How to Keep Your Aging Pet Healthy and Happy

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How to Keep Your Aging Pet Healthy and Happy
by Nick Burton,

There is nothing quite like the joy that a pet can bring. No matter their age, they will always be babies in our eyes. However, we need to ensure that as their bodies change, we adapt with them to make their lives easier. Here is how you can ensure your pet leads their best life as they gradually transition into their golden years.

Changing Their Diet

As our furry friends grow older, their diets will need to change to reflect the alterations in their bodies. However, don't assume that cats' needs and dogs' needs are the same, either. While dogs may need fewer calories as they grow older, cats spend more energy as they age; this means they require more calories than they did before. Senior cats also need plenty of protein, even more than when they were kittens. They may not absorb it as well as when they were spritely, however, so always get food that is formulated for them. Dogs, however, benefit from lower calorie foods with less fats. Antioxidants and omega-3s can keep your pup in good shape; therefore, look for meals that support these needs.

Useful Accessories

Getting around can become a trial in our pets' later years. To make their lives more comfortable, add some accessories. This could mean buying a pet stroller so you pet can still get outside, or pet stairs to help your older pooch get onto the couch or into the car. Of course, you'll want to understand which options are best for your dog's size and needs before making an investment. Thankfully, the internet is full of owner and professional reviews to guide you. You might also get extra cushioned beds to keep pressure off of their joints. There are even toys geared specifically for older pets, so they can still have gentle enrichment despite their increasing age.

Keep Exercise Accessible

As always, exercise is important to your pet’s health. Yet, like many other things, that needs to change as the years go by. For instance, senior dogs must stay active, even if they are not as hearty as they once were. Talk to your vet about what is appropriate for your friend, but continue taking walks together. If your vet suggests more exercise, start a gradual plan to allow your pet time to adjust. If your pet needs to get out during the day while you’re at work, a simple solution is hiring a pet sitter. Plus, that extra bit of company can make your dog’s day a little brighter.

Toys are one other great way to get your fuzzball moving and having fun. You may need to switch out a cat's tower for something smaller and easier on their joints, but do let them continue to climb. Little things can go a long way to ensure your pet stays healthy and happy.
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Prioritize Their Health

Regular check-ups can keep your pet in good condition and prevent degenerative diseases. While healthy adult animals should see a vet only once a year, older pets need to go more frequently. Get them vaccinated when you go, and make sure your vet is looking for parasites that may be more devastating to senior animals. They can also tell you what signs to look for concerning the most common issues for your breed.

You’ll also need to know when your pet is in pain, as this risk increases with age. They may show more visible signs, such as limping, but sometimes it's not easy to spot their discomfort. Listen for verbal cues. For example, they may whine continuously or when touched in a certain spot of their body. Dogs may grunt or groan, while cats may meow or purr constantly, or hiss or growl when you approach them.

Be Patient and Prepared

Many older pets, though still spry, can often have accidents in the home. When this happens, be patient with your senior pet and try to be prepared. You might need to update your cleaning supplies so you always have something on hand or plan to use a cleaning service once in a while so you can spend more time with your pet and less time cleaning (maid services in Norman run around $87 - $184 a visit). If your pet has repeated accidents, this could be a sign of a larger issue, in which case it’s time to take your pet to the vet.

Make Each Day Special

Our companions are precious; we need to show them that every single day. You may not be able to play as vigorously as before, or your pet may not have the same energy, but you can still show them some love. Pets thrive on affection, so do something physical for your animal. This can be as simple as daily ear rubs or telling them how much they mean to us. After all, studies suggest that our pets may understand more than just our tone when we speak to them. Verbalizing our love can be a powerful way to engender closeness. Every moment counts.

Very rarely do our pets outlive us. We want to make sure every day is one spent surrounded by love and comfort. Give your senior pet the life it deserves.

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