Nick Burton submitted this guest article for our Dog Blog, and we felt it had some really good information about how to care for senior pets and prepare for your pet’s needs as they get older! It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of getting a new puppy or training a young hunting dog, but the years start to slip past faster than you realize and soon you have a senior dog that needs different care than a young dog. Now that Grandpa Rex is 13 years old, keeping him in good shape, letting him snooze on his comfy dog bed (and the couch!) as well as getting him the veterinary care he needs to be as healthy and comfortable as possible so we can cherish the moments we have left with him is so important to us! So, if you have a senior pet or one headed that direction, take a moment to read this article so you can be as prepared as possible to care for your aging family member!
Senior Pet Care: How to Care for Your Companion in Their Golden Years
Our pets are loyal companions, providing an endless supply of love and furry friendship. Just like human companions, however, our pets inevitably get older. Senior animals are prone to a lot of the same age-related conditions that humans experience, including arthritis, weakened immune systems, and other health conditions. Luckily, there are still many ways you can make your four-legged companion’s golden years some of their best years yet. The following tips can help you care for a senior pet - and possibly even extend their health and longevity.
Arthritis and Pain Relief
Along with a few extra gray hairs, one of the first signs of noticeable aging might be tender joints. Just like in humans, arthritis is a common ailment among older animals. In pets, arthritis symptoms might look like stiffness after a long nap or an avoidance of jumping on furniture or climbing stairs. If you’ve noticed your pet is limping lately, there are some affordable ways to treat arthritic symptoms and possibly even keep them from progressing.
While you can’t prevent arthritis, you can control its symptoms. Glucosamine and other joint supplements can help treat and manage your pet’s pain symptoms. According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, if your pet is overweight, you might want to put him or her on a diet. Those extra pounds are not only hard on your pet’s heart and other internal organs, but they can also put unnecessary pressure on the joints, contributing to your pet’s pain.
If your pet’s mobility is decreasing due to arthritis and other age-related conditions, invest in carpets, rugs, and memory foam pet bedding. These soft materials provide gentle cushioning to help support your pet’s aging joints. If your pet struggles to climb stairs, you might consider moving your pet’s items, such as food, water, and bedding, to a lower level of the home. You can also purchase cushioned pet stairs to help elderly pets access their favorite furniture, such as a couch, bed, or window perch.
Concentrated CBD oil can also supplement your pet’s arthritis treatments. In addition to helping humans control their arthritis symptoms, studies have shown that CBD oil can ease joint pain and inflammation in senior pets. It also provides additional benefits, such as reducing skin issues and calming anxiety. If you’re curious about whether CBD oil might be a good option for your pet, this CBD buyer’s guide offers detailed information on the top 10 CBD oils of 2019. As with any other supplement or medical treatment, just be sure to ask your vet before administering CBD oil to your pet.
Maintaining Your Pet’s Health
If you don’t already have a trusted veterinarian you see regularly, now’s the time to find one. As your pet ages, it will become increasingly important to visit the vet more frequently, including keeping up with annual checkups. During these visits, your veterinarian will probably recommend some extensive blood panels or other physical tests for your senior pet. These preventative tests check for a variety of health conditions, which can vary depending upon your pet’s breed, age, gender, and species.
Although they might be on the expensive side, these preventative tests will help rule out potentially harmful health conditions. Not only does that save you money in the long run by helping prevent certain diseases, but it can possibly even add years to your pet’s lifespan.
Although veterinary visits are part of being a responsible pet owner, there might occasionally be times when these bills are unexpectedly high. As your pet ages, the amount of money you spend to keep her happy and healthy can increase. Pet insurance can be one way to offset the costs of these veterinary bills. Just like with human health insurance, pet insurance premiums can vary, and there are sometimes restrictions on what each plan will cover. It’s best to shop around for pet insurance as early as possible. Plans become more expensive the older your pet gets and not all plans will cover pre-existing conditions. That’s why your best bet is to purchase a plan as soon as possible, ideally before your pet gets sick.
Grieving the Loss of Your Pet
As our pets age, our happy moments with them become increasingly precious. That’s because it’s inevitable that we’ll one day have to say goodbye. Although it’s always hard to lose a faithful friend, some people find the grief they experience after losing an animal companion is every bit as intense as if they’d lost a human loved one. Whenever you lose someone you love, it’s important to grieve the loss. If you’re having trouble navigating your daily life and your emotions after losing a pet, you might contact a grief counselor or online bereavement program. These trained professionals can help you work through the feelings and heal as you honor the life of your pet.
No matter how old your pet is, these tips will help you care for her as she ages. Caring for an aging pet doesn’t have to be hard. With some proactive effort, such as finding a trustworthy vet and investing in preventative care, you can add years to your pet’s lifespan. By keeping your pet healthy and happy for as long as possible, you can focus your attention on enjoying the precious time you have left together. That way, you’ll have the peace of mind to continue creating happy memories together that you’ll both cherish for the rest of your lives.