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Seniority: Taking Proper Care Of Older Pets

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

My husband and I have what I coin as the “perfect” pet, well, besides the hair she leaves everywhere. But, our full-grown kitty is loving; yet independent, cute, yet not too demanding, and perfectly placid. But, according to experts, the fact that our older pets are trained just the way we want them may mean many of us taking them for granted. After all, older pets still need plenty of love and attention, not to mention some very special care.

1. Healthy Habits: Older pets, still need to keep fit. Experts suggest moderate exercise that’s also consistent. Consider taking your dog for a walk rather than a hike, and letting cats roam around the yard or house, to prevent obesity and arthritis. While cats are generally smaller and not as prone as dogs to losing muscle mass, they are at risk of diabetes due to excess weight.

2. Regular vet visits: Making sure that you take your pet in for his or her annual checkup is imperative for older pets. Veterinarians conduct not only an exam but also some specific blood work for older pets to determine and “treat” any problems prior to it becoming serious.

Experts add that you should increase visits if you suspect that there’s any reason for concern, including your pet drinking more water than usual or losing interest in a typically preferred activity. You should also not any significant changes in weight, eating or sleeping habits.

3. Care and feeding: Professionals suggest that besides exercise and play proper nutrition plays a key part in the health and fitness of senior pets. Also, according to experts, older pets performed better when they had a diet rich in fruits, veggies, and vitamins. They suggest enhancing your pooch’s diet by offering him (or her) some pieced of carrot or apple in lieu of dog biscuits or cutting up some broccoli, bell peppers, green beans, cherry tomatoes or strawberries and adding it to regular food.

However, fruits and veggies should comprise only one-fifth of your dog’s diet, so if your dog eats five cups of food per day, give him or her only four cups of food and one cup of fruits and veggies. And, as far as cats are concerned, experts assert they get “pickier” with age, making choosing the right food very important.

Consider one of the varieties made specifically for older pets, since they are typically more digestible, lower in fat, and formulated with special proteins that create less work for the kidneys. And, they recommend discussing your options with your vet.

Your Aging Pet: Keep in mind that each pet may age at a different rate depending on size. Small dogs mature faster but live longer than larger breeds and a medium-sized do, about 9.5 pounds is considered to be a senior by his/her seventh birthday (47 years old in human years). Cats on the other hand don’t have a size category but are considered seniors by their eighth year (48 years old in human terms).

TLC Tips:

For Dogs:

· Create cushiony, warm bedding to minimize the pain from arthritis and alleviate bedsores.

· Install baby gates to prevent an unstable dog from falling off staircases

· Get better lighting to help a canine that is struggling with poor eyesight see better in darker areas of the house.

· Invest in non-slip rugs for hardwood floors to ease the impact of a pooch is showing signs of arthritis.

· Place food and water bowls higher up off the floor so older fogs don’t have to strain

· Replace verbal communication with gestures and/or whistles if your pooch isn’t responding to oral commands.

· Inform kids of the need for your pets special needs including quiet time, explaining that some dogs can even get aggressive when they are older and in pain.

For Cats:

· Replace food with higher quality wet food to help increase moisture intake, but check with your vet first.

· Make sure to groom your cat once a week, if not more, since self-grooming becomes more difficult (for them)

· To alleviate problems with mobility or jumping, lower your cat’s bet or build a ramp up to it.

· If your cat is unstable, restrict him or her to a secure area since it’s hard to cat-proof a house and you may risk injury if you allow your cat to freely roam.

· Clue kids into the fact that older cats need space and they may bite or scratchy when they are feeling crowded or stressed from being chased.

Long Island Pets Articles > Seniority: Taking Proper Care Of Older Pets

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