Animals age much faster than humans. A seven-year-old cat has reached an equivalent milestone in its lifetime as a 55-year-old human. Every year in your dog’s life ages your pet as much as seven years ages you. Knowing how to care for your furry friends as they get older is the key to a longer, healthier life.
Look for Changes in Behavior
Since your pet cannot communicate with words, it must tell you how it feels in other ways. Increased irritability or an avoidance of play or jumping can mean that your cat or dog is in pain. Signs such as frequent vomiting or loss of appetite can be an indication of gastrointestinal distress or certain forms of cancer. An increase in accidents around the house can signal a urinary tract infection, which is more common as pets age. Confusion or cognitive dysfunction should also not be ignored. Paying attention to how your pet is acting may be your first clue that something is wrong.
Monitor Nutrition Carefully
Young animals recover from bad nutrition more easily than older animals. While it is important to feed your pets well at all stages of life, when they get older, you may need to consider changing their diet to cater to their new needs. You can get pet food that is specially formulated for easy digestion. There are also several supplement that can help, including both dog and cat probiotics. Just like humans, your animals’ metabolism slows as they age. As pets show signs of decreased energy and become less active, change to a food that maintains its nutritional benefits with fewer calories.
It can be hard to watch your previously spry pet start to have mobility issues. You can help, however, by adjusting its environment so that the path to food, bathroom, bed and company is less cumbersome. Bring everything your pet needs downstairs. Buy a new bed that your dog can get in and out of easily. If your cat sleeps with you but can no longer jump on its own, place a step stool nearby to assist its ascent.
Know When To Let Go
At some point, you may have to admit that your pet’s quality of life is no longer sustainable. If your dog or cat is in constant pain or can’t keep down food or water, euthanasia can be an act of love and mercy. Talk to your vet about the most humane treatment for your pet.
Having a pet can make your life richer and more fun. Return the favor by taking good care of your aging dog or cat.