We’re celebrating senior pets in November.
Our senior pets are special. They are experienced, devoted, and well grooved in – they know you and you know them. You feel as if they’ve always been there. You know what each other is thinking and it’s a comfortable relationship. The senior years can be a fine time of life!
There can be changes in the senior years that are common but sometimes overlooked. Some of these changes are normal and predictable, others are warning signs and should not be ignored. It’s been said many times that “old age is not a disease”, but it certainly is a time of life when many diseases make an appearance.
What are some expected Senior Cat and Dog issues?
Changes in senses: changes in vision, hearing and taste. Sometimes these cannot be fixed, but sometimes they are a sign to go looking for an issue that can be treated.
Behaviour: Your old dog or old cat may become mellow, which is often a welcome change. But what if he or she is grumpy, forgetful, fearful, and experiencing an increase in anxiety and phobias? Talk to the veterinarian about behaviour issues, as many of these are related to anxiety and can be controlled very well with supplements or medications.
Health issues: Kidney disease, liver disease, heart disease, dental health issues, pancreas and thyroid gland issues. Cancer, unfortunately, is common in our senior pets. Your veterinary team is your friend. Take your senior pet in for check-ups every 6 months.
Diet: Many cats and dogs become less active and have a decreasing metabolism, so they will tend to put on weight. Others will have problems that prevent the food from being utilized properly and will lose weight. The veterinary team can show you diets and supplements that are tailor made for seniors and for the nutritional or caloric problems your senior may be having.
Comfort: Arthritis pain and pain from muscle tone loss are way more common in cats and dogs than we realize. Yes, talk to your vet about recognizing pain and then about managing it with medications or supplements.
Provide soft padded beds for tired old bones to sleep on. Provide warm clothing for your skinnier friend who has trouble maintaining body heat. A make-shift or permanent ramp for getting up onto the couch or into the vehicle will make getting around so much easier. A low-sided litter box that is on the main living level will make a senior cat much happier.
We can’t slow down the hands of time and we can’t lengthen the too-short life-span of our pets, but we CAN make the most of the time they have with us, and we should always try to make it the best time.
Let’s Make Senior Years Great Years!