How to care for aging pets

Just like their owners, pets grow old and as they age, like humans, they need extra care. It’s not just physical care that they need though, but mental and emotional care too. Sadly, this does take up a lot of time and energy so many older pets are sent to retirement homes just like older people. However, there are many owners who remain responsible for their pet’s wellbeing right up until the time that they leave us.

VETERINARY CARE

Vaccinations, dental check ups and parasite treatment are part and parcel of having a pet, but as your pet gets older their body will begin to deteriorate and extra health worries are brought into the equation. Health worries such as arthritis and organ failure. Happily, there are medications available to help prolong your pet’s life, making them more comfortable. Many insurance companies will payout for these treatments, but some will also stop insuring pets once they reach a certain age generally 8 years old for dogs and 10 years old for cats so before your pet reaches old age, check with your insurance company that the policy continues until death.

If your pet requires an operation, the veterinarian may suggest a blood test to ensure that there are no underlying problems. Diabetes and kidney failure are high risk with aging and can cause severe problems when an anesthetic is involved. These are expensive and not always necessary, but they are definitely worth taking into consideration. If your pet already has a condition blood work may be carried out more frequently as health problems do get worse over time.

This is not to say that an older pet will become ill, many remain in good health right up until the end. But, it is important to remember that general veterinary checks are more important as your pet ages.

FEEDING

As pets become older the digestive system and nutrient requirements change. You may remember that when they were a young puppy or kitten they were on a different feed, well it is time to change it again. Older pets need a food that is more easily digested, with higher fat and protein contents than a younger animal. Try to stick to the same brand if possible, but if not you must introduce the new food slowly or you risk making your pet ill and always remember to make sure that fresh water is available.

EXERCISE

Arthritis may restrict the movement in your pet’s joints, but exercise is still essential. Walks may become shorter and slower, time outside may be limited to

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