Ageing pets is a good thing; it just means that you’ve been giving them a lot of loving care and they’ve been able to live a long and full life. Sooner or later, however, they’re going to get older and will need that care more than ever.
Sometimes, it can be easy to forget that your pet is indeed getting older. They still chase around from time to time as if they were young again - and they still rely on you just as much as they did when they were young.
There is a lot you can do for your pets when they start to reach their golden years, though, and making sure that they have everything they need is key to ensuring many more years together. Here is a handful of the very best ways to make their years as comfortable as possible and ensure that they’re healthy seniors.
When is my pet old?
Luckily, pets live longer these days than they did before thanks to improved veterinarian services as well as the owners’ understanding of how to care for their pets. The food they eat is generally better as well so you can expect your pets to hang around for a long time.
Cats and smaller dogs are considered old when they reach the age of seven. Larger breeds of dogs tend to live a little bit shorter than the smaller once and are considered seniors when they reach the age of six. It’s not that big of a difference, in other words, but it’s good for the owners to know about so that they can adjust their diets.
While the age of the pet isn’t that easy to translate to human years, a cat of seven years will be equal to about 45 years. The same goes for a smaller dog but a large dog that has lived for seven years will be between 50 to 56. The difference suddenly seems a bit bigger at this scale, doesn’t it?
That’s why it is so so important for owners to understand what stage of life their pets are in. Just like it’s a good idea to be aware of what’s going on when your pet is transitioning from puppy or kitten into puberty, you should also have their back when they reach their senior years.
It just makes it a lot easier to take care of them the way you should and to make sure that they don’t get into any trouble in terms of illnesses and general health problems.
What kind of health problems are they prone to?
Just like humans, your pet’s health tends to fall a bit when they get older. It’s something you need to be prepared for; while you may want to have another look at pet insurance, for example, it’s also good to be prepared for your own sake.
Sometimes, there is very little a veterinarian can do if the pet’s time has come - but, hopefully, you might not have to think about this for a long time still.
They will still be prone to health issues when they are old, though, and you might need several trips to the vet while they are enjoying their senior years. They tend to develop the same health issues that we see in older humans such as cancer, liver and kidney issues, heart disease, diabetes, weakness, and senility. Nothing you can’t handle, in other words.
While your cat or dog may live long without developing any of this, it’s good to know about it so that you’re able to spot the signs of an illness before too much time has passed. That way, you’ll be able to take your old friend to the veterinarian and battle the issued together.
If you’re wondering how you can make sure that the golden years of your pet is as comfortable as possible when they’re developing the signs of old age, such as a weak sight, weak hearing, and senility, just follow the steps below.
The more you can do for your pet to accommodate for his or her declining senses, the better you’re making their lives.
Look for signs of changing behavior
Before your pet developed health issues, they may show signs of it on their behavior. Since they can’t talk to us the same way we talk to each other, it’s natural for them to try to be a bit more vocal or communicate with you in different ways.
When you know your pet as well as you do, it shouldn’t be too tricky to read the signs your pet is sending you. Read this article for the most common health issues in older dogs, by the way, to stay prepared.
As their owner, you do have a critical role in detecting these signs, and it is important that you keep your eyes open and consider if your pet is behaving the way they usually do when they’re a bit older. If you’re not sure about what to look for exactly, have a chat with your vet and they will be able to inform you in time.
This is a good idea to do even if you do see some signs, though, as many of them can be a bit confusing to us humans. Your cat may, for example, show signs of hearing loss but also an increased reaction to sounds. Bring a list of the signs to your veterinarian, however, and they will be able to help you out.
Some of the things you should keep your eyes out for is increased vocalization, confusion, disorientation, decreased interaction with humans, increased irritability, decreased response to commands, increased anxiety, house soiling, change in sleep cycles, increased wandering, and repetitive activity.
What can I do to help them?
While the signs above may point towards senility and general old age, your pet can still live for a long time even if they sometimes get a bit confused and irritable. It’s kind of like old people, in general, who also change their sleep patterns, wander off, and show repetitive behavior.
Just like we would with our grandparents, it’s a good idea to make life as predictable and comfortable for them when they get a bit confused.
Make sure that you establish a proper routine for both feeding and exercise. The more you’re able to do at set hours, the more calm and relaxed your pet will feel as their day is predictable and they don’t have to worry about any surprises anymore.
The same goes for your lifestyle as well, by the way, and it is definitely not recommended that you move house or do anything else that’s drastically changing how your pet is living. Don’t rearrange your furniture, for example, and keep clutter away from walkways and where your pet tends to hang out.
Getting a new partner in the household may also be confusing and uncomfortable for your pet, by the way, and while it may be hard to put those things on hold, it’s really the best thing you can do for your old friend.
Read more about this on Senior Cat Wellness and keep in mind that the more you’re able to accommodate for your pet when they’re old, the better you’re making their lives.
What are the signs of a disease?
Signs of senility is one thing, but you really should know the signs of a more serious illness as well. Like mentioned before, they tend to develop many of the same health issues that humans do, and you should keep your eyes out for signs of both kidney disease, urinary tract issues and heart disease.
The first one includes signs such as decreased appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, decreased or no urination, poor hair coat, vomiting, and sore mouth. Signs of urinary tract issues include accidents in the house, blood in the urine, and general weakness.
With heart disease, you may notice signs such as coughing, difficulty breathing, decreased tolerance of exercise, decreased appetite, and vomiting. If you notice any of this in your pet, make sure to take them to the veterinarian straight away.
The sooner you get there, the more it is that your vet can do to take care of these health issues. Keep in mind that you, as their owner, really is the only one who is going to notice anything if their health is declining.
It just makes it a lot more likely that they’re going to hang around for a while to come still - and you can feel confident that you’re being the best possible pet parent.