As your pets age their bodies and behaviours change, so there are plenty of signs to keep an eye out for, and there of course plenty of things you can do to help your companion in to their autumn years.
Is my pet a ‘senior’ pet?
Cats over 10 years are considered senior, as are small dogs over 9 ears, medium dogs over 7 years and large dogs over 5 years!
THERE ARE 8 VISIBLE SIGNS OF AGING IN OUR CATS AND DOGS
- Stiffness and Joint Pain:
Does your pet: Limp? Sleep more? Have difficulty rising from a resting position? Yelp when touched? Reluctant to jump play or walk?
If the answer is YES to any of these your pet could be suffering from joint stiffness or pain. Nutritional supplements are available that can help aid joint pain which are available through a FREE nurse consultation at our surgery. However it may still be necessary to see a vet who can prescribe pain relief medication.
2. Change in Coat Colour or Appearence:
As you pet age you may notice their coat changes colour or becomes ‘duller’. This is because the body finds it more difficult to produce the natural oils that make the coat shiny. Ask a nurse about Omega 3 & 6 supplements that are available to help restore coats
3. Change in Toilet Frequency:
In older pets thier muscles can weaken, causing them to need the toilet more often. Cats need plenty of access to their normal toiletting area and some may benefit from having a litter tray within the home even if they have always gone outside. Dogs need to be let out frequently to prevent accidents in the home, and never tell off your older dog if they have had an accident indoors as it is likely not their fault.
4. Changes in Sight or Hearing:
Older cats and dogs can begin to lose their sight and hearing as they get old. Try not to make any sudden big changes to room layouts as the older pet may not notice and bump into things. For cats it may be necessary to keep them indoors and create a safe outdoor space as they may not be able to see or hear hazards. For dogs it may be possilbe to retrain them with hand signals if hearing is an issue – old dogs CAN learn new tricks!
5. Grooming less:
If your pet is stiff they may not be able to groom themselves as they once did. Therefore it may be necessary to make grooming your pet part of your daily routine to avoid problems with their coat such as matting. Sometimes the only way to get the clumps of matted hair out is to shave them out. Our nurses are available to help you with this during their nurse clinics (maybe a small charge).
6. Losing or Gaining Weight:
Older pets have different nutritional needs compared to younger pets. If your pet is losing weight, it is advisable to see a vet, as it may be an indication of an underlying condition or illness. If your pet is gaining weight, make a FREE appointment with a nurse to discuss diet and exercise. Sometimes it may only be a small thing that you would need to change in order to help your pet.
7. Plaque Build up and Changes to Appetite:
You may notice the smell of your pet’s breath has changed, or they are reluctant to eat hard foods. It is important to inform your vet or nurse of this, as it may be that your pet requires dental treatment. Brushing your pet’s teeth at home can help prevent problems later on – book in to see one of our nurses for a FREE dental check and advise on brushing.
8. Drinking More:
An increase in thirst can be due to many conditions, so it is best to discuss with your vet the possible causes of this, and we would suggest not putting it off for too long. Keep plenty of water available all day. Cats can be particular about where they drink from. Most like to drink from glass, ceramic or metal bowls (or glasses!).
Top Tips For Senior Cats
- Keep your cat warm and make sure to move their beds out of any drafts.
- Feel for lumps and bumps on a regular basis – it always best to get these check by a vet.
- Give your cat a soft supportive bed to sleep on to help with sore joints.
- Use low sided litter trays with softer litter.
- Older cats still want to play! Make sure you still play with your cat – they may not run quickly and may stop after a short period of time, but the interaction keeps them alert.
Top Tips For Senior Dogs
- Give your dog a soft supportive bed to sleep on to ease sore joints
- Keep your dog warm and move their bed out of any draft
- Use a baby-gate on any stairs if your dog finds going up and down difficult.
- Take them for shorter walks, but more frequently. Older dogs may struggle with long walks but still need the interaction and exercise.
- Due to possible stiffness and soreness, senior dogs may get a bit grumpy with too much over-enthusiastic play/interaction with younger dogs or children, so make sure your dog has somewhere safe to go for a time out.