How to make an old pet comfortable

dog - cat

It can sometimes be hard to face the fact that our pets age. A grey muzzle, a loss of hearing and changes in behaviour can be very confronting . Our senior pets require lots of tender loving care and it’s important to know how best to look after an old dog or cat.

Here are our top tips on how best to keep a senior pet comfortable:

Arrange twice-yearly veterinary health checks

Regular health checks are essential for your ageing pet. Prevention and treatment of disease is ideal, and there is plenty your veterinarian can do to improve the quality of your senior pet’s life.

A regular health check-up allows your veterinarian to monitor your pet’s weight, check for any early signs of dental disease (which can be very painful) as well as look for symptoms of arthritis

A senior blood test, urine test and blood pressure check is a good way to get an insight into the overall health of your pet and detect diseases such as hyperthyroidism, chronic kidney disease and other disease processes. Early detection and prompt intervention is always best and will help improve your pet’s quality of life. Old age itself is not a disease but as we age our organs degenerate and disease processes are more likely.

Feed a top-quality diet

As our pets age and with certain disease processes nutritional requirements change. Being the correct weight can have a significant impact on their quality of life and mobility. Ask your veterinarian for a specific diet recommendation for your senior pet.

Modify your home to accommodate a senior pet

Ways you can help your pet move about at home can make a big difference. If your pet has mobility issues, you should consider the use of ramps to help them get in and out of the house and car.

If your dog is slipping on floorboards due to a loss of strength in their legs, use some non-slip matting (available from hardware stores) or extra rugs in the areas they spend the most time. An ottoman or another piece of furniture can significantly help an arthritic cat jump up to their favourite resting spot in the sun. 

A warm and comfy spot to sleep is also essential. Soft bedding that allows an arthritic pet to sink into can help keep them comfortable in the later years of their life.

You can read more about identifying arthritis here, and managing your pet’s arthritis here.

Keep exercise regular for dogs

Gentle and regular exercise is a must, even for elderly dogs if they are capable. A daily walk that is not too strenuous helps to keep joints moving and maintain muscle mass and is great for mental stimulation. Avoid repetitive activities such as throwing the ball over and over. This can wear out joints and exacerbate arthritis.

Give them plenty of attention

Love and attention is probably the most important thing you can give a senior pet. Regular interaction can also mean you pick up on changes early, and if you notice that things are ‘not quite right’, you can seek veterinary care as soon as possible. .

You should ask your vet if you have any questions about your senior pet. They are always there to advise and help.