Time and again, we’ve heard pet parents say “I wish I knew this back then.” We always think we know our pets well, but when they get older, you need to put in some extra effort to decode what’s happening. This article will help you understand how you can help your aging dog or cat.
When we take them in, as puppies and kittens, we do so much preparation. Get them the right vaccinations, the best food and their favorite toys. We set their environment to be friendly to their teething irritations. Save our slippers and our couch from the little monsters with restless teeth, by offering them a chewing toy instead. It’s like getting ready for a baby. Just like that, your pet is now old and once again, you will get to enjoy taking care of them like a baby.
There will be changes in your relationship with them. Your older dog might not pester you to play fetch. And your older cat might stop asking for your attention. But just like humans, older cats and dogs are yearning for attention deep inside. They want to spend time with you, be close to you but they just can’t be that playful little toy which they have been all these years. With their growing age, it is even more important for you to become a better pet parent and take extra care of your fur baby.
Here are 5 ways you can help your aging dog or cat:
1. Be extra gentle:
As dogs and cats age, they become feeble and thin. They have very soft thin layers of skin on their aging bones. Which means they will be more sensitive to touch. So the hard patting or friendly nudging can now be painful. When grooming, don’t brush them vigorously. Be gentle and slow on their fur and try to collect any lost hair strands. As dogs and cats age, it becomes harder for their system to handle hairballs. They choke on their own fur more frequently. So try to help them by collecting any fur hair in your house and disposing them safely. Be softer with your picking and lifting, they are not so strong anymore. Their joints might hurt and your “claws” might poke them.
2. Offer an age-appropriate diet:
As dogs and cats grow old they tend to get more dehydrated. Their taste palettes also become weaker. Which means that they will need some dietary changes to remain hydrated and healthy. Here’s what you can do:
Place more water bowls around the house and offer a variety of bowls – ceramic, wide mouth, smaller ones, made of steel or made from clay. This will prompt your old dog or cat to explore new ways of drinking water and in new spots.
Warm their food to slightly higher than room temperature. This will enhance its flavors and make it easier for them to enjoy their meals. But make sure it is just very slightly warm, not hot.
Offer small meals, more frequently, to avoid over-eating at one time and long stretched periods of starvation.
Consult your vet to find the best diet for your old dog and cat. There is no one-size-fits-all in this case. Your pet might need more vitamins or proteins or maybe even some fibers to help with digestion. Only your vet can tell you.
3. Get regular health check-ups
They need more medical attention now. You should be on the watch for any abnormal growth which could be cancerous. Or they could have weaker digestion and your diet or routine might just be harming them. Just like the regular vaccinations and medical attention that you got them when they were babies, you’ll have to set a vet routine in place. Once again. You don’t want to ignore anything and you definitely don’t want to miss a chance to control any unhealthy development in the start itself. As our pets get old, their immunity drops and their body can succumb to the slightest troubles. You have to be aware of what’s going on at all times.
4. Help them move comfortably
Like old people, old pets have hip and joint pain. And it can lead to slight limping or even inability to comfortably use the stairs or jump off the bed. They will need your help to move more freely. In the past, arthritis in cats was not commonly diagnosed or treated. This may be due in part to the cats’ survival instinct to hide signs of pain, and the lack of recognition of the condition by owners and veterinary surgeons.
90 % of cats over 12 y/o showed evidence of degenerative joint disease. Almost 50% of dogs (and 75% of large breed dogs) will have hip or joint pain during their lifetime! The average age for dogs diagnosed with arthritis is 9 y/o.
This just goes to say that their swollen joints need some care, now.
Here’s what you can do to help your pet with joint problems:
Get a body wrap that can help your larger breed dog move easier
Practice massage moves that can help relax your older dog’s muscles
Use petrapeutics ® herbal supplements, which will help them cope with hip and joint pain, feel calmer and happier and move with less discomfort.
5. Groom them regularly
Older cats and dogs have a weakened ability to retract their claws. Hence, they can be sharp and rough and even painful. You’ll have to clip them more often. Their senses will become weaker and handling natural discharge will be more difficult for their body. You will need to use separate damp cotton balls to clean their eyes and their noses every day. Also, check their ears and paws for any infection. Keep fleas and ticks away as they can turn very dangerous for older pets.
We can’t explain the joy that an old dog or an old cat brings to a family. It’s like having someone elderly to keep you motivated and feel loved all the time. They grow old with us and they love us unconditionally. We want them to be with us for as long as can be, and as healthy as possible. We hope these 5 tips help.