It can be a shock to realise that a pet who feels like a permanent member of your family, is getting old. You all know that your pet is a special individual and they all age in very different ways. One of our sponsors, The Medivet Veterinary Partnership, help thousands of pets across the country live long, happy and healthy lives into their mature years so here they share some general tips on how to help your pet do the same!
Has your pet changed their favourite spot? Perhaps they can no longer make the jump to a high place for a nap? Maybe they’re not as generally active as they once were or struggle to get outside in time when they need the toilet.
Try and think as they do to work out what’s changed and how you can help them to make life easier.
A few simple alterations can make all the difference in helping them day-to-day so they have minimum disruption.
Remember they might need a bit of help getting into and out of the car too—we wouldn’t want you putting your back out so consider how you might use a DIY ramp to help them if you have a large dog!
Diet and exercise:
Just like us, pets are prone to pile on a few pounds as they age. It’s important that they receive the correct balance in their diet, so seek advice from your vet on the right food to help them maintain a healthy weight.
Alternatively, you may notice your pet losing weight. This can often be a sign of an underlying health condition, so make sure you see a vet if your pet continues to lose weight.
Pets may become less playful and less likely to want to exercise as they grow older. However, it’s important that they stay active so schedule regular play sessions and exercise. If dogs no longer enjoy walks, why not try an alternative like hydrotherapy? This involves controlled exercise in a pool and is a great non-impact option for older pets who may have joint issues.
Playtime is also important in helping to keep your pet mentally sharp and encourages them to perform natural behaviour so is great for keeping them young at heart.
It can become a bit tricky for pets to groom themselves as they did in their younger years once their joints lose flexibility so it’s important for you to lend a hand. This is more manageable if you do it regularly, as letting your pet’s coat get out of control can mean a sheepish trip to the vet and a stressful time with the clippers!
You may also notice that your pet’s claws become overgrown. Normally these are worn down naturally through activity but, as pets slow down, it may become necessary for you to take over and clip their nails. Keep an eye on this as it can be very painful for pets if the claws grow round into the paw pad.
It can be a daunting prospect to do this for the first time so please speak to your vet for advice and a demonstration to get you started.
Personality changes may be one of the first things you notice as part of the ageing process. Again, every pet is different so these changes may manifest themselves in very different ways.
Some pets may spend more time inside with you having previously spent their days outside. Some may want to spend less time with you and get a bit grumpier.
However your pets change, it’s important that you stay patient and keep to their normal routine.
You may also notice that your pet sometimes seems a little confused and disoriented, or makes noise at nothing. Like us, pets’ brains deteriorate as they grow older and they may show signs of something similar to Alzheimer’s. If this seems to be seriously impacting your pet’s quality of life it is definitely worth looking at options with your vet.
Top tips for caring for your older pet:
For more information on The Medivet Veterinary Partnership go to www.medivet.co.uk