Like humans your pet’s health will change with age. From around age 7 (or age 5 for bigger breeds), cats and dogs enter their “senior” years. It may be difficult to detect as they may still be sprightly!
Just as our needs change as we get older, so do the needs of your pet when it comes to feeding and exercise routines.
Tips for keeping your senior pet happy and healthy
- Provide a nutritious and balanced diet, most importantly to maintain kidney and heart health. Pet foods for senior cats and dogs should have reduced levels of phosphorous and sodium.
- To aid digestion, consider feeding several meals a day, rather than one big serving.
- Maintain regular exercise to keep muscle tone, and keep bones and joints strong.
- Make sure they have comfortable and warm bedding. Many older pets suffer from arthritis and muscle stiffness.
- Control fleas proactively.
- Brush and groom your pet to help stimulate the skin to produce natural oils. Senior cats often have difficulty grooming
- Bladder muscles can weaken too. Make sure your pet is let outside promptly and frequently to avoid accidents.
- Make sure there is lots of clean, fresh water.
Diseases are more prevalent in senior pets, and the earlier they are detected the better the chances of successfully managing them. Ask your vet about scheduling a twice yearly physical examination and lab tests to screen for common diseases.
Look out for symptoms such as those below, and make sure they are attended to as soon as possible:
- Weight gain or loss
- Increased drinking or urinating
- Reluctance to exercise, climb stairs
- Reduced appetite
- Coughing, difficulty breathing
- Hearing loss, poor vision
- Difficulty chewing, poor digestion
- Poor coat, brittle nails
- Confusion or disorientation
Remember prevention is better than cure!