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Your Senior Pet: Healthy Care and Feeding Tips for Maintaining Quality of Life

With pets living longer than ever before, elderly pet care is becoming increasingly important. Here’s what you can do to make sure your pet’s golden years are happy ones.

  • Make sure your pet gets enough exercise. Regular, gentle exercise, is essential to keeping your pet’s muscles strong. Daily exercise also promotes flexibility, improved circulation, and cardiovascular fitness.
  • Keep up with veterinary appointments.Regular checkups will ensure your aging pet is screened regularly for diabetes, liver disease, and kidney disease. Senior pets should have semi-annual veterinary visits so that signs of illness or other conditions can be detected early and monitored. Veterinary exams for senior pets are similar to those for younger animals, but are more thorough. A veterinary visit for an older pet may include blood work, dental care, and specific tests for diseases that are more common in senior animals.
  • Don’t ignore your pet’s oral health. Gum disease, if left untreated, can cause health problems elsewhere in your pet’s body. Older pets are especially prone to tooth problems and periodontal disease.
  • Adjust your pet’s diet. If your pet is getting heavier with age, your vet may recommend a pet food formulated for senior animals. Senior food will help keep your pet’s weight under control, as well as protect against diabetes and kidney disease. Learn to read pet food labels, and choose the appropriate formula for your animal’s age and lifestyle.
  • Keep your pet occupied with plenty of toys. Try a food toy, which will keep your pet both active and entertained.
  • Accommodate your pet’s condition. Make life easier for your arthritic pet by providing soft bedding in the form of blankets or towels. Ramps can make navigating stairs easier. Placing carpet or rugs over hard flooring can help an arthritic pet move around easier.
  • Monitor changes in your pet’s behavior. If your pet starts displaying unusual symptoms, such as a loss of appetite, excessive thirst, or lethargy, tell your vet. These symptoms indicate arthritis, diabetes, or kidney disease.

Living With Incontinent Pets

Living with an incontinent pet can be especially stressful if the animal was previously house trained. The following solutions for managing an older pet’s incontinence will help lower your frustration.

Pet diapers

Pet diapers are a common way of dealing with pet incontinence. Your pet should only wear a diaper when supervised, however. If your cat or dog swallows a small piece of the diaper, a digestive blockage can occur. If you can’t find pet diapers, a baby diaper or adult incontinence brief secured with a few clothes pins should work fine.

Pee pads

Pee pads wick moisture away from your pet’s skin to prevent sores. The pads have a waterproof bottom sheet to prevent moisture from soaking into pet bedding, furniture, floors, and carpets. Pee pads are available in disposable or washable varieties.

Pet bedding

Choose bedding materials that dry quickly, and that can withstand harsh cleansers. Some good ideas for bedding materials are:

  • Old towels
  • Old bath mats
  • Blankets
  • Fleece scraps

Check thrift stores and garage sales for cheap materials you can use for pet bedding. Fabric stores often have sales on fleece. Buy a few yards, and cut it into blanket-sized squares for your pet.

Car seat protection

Use car seat covers and pee pads to protect the interior of your car when transporting your pet to and from the vet. Washable seat covers, like the ones made by Shear Comfort, will prevent pet stains from soaking through to your seats.

Cleaning supplies

Be sure to have plenty of enzymatic cleaners on hand. Enzymatic cleaning solutions break down odor-causing proteins in pet urine and stool. By using this type of cleaner, you eliminate the scent that encourages your pet to re-soil the area. You should also consider investing in a black light to locate urine stains.

Our pets grow old, but they don’t need to grow frail. Follow the above tips to ensure your pet’s comfort during his senior years.

Peter Lambert has always loved animals and had a variety of pets growing up. Recently he has started working in a pet shop and enjoys talking to owners about their pets and recommending products for the pets health and wellness.