Caring for a Senior Pet: Here’s What You Need to Know

| December 1, 2023

Your pet has entered the senior stage in their life and are now embarking on a new chapter. For dogs, the senior age can be anywhere between 7-12 years old depending on their size. For cats, the senior age starts at the 11-year-old mark. If you’ve been with them their entire life, or if you just adopted a new friend, a pet’s routine may need to change as they enter this new stage. Here are some tips to help you both on your new journey. 

Adaptation is Key

Life is a series of changes, and the senior years come with their own set of adjustments. Help your pet adapt to their evolving needs – consider softer bedding for achy joints, shorter but equally enjoyable walks, stools for jumping up on the couch, and a bit of extra patience during playtime. For homes with smooth flooring like tile or wood, consider adding some traction in the form of carpet runners that can help animals who are starting to have mobility challenges. You may also want to check your cat’s nails on a weekly basis and trim them as necessary as their older age can contribute to overgrowth. Click here for more details on changes to consider with a senior pet. 

Prioritize Peace and Calm

One of the benefits of having a senior pet is listening to the quiet purrs and gentle snores. Because seniors typically aren’t as active as younger pets, you’ll both be able to relax with each other’s company. Consider adding some soft music to your living space so you can unwind with your pet and let the day’s stress wash away. 

Enjoy the Smaller Things in Life

Caring for a young pet can feel like a whirlwind of change in the matter of a week. Senior pets can be a little more predictable with their slower behaviour. This gives you a chance to stop and smell the flowers with your pet and take things slowly when you’re out on walks or even relaxing in your home. Appreciate all there is to offer with having a bond as strong as yours. 

Bond with Your Veterinarian

Having a senior pet can mean a few more trips to the vet, but this is a great opportunity to make some connections. It is recommended to bring your senior pet to the vet at least twice a year to ensure their well-being. But picture it as your pet’s version of a spa day – it’s a chance to be pampered and attended to. 

Exercise and Mental Stimulation

While senior pets may not be as agile as their younger counterparts, regular exercise is still an important part of their life. Adjust the intensity and duration of activities to accommodate their physical limitations. Likewise, a healthy mind keeps the body going strong. Though you may need to adjust the difficulty of puzzles or other types of mental enrichment, they should still be interacting with the logic side of their brain to keep it stimulated and functioning. 

Dietary Habits

Cats and dogs may have a decreased appetite as their sense of smell and taste diminish. They may need some extra encouragement to eat their daily meals. For more information on changing dietary habits for cats, click here. To learn more about the effects aging has on a dog’s dietary habits, click here. 

Caring for senior pets may require a little extra care, but your bond will be unbreakable. By understanding the individual needs of your senior pet and adjusting to their new care routine, you can ensure that your furry friends enjoy a happy and fulfilling life in their golden years.