According to the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AMVA), a cat that’s celebrated 10 birthdays is like a human who’s celebrated over 60. For dogs, 10 years equals up to 75 human years. And old age—by any numbering scale—means more health issues. These include diabetes, heart disease, joint pain and arthritis, and glaucoma. Does this list seem familiar? They’re common in older “pet parents” too!
Knowing what health conditions your older pet might have can give you an important head’s up to catch these problems earlier. And, as our reader suggests, this knowledge can help your beloved pet age with grace and comfort.
The AMVA offers the tips below if you have an older pet. Talk to your vet for the specifics for your four-legged companion.
- More vet visits: twice a year exams might be better than once a year to catch any health problems earlier.
- Find the right treats: older pets might need foods they can digest more easily or that have different calorie levels and nutrients.
- Watch that weight: shedding or avoiding extra pounds can prevent damage to weaker muscles and joints, make exercise and play easier, and help control health issues like diabetes and heart disease.
- Shield against sickness: older pets can’t fight off disease as easily as younger ones. Make sure parasites are under control, and that your pet’s up-to-date on vaccines.
- Let’s go play: regular activity helps keep muscles and lungs in shape, and can help improve conditions like diabetes. Playing can also keep your pet’s mind sharper!
- The comforts of home: if your pet’s having trouble with moving, seeing, hearing or has pain, you can make changes that will help. Put his sleeping and feeding areas where they’re easier to reach. Let them enjoy more time indoors. If loud noises, busy children or younger pets make them nervous, give them a place to rest, away from the “madding crowd.”
Thanks to our reader who asked this question about caring for our aging companions! What have you noticed about your aging pet and how have you offered special care?