Much to their parent’s dismay, pets unfortunately grow older and show their age through various signs such as greying hair and mobility changes. Our geriatric patients will also be more susceptible to medical issues commonly seen in our elderly pets. Regardless of the changes, once your pet’s primary veterinarian has determined your pet has reached their “silver” years, it is important to familiarize yourself with what that means. Check out the list below for a few things to expect of your senior pet.
1) Reduced Activity or Mobility
As your senior grows older, joints will stiffen and muscle tone will decrease, but the continuation of low-level exercise is important towards supporting their ongoing mobility. You may find it more comfortable for your senior to go on a slow stroll through the neighborhood instead of a vigorous hike on the trails. Another great way to help your senior’s mobility is to design the household to be more accommodating towards them. For example, switching out pet beds for a more senior friendly orthopedic bed and placing rugs around the household can help prevent precarious slips and falls around the house.
2) Diet Changes
Senior pets have very different dietary requirements than their younger counterparts. Whereas young adults and puppies need a higher calorie intake, senior pets require lower calorie diets with less fat and protein. Their hydration intake however does increase so as to maintain organ function. Canned food is often recommended as it is also easier on aging sensitive teeth. Your primary veterinarian may also encourage you to provide your pet with supplements to support their overall well-being.
3) Behavior Changes
Pet parents commonly experience behavioral changes with their senior pets. Some of these changes may include weather/temperature sensitivities, cognitive decline, increased irritability, or even a decreased interest to engage in previously enjoyable activities. These behavioral changes are to be expected and after consulting with your veterinarian, consider including mentally stimulating activities with several enrichment opportunities. This will help curb boredom and engage your pet to be more involved with you and their surroundings.
4) Thinning/Greying Fur
Possibly the most obvious sign of aging is the greying or thinning of your pet’s fur. Often owner’s will first notice these signs around their pet’s muzzle and eyes as it begins to “silver” with age. However, owners should keep an eye on any large amounts of fur loss or skin irritation as it would not be considered normal. If there is any sign for concern, please contact your veterinarian to schedule an examination.
5) Regular Health Checks with your Primary Veterinarian
Your veterinarian may recommend more frequent visits depending on your pet’s medical condition, but these visits can and will only benefit them. Regular health checks with your primary veterinarian helps them identify any early signs of illnesses or diseases as aging also occurs internally as well as externally.
Although senior pets may not be as quick and nimble as their younger selves, they are still a joy to cherish as you help them find peace and comfort in their golden years. The biggest thing to remember for your senior is to always stay in regular contact with their primary veterinarian. By keeping up with your pet’s health, you will best be able to assist them with their aging needs. Call us at (909) 591-1805 to schedule your senior’s next wellness check.