Senior pet care

Caring for older pets

Have you noticed your pet slowing down? Changing behaviour? Looking different? Dogs live for an average of around 12 years, although many live for much longer. Cats live an average of around 14 years, but again in many cases they can live much longer. Rabbits live an average of 6 years, but again we have seen 11 year old rabbits! Follow our advice to help ensure your pet remains happy and healthy in their mature years.

Keeping your older pets comfortable

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re caring for an older pet:

  • Older pets may need more rest. Somewhere quiet where they won’t be disturbed in with a nice soft bed, free of draughts.
  • They may need to go to the toilet more frequently. This is fairly normal but if you are concerned over a sudden frequency or any changes in toilet behaviour then do book to speak to one of our vets.
  • Keep things easily accessible. Make sure everything your pet needs is within easy reach so they don’t have to go too far to find their water, food, toys and bed.
  • Give them something to grip. Smooth, slippery floors can be difficult for older pets, especially dogs, to walk on, so put a rug or carpet down to give them something to grip.

 Feeding a senior pet

Dietary requirements change the older your pet is. It varies with breed and size, but food brands have many different age ranged diets available. As always, if you are unsure then do get in touch. Our Vet nurses can advise on diets, and if you have concerns a vet is always available!

  • Monitor how much your pet is eating and drinking and mention any changes in their eating habits or weight to your vet, as there could be an underlying medical reason.
  • Make sure they’re not competing for food – if you have other, younger pets in the house, make sure your senior pet can get to their food without having to compete.

Changing needs of older pets

Although they may be slowing down, senior pets still need regular stimulation, be it from exercise or toys.

  • For dogs – Walking them little and often will help keep their weight down
  • Toys and puzzle feeders can keep them entertained.
  • For dogs – Wearing a coat when out and about can help keep them warm and dry.
  • Gentle grooming can help you spend quality time with your pet and also gives you the chance to check for lumps and bumps, aches and pains.
  • If your pet seems stiff or has trouble with things like getting out of bed and going upstairs, we may advise some treatments that can help.

Older pet health and welfare

Older pets may have start struggling to see or hear, so ask your family to avoid sudden loud noises so that they don’t get startled. If your pet appears to be ignoring you, it could be because their hearing has deteriorated. A simple vet check can help determine eye site loss or hearing loss. Senior pets may need their nails trimmed more often if they’re exercising less. This is something your vet nurse can do for you.

How can Orchard House Vets help my aging pet?

Our vets can perform a health check and if something specific is noted then we can look into treatment of the issue at hand. Routine health checks are also important, and we can run in house lab tests, such as blood tests or urine tests. The easiest way to think of this is if you go to the doctor yourself for a health clinic. Early detection can be so important, but also checking the “behind the scenes” of your pet’s health is really important. Give us a call if you would like to discuss this further. If you have any concerns about your older pet, always check with a vet. Changes in behaviour may be signs of underlying issues, not just down to old age.

Preventative health

Pet owners sometimes choose to stop preventative health when a pet get’s older. This is something we do not recommend. In some circumstances or with a specific diagnosis it might be necessary but you should always keep your pet’s preventative health up to date and regular.  Members of our Well Pet Club receive a health check and booster every 12 months, and another health check every 6 months. You also get free nurse clinics for things like nail clips, and all of your pet’s preventative treatment for the 12 months! Starting at just £9 a month, you can find more information here.