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Caring for an Aging Pet

caring for an aging pet

You may wonder, how exactly do I go about caring for an aging pet? Our pets bring us so much joy and love when they are young. As they begin to get older, though, it is time for us to repay all of the unconditional love and devotion they have given us throughout their life. It is important to give your aging pet the best possible care, so he can age with dignity, surrounded by love.

When Is a Pet Considered Older?

This can vary from pet to pet, but, typically, cats and smaller dogs are considered older when they reach the age of 7. Larger dogs, who tend to have a shorter lifespan, are considered older when they reach the age of 6. It is crucial to know this because we don’t typically think of a 7-year-old dog or cat as old. But this is the time to be on the lookout for health problems. Being prepared can help your pet age with dignity and continue to have a good quality of life well on to his later years.

Consider the tables below for an approximate estimate in human years of your pet’s age as it gets older:

what is my cat's age in human years

Common Signs of Disease in Older Pets

As pets age, diseases are more likely to increase, so it is important to keep a close eye on your pet’s overall health and well-being during this time in his life. Be on the lookout for things such as:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Decreased or no urination
  • Straining to urinate
  • Blood in urine
  • Poor health coat
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Decreased tolerance of exercise

If you see any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your vet.

caring for an older cat

Caring for an Aging Pet

So, how should you go about caring for your older pet? The first thing to do is remember that your pet needs you now more than ever! You are your pet’s voice; you are his ally. Your pet has given you a lifetime of joy and unconditional love. And now, he needs your help to get through a difficult time in his life with dignity and love.

Start healthy habits NOW!

Age is, in fact, not considered an illness. The care you give your pet now will determine, to a great extent, how well he ages. So don’t wait until your pet gets older. Start healthy habits now.

Schedule regular visits to the vet

Even if your pet appears healthy, you will want to do check-ups to ensure that there is nothing lurking unseen.

Feed your dog a high-quality diet

This is imperative throughout the dog’s life to maintain health. Now, as your pet ages, it is even more crucial. You may also need to decrease the portions but increase the number of times you feed your pet each day.

See more information on making your own dog food here.

For information on the advantages of a raw food diet for your dog, click here.

Keep your pet at his ideal weight

Do not allow your pet to become overweight because overweight dogs are more prone to developing diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and so on.

Continue to give your pet appropriate exercise

Even though our pets slow down as they age, this does not mean they do not need exercise anymore. Adjust the amount and intensity of the exercise to suit your pet’s age and health.

Provide toys to keep your senior pet engaged

Even though our pets are aging, they are still young at heart. Provide your pet with toys to stimulate his mind and keep his playful spirit alive.

Sunlight and fresh air

Pets also need sunlight and fresh air. While cats live longer when kept indoors, if you have a screened in porch where your cat can get some sunlight and fresh air, it is a good idea to let your cat go out there each day. Also, many people put a window seat for their cats and these can quickly become your kitty’s favorite spot.  Sunlight and fresh air for dogs can easily be supplied by providing walks each day. Make sure you keep your dog on a leash to avoid any problems!

Ensure your pet has any special accommodations he needs

You may need to provide ramps, special bedding, foot pads or booties to keep your pet from slipping on hard flooring, and so on.

What special things have you done to care for your older pet?

Caroline Kellam

Caroline Kellam

Caroline Kellam is the co-owner of PAWSitive Strides Dog Walking and Pet Sitting Services and a huge animal lover. She and her husband, Brian, share their home with six (yes, you read it right, six!) rescued dogs and three cockatiels (one of which was found on a neighbor's roof). She would love to have a cat or two as well, but the dogs (and the birds) will simply not stand for it.
Caroline Kellam

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