Just like it is for humans, with advances in veterinary medicine, our pets are living longer lives. With wide-spread vaccination, safe medications, improved nutrition, and changes in life-styles, pets can avoid some of the illnesses and injuries that they used to succumb to in past decades. Assuring that your pet sees a veterinarian regularly for preventative health check-ups can assure that they are getting the care they need to stay healthy and happy with long lives – as well as detect problems early.
All of this leads to more of our pets entering their “senior years”. As they age, they can start to slow down, have mobility changes, and changes in metabolism – just like us!! Science is also finding that there are cognitive disorders being recognized in our pets – which are more recognizable as our human-animal bonds strengthen. But being old isn’t a disease!! We can make sure that our older pets are comfortable and happy even as they age with some very simple changes in their environment and careful monitoring by you. Here are 5 ways to improve your senior pet’s life:
- Lay yoga mats or rug runners on slippery floors to help footing and to prevent falls
- Weigh your dog every 3 months to detect weight loss which can be early signs of disease. Also, avoid weight gain as it can exacerbate conditions such as arthritis.
- Provide no stair/step access to outdoors and doggie doors that have no step/jump over threshold. Pets can fall in or outdoors and can even get stuck halfway through the doggie door.
- Learn how dog’s display signs of pain (see our blog post)
- Consider more frequent checkups by your veterinarian that might include regular bloodwork. Dogs age exponentially more quickly as seniors. Identifying changes early can help improve longer happier lives
- Move litter boxes to more accessible locations. Older kitties may not be able to go up and down the stairs or out to the garage to access the litter box
- Provide carpeted pet stairs to higher locations. Older kitties will continue to climb and jump to their favorite places but become weaker and often appreciate steps.
- Weigh your kitty on a baby scale every 3 months. It is often hard to detect small but significant changes in weight. Weight loss can be an early indicator of disease. Also, avoid weight gain as it can exacerbate conditions such as arthritis.
- Learn how cat’s display signs of pain (see our blog post)
- Consider more frequent checkups by your veterinarian that might include regular bloodwork. Detecting changes early can improve kitty comfort and longevity.