We all like to think of our pets as our little babies, but the reality is that they age just like we do. Here, Dr Cherlene Lee from My Vet Animal Hospital gives her tips on how to make ageing easier for your loved one.
Stay warm and snugly
As our furbabies age, many of them may suffer from arthritis. If you notice your dog or cat has become less willing to jump around or go for walks, it’s time to pay your vet a visit. While we cannot reverse the progression of arthritis, we can slow it down with a tailored arthritis management plan. Make sure you give them softer bedding and warm blankets so their joints don’t get stiff in the morning, especially during the colder months.
New age, new diet
Age affects the entire body – metabolism slows down, organs aren’t up to scratch and their mind slows down too. As our pets age, they have different nutritional needs. Switching to a senior diet with added support will help reduce the risk of problems such as obesity, gastrointestinal and joint problems. Your furbaby, both dogs and cats, will benefit from eating food made specially for their age.
Good oral hygiene
Dental problems and gum diseases are very common in senior dogs and cats so proper dental care, such as brushing their teeth regularly, dental chews and mouth rinse for pets, are important. Regular dental check-ups are vital as your vet can advise whether your pet needs a dental scale and polish to keep everything in check.
Annual blood test
Hands up if your grandparents have issues with their heart, liver, kidney, hormone (endocrine) or immune system. Past a certain age, humans get blood tests annually to make sure everything is working properly. Why shouldn’t your furbaby? On average, a cat or dog ages 7-8 human years every year. So an annual blood test is like us getting one done every 7-8 years!
Another thing you might notice in your aging pet is a change in behaviour. Old animals start to settle down, just like humans. The tricky part is to determine whether they are simply getting old or they have cognitive dysfunction – a pet’s equivalent of human dementia. Are they going to the toilet in the wrong spot, staring into space for a long time, getting stuck between the furniture or changing their sleeping pattern? Talk to your vet if your furbabies don’t seem like themselves. Cognitive dysfunction is incurable but the progression can be slowed down with medication and supplements. It is very important for pet owners to understand that they are the same old fluffy fur balls and love you just as much as they did five years ago - they just need a little help from you and your vet now.