Thanks to our more advanced veterinary care, there’s a good chance you’ll have your pet with you quite a while.  Whether you’ve had your pet throughout their life or recently adopted a senior animal, caring for older pets can be a challenge. You want to make sure they’re comfortable and enjoying life, but it can be hard to make sure you’re covering all of your bases, especially since elderly pets aren’t always able to tell you exactly what they need. Here are some basic guidelines for caring for your older fur kids.

  • Up your annual vet visit to a semi-annual trip

You’ve likely been keeping your pet’s annual visit to the vet on the schedule for years, but older pets can benefit from going twice a year. These extra visits can help your care provider catch early warning signs of disease before they get out of control. The extra time with the doctor will also provide you time to ask questions about caring for your aging pet.

  • Understand geriatric health risks

Elderly pets face a myriad of diseases. It’s important to know what these are so that you can keep an eye out for symptoms in between vet appointments. Depending on the animal, these diseases could include cancer, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, loss of eyesight, and liver disease. Check with your vet about early warnings signs you should be looking for.

  • Focus on diet

Just like us, aging animals may need to tweak their diet. They often need easily digestible food the older they get. Check with your vet about recommendations. You can also ask the Salty’s staff and the folks at Fang for some ideas.

  • Maintain their mental health

The need for mental stimulation increases as your pet gets older. Take your dog for regular walks, provide toys that offer mental stimulation, and invest in quality time with them while they play. Keeping their mind young can help your pets stay with you longer, and enjoy a high quality of life while they’re here.

  • Choose an end-of-life plan before you need one

It’s devastating to consider euthanizing your pet, and it’s understandable to not want to think about it. However, it’s much easier to consider what you will do when the worst happens well before that moment actually arrives. Many vets can provide you with a quality of life scale, to help you understand when your pet may be suffering. You can also plan with your vet what the day will look like if you have to euthanize your pet. It will be comforting to you that if the moment comes that you have to make this difficult choice, you will know what to expect and will know that your friend will comfortable and loved.