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Nutrition for Senior Pets
Good nutrition is essential to keeping your older pet healthy. Keep these tips in mind when selecting pet food.
Many of the same problems that affect people as they age, such as arthritis and diabetes, can also affect your pet. Making a few changes to the way you care for your furry friend will help you ensure that your pet stays healthy and happy as the years go by.
Look for Common Signs of Illness
Changes in your pet's behavior can be a sign that something is wrong. Sick animals can become more or less affectionate than before. Some may refuse to leave your side, while others will spend more time alone. Cats, in particular, tend to find out-of-the-way hiding places when they don't feel well.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it's a good idea to make an appointment with your pet's veterinarian:
Make Your Pet Comfortable
Older pets will appreciate anything you can do to increase their comfort, starting with a soft place to rest. Look for cat and dog beds made of therapeutic foam that support your furry friend's joints. Heated beds will help your pet keep warm during the winter months.
Staying warm is a particular concern for older pets. Pets that were perfectly comfortable on chilly days in their younger years may have trouble staying warm when temperatures drop. A pet jacket or sweater will help keep your senior pet warm, although dogs may be more likely to tolerate wearing a sweater than cats.
Daily runs with your dog may have to end if arthritis or a general slowing down due to age is a problem. Although runs may no longer be possible, it's still important to make sure your dog still gets exercise every day. Playing games with your dog or cat not only improves physical fitness, but also helps keep your pet mentally sharp.
Arthritis and other joint problems can make jumping more difficult. If your pet usually sleeps with you but has trouble jumping on the bed, buy pet stairs or a ramp to make getting into bed easier.
Regular veterinary visits are very important as your pet ages. If it's been six months or more since we have seen your furry friend, give us a call to schedule an appointment.
PetMD: How to Care for Senior Pets
AVMA: Senior Pet Care (FAQ)
Petfinder: Caring for Your Senior Pet
ASPCA: Dog Nutrition Tips
Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice: Nutrition for Aging Cats and Dogs and the Importance of Body Condition, May 2005