5 Top Tips on Caring for your Senior Four-Legged Friend

During their lifetime, pets are there for us whenever we need them, supporting us in every situation with their unconditional love and affection. In return, we should shower them with love and care too, taking care of them from young puppies and kittens up until adulthood.

As our furry companions get older they can face many different challenges, and sometimes require special care. Senior pets can develop diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and gum disease, and they’ll also become less active and more fragile. Here are a few of our top tips for helping your pet live a healthier and happier life as they grow older.

Visit the Vet Regularly

One of the best ways to make sure your elderly pet is healthy, is to take them for regular check ups at the vets. Many age-related diseases can be hidden or hard to spot, so regular exams and tests can help to prevent or target any serious diseases in the early stages. It can vary, based on your vet’s advice, but they should be seen by a vet every six months to a year.

Every time you visit the vet, you should ask for a body condition evaluation to check if your pet is overweight, underweight or at a nice healthy size. You can even ask the vet how to check this for yourself, in case you’re ever worrying about it at home. If you are ever worried, Asda Money Pet Insurance provides a free 24-hour vet helpline with expert advice and out-of-hours support, so you can get answers at any time of day.

Stay Active

Although they may be slowing down, older dogs and cats still need regular exercise to maintain a healthy body weight and to keep joints moving, which can help prevent arthritis. However, every pet is different, meaning each individual furry friend needs a tailored plan. Walking is one of the best exercises for our feline and canine companions, but the intensity and pace will depend on the size, breed and personal preference of your pet.

Aside from walking, swimming can also be a great exercise for dogs. Like humans, it’s good for you at whatever age, but even better with the older generation, as it’s a low-impact exercise. Many dogs will also find it quite relaxing, making them feel less stressed in their older years. Hydrotherapy is also a great way to keep your canine best friend fit and healthy as they get older, and it’s ideal if they’ve developed an injury over the years. It’s said that five minutes on a treadmill in the water burns the same amount of energy as a five mile walk would on land. Prices for dog hydrotherapy can cost anything between £15.00 and £40.00 a session depending on where you choose to go.

Keep up Dental Hygiene

It may sound surprising, but dental hygiene and a healthy mouth are as important for your pets as they are for humans, and this is even more essential in older pets. Studies have shown that over 80% of dogs suffer from gum disease before they are even three years old, and over 85% of cats have some form of dental disease. With age, dogs and cats may develop dental diseases that can lead to serious health problems with vital organs, including the heart, liver and kidneys. These can be painful, and may result in your pet having trouble when eating, causing them to lose weight and develop further problems.

There’s so much you can do to prevent dental disease in your pets. Of course, the obvious first step is to start brushing their teeth more regularly. Daily brushing would be ideal, but if not, a minimum of three to four times a week is recommended. Make sure you use a toothpaste or gel that is specifically for dogs and cats, as human toothpaste will cause an upset stomach. Don’t forget to ask your vet for any advice on how to brush your pet’s teeth, or any recommended gels. As well as regular brushing, specialised chews and dental sticks will help keep your pet’s teeth pearly white too.

Video sourced from White Cross Vets 

Give them a Healthy Diet

Choosing a healthy, balanced diet for your pet can be tricky, as there are many brands on the market that promise to provide only the best natural ingredients. As your pet gets older their diet becomes even more important, as they become less active with a slower metabolism, making it harder to burn calories.

Older pets should have a diet that includes high quality protein, easy to digest carbohydrates and key vitamins and minerals that will help ageing joints. As animals age, their ability to chew can fade, so making smaller and softer pieces of food will help them to enjoy their meal much more. They may also prefer to be fed smaller portions throughout the day, as opposed to the usual twice-a-day. It’s common that they start to lose their sense of smell and taste too, so a good tip is to serve their food at room temperature to bring out the taste in the food more. If you don’t have time to leave the food out of the fridge for a couple of hours before serving, it’s ok to briefly microwave wet food, but only for a short time to get it up to room temperature.

Make your Home More Accessible

Older pets may develop arthritis or other joint problems, which can make it harder for them to get around. Therefore, a great idea is to make your home more accessible, so it’s easier for them to travel around the house. For example, if they’re starting to struggle with steps, particularly when getting out of the house or into a car, you could provide a ramp so they can get outside with ease.

If you have a cat, make sure litter boxes and food bowls are easily accessible, so they don’t have to travel too far when needed. Like humans, we can even get our pets special beds to make them feel more comfortable! Orthopedic pet beds are great for relieving pressure on their joints, in particular memory foam or heated beds.

If you have any questions about your furry-friend growing old, don’t hesitate to ask your vet for help, and they’ll be able to answer any of your personal questions. Your pet’s health is extremely important, and as they age, comprehensive pet insurance becomes even more essential. You should get pet insurance from the minute you bring them home, and Asda Money Pet Insurance provides a range of different protection types to choose from. This includes Vital Lifetime, Classic Lifetime and Superior, covering you for up to £7,500 per year on vet’s fees. If you have any questions about pet insurance, call us on 0800 181 4904 and we’ll be happy to help.

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