Your pet's golden years
September 01, 2019
Growing old gracefully
Time flies when you're having fun and it can be easy to overlook the fact that your pet is getting older. It might seem like that cute little ball of fluff came to brighten up your life only yesterday, but if your pet is more than 8 years old (or for large and giant breed dogs more than 5 years old), then the senior years have arrived. No major cause for alarm though as with some thoughtful understanding and consideration these can be some of your best years together.
Here we consider nutrition, care and lifestyle for cats and dogs entering what is considered to be their senior phase of life. Your vet can also assist you by explaining how you can actively help in monitoring your pet's health at home.
The life expectancy of dogs and cats varies widely. Although we can't prevent the ageing process, by feeding a specifically formulated premium quality diet like ADVANCE™ and modifying home care, you can help ensure your pet continues to lead a healthy active life.
Keep life interesting
The world often becomes smaller for older animals. Walks become shorter, their ability to perceive and interact with the world becomes more limited and they often rely on you to provide an environment in which they feel safe, secure and as comfortable as possible. This can mean appropriate veterinary care and medications as a first point of call.
Over the past few decades the life expectancy of cats and dogs has been increasing. This is helped by a number of factors:
- A greater understanding of cats and dogs nutritional needs and the availability of prepared pet foods that provide a balanced diet.
- Advances in veterinary medicine enabling vets to successfully diagnose and treat more conditions.
- The growth of preventative healthcare programmes to detect problems at an early stage and so start treatment sooner.
To keep your senior pet looking good and feeling great requires a little more attention than when they were younger. Both cats and dogs tend to become less attentive to their own grooming so require a little more help from you, especially with their coat and oral hygiene.
Skin and coat care
As cats and dogs age their coat can become thinner, losing its shine and the skin can become thicker and less elastic. This changes not only how your pet looks but also how it feels when stroked. In some cases the skin will feel rough and you may find warts or growths on the skin. By establishing a regular grooming routine you can monitor any changes in your pet’s skin and have any areas for concern checked by your vet as they become evident. Remember to continue to treat your pet for fleas and worms even in their senior years.
As pets age they become more prone to dental problems that can cause pain and discomfort.
The problem often begins with the build-up of dental plaque and tarter which, if left untreated, can lead to gingivitis (gum inflammation) and abscesses. Such conditions need veterinary dental treatment. Watch out for the following signs when your pet is eating or chewing to help detect any problems at an early stage:
- Eating cautiously or refusing to eat
- Dropping food from mouth when chewing
- Avoiding eating or chewing of dry food
- Drooling saliva when eating
Ask your vet about an oral care regime that you can carry out at home for your pet.
Let’s not forget the little things that often make all the difference for your elderly pet. Take some time for a relaxing cuddle, provide an extra soft bed or fill a food dispensing toy and encourage your dog to find it.
Puppy and kitten thrills and spills can be great fun. But there's also a lot to be said for sitting quietly by the fire with a long trusted friend who seems to know your very thoughts while they happily purr or snore away beside you.