(Guest contributor, Jessica Brody)
Everyone grows old eventually, our pets included. And just like senior citizens, senior pets need extra care and attention in their golden years. If your pet is growing older or you’ve recently adopted a senior dog or cat, Spring Naturals offers the following tips on the best ways to care for your aging companion.
When Is Your Pet a Senior?
Seniorhood comes at different times depending on your pet’s species and breed. While cats and small dogs are considered senior around the age of 7, larger dogs reach seniorhood sooner: around 5 years of age. Very small dogs like chihuahuas, on the other hand, don’t hit their golden years until around the age of 8.
What Problems Do Senior Pets Face?
Many pets remain happy and healthy long after they reach the senior years. However, after your pet becomes a senior it’s important to monitor for age-related changes such as:
- Weight loss or gain
- Vision loss and cataracts
- Hearing loss
- Difficulty with daily activities
- Mood and behavior changes
- Appetite loss
- Bad breath
- House soiling
- Lumps, bumps, and cysts
Certain types of routine care also become more important as your pet ages. Veterinarians recommend senior pets receive wellness checks twice per year and dental cleanings at least once annually for optimal health. It’s also wise to adjust their food depending on age-related dietary needs. Look for foods that are grain-free, filled with whole foods and that use real meat, like the low-glycemic, diabetic-friendly formula from Spring Naturals.
Arthritis in Senior Dogs and Cats
Arthritis is one of the most common problems faced by senior pets. Arthritis makes it hard for your pet to enjoy its favorite activities and can also contribute to pain, irritability, and house soiling. It’s important to talk to your veterinarian about treatment if your pet shows signs of arthritis. Your veterinarian may recommend medication, joint health supplements, and/or weight loss to manage your pet’s arthritis. Don’t worry — you can still spoil your pet with healthy treats!
There are also things you can do at home to make life better for a pet with arthritis. A high-quality pet bed is an important place to start, as a bed with too little cushion puts strain on your pet’s joints. Senior dogs benefit from orthopedic dog beds, while older cats will adore a heated or self-warming cat bed that relieves stiff joints and offers extra warmth in the winter months. You can also talk to your vet about whether administering CBD is worth trying, as it’s been shown to relieve inflammation and pain in dogs and cats.
Administering Medication to Senior Pets
Most pet owners are happy to accommodate their aging pet at home, but when it comes to giving medication, they feel lost. It’s true that giving pets medicine can be intimidating — most pets aren’t exactly excited to swallow a pill! However, you shouldn’t let your trepidation stop you from keeping your pet healthy.
If you’re not sure the best way to give your pet medicine, ask your veterinarian to demonstrate. Your vet may recommend hiding pills in a tasty treat like wet food or Pill Pockets, using a pilling device, or squirting liquid medications directly into your pet’s mouth.
Paying for Your Senior Pet’s Care
Convincing a crotchety cat to swallow a pill isn’t the only challenge of senior pet care. Many pet owners also find themselves blindsided by the costs of caring for an aging pet.
It’s true that pet care costs tend to rise as dogs and cats grow older, but the expenses don’t need to catch you off guard.
Pet owners can prepare for senior pet care costs using a combination of a pet fund and pet insurance. A pet fund is a personal savings account where you stash money for routine and unexpected costs. If you’re worried you can’t save enough for major costs like cancer treatment, pet insurance is a smart addition. Pet insurance covers a percentage of the costs for non-routine veterinary care so sick pets get the care they need.
While older pets tend to need more care — and in turn, more costs — than younger dogs and cats, caring for your senior pet shouldn’t feel overwhelming. If your pet is growing older and you’re not sure the best way to care for it, turn to your vet for guidance. With expert advice and the right tools, you can head into your pet’s senior years feeling confident about what’s ahead.
When it comes to giving your senior pet the very best life, consider avoiding processed foods that don’t have enough nutritional value. Instead, keep your furry friend healthy and energized with one of several Spring Naturals formulas..
Jessica Brody is a huge dog lover and has three furry companions of her own (two dachshunds and a black lab). She enjoys spreading love for her dogs with others via stories and pictures. She created Our Best Friends, a pet blog, so others could find a place to share stories and photos of their beloved animal companions.