Pets are living longer and healthier lives thanks to developments in veterinary care and dietary habits. However, that doesn’t change the fact that their health begins to decline in their senior years at around the ages of six or seven.
Follow these simple tips to ensure your pet’s senior years are also its golden years:
1. Increase veterinary visits. Dr. Mitsie Vargas a veterinarian based in Winter Haven, Florida says, “It’s important to take your senior pet for a checkup twice a year because that is when a lot of situations can be found out earlier and treated cheaper and with a better outcome.”
2. Watch for changes in behavior. Before any medical symptoms appear, behavioral changes can provide signs that something is wrong. Examples of behavior changes include confusion, decreased interaction with humans, house soiling and changes in sleep cycles.
3. Watch for weight changes. Dogs tend to gain wait as they age. Overweight older dogs are at increased risk of health problems.
4. Consider modifying diet and nutrition. As pets age, their dietary needs change. Senior pets may need easily digestible foods or foods with different calorie levels and ingredients that include anti-aging nutrients.
5. Keep pets physically active. Just as with older humans, it is very important to keep senior pets moving. Maintaining mobility through appropriate exercise will help keep them healthier.
6. Play stimulating games. Even pets can show signs of senility. Games (such as playing with food puzzle toys) that require time, patience and problem-solving abilities will help keep pets mentally active.
7. Be aware of health risks and symptoms. Some pet breeds and lifestyles have increased risks associated with them. For instance, dogs that have not been neutered or spayed have a higher risk of developing mammary, testicular and prostate cancers. As pets get older they develop many of the same illnesses that are present in humans such as cancer, heart disease, kidney and urinary tract diseases, diabetes and even senility.
These seven tips will help maximize your pet’s senior years, but always check with veterinarians for specific guidelines on pet care.