Pets age seven times faster than us and many changes occur including increased risk of diseases of old age. These changes can sometimes be so subtle that we miss them. Some of the signs of aging that you can look for in a senior pet include drying of the skin and a flaky appearance because the sebaceous glands produce less oil in old age. The pet can also lose hair because the hair follicles atrophy with age and the pet also gets abnormal shedding of hair. It is also common for senior pets to develop lumps or bumps on the skin.
These lumps may be adenomas which are benign masses. As pets age, their immune function also decreases and they become more susceptible to infections on the skin or in the body. Sometimes these infections may produce a bad odor that may make it uncomfortable to stay close to the pet. Loss of muscle bulk is another sign of old age in pets which makes the pets have a hard time standing or playing. Senior pets can also develop arthritis which is inflammation of the joints that causes stiffness, joint pain, and reduced mobility. This article provides ways of caring for your pet as it ages.
1. Pay Regular Visits to the Vet
As your pet becomes older, it is important to increase the number of visits that you pay the veterinary doctor. The vet can detect early changes in the pet that requires medical attention. Taking your pet to see a vet is a preventive form of medicine because the vet can detect an impending illness and treat it before it complicates. The doctor does this by doing a full physical on the pet and asking you about any changes that you have noticed.
2. Feed Your Pet with the Right Diet
As your pet ages, their teeth may develop changes of old age like cavities. This can make it hard for your pet to feed and they may become malnourished. To avoid this, it is important to give your pet the right food for their condition. So if you have an aging cat with bad teeth issues, you can give foods that are tender and in small chunks as these are good food for cats with bad teeth. The vet will do a dental check on your pet to avoid these problems.
3. Engage Your Pet Mentally
Just like in human beings, the cognitive function of pets also declines as the pet ages. Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) is the name of the condition that pets get when their cognition reduces. It is advisable to mentally engage your pets as they age to avoid this problem. To engage your pet, you can play games like puzzle toys which help with mind play as the pet solves a problem. Games that engage the hunter-prey drive like having the pet’s food in different areas in the house are great for cats while dogs can benefit from games that engage the nose and stimulate agility.
4. Alternative Therapy
Some of the symptoms of old age like arthritis and joint pain can be managed using alternative therapies. Pets with arthritis can benefit from physical therapy. Some of the methods for treating these symptoms include aqua therapy that uses pools and underwater treadmills and massage therapy. Pets can also benefit from acupuncture which reduces pain and improves blood supply helping the pet to relax. Diet supplements are also useful for aging pets.
5. Lifestyle Changes
Since the changes that occur in old age like arthritis make it harder for your pet to walk, run or even play, it is important to make some lifestyle changes that will help the pets to lead a more comfortable life. Such changes include having a litter box that is small on the sides so that the pet can easily use it. You can also place the pet’s beddings and feeding dishes on the floor so that they can easily reach the food. Having rugs in the hallway is another way of caring for your pet as it ages.
6. Spend More Time with Your Pet
The changes that occur in old age can reduce the quality of life of your pet. The cat may be in pain and another discomfort as they age. Some of the changes like bad odor can discourage us from staying close to our pets. It is however advisable to spend quality time with your pet when they are going through such changes so that they lead a better life. The time you spend with your senior pet is so valuable.
7. Protect the Pet from Bad Weather
To promote the health of your dog as they age, you need to keep them safe during extreme weather conditions. During winter, you can invest in fleece blankets, boots, and jackets for your pet while during summer you can keep the pet well hydrated and in the shade.
In summary, pets go through changes during old age like arthritis, hair loss, skin bumps, and lumps, and dry skin. To improve the comfort of your pet during such changes, you can feed them with the right diet, make more visits to the vet, and protect them from bad weather.