WHEN people grow older, they have to adjust their diets (less ice cream, more vegetables), their lifestyle (no more late nights, cutting down on drinking), and exercise (slowing metabolisms means keeping an incipient potbelly in check takes more work). People are not the only ones who have to adjust to aging, pets do too.
As pets grow older, their routine, lifestyle, and nutritional requirements change and pet owners must make adjustments otherwise these pets are at risk of developing serious health issues such as obesity, diabetes, liver disease, and heart disease.
The Pet Food Institute (PFI) shares suggestions on how pet owners can take care of their senior pets.
NUTRITIONAL REQUIREMENTS OF SENIOR PETS
Every pet requires a well-balanced diet regardless of their age, but there is no such thing as a one-size fits all diet. Puppies and kittens have different nutritional needs than adult dogs and cats, and seniors have different needs too.
As pets age, they typically become more sedentary and a well-balanced diet is a must for senior pets. Some pet owners avoid protein, however this nutrient is important to help fuel their pets’ muscles and avoid muscle loss, another common problem among senior pets. Some pet owners may also see food specifically formulated for senior pets, which often is lower in fat and contains fewer calories.
Much like younger pets, senior dogs and cats must avoid toxic treats which include grapes, raisins, onions, chocolates, or anything with caffeine in it. Pet owners are also discouraged from giving their older pets hard food such as bones and hooves.
To better understand the needs of an aging pets’ diet, pet owners are encouraged to consult their local veterinarian.
Another common sign of aging in pets is a drop in their energy level. Many pet owners may find them becoming lethargic compared to when they were younger. This adjustment in their pet’s lifestyle may lead to obesity and other health issues. To avoid this, pet owners must provide their four-legged companions the opportunity to exercise every day.
Running with older pets may not be suitable, however pet owners may opt to take longer walks and light jogs around the neighborhood as an alternative to ensure their senior pets continue to get their daily dose of exercise.
Aging pets may also begin to experience sore and stiff joints. In consultation with a veterinarian, pet owners can develop mobility exercises to help keep their pet safely moving if he or she is experiencing joint pain.
Regardless of a pets’ age, pet owners must regularly check in with their veterinarians to make sure that their pets are in tiptop condition. These visits can help pet owners establish the proper diet and exercise regimen, as well as acquire vaccinations to protect their pets from fleas, ticks, worms, and other parasites.
These visits should happen on a regular basis and not just when a pet is sick. For pets with underlying illnesses, a regular trip to the vet will ensure that they are receiving proper treatment to secure their quality of life.