Pets and Old Age

It’s safe to say that our pets become even more important to us as Suddenly Solos.  They provide structure and meaning to our lives while giving unconditional love. As we age, so of course do they.  We have to be ever mindful that the maturing process for pets varies so much with species and, as responsible owners, we should keep their comfort and care as priorities.

According to PetMD, cats are considered mature at 7 to 10 years, senior at 11 to 14 years, and geriatric at 15 or older.  Dogs, in general, may be called senior at 7 years of age, but larger dogs age more quickly. A Great Dane is a senior at 6 or 7, for example, but 7 is only middle age for a Chihuahua. Ultimately, your pet’s genetics, nutrition, and environment will all play a role in determining when he is a senior.

Visiting the vet with your pet should be, at the very least, an annual affair. Senior pets probably should go every six months because elder pet diseases can have very subtle symptoms that a professional can recognize.  Be very tuned in to changes in appetite, behavior, and energy levels and contact your vet if you have any concerns.

Issues you can deal with easily include diet and exercise.  Nutritional needs and intake change, so don’t be surprised if your vet suggests changes.  You don’t want to unnecessarily cut back on exercise if your pet is not apparently having mobility issues.  Perhaps doing something different (like swimming for dogs) will help to keep your pal active and happy.

Another way you can help your pet stay healthy is by brushing their teeth.  If you haven’t done this regularly, have your vet do an in-office cleaning first.  Then make it a part of a daily routine.  There are many dental products for pets out there, including favored toothpastes that many animals love.

Although it probably goes without saying, physical contact does wonders.  Many older animals really come to appreciate a hair brushing or a therapeutic massage from their owners.  Enjoy your time together by remaining close.  Most pets are “pack” animals and have an innate love and a need for the presence and touch of their owner.


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