One thing that’s reassuring about owning an older pet: you certainly aren’t alone.
As of February 2014, 45% of dog owners reported having a dog age seven or older. (Large dogs are considered geriatric at around six years, while smaller breeds reach “old age” at about age seven.)
Dogs aren’t the only ones growing up fast. Forty-six percent of cat owners say their cat is in the oldest age bracket of pets.
The American Veterinary Medical Association’s data from 2006 showed that 31 percent of pet-owning households had pets ages 11 or older, a 25 percent increase since 1987.
Obviously this makes sense: as our lifespans increases, the lifespans of our pets increase, too. With better medical care and technology comes older age.
But how do we ensure that reaching old age is a good thing? How do we keep our pets happy and healthy well into their golden years?
If you currently own or are thinking about adopting a senior pet (it’s also Adopt a Senior Pet Month!) read on for the perfect quick guide to care.
Think about thinking
Pet and human aging are very similar. That means that as our pets’ bodies grows older, so too does the brain. Memory loss and cognitive decline are serious concerns for the families of older pets.
The most important thing you can do to help your pet keep mental wellness far into his later years is to continue to offer stimulating activities. They can take the form of a game of fetch, a reminder of how to shake hands or a new toy for your cat. Simply interacting with your senior pets on a regular basis can help them stay mentally sharp.
Of course, if you do notice any cognitive decline, speaking to a veterinarian can bring some insight into what to do next.
Just as with humans, when it comes to exercise, routines should be adapted with age. For senior cats weight loss can be a concern, whereas with dogs, weight gain is usually the issue during aging.
Keeping your pets on the go with adjusted activity is a must. Talk to your veterinarian if you have concerns about movement, joint support, or how to adapt their favorite activities from childhood (puppyhood?) to their needs today.
Because of changes in both body and mind, sometimes senior pets need a little extra personal space. Whether you’ve noticed increased irritability or that they just need more room to turn around, offering a safe, comfortable space in your home is a must.
You may consider choosing a special bed to make your senior pet comfortable when she’s just lounging around.
Trying something new
With aging will come necessary changes in diet, supplementation and medication routines.
Often, senior pets need foods that are more easily digestible or have higher levels of certain nutrients. To help your pet age gracefully, talk to your vet about establishing a new feeding routine.
While you’re involved in that process it’s valuable to bring up the topic of supplementation, as the type of support your pet is looking for may have also changed with time and age.
Our most popular products to support senior pets include the multi-pronged vitamin/mineral formulas Daily Best Senior and well as mobility support formulas like Hip + Joint.
Check out all of our products here.