While November is recognized as Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month, pet parents of senior pets know that these special pets are worth celebrating year round. Often overlooked at shelters, senior animals actually make great pets that offer unique benefits and lots of love. Some shelters even waive the adoption fees for senior pets.
As pets age, they need our care even more—and pet parents must be committed to recognizing the signs of aging and monitoring their pets’ health and well-being.
Don’t miss regular veterinary checkups. Veterinarians suggest twice-yearly checkups for senior pets. Many diseases or health issues can be treated if caught early at a veterinary visit. These regular checkups allow pet parents to discuss any changes they may have seen in their pet/s with the veterinarian and to learn more about warning signs they should be aware of. .
Do focus on your pet’s dental health. Adequate dental care is important for cats and dogs at each stage of their lives, but especially important for senior pets. The American Veterinary Medical Association warns that periodontal disease can result in kidney, liver and heart muscle changes; and recommends that pet parents regular brush their pet’s teeth and have the pet’s teeth and gums checked at least once a year by their veterinarian.
“A great way to better know the dog or cat in your care is to do a regular head-to-tail check-up (even twice weekly as our pets age) to really get acquainted with your furry friend's body. Besides looking for the lump or bump, the human touch can feel like a soothing massage to a senior's stiff joints,” Denise Fleck, author of The Autumn & Winter of Your Pet: Make Those Senior Years Golden, advises.
Don’t forgo your pet’s exercise routine. Physical and mental exercise is critically important for senior dogs and cats. Senior cats can benefit from interactive toys and food puzzles to keep them entertained and to burn excess calories. While senior dogs may not be able to go on long, strenuous runs or hikes, shorter walks can help keep your dog lean and in good health. If your schedule prevents you from regularly exercising your pets, consider using the services of a professional pet sitter to provide dog walks or cat visits while you are away from home.
Do use only a professional pet sitter experienced in caring for senior pets. If long hours at work keep you away from home (or if you are traveling for work or pleasure), the services of a professional pet sitter can be used to ensure your senior pet can maintain a healthy routine, including its regular exercise schedule.