4 Ways to Celebrate and Care for Senior Pets
Getting old is part of life but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Here at Run Those Dogs we want to help you celebrate senior pets and care for their needs. You can read in our past blogs about the factors that are important in senior pet care and holistic pet care approaches. They are also among the less adoptable pets in animal shelters, but older pets can have happy, healthy lives as our companions with a little consideration and effort.
It may be harder to notice that your pet is aging since the signs might not be as obvious as in humans. You might notice a little graying of the fur on the muzzle or a stiffness in their walk. It can sneak up on the best of us. While aging is inevitable, these four tips can help with your senior pet’s healthy longevity.
Consider Changes in Diet
Now may be the time to check in about the kinds of food and supplements you’re giving your senior pets. Always consult with your veterinarian for their recommendations on when and how your pet should start eating like a senior. Switching to a “for Senior Pets” food can be a great start.
Seek out foods for your senior pets that are higher in protein (unless they have kidney issues), higher or lower in fat depending on your pet’s needs, with more or less fiber, and lower or higher calorie density. The website NomnomNow for dogs recommends evaluating the following items as well:
- Nutrient adjustments
- Higher digestibility
- Softer texture and/or formulated to fight dental diseases
- Added joint supplements
- Added MCTs, omega-3s, and antioxidants
To read more on diet and nutrients check out our other blog on this subject.
Exercise Needs for Senior Pets Continually Evolve
You’ll probably notice changes in energy level gradually over time. Perhaps they nap more often or Fido protests when you want to take him for a run. But occasionally they change so slowly that we don’t notice. Because they can’t tell us how they’re feeling, we have to really tune in to their well-being. Make a mental note if you notice them being less playful, sleeping for longer periods, or perhaps being less tolerant of younger animals or children.
But senior pets still need exercise to stay fit and healthy. Regular movement is good for the joints, aides in maintaining muscle mass, and can also help your senior pets rest at night. The fresh air and sunshine also sustains their mood and yours.
If you need extra support for your senior friend, know that we are here to help walk and pet sit. You can scale these seven ways to get fit with your furry friend to fit the needs of your senior pets to ensure you both stay well and happy together.
Monitor Regularly for Disease
As we and our pets age, our immune system can falter if we aren’t diligent in practicing a healthy lifestyle. This can lead to illness more often and development of other chronic illnesses. For example, your pet might be more susceptible to pet colds and flus. Additionally, a trip to the pet dentist might be in order to help solve bad breath, tooth decay or other underlying issues.
Make a point of gently scanning our pet’s entire body with your hands about once a month. Notice any sensitive areas. Feel for swelling in the joints. Look for any asymmetry, for example one ankle joint looks larger than the other. Check their ears, eyes, teeth and feet pads for anything unusual. By doing this regularly you develop a baseline of comparison that will help you spot irregularity. Many pets see this as physical attention and love it. But proceed carefully so they’ll be willing to accept the touch when needed.
Its more important than ever to keep that annual appointment with your veterinarian. Likewise, respond quickly to any symptoms that arise. Just like humans, catching a disease early can help shorten the treatment period and improve the pet’s prognosis.
Natural Pain Management
Animals have evolved to ‘suffer in silence’ because a noisy animal might have been eaten by a predator or abandoned by a pack. So they don’t always let us know if their teeth hurt or if their joints ache, or even when they have more serious internal issues. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t experiencing any pain. They just aren’t being vocal about it. So it can be tricky as a pet owner to know when and how much pain our furry friends are experiencing. You might notice your senior pets is a little more cranky than their younger self. Their appetite may lessen. They may sleep or sit more.
When your pet is diagnosed with a disease, illness or syndrome, your veterinarian will consider approaches to pain management. Those might include prescription pain relievers and narcotics. But those don’t work for every pet. Some pets are sensitive or have kidney or liver issues that prevent them from taking some pharmaceuticals.
More and more, there are also plenty of natural ways to help alleviate their pain. You can read about Run Those Dogs owner Jen Sewell’s experience with her dog and hemp seed oil.
Also don’t forget that you can support their new senior lifestyle by making changes around the house. For example by adding “staircases” or step stools to help them get to their favorite places. Changes in bedding might also help a pet with mobility issues or stiff joints.
Growing old isn’t easy, but thanks to your small efforts to understand and support their needs, your pet can ease into their senior years gracefully and with as few issues as possible. If there comes a time when extra help is needed, Run Those Dogs is here to help. Our years of experience with pets old to young, feathered to furry, hooved to pawed, and we can’t wait to support you and your family through a long and healthy life.