We all get old. We all get rickety and we all experience aches as we age. And guess what, our pets get old too. Senior pets require much love and attention. Just like any senior, they have lived a long honorable life and they have given us much love and service that they need the special treatment that any grandpa or grandma deserves.
When Does a Cat and Dog Become Seniors.
Cats and dogs age faster than humans. This is because they have smaller bodies and mature faster than humans do. When a cat or a dog turns one, he or she is about 15 years old in human years. When the cat or dog is at two he or she is 24 in human years.
For cats, each year after their second year is equivalent to five human years. So if your cat is three years old, he or she would be 27 years old in human years.
On the other hand a dog age varies depending on his size. Smaller dogs tend to live longer than larger dogs. A dog is aged 15 human years on his first year and 24 on his second year, regardless of the size. After this each human year is equal to four dog years until he is aged five human years. However what gets tricky is after six years, larger dogs start to age faster.
For a small dog, he continues to age at four dog years per human year even after turning five years old in human age. On the other hand, a medium sized dog like beagle or a corgi, they will age faster after the fifth year of their life. Bigger breeds will age rapidly after. Medium sized dogs would be 42 years old on his six year, 47 on his seventh year and 51 on his eight year. From then on his aging varies. At 16 years old he will a grandpa of 87 in human years.
For large dogs, by the time he turns six, he will be 45 years old. After that, he would age about five years for every human year. However as he turns 15 his age would be already 93 years old and about 120 years old when he becomes 16 years old.
You can learn more about this by checking out the easy to understand diagram from the American Kennel Club.
Caring For a Senior Pet
Senior pets may have special needs as they age. Their eye sight may become poor, they may have incontinence and may have difficulty peeing and pooping properly. They may experience painful bones and may have heart conditions. At worse animals may get cancer and other life threatening diseases.
Senior pets still love to play and have fun but they may no longer run as much or jump as high as before. They maybe feel tired and weak because of strenuous activities. They may also develop moods and may become cranky with age. They may prefer sleeping more as well as feel depressed. They key here is observing your beloved pet’s behavior.
1. Visit the vet regularly – When your cat or dog or bird is young, visiting the vet once a year may be enough. However, as your pet ages, you may now need to start visiting the vet more. You may need to visit the vet twice or thrice a year now when your furbaby is just doing well. On the other hand, as your pet hits age six for cats and dogs, you may now need to visit the vet as needed. Simple colds may not be so simple and can be life threatening for older fur buddies.
Your vet can recommend the proper diet, exercise, vitamins and medicines for your beloved companion
2. Diet – Your furry companion will need a different diet as he or she ages. He or she may need wet food more since it is more difficult to chew. He or she may also need a special diet formulated for his age such as diets for kidney care, weight control, heart problems or even diabetes.
You may need to have your pet’s teeth and oral health checked since he or she may not be eating as much due to painful gums and teeth.
3. Dental care – As we have talked about, your pet may experience tooth aches as he or she ages. Teeth may need to be extracted or cleaned by the vet. Most vets recommend an oral prophylaxis yearly. Brushing the mouth of your pet may also be essential or using a foaming cleaner to get rid of bad breath, plaque and prevent tooth decay may also be essential.
4. Blood work – Your dog or cat or bird or any pet you have may need to get his or her blood tested for diseases. You need to know his or her blood sugar, cholesterol levels, bun (liver) and creatinine (kidney) levels. You need to know if he or she has any issues by having his or her blood checked.
5. Activities – Older pets need to rest, but they also need to exercise. Many pets specially dogs, spiral down because they no longer get enough exercise. They don’t get enough walks and thus their joints tend to age faster.
Activities such as walking are ideal for both senior cats and dogs. Excessive activities such as jumping about and fetching may no longer be good for them.
6. Toilet needs – Most cats and dogs of an older age may have accidents here and there. Never ever hurt them for this. They already know that they are getting old and a lot of times, being scolded badly for toilet accidents may make them feel sad and depressed. You may consider using a home tray for dogs and put several litter boxes at home for cats so that they do not need to walk far to do their business.
At some point, some dogs and cats may need to wear a diaper since they may experience incontinence and may no longer have control over their bladder.
Be very observant with your cat or dog’s toilet behavior. Most cats and dogs die because of kidney and bladder related troubles that go unchecked. If you observe that they can’t pee or have trouble peeing, rush them to vet right awy.
7. Keep them warm – Older pets need warmth more than younger pets. They may need now to have blanket as they sleep or even wear a pet shirt to keep themselves warm. Make sure to check on them if they look comfortable or not.
Showing Love For An Older Pet
Showing love to an older pet is the most important thing you can give them as they age. Many pets feel sad as they age because they sense that their owners no longer care about them or worse, make them feel like they are burdensome.
Try to show them love all the time. Play with them, walk with them or just hangout with them. Make sure that on their latter years, they feel and know that they are loved. Remember they may have very limited time to stay with you and thus making sure that they are happy is important.