As your pet ages, joints start to stiffen, eyes grow cloudier, and naps become longer. Aging is a part of life for pets, and just like with humans, growing older doesn’t mean your pet can no longer have fun. It means making adjustments. If your dog or cat is in their golden years, you’ll undoubtedly need to make some changes so life is more comfortable for your senior pets.
Lifestyle Changes That Help Senior Pets
Your furry friend might be older, but don’t let the extra years fool you. Your pet still loves to be by your side, craves mental stimulation, and likes to play. The only thing is, all of these things look a bit differently now. In other words, you won’t be taking your dog on a hiking trek, but they still would love to sniff all the wonderful smells on a leisurely stroll around the block.
Make the most of your pet’s golden years with these small changes that make a big impact on your senior pet’s life.
1. Adjust Your Pet’s Exercise Routine
Don’t assume simply because your pet’s older they want to snooze the day away. Older dogs and cats still enjoy some play time and light activity. Plus, it’s essential to provide ample opportunities for them to use their bodies and maintain healthy joints and muscles. Continued activity also helps prevent weight gain and keeps your pet limber.
Always observe your pet during exercise and play sessions, provide adequate breaks, and keep them hydrated. Find activities your pet enjoys that are easy on the joints. Some good examples are swimming, following a flashlight beam across the floor, or taking a gentle walk down the street.
2. Schedule Some Extra Pet Pampering
When pets get older, they aren’t as agile as they once were. They can’t bend their bodies like a contortionist to get to those hard-to-reach places. Therefore, you may notice your pet can’t scratch, lick, and groom all of the spots they used to when it comes to self-care.
Adding a few extra grooming sessions into your typical routine will help you stay on top of matted fur, growing nails, and other problems. Giving your pal a gentle massage is also a great way to strengthen your bond, ease sore muscles and joints, and examine your pet.
Your pet likely has a few more lumps and bumps appearing on their skin. Many of these spots are benign, such as fatty deposits, but others could be more serious. Catching them as soon as possible is always your best bet.
3. Challenge Your Pet’s Mind
It’s important to keep your pet’s mind in good shape along with their body. Humans are told to find ways to exercise their brains as they get older to keep their minds sharp. You might do crossword puzzles, read every day, take a different driving route to work, etc. Pets also need to perform some mental activities to keep their cognitive function in check.
Offer your pet puzzle toys, hide treats around the room, or try teaching an old dog a new trick. Fill a Rolly Cannoli with some peanut butter, and watch as your dog tries to get every last bit of yummy goodness. Other fun ways to stimulate your pet mentally are playing hide-and-seek, going on a scent walk, or rotating their toys.
4. Make Your Home Accessible for Senior Pets
Does your aging pet slip and slide on your tile floors? Maybe your cat no longer jumps like they used to, so they aren’t able to reach their favorite perch. As your pet ages, adjust things around your home to make things easier for your companion to maneuver and stay safe.
Use rugs and runners to give older pets more traction as they walk. Provide a set of pet steps or a ramp to access their favorite chair or window sill. Set up a cozy spot for your pal in an easy-to-reach area of your home. Give your pet a comfortable bed that helps them regulate their body temperature and support their joints.
Elevated food and water dishes, like the Neater Feeder, help reduce strain on older pets’ necks. If your furry friend is losing their teeth, provide soft food on the Neat-Lik to make mealtimes easier (and provide some exercise for mental muscles).
It’s also essential to implement some changes that make things easier for you too. For example, in addition to a Neater Feeder, use a mat under your pet’s dishes to contain spills. Older pets also tend to start having more accidents in the house. Therefore, keep an effective pet cleaner on hand to tackle messes. If your work schedule keeps you away from home for long periods, hire a pet sitter or see if you can bring your pet to work.
5. Stay Extra-Vigilant About the Weather
Harsh weather conditions affect senior pets more intensely. Pay close attention to the weather if you plan to be outside with your pet. Older animals are more susceptible to things like hypothermia and heat stroke.
Always ensure your pet has access to fresh, cool water and shade. If it’s cold outside, don’t rely on your pet’s fur coat for warmth. Depending on your pet’s size, weight, breed, and fur, they might need a jacket if things get icy. Unless it’s absolutely necessary to be outdoors with your pet in extreme conditions, your best course of action is to keep your pal inside.
6. Talk with Your Vet
Senior pets have different nutritional needs and also face an increased likelihood of developing various conditions. It’s wise to keep an open line of communication with your vet about your dog or cat’s changing lifestyle.
Your vet can recommend dietary changes and perform senior bloodwork and wellness testing as part of your pet’s routine vet checkup. Many issues are much more manageable if you discover them early on, making extra testing a wise choice. Your vet also might suggest being more vigilant with your pet’s dental health.
7. Change Your Pet’s Feeding Schedule
In addition to changing what your pet eats, you may also need to adjust when your pet eats. You might find that your dog or cat no longer wants to eat as much food in one sitting. Or, if they do, perhaps they tend to get an upset stomach or throw up.
Therefore, instead of feeding them twice a day, you may need to break up their daily food amount into four mealtimes, etc. Slow-feed bowls are helpful if your pet tends to eat quickly, leading to vomiting, indigestion, or other gastrointestinal problems. It’s also a good idea to check with your vet about adjusting the amount of food your pet should eat.
Enjoying Life with Senior Pets
Older pets provide lots of love, devotion, and joy, and they don’t ask for much in return. A few adjustments to their lifestyle, several changes in their environment, and kind patience go a long way in making senior pets smile.
To learn more about how to take fantastic care of your best friend, check out the rest of the Neater Pets blog. Do you have a pet that’s entering their senior years? Tell us what changes you’ve made to make life more comfortable for your fur baby.