orange tabby cat lying on the ground with one paw up by face, dozing in the sun

Written by: Jessica Brody from Our Best Friends (https://www.ourbestfriends.pet)

 

The day you picked up your new puppy or kitten, you knew that the two of you would be best friends for life. Now that your beloved pet is getting up in years, you might be wondering how you can make sure they’re healthy and happy, even if they’re not as playful as they used to be. These guidelines will help you give your aging pet the best life possible!

 

Keep Your Pet Comfortable

As dogs and cats get older, they might experience some joint stiffness. This is just a normal aspect of aging, but you can make them feel more comfortable by purchasing a cozy new bed. Your cat will love to have a soft, warm spot to sleep! Of course, there is a wide variety of cat beds on the market, including heated beds, cave-like models, and elevated beds, so do some research and consider what your cat will like best.

 

Exercise Them

Both dogs and cats can end up developing chronic medical conditions as they age, but many may be staved off through physical activity. This doesn’t mean that you two can no longer play and have fun — you want to make sure they still get some exercise! Like humans, pets need to stay active to keep their weight down and their heart and lungs strong. For dogs, let them have some free time in the backyard, play ball, or go for walks every day as part of your healthy lifestyle. Cats will enjoy jumping around on a cat tower and roaming through ledges and open spaces in your home.

 

Groom Them Regularly

All of that exercise may leave them hot, sweaty, and smelly! Maintain a regular grooming schedule to help prevent matted coats and bacterial infections on the skin. Be gentle, and consult with their veterinarian for suggestions on the best products for your pet based on breed and age.

 

Sneak In Medications 

If your pet is given a prescription, it’s likely that they will try to resist taking their meds the first time you go to administer their dosage. You’ll need to get creative with your methods! PetCareRX recommends using the “meatball trick” — wrap your pet’s pill in a small morsel of wet food and let your pet chow down. Ideally, they’ll swallow it without a hitch!

 

Look Ahead To Care Costs

If you have a pet, you should always maintain a small emergency fund in case you’re faced with a surprise expense. Pet insurance will also help you cover the costs of veterinary care, but according to Chewy, you cannot enroll your pet if they have a pre-existing condition. If you’re stuck with a bill you just can’t pay off right away, talk to the billing department at your vet’s office to possibly negotiate a payment plan.

 

Keep Your Bond Strong

As your pet gets older, you’ll probably want to go the extra mile to make them happy — and for some owners, that means extra treats and food at mealtimes. But older pets might have more sensitive digestive systems, so you don’t want your pet to indulge too often. Instead, simply try to spend more time with your pet. After all, all your pet really wants to do is spend their time with you! Spoil them with new toys, soft blankets, and all of the love you can give.

 

Consider How You’ll Say Goodbye

No pet owner wants to think about saying their final goodbyes, but if your pet is aging, it’s smart to consider your future plans. For instance, if you want the ability to say goodbye to your pet at home, discuss this with your vet well in advance so that you can talk about the logistics. It is much better to have this difficult conversation ahead of time so that you know what to expect. And if you have children, you will want to prepare them for the loss. For many kids, losing a pet is their first introduction to death. While you cannot soften the blow, you do not want to let it take them by surprise if you can help it.

When you have an aging pet, you’ll have to keep up with their changing needs. Owning a senior pet is definitely a big responsibility. Even though your pet can’t say the words, they definitely appreciate everything that you do for them.