Just as we take different actions to care for ourselves as we age,
senior pets need special care as well. The old adage that "an ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure" holds true for both humans and
One of the best preventative measures you can take to ensure your pet's
continued health is not to let him or her get overweight. Because they
may not be exercising as much as they were when they were younger, you
may have to consider placing them on a lower-calorie, lower fat diet.
That said, however, as much as possible, continue to exercise your pet
on a daily basis. For example, if you were walking your younger dog a
total of an hour plus per day, you may have to cut the time back to 30
or 40 minutes and walk at a slower pace.
Allow your pet time each day to nap in order to rest and recharge as
they age. Make sure they have a warm, draft-free, comfortable, quiet
spot to lie down. You can greatly help an older pet who has arthritis by
providing a specially designed orthopedic bed. Massage can provide both
pain relief and will also help your pet relax. Check out alternative
forms of pain relief such as Tellington Touch, herbal remedies or
tapping. All of these can be researched online and/or discussed with a
Continue to stimulate your pet as they age with play and gentle touch
but draw the line at roughhousing and excessive noise and stress.
Provide a peaceful and balanced, yet stimulating environment that allows
them to rest as well as engage.
Make sure you take your older pet to the vet for regular check ups as
they get older, especially if you notice any signs of discomfort or
unusual behavior. Things to watch for in older pets include: deafness,
incontinence, reduced vision, kidney problems, arthritis, fatty tumors,
to name but a few. Because they can't tell us what hurts and because
they often stoically mask their discomfort, we need to pay closer
attention to them as they age.
As my own dog's life drew to a close, I asked myself on a regular basis
whether I would look back on that time with regret or with fond joy. It
was important to me to give her a life of comfort, love, good health,
joy and as much activity as possible. Though I will probably always miss
her, I believe I provided her what she needed - and deserved - in her
Deborah Dobson, FizzNiche Staff Writer