As our pets age they may need extra support for their health and wellbeing. Like us, as dogs get older, they can develop and endure health issues, such as joint stiffness or decreased cognitive function.
As we spend more time indoors with our four-legged friends, looking out for changes in their behaviour or health can help to maintain their quality of life.
Korina Stephens, RVN from Nutravet comments: “We don’t like to think of our pets getting older, but like us, dogs and cats are capable of having senior moments and developing health issues. Some pet owners put this down to old age rather than realising that there may be something they can do about it.
“During colder months especially, older pets may need extra support. Some common signs of this can include senile moments around the home, getting lost in the home or not recognising family members. They may also lag behind on walks due to joint stiffness or struggle to jump up on furniture. If you are worried about your pet, be sure to speak to your vet who is best placed to offer advice and support with regards to their breed and age.”
Top tips to help your senior pets
To help care for your senior dog, the natural animal health experts at Nutravet share some top tips:
Regular vet visits – regular visits to your vet is important for older pets. They will be able to offer advice and keep an eye out for any new health issues that might arise. This will also help to keep up-to-date with annual vaccinations, which are still important in older pets.
Keep them moving – although they might not be as fast or walk as far as younger pets, it’s still vital to make sure they exercise. Walking your senior dog will help to prevent weight gain and aid their cognitive function by keeping their mind active. Walks should be shorter but are integral to prevent weight gain, which could lead to stiff joints.
Joint care – although younger pets can experience joint stiffness, this is more common in older pets. Help to support your senior pet’s joints by using a ramp to help them get into and out of the car or for jumping onto furniture.
Nutrition – it’s important to ensure that your pet is getting the essential nutrients as they age. Obesity is more common in older pets as they have a tendency to move less. Pet food that is produced specifically for senior pets has fewer calories, reduced fat and more fibre.
Bedding – make sure your pet has comfy warm bedding away from any drafts. They should have close access to the garden as your older pet’s toilet habits may change with age and they might have to go more often. For smaller dogs make sure they have extra bedding during winter months to keep them warm and extra bedding can be used as padding for their joints.
Senility – like us, as pet’s age they can lose cognitive function. If your pet starts having accidents around the house or getting disorientated, it could be a sign that they have cognitive dysfunction. Keeping an eye on your pet’s behavior is integral to spotting these signs early.
Keep up with grooming and nail care – regular grooming is important for your senior pet to help keep their skin and coat in good condition. As your pet ages joint stiffness may prevent them from being able to groom themselves, so be sure to keep up with their normal routine. As your elderly pet can become less active, their nails can get long and could cause ingrowing nails. If you don’t feel confident trimming your dog or cat’s nails, consult your vet for help and advice. Be careful not to trim too far, as you could cut part of the nail that contains sensitive blood vessels and nerves.
Stress reduction – older pets might not be able to handle stressful situations as well as their younger counterparts. Help your senior pet by reducing any stress in their home environment or outside to help to prevent unruly behaviour. If you are a multi-pet home, make sure your senior pet has a warm safe spot to for some peace and quiet should they need it.
Litter trays for cats – as your senior cat is more likely to have accidents and need the toilet more, make sure there is a sufficient amount of litter trays around the house for them to use. Keep an eye on their toilet habits in case they appear to have trouble with urinary output. This could be a sign that they may need support with their urinary tract health.
Natural support – consider using natural supplements for your elderly pet. Nutravet has a number of natural animal health products, such as Nutracalm, Nutramind, Nutramed and Nutraquin+, to help maintain the health of your elderly dog.