Senior pet care has come a long way and thanks to improved foods, treats and Veterinary services, our pets can have a longer life to share with us. However, with increased longevity comes a list of health conditions that our pets can experience. It’s up to us as pet parents to not only be aware of the aging process of our pets but to accommodate their changing needs.
Geriatric health conditions can afflict our older pets in the same way that they do in humans. The most common problems can include: heart disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney and/or urinary tract disease, liver disease, bone or joint disease and even senility and weakness. It’s important to talk to your Veterinarian about various symptoms that are associated with these disorders. They can appear as behavioral or eating changes all the way to intestinal distress. A proper diagnoses at early stages can address the condition and help you and your pet deal with the aging process.
Accommodate Their Needs
Our furred family members will not have the same energy levels or abilities as they did when they were younger. This means that they may not be able to play, jump, and run due to age-related conditions. The best thing that you can do is to recognize their needs and offer assistance such as doggy/kitty steps and even helping them in and out of the car. Older pets also sleep a lot more and while they may have many moments of playing and happiness, they are less than what they used to do in their youth.
Dietary changes are often required for our aging pets. Their systems change as they get older and it’s important to pay attention if they have a lack luster appetite or begin to vomit after eating. Luckily there are so many specialty and healthy foods on the market that you can select from, but always discuss this with your Veterinarian before making any changes. It’s also important to introduce new foods gradually, mixing them with some of the old food. This will reduce intestinal distress and make the transition easier.
Being Attentive to Symptoms of Aging
It often breaks our heart to see the pet that we have shared our life with gradually move into their senior years, but as part of your commitment and love to them, you need to be aware of the symptoms of aging. Some can be an alert to potential medical conditions, while others are just part of the aging process. Always discuss any change with your Veterinarian to be assured that you address potential health conditions early.
Some of the average symptoms of an aging pet can include: an increase in vocalization, increased anxiety, increased reactions to sounds, confusion or disorientation, soiling in the house, increased protective or aggressive behavior, lowered rate of grooming or self-hygiene, increase in wandering, an alteration in their sleep cycles, repetitive activity, an increase in irritability. Other symptoms can include coughing, breathing difficulties, and less interest in exercise. In situations where there is joint or bone problems, your pet may favor a particular limb or all limbs. They may also have no interest in jumping, running or climbing stairs or you may see them have difficulty getting up or laying down.
As pet parents, we are required to make the accommodations to the needs of our pets so that we can continue to assure a quality life.