It can be difficult to cope with the aging of a beloved pet, especially when it’s a constant reminder that our pets simply don’t live as long as we do. A lack of understanding can drive owners to consider that their senior pet’s aging process is like a disease, when actually it is simply a new life stage. You can still enjoy a very fulfilling and loving relationship with your senior pet, as long as you learn to meet their various needs.
Keeping a Senior Pet Healthy, Happy and Comfortable
In order to successfully navigate the aging process in a senior pet, one needs to understand what their pet’s body is working through. For example, a pet that seemed unaffected by temperature changes in their younger years may suddenly have difficulty with temperature changes in their senior years–because of changes that have occurred in their metabolism that make it more difficult for them to thermoregulate. They can dehydrate and overheat if left out on a very hot day, and they cannot cope with being exposed to cold weather for long periods of time.
The heart and lung function of pets can deteriorate as they age, which means they need gentle, moderate exercise. This does not mean that a pet that has been incredibly active throughout his life must suddenly become a layabout–in fact, a total lack of exercise can be quite harmful too. But one should consult with their vet in order to determine the level of exercise that is appropriate for one’s senior pet as they age.
Owners of senior pets should definitely consult with their vet in order to determine what diet is best for their aging pet. Unfortunately, while it may seem simply to assume that senior pets should consume “senior diets”, the fact is that these foods are not actually regulated by law, and therefore can vary widely in what composes them. Your vet can check your pet’s weight and overall physical health in order to determine what food will work best to suit their needs, and it will include taking into account the fact that overweight pets tend to suffer from stress, uncomfortable joints as they age.
When owners understand the aging process and aid their pet as well as they can, many senior pets are able to maintain good health throughout their older years, and come to a comfortable, natural conclusion of their life.