We are here to help you keep your pets healthy and happy into their golden years. What is a senior pet? Cats are considered seniors once they reach 11 years of age. Small dogs (less than 50 pounds) are considered seniors once they are 7 years old, and large dogs (greater than 50 pounds) once they are 5 years old.
Here are some tips you can do at home to help your pet age gracefully and comfortably:
- Consider altering their diet: As pets age, they tend to lose muscle mass. Dogs tend to gain weight, while cats often lose weight. Maintaining an optimal weight can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and overall risk factors. Speak with a veterinarian who can help you tailor a nutrition plan for your pet to optimize body composition and maintain muscle mass.
- Keep them mentally active: Cognitive disorders among cats and dogs are common health issues as they age but new experiences can help with the decline. For elderly dogs, try outings to new places, teach them new tricks, or introduce new toys. There are great brain games for cats and dogs like puzzle feeders and other interactive toys. Cognitive decline in cats and dogs can increase confusion and anxiety in our pets. While introducing new experiences, it’s still important to continue with established pet routines and schedules. Making use of anti-anxiety supplements and pheromones can also help them maintain their quality of life as they age.
- Help maintain their mobility: Arthritis is a common health issue with senior pets, and there are some simple things we can do at home to help make them as comfortable as possible.
- Bedding: Because seniors tend to lose muscle mass, it can be harder for them to be comfortable when resting. Ensure your pet’s sleeping area is well cushioned, you may want to consider an orthopedic pet bed.
- Heat source: Cats love to be warm. Their ideal environmental temperature is higher than ours, so adding in a heat source for them can be very comforting and help with stiff joints. This can be as simple as putting your cat’s bed in a sunny window or investing in a pet-safe heating pad.
- Flooring: Some pets, particularly large dogs, have trouble maintaining their footing on slippery floors. Laying down yoga mats or floor runners can be helpful. Also using non-slip booties or toe grips can give your pet more traction.
- Regular nail trims: Overgrown nails change the biomechanics of how your pet walks, which can make it uncomfortable for them. Long nails can also make it easier for your pet to slip. If your pet is nervous about having their nails trimmed, you can try a scratch board, or ask your groomer, vet clinic, or a TELUS Health MyPet vet tech for help and/or tips & tricks for trimming nails at home.
- Easy access to the necessities: Ensure your pet can access the things they need the most (food, water, litter box, bed, etc.). Some pets may benefit from ramps or steps to help them on to elevated surfaces. For older cats, consider litter boxes that are lower to the ground or ones that do not have a lid. You can also try an elevated food and water dish so that your pet does not have to bend down as far to access them.
- Groom them regularly: It can get more challenging to maneuver into positions to groom appropriately, so you can help your senior pet out by brushing them regularly. This is also an excellent way to spend time with your pet.
- Spend quality time together: More than anything, your pet cherishes time with you. Enjoy these special years together, and spend time doing the things you both love.
Seniors require a bit more attention than their younger counterparts, including more veterinary care. If you feel as though your pet’s health could be more optimal, book an appointment with a TELUS Health MyPet veterinarian or registered vet tech1. We are here to partner with you to make your senior pet as healthy and happy as they can be.
1. Not applicable to all cases. If you are concerned about new symptoms or suspect your pet may need medication or an adjustment to a current medication, please book an appointment with your veterinarian. A registered vet tech may decide that an in-person visit is required to ensure your pet receives appropriate care.