Tips and Resources to Help You Care for Your Aging Pet

person petting a dog on the head

Photo by Jean Alves

There's just something about an aging pet that inspires compassion and extra care. Pet owners can grow extremely close to their animals over the years and want only the best for them as they get older.  Thanks to enhanced veterinary and dietary science, pets are living longer than ever — well past the 6 or 7-year mark for dogs and the over-15 mark for cats that the American Veterinary Medical Association designates as geriatric. Here are a few tips for keeping pets happy, healthy, and safe well into their golden years, courtesy of The Best Animal Sites Pet Directory.

Take Steps To Protect Senior Pets When They're Outside

Their self-defense skills may not be what they once were, and senior animals are more susceptible to infection from parasites, animal bites, abrasions, and discarded hazardous materials. Consider fencing part of your property to keep your pet safely confined and danger firmly out. In urban and suburban areas, this has the added advantage of appealing to other pet owners when it comes time to sell your home. Document the process of installing a fence or kennel run, and keep the receipts.

Schedule Senior-Focused Blood Tests and Screens at Vet Visits

Geriatric veterinary care places more diagnostic emphasis on the early signs of degenerative conditions or diseases, such as diabetes and cancer. Closer attention needs to be paid to dental/oral health as it can deteriorate over time due to cavities, plaque buildup, and broken teeth. Pets don't complain or indicate they're in pain, so they require a human advocate.

Dietary Needs May Change

As pets age, they may sleep more and get less exercise. Weight or appetite issues can be the result. Innovations in senior diet formulations for both cats and dogs are available, so chances are pet food – like this delicious kibble – is available precisely suited to your aging pet. In consultation with a veterinarian, carefully moderate meal plans and snacks.

Move It or Lose It

The old adage applies to seniors of all species it seems. That said, mobility may be more of an issue for some animals. Rather than risking an injury, accommodations, such as relocating beds and litter boxes to avoid stairs or other household obstacles, may be required. At the same time, encourage your pet to go on walks and play, bearing in mind that they generally have less energy and control over their bodies.

Spend Extra Time With Beloved Senior Pets

The stress we feel often impacts our pets, as well. While attention is always an important aspect of caring for a pet, that need increases with age. Just being around can make a huge difference to your senior pet's emotional well-being. Just as you don't want to leave a puppy or kitten alone for excessively long periods of time, don't leave a senior pet to its own devices. This can lead to accelerated cognitive decline and behavioral issues. Love lavished and familiar routines and locations are comforting for aging animals.

It's All About Love

Senior pets continue offering unconditional love and companionship, so they deserve to be treated with care. That can be challenging at times, but these tips will help keep your pet healthy and free of stress. Remember, they’re counting on you!