Our pets are living longer than ever before, and although there are many health conditions affecting our golden oldies, there’s a lot we can do to make their retirement years more comfortable and maintain their quality of life.
Osteoarthritis affects a large number of older cats and dogs. It’s in their nature to hide signs of weakness or pain, but it’s fair to assume that any pet over the age of 8-10 years has some degree of pain or discomfort from joint disease.
It’s important to take your senior pet to the vet every 6-12 months for a full health check, so any health concerns can be identified and addressed sooner rather than later. There are also small changes you can make at home to assist your pet:
• Provide multiple water sources and litter trays (cats) around the house. Eg: on each level in a multi-story house, especially on the ground floor if climbing stairs is difficult
• Raise food and water bowls so your pet doesn’t need to bend/crouch down to eat and drink
• Ensure the sides of litter trays are low enough that cats can get in and out easily
• Provide small steps or ramps to preferred furniture such as couches and beds
• Provide plenty of padding for your pet’s bed, and appropriate warmth and cooling during temperature extremes
• Make sure your pet can use the dog/cat flap to get outside; this can become more difficult as they get older
• Regularly brush your pet, especially areas which are harder to reach such as the hindquarters
• For pets with reduced activity, ensure the nails are clipped to prevent overgrowth and catching on carpet etc.
• Gentle exercise is often beneficial; check with your vet what is appropriate for your pet
• Don’t underestimate the value of intellectual stimulation and TLC!
Your veterinary team might have other suggestions, so do contact them if you’d like more advice on living with a senior pet.
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The information we offer is educational in nature and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis or treatment. Our recommendation is to always do your research.
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