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Minnesota Veterinary Hospital Blog

5 Considerations to Help Your Pet Age Gracefully

2019-12-03

Our pets continue to be our best friends and bond with us as they get a bit older. In fact, a pet parent’s bond with his or her pet can become stronger as our pets rely more and more on us.

Our senior pets offer cuddles, kisses, play, and joy. To keep your pet at her best, we have some suggestions you can do to help keep her active, healthy, and mentally sharp.

By helping your pet stay healthy, you can repay the love of your furry best friend and ensure they age with grace and dignity.

How Can You Encourage Healthy Aging for Your Pet?

1. Be Aware of Your Pet’s Diet and Weight

One of the biggest factors in how your pet will spend her golden years is whether or not she’s at a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy body shape can encourage more playtime, increase mobility, and reduce the risk of some common health issues that affect senior pets.

Keeping your pet at a healthy weight reduces the risk for:

  • Joint pain and cartilage deterioration
  • Cancer and tumors
  • Heart and lung problems
  • Decreased mobility
  • Skin irritation

While a rolly-polly dog or cat can be super cute, watching her struggle to get around is not. If you want your pet to achieve a healthy weight, we can help. We can recommend a diet, so she loses weight at a safe pace. We can also create an exercise routine that will meet your pet’s current ability and mobility.

A pet that is too thin can also be at risk health-wise. If you can see your pet’s ribs clearly or she suddenly drops a few pounds, bring her in.

2. Parasites Are More than Just Pests

Internal and external parasites can take a toll and trim years off your pet’s life.

Internal parasites like worms and heartworms can become too much for a senior pet to handle. Geriatric pets are at increased risk of death from parasites since their immune systems aren’t as strong as they once were. Their organs also tend to weaken as they age. This makes heartworms especially dangerous.

External parasites like fleas, mites, and ticks can cause anxiety and other mental distress for your pet. Scratching can also lead to cuts, scrapes, and possibly infection. Bites from fleas and mites can startle your pet and wake her from sleep. This can lead to irritability and mental fatigue.

3. Senior Pets Should Visit Us Twice Per Year

Because our older pets are more vulnerable, it’s essential that she receives checkups more often. This leads to early diagnosis and a greater opportunity for treatment.

Older pets develop lumps and bumps that we can take a look at to make sure they’re not cancerous. We can also test for kidney and liver functions along with testing her blood and urine to give you a picture of how healthy your sweet kitty or doggo is.

4. Reduce the Risk of Slips While Encouraging Mobility

You’re probably aware that senior pets sometimes have trouble getting around the house, jumping into the car, and taking those long evening walks. What can you do to slow this process and help your pet receive enough exercise?

Invest in a few ramps and stairs if needed. This can help your dog get into the car to go on an adventure or help your cat reach her favorite windowsill. Attempting large leaps can lead to muscle and joint strain and the possibility of falls.

Notice areas where your pet tends to slip. You can also put rugs down on those slippery floors to help your pet get a grip. This supports proper posture and movement and decreases the anxiety that slipping can cause.

For senior dogs, don’t skip those walks. Even if your dog’s walk isn’t as long as it used to be, walks help lubricate your dog’s joints, maintain muscle tone, and elevate her heart rate.

5. Keep That Brain Active

Aging isn’t just about your pet’s physical health. Healthy aging needs to be holistic and support cognitive function as well. When your pet doesn’t receive enough mental stimulation she can experience depression, boredom, anxiety, and increased dementia.

Those walks for your dog help but training and play do too.

Dog and cat puzzles can challenge pets during the winter and inspire curiosity.

For senior cats, keep them mentally active with half an hour of play and indulge her desire to hunt. Get down on your cat’s level and discover where a ramp or steps can be helpful in her ability to regain access to her favorite spots.

Make the Most of Your Pet’s Golden Years

Don’t let your pet slow down just yet. There are plenty more memories to make!

Aging gracefully is all about paying attention and providing for your senior pet’s needs. This will lead to a longer, healthy life filled with fun memories and adventure.

Give us a call if you want to establish a plan to help your pet slide gracefully into her sunset years. From diet to pain management, we can help you provide your senior pet with some of your best memories!

 

 

Image credit: PongMoji | iStock | Getty Images Plus