What is life like living with an older pet?
Whether your furry friend is getting older or you’ve adopted a senior pet, life with a golden oldie is great. Here’s what to expect.
When is my pet a senior?
Dogs generally become a senior from around seven to eight years and cats are considered elderly from eight to ten years. This age can change depending on breed and size of a pet.
Will my pet’s temperament change?
Dr Helen Harvey, veterinary surgeon at Greencross Vets Wishart Road, says, ‘Expect senior pets to become slower and less active. They tend to be less willing to put up with annoyances such as other pets or small children. Watch for signs of your pet trying to walk away and hide, or cats swiping their paws.’
What are common senior pet health problems?
‘Common problems seen in senior pets are loss of eyesight and hearing, making it hard for them to hear commands such as sit and come, or if the car comes up the driveway,’ says Dr Helen. ‘The risk of cancer and arthritis also increases. Arthritis is inflammation of joints, which makes walking, getting up and moving around difficult.’
Watch senior pets for signs of stumbling or trouble standing. If a pet appears to be in pain, Dr Harvey recommends having a check-up, as vets can provide many treatments to help reduce the pain of arthritis and make your pet more comfortable.
Can I make my elderly pet more comfortable?
Senior pets benefit from extra love and attention. For both cats and dogs, here are some ways to make life easier:
- place extra water bowls around so your pet doesn’t have to move far for a drink
- provide soft, elevated bedding
- feed them high-quality nutrition that meets the requirements of a senior’s diet
- engage in frequent, low impact exercise
- provide extra litter trays that are easy for senior cats to get into
- bring them inside to sleep away from the elements
- manage their temperature by providing a jacket in winter and keeping them cool in summer
Changing their diet and exercise
Dr Harvey recommends adapting their nutrition and exercise levels to meet their needs, saying ‘Dogs need proper nutrition as they age, and food needs to be of high-quality.’ Small, frequent amounts of exercise are better than long periods of play to help prevent sore and tired joints.’