The little puppy you brought home ten or so years ago was a romping, roly-poly ball of fur. It jumped on your sofa with abandon and never minded a little rough play. A decade on, it is no longer enthusiastic or active. It reminds you of old Mr. Jones a few doors away, who needs a walking stick.
Old age strikes pets as it does humans. They have the same aches and pains that grandpa and grandma have. Like your human seniors, they may display moody, erratic behaviors.
As a pet owner, you can help your beloved pet to cope with old age by understanding expected changes, empathizing with their behavioral problems and doing what you can to help him deal with its rigors.
Expected changes in Senior Pets
Physical changes take place in animals, just as they do in elderly humans. Illnesses become pervasive, and organs may not function as well as before. Spotting the changes can ease financial and emotional burdens.
A dog’s nutritional needs change as it ages. Older dogs may consume more fat, as they may lose some of it. Monitor your pet’s weight changes carefully.
Older pets may develop gray hairs, just as humans do. Haircoats may become thinner, and duller. Lumps may start to appear on its skin as well. Groom your pet constantly, and check for any skin changes.
Your pet may become more prone to injury. It may find it a task to fight off infectious diseases as well. Diabetes, common in elderly humans, is typical in older pets too.
If you have a female pet, she may experience the hardening of her mammary glands as she ages. If not checked, she may develop cancer. Her footpads may become brittle and thick. You may need to clip her nails and coat more often.
You may find your pet becoming less active because of muscle and bone degeneration. Arthritis is a common health problem in senior pets, just as it is in older humans. Your pet will find moving and breathing a task. Exercise it regularly to prevent muscle loss.
Older dogs are prone to dental and other degenerative diseases. Dental disease may make it difficult for it to take in food. It may be troubled by hearing and vision loss.