Aging is a process we will all experience. Unfortunately, our beloved pets will age much faster than we do.
Many Guardians wonder how much time their pets have left and how they can slow down the process of aging. By ages 7-8, Veterinary Medicine considers most dogs a senior, and cats a senior by age 9-10.
Smaller dog breeds have been found to live longer than larger breeds. Seven years may seem like a young age to consider a pet a senior, but it is essential to recognize that the average pets begin to slow down a bit around this time. Their metabolic processes become less efficient, and mental capacity may begin to change.
Catch Problems Quickly
It’s a good idea to consider more frequent checkups with your veterinarian as your pet begins to age.
Catching problems quickly is always the best. Dental health is particularly important because, like us, keeping their teeth and gums clean and healthy is essential for good health. Addressing concerns early can slow the process, extend the quality of life, and even your pet’s life span.
Consider Your Pet’s Diet
Older dogs and cats are generally less active, and their metabolism slows as they age. Continuing to feed the same food, in the same amount, can increase the risk of excess weight gain. By age seven for dogs and nine for cats, almost all will have some joint arthritis developing. Carrying extra weight is a significant stress on the joints and can encourage arthritis to get worse. Recipes designed for seniors contain fewer calories to help the Guardian maintain a proper weight for their older pets.
Think About Supplements, They are Essential for Optimum Nutrition
Natural supplements like Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM can improve joint health and reduce the discomfort that always comes with arthritis.
An older pet’s digestive system can become less efficient, so it is vital to provide a highly digestible, high-quality recipe with higher protein levels. Older pets still need proper amounts of protein for cellular replacement. Otherwise, there is a risk of muscle wasting. Natural digestive enzymes added to the diet can improve digestion and the utilization of nutrients.
Vitamin and mineral supplements are one way to ensure your senior pet is getting all they need to maintain their bodies. A senior pet has an increased risk of a depressed immune system. Many older animals are more vulnerable to infection, so proper immune support is essential. Probiotics are good bacteria that play a significant role in supporting immune health. A daily supplement can improve digestion and enhance the immune system.
Certain fats, known as Omega 3 fatty acids, are an ideal supplement that supports joint health, immune health and, heart and kidney health. Fish oils, like salmon oil and menhaden oil, are an ideal source of these Omega 3 fats.
Make Exercise a Part of Your Pet’s Daily Routine
Older dogs and cats still enjoy playtime and walks. Exercise tones the muscles and helps condition the respiratory system. Without regular exercise, muscles become smaller, and shortness of breath can occur. Whether it is during play or any other exercise, it is important not to overstress an elderly pet. Always keep the activity fun for the pet and at a comfortable level. Mental exercise is important too. You can teach an old dog new tricks! Pets of any age enjoy finding the ball, chasing the toy mouse, and solving problems.
Maturity Brings Wisdom Through Experience
- Older pets are already trained and tend to have fewer bad habits.
- They are grateful for the things you do for them, and they show it in their eyes.
- In many cases, there is a sort of calmness about a senior pet. They enjoy quiet times next to you.
- Older dogs and cats are great teachers for younger pets.
- Senior pets have learned to read your emotions and adjust without even being noticed.
The goal for every Guardian of a senior pet is to maintain the best quality of life for as long as possible. Understanding and providing for the individual needs of older pets is the key to a longer and healthier life.