How to Care for Your Senior Pet in Oak Park, IL
Senior dogs and cats deserve the same love and attention as their younger counterparts. In some cases, they may even need more love and attention from you. They need special care to live long and healthy lives.
Your older dog or cat should have a physical examination every six months. Age-related diseases have the best prognosis if caught and treated early on. Senior pets may also need extra help navigating through the house as they get older.
If senior pets are well cared for and fed the right foods, they have a good shot of living longer. If you notice anything different with your senior pet’s appetite, energy, or behavior, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Read this article below and find out how to care for your senior pet.
How Do I Give My Senior Dog or Cat The Best Life?
Some of the health issues older pets face include:
- Heart disease
- Eyesight and hearing
- Joint problems
As dogs and cats age, they may begin to have trouble playing with you, or they might not be able to navigate the living room if you move the furniture around.
It is a beautiful thing to take care of a pet as they come into their senior years. Our pets have been at hand to comfort us, so we should do the same for them. There are many ways you can care for your senior dog or cat.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, once your dog reaches 6 or 7 years old, they are considered a senior. This standard is the equivalent of about age 40 for small breeds and around 50 for large breeds in human years. Senior dogs can have many of the same health ailments that humans have when they get older.
Once your cat gets into their teen years, they begin to age at the rate of four human years for every cat year. When they are 12 years old, they are considered seniors. If your cat is well cared for, they can live into their late teens or even longer. You need to take care of their health issues more fervently at this point.
Check-Ups Every Six Months for Your Senior Pets
It is recommended that senior pets get a check-up every six months. That would be the equivalent of a human getting a check-up every three years. Six months in pet years is a lot of time, and you want your dog or cat to live a healthful and joyful life as long as possible.
For Your Dog
It is essential to keep up with your senior dog’s changing health status. Senior dogs can develop health issues rather quickly as they start to age. As they get older, regular check-ups (see video) become more crucial to your dog’s longevity. Prevention is significant when it comes to the health and wellbeing of your older pup.
Preventive medicine includes routine screenings, lifestyle changes, learning new habits, and physical examinations every six months. The following are some of the procedures that will be included to take care of your dog’s health:
- Physical exam – Your vet will check your dog’s weight, body condition, muscle tone, and joint health. They will also check for lumps.
- Blood work – A complete blood count checks for anemia, infections, and immune problems
- Urinalysis – Checks the bladder and kidneys
- Eye exams – Many senior dogs develop problems with their eyesight. Checking every six months helps to keep track of their vision.
- Blood pressure – This is another essential aspect of monitoring your senior dog’s health status. Just like in people, high blood pressure can trigger health problems and can put your dog at risk for heart disease, kidney problems, or even blindness.
- X-rays – X-rays can determine if there is a problem with the bones, musculoskeletal health, heart, lungs, or kidney and liver.
Since older dogs have more specific health needs and suffer more health problems, senior dogs should see the vet every six months. They must maintain their physical condition.
For Your Cat
The importance of keeping up with your aging cat’s health is a necessity. As your feline ages, they can develop health issues, especially if they are overweight or underweight. Your cat’s health (see video) can change very quickly, and you should watch them and see your vet every six months.
Senior cats should be seen on a preventative basis twice per year for a physical and lab work. In addition to the physical, you should let the vet know about any changes you have noticed. The vet will perform a hands-on physical and draw blood for the following tests.
- Complete blood count – Identifies the presence of abnormal cells.
- Biochemistry profile – Provides information about the organs. It helps detect diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, and other issues.
- Urinalysis – Tests the chemical properties of your cat’s urine.
- Thyroid testing – The most common thyroid disease in an older cat is hyperthyroidism. Cats eight years of age and older should be tested every six months.
- Blood pressure testing – Cats with hypertension do not typically show signs until they have kidney or eye damage.
Try to get your senior cat to the vet every six months. Even if nothing is wrong, it can ease your mind and give you peace regarding your cat’s health.
Be Sensitive to Your Dog’s and Cat’s Handicaps
You may realize that your senior pet has developed some health or mobility issues, and they need your help. Below are some suggestions to help your elder dog or cat when they are experiencing these issues:
For Your Dog
If there are specific issues with your senior pup, such as hearing loss or vision, you should help them with the appropriate accommodations. For example, you may need to block off the stairs so that your dog does not fall if they are having mobility issues.
Something else you may notice is that as your pup gets older, you may have trouble jumping up high places, including couches and beds. You may need to provide them with stairs to get to their favorite spots if vision impaired.
Your dog may also have difficulty getting around because of arthritis. You can purchase a flat memory foam bed for your dog’s aching joints, and these beds are more accessible for your dog to get on and off.
Some senior dogs have a tough time walking on hardwood floors. You can lay down rugs that do not have slip pads underneath. It is more comfortable for them to walk.
You could create a rug path that will help your pup with poor eyesight to navigate to their water dish, dog bed, patio door, and any other place they need to go in the house. These are examples of what your senior dog may need to have a more comfortable life.
For Your Cat
When your cat gets older, they may have trouble with grooming. Be gentle when brushing them or bathing them. When you are combing and brushing them, use a light hand.
They may need you to put extra litterboxes out. It can be difficult for your feline to climb in and out of them if they have arthritis, so remove the tops from hooded litterboxes.
Cats may need steps to get up to their favorite places just like dogs do. They may also need a padded or heated waterbed for their arthritis. Do not move the furniture around if you have a blind cat.
If you have an older cat with dementia, you should not make any changes to help it. It makes them confused and afraid. You can make their life better by not making any significant changes in the house.
Once they are older, routine becomes even more critical to senior cats. They love consistency and stability even more than dogs do.
When exercising an older cat, make playtimes shorter and slower. They may not run and jump the way they used to, but that does not mean they do not want to play. Brain teasers and puzzles are good for stimulating your cat’s mind.
Ask your vet what type of play is appropriate for your older cat and what their play schedule should look like. Remember that all individual cats are different so that they may enjoy specific types of toys for them.
It is still beneficial for cats to engage in “airplay.” They play with their paws while lying down, or they roll on their back and play with their paws in the air. Just by doing this, you will be mentally and physically stimulating your cat.
Feed Your Cat or Dog a High-Quality Diet
Obesity shortens a cat or dog’s life span, so it is imperative to feed them the right foods. See below for some ways you can help your cat or dog with their diet:
Senior cats between ages 7 and 11 run the risk of becoming obese while starting from age 11, and they risk losing body mass. Some of the ways you can help your cat with their nutritional needs include:
- More protein – A higher protein diet helps your cat to maintain their body mass. Some senior cats have difficulty digesting protein. They should have high-quality protein in their food to help them with this.
- Healthy fats – Some cats over the age of 11 have trouble digesting fats, but they still need good fats such as omega 3’s to help them with their cognitive, joint, and heart health. Reduced-fat diets are not always suitable for older cats.
- Antioxidants – They help maintain your cat’s immunity when they get older. Antioxidants can also protect eye health.
- Lower calorie food – Obese cats need to watch their weight; switching from dry to wet food will help.
- Watch water intake – Go for canned wet food instead of dry to ensure your cat stays hydrated. This switch will help prevent any kidney issues that many older cats experience.
Your cat has unique nutritional needs that you can help them with. It is imperative to feed your cat high-quality food that they can enjoy.
A big problem in senior dogs is obesity. They will need a diet lower in calories to keep them fit and trim. Some guidelines for feeding your older pup include:
- More protein – Dogs can start to lose muscle mass as they get older. Senior dogs need more than 75 grams of protein per 1000 calories.
- Higher or lower fat – This depends on whether you see your dog losing weight or gaining it. You need to check with your bet to determine the best course.
- More or less fiber – If your dog has trouble with constipation, they should be eating more fiber. However, some senior dog foods have less fiber. It is unknown whether fiber decreases nutrient absorption, and some dogs may need more fiber than others.
- Your dog could benefit from both omega 3’s and omega 6’s in their diet. Together, omegas work to balance out hormones and control inflammation. They also help maintain a robust immune system and joint health.
How Do You Comfort a Senior Pet?
Senior pets, both dogs and cats, may need more love and reassurance as they get older. They can become dependent on your relationship with them and need more comfort and extra help. You can give that to them by simply enjoying every day you have with them.
Give your senior cat or dog lots of pets and heartfelt communication. Let them snuggle up to you and give you love in return. After all, they first learned about love from you. They will be your children for as long as they live.
We’ll Help You Take Great Care of Your Senior Pets in Oak Park
Senior dogs and cats are living longer now than ever before. This longevity is due to the evolution of veterinary medicine and better-quality food.
Senior pets have special needs that you should be aware of and know how to tend to. As a pet parent, you should know that your senior children will need to be examined more and cared for differently from when they were younger.