From dogs to humans, life expectancies are increasing across the animal kingdom. Thanks to medical advancements and better access to high-quality pet food, senior pets are living longer and longer.
Of course, as we get on in years we’re all likely to face health complications and age-related conditions. Same is true of that senior sweetie.
In honor of National Adopt a Senior Pet Month, and the white-faced fur friends that make our lives so sweet, we’ve collected seven senior pet care considerations to help your cat or dog stay young at heart.
But first, a bit more about adopting a senior sweetie.
Benefits of Adopting an Older Animal
So you’ve been thinking about adding a new four-legged family member. It can be tempting to fall in love with a cute cuddly baby but depending on your lifestyle, rehoming an older, wiser cat or dog might be a better fit.
Though kittens and puppies are no doubt adorable, they’re also a lot of work. Between teething and potty training alone you’re staring down a long road of frustrating baby behaviors and constant correction.
On the other hand, an older pet can provide all the loyalty and companionship you’re looking for, without all the many hours of monitoring.
Some additional benefits of opening your heart and home to a senior pet include:
- Skipping the housebreaking phase. Many already have the ability to control their bladder and bowels.
- Spared shoes, furniture, and other household items you could have lost to teething.
- Being able to make a determination on fit based on known temperament. Most adoptable dogs come with full profiles describing their personalities in detail.
- Grooming information and other special needs or health concerns to help you pick the best fit your family.
If you’ve ever toured a shelter you know that senior pets tend to wait longer for their forever homes. This can make them more vulnerable to euthanasia efforts, and really, is that any way for a senior sweetie to spend their remaining days?
Caring for Older Pets
If you do decide to welcome an older animal into your home you could be saving a life, but you also have to think about ways to make the most of whatever time they have left.
Knowing which pillars of health to prioritize can easily extend their lifespan. Start with these top pet care considerations recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.
- Vet visits. Senior and geriatric animals will likely need to see their veterinarians more than once a year. Taking them in for regular check-ups can help you identify areas of concern and/or monitor any previously identified ailments like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc. Be sure to budget for bloodwork panels, dental cleanings and possible extractions, and other age-specific checks that can prevent or control health complications.
- Dietary adjustments. Senior pets necessarily have a different nutritional profile than their younger, more sprightly counterparts. Many senior pet foods have decreased calories, increased fiber, and anti-aging vitamins and minerals. The higher quality the kibble, the more likely you are to decrease digestive upset and help extend their years.
- Weight control. Weight gain is dangerous no matter what your animal’s age. However, once they’re officially seniors, obesity and extra lbs can cause severe complications. Not only can it lead to irreversible diseases and some cancers, but it’s also physically hard on their aging joints and bones.
- Immune support. The older the animal, the less vigilant their immune systems become. This puts them at increased risk of common viruses and parasitic activity. Adding nutritional supplements, parasite preventatives, and ingredients like bone broth to their diet can help protect them.
- Mood and mobility. A sedentary cat or dog is likely a depressed cat or dog. The more you can keep them moving, the happier they’ll be. Owners of older animals should also watch for signs of senility and mental decline – which exercise has also been shown to combat.
- Environmental concerns. As their bodies gradually wear out, you may notice your pet having trouble lowering themselves into bed, taking the stairs, or dealing with temperature extremes. Be prepared to make adjustments in their daily routine as recommended by your vet.
- Reproductive health. If you’ve been holding out on spaying or neutering your pets, now’s the time. Once they pass the age of reproduction, having their system fully intact can lead to increased risk of ovarian, breast, testicular, and prostate cancers.
Pet parents would do just about anything if it meant their fur children could live forever. Unfortunately, modern medicine has yet to catch up with our perma-wellness wishes. For now, focus on supplying superior senior pet care to help provide a happily ever after.