November is National Senior Pet Month and Adopt a Senior Pet Month. If you’re looking at getting a new old pet, senior pets make wonderful additions to the family. Senior pets tend to be laid-back and usually house-trained. If you have adopted or are thinking of adopting a senior dog or cat, you should learn more about their needs.
The word ‘senior’ makes people think of advanced age, of inactivity, of brittle bones, and of health problems. That misconception couldn’t be farther from reality. The reality is that cats and dogs are considered ‘seniors’ at the bright, youthful ages of 7- or 8-years-old. Those pets not only have plenty of years left, but they also have plenty of healthy, active years (especially if you are an attentive pet parent).
Senior Pet Care Tips
Caring for senior pets is a lot like caring for younger pets; however, you do want to be more attentive about checking their ears, mouth, teeth, gums, nails, paws, and skin for any signs of problems when you do your regular grooming. All animals need:
- Regular teeth brushing. Get a pet-safe toothpaste and brush your teeth a few times a week. While you are doing it, check your pet’s teeth and gums for redness, whiteness, bleeding, or other abnormalities.
- Their ears cleaned. Clean your pet’s ears once or twice a week to keep wax, mites, and other potentially unhealthy build-up at bay.
- Their nails trimmed. Every couple of months, you should trim your pet’s nails. Overly-long nails can grow into your pet’s paws and are otherwise uncomfortable.
- Baths. Cats are excellent self-groomers, but as they get older, they might need help, even if it’s just wiping them with a wet washcloth to mimic their own tongue. Dogs should be bathed every few months or if they get exceptionally dirty. Don’t bathe your pet too often as that can strip their skin of natural oils.
You should also ensure your pet’s vaccinations are kept up to date. Regular vet checks can help you catch any potential diseases or ailments that—left untreated—could cause serious problems later.
Feeding, Playing, Spending Quality Time with Your Senior Pet
To ensure your pet’s health and longevity, play with your senior pet just the way you would a younger pet. Senior pets need exercise and recreation as much as (if not more so) than puppies and kittens. Find toys that interest your cat and engage your cat with those toys. Take your dog with you for walks or runs. One benefit of senior pets is that they tend to know the routine (and they tend to like routine) and will gleefully go along for the adventure.
While playtime and exercise time are forms of quality time, you should also spend time sitting with your senior pet stroking and brushing him or her. This kind of bonding is relaxing and trust-building for both of you. During brushing and petting sessions, subtly check for any growths, lumps, or abrasions that aren’t healing. These along with dry or oily skin are potential indicators of medical issues.
Lastly, you want to feed your pet a healthy, holistic pet food. Look for something with no chemicals or additives and that is specifically made for senior dogs or senior cats. Senior formulas are designed to help with problems common among senior pets such as slowing metabolisms, weaker immune systems, and aging bones and joints.
By giving your sweet senior pet the best care possible, you ensure his comfort and his longevity as well as your own joy in his companionship.
Senior pets make some of the best companions in the world, so for your next pet, consider adopting one that is out of the kitten and puppy stages. Now that you know how to care for a senior and you know what to feed them (try Holistic Select Grain Free Senior Health Recipe), there’s no reason you shouldn’t make a senior cat or dog the best new member of your family.