After a lifetime of love and devotion from your four-legged friend, you want to return the favor and help them age with grace through their golden years. Despite their advancing age, senior pets can continue to enjoy many of their favorite pastimes and be an active family member. With a few changes, you can better support your senior pet’s mental and physical health, and help ensure they remain happy and healthy for years to come.
Here are three simple ways you can improve your senior pet’s quality of life and make the most of their golden years.
#1: Make your home senior-pet friendly
Your young pup no doubt raced up and down the stairs with no issue, or your kitten scaled that lofty climbing tower with ease, but your senior pet likely struggles with stairs and furniture. Home modifications that improve access will greatly benefit your older pet, and allow them to traverse your home with ease and comfort.
You can support your senior pet’s mobility in your home with modifications that include:
- Apply traction — As your senior pet’s joints become stiff and sore, they can find walking safely on slick flooring a challenge. Lay traction mats under carpet runners or add yoga mats so your pet can keep their balance when they walk, or apply toe grips to your dog’s nails.
- Install ramps and steps — A few stairs or the leap onto the couch may suddenly seem insurmountable to your senior pet, so help them bridge the distance by installing ramps on stairs that your pet can easily navigate to reach your home’s various levels Also, place ramps next to tall furniture, so your furry pal can climb instead of jump.
- Elevate food and water bowls — Many older pets develop arthritis in their elbows and spine, which can make bending down to eat and drink off the floor difficult and painful. If your pet appears to be struggling, place their bowls on a raised surface or in a stand they can reach without bending.
- Make the “bathroom” more accessible — If your dog has to duck through a doggy door or head down a flight of stairs to go outside, or your cat has to leap into a tall-sided litter box, they likely have difficulties using their bathroom. To make going to the bathroom easier for your dog, ensure they don’t have to crouch down on stiff joints to head outside. Install a ramp to bypass stairs, or use a different door that doesn’t have stairs down to the yard. For your cat, switch to a low-sided litter box with no cover. Ensure you place several boxes on your home’s main floor, so your cat doesn’t have to climb a flight of stairs to reach their bathroom.
#2: Stay active with your senior pet
Regular, low-impact exercise will help not only keep your senior pet’s muscles strong, but also their joint cartilage healthy. Many older pets suffer from osteoarthritis, which can be alleviated through daily, gentle exercise. In addition, many activities can serve as physical and mental exercise, providing essential enrichment to keep your senior pet’s mind sharp and minimize the potential for cognitive dysfunction.
#3: Schedule regular veterinary care for your senior pet
Since pets age so much faster than people, they can seem to suddenly develop health problems in a short amount of time. However, regular veterinary care—at least every six months, if not more frequently—will help catch medical issues before they advance. With routine veterinary care geared toward your senior pet, we can:
- Combat dental disease — The vast majority of pets—up to 90%—develop dental disease in their early years, which means every senior pet likely has periodontal problems. With regular veterinary care, we can assess your pet’s oral health and devise a treatment plan to eradicate bacteria that can cause heart, kidney, and liver disease.
- Create a healthy weight plan — More than half the pet population is overweight or obese, putting them at a higher risk for osteoarthritis, organ disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism, urinary issues, respiratory disorders, and some cancers.
- Screen for organ dysfunction — As your pet ages, their body systems naturally begin wearing out. Through regular screening tests, we can catch organ dysfunction in its earliest stages, allowing for the most effective management.
Your four-legged friend may be growing older, but they still have plenty of great years ahead of them. Keep your pet healthy, comfortable, and protected with regular veterinary care provided by your Neighborhood Veterinary Centers team in Jordan Ranch, Texas. Call us to schedule an appointment to discuss how we can improve your senior pet’s quality of life.