gums.
Discuss Your Pet’s Diet with the Vet
While you’re at the vet, be sure to discuss your pet’s changing diet. As pets age, they may require a different nutritional balance to maintain a healthy weight and promote their wellbeing. If your pet is overweight, they may be put on a diet that includes L-Carnitine, which is known to promote weight loss. Alternatively, different supplements and vitamins may be added to their everyday diet.
Exercise Your Pet
Older pets tend to gain weight as they age because they lead a less active lifestyle. While they may not be able to do the walk they used to, you can still incorporate fun activities into their day. A good game of hide and seek, for example, should improve your pet’s mobility. You could also put healthy treats into small bowls and hide them in different corners of the home. This will encourage your pet to exercise and the reward will be a healthy snack. Remember to avoid strenuous activity if your pet is not up for it. Try for short 5 minute bursts of activity, 5-6 times a day.
Be Considerate of Your Pet’s Limitations
One of the easiest ways to help your pet is to remember that they’re not as able as they used to be. By making a few simple changes, you can make their life a whole lot easier:
- Place food and water dishes at a higher level so your pet doesn’t have to stoop too low while eating or drinking
- Replace old litter boxes with low sided ones
- Don’t punish your pet for accidents. They may sometimes forget the rules or become confused and disoriented when feeling unwell
- Help your pet with grooming by brushing and bathing them regularly and trimming their nails
- Rearrange your furniture so they don’t accidently bump into anything
- Consider using walking aids or prosthetic devices if your pet needs rehabilitative care.
Looking After Your Ageing Pet in Winter
Ageing pets find it harder to regulate their body temperature. This can leave them more susceptible to illness, as well as causing joint stiffness and soreness. To protect your pet during the winter, use sweaters when you’re taking them outdoors. Place their bedding close to a heater and give them an electric heating pad so they have a warm spot to relax. Don’t forget to monitor the temperature of the heating pad when it’s plugged in so that it doesn’t become overheated.
If you’re looking for professional veterinary assistance in Sydney, don’t hesitate to visit VetMed. With three locations across New South Wales, we provide exceptional general and surgical veterinary services. To find out more about how we can help your pet, visit VetMed online or give us a call for a friendly chat.