We all love our furry friends and want what is best for them, especially as they ease into old age. Sometimes we’ll notice shifts in their behaviour, their appetite, or the way they look as our pets get older. Are these things to be concerned about? Today on the blog we address some of these popular questions regarding senior pets.
Is it normal for my dog or cat to get grey hair?
Yes it is! We have a blog post all about grey hair or fur in aging pets. You can read more about this topic here.
Do I need to change my pet’s diet as they get older?
Animal’s nutritional requirements change as they age. Your pet may benefit from a more senior-appropriate diet. We recommend discussing your pet’s nutritional needs with your veterinarian so they can recommend the diet most suitable for your pet’s age and health requirements.
I think my dog is going deaf. Is this possible?
It sure is. Just like in humans, animals can suffer from hearing loss as they age. You can read more about hearing loss in senior pets, along with tips to help you and your pet adjust to this new way of living, in this blog post.
My pet is losing weight. What should I do?
Weight loss is often a sign of an illness in all pets. Please contact your veterinarian if your pet is not eating or losing weight.
Will adopting a kitten/puppy keep my senior pet “young”?
This depends entirely on the animal you already own and the one you are looking at adopting. A high energy puppy or kitten may stress out your old friend, or if their personalities are a good match the new addition may be a fun companion. In these instances, we would suggest fostering an animal first in case the disruption to your senior pet’s routine is too much for them. If they get along with your foster pet, great! You can apply to adopt your foster pet if you’re fostering through Calgary Humane Society. If not, you’ve assisted an animal in need and helped them get ready for a new home. Either way a slow and appropriate introduction will help both animals put their best foot forward.
Can senior pets lose their eyesight?
Yes they can. Unlike humans, though, pets have other senses that are very strong, so you may not notice a change in your pet’s eyesight as quickly as you would if it were your own. Animals adapt well and may not show any signs that their vision is impaired. Keep an eye out for any cloudiness developing, or behavioural signs like bumping into furniture that has moved or hesitance walking in unfamiliar environments.
Should I be supplementing my senior pet’s diet?
A healthy senior on an age-appropriate, high quality diet may not require any supplements. Certain health conditions that may develop as an animal ages can benefit from nutritional supplementation. Your veterinarian can help you determine gaps in your pets nutrition and advise you on the best way to ensure your pet is getting everything they need from their food. Most pets, at a minimum, will benefit from a joint supplement as they start getting older. Always ensure your senior pet is getting enough fresh water too.
How can I keep my senior pet healthy?
Early intervention will go a long way in keeping your senior pet in their best health! We recommend getting bloodwork done when your pet is young and healthy to establish baseline values that you can compare to as they age. Consider yearly bloodwork and increasing exams with your vet to twice a year to catch changes early. Keep your friend at a healthy weight to avoid additional stress on joints. Pay attention to their dental health (even when they are younger!) as dental disease can cause pain, infections, difficulty eating, and could lead to more significant health problems like heart disease.
Will my dog or cat become incontinent?
Senior animals can sometimes start house soiling, but it is often due to a medical condition rather than just old age. Kidney disease, diabetes, certain cancers, urinary tract infections, spinal issues, arthritis pain and numerous other issues can cause a previously house-trained pet to start urinating or defecating in the home. If your senior pet starts having trouble making it outside or to the litterbox please make an appointment with your veterinarian.
My senior dog is not acting like himself. Are changes to behaviour a sign of old age?
The answer to this question varies depending on the animal and the changes you are seeing. It’s not uncommon for you to see a bit less enthusiasm and energy as animal ages. However, if your dog has become more aggressive or lethargic, for example, please speak to your veterinarian. You’ll know what is normal behaviour and what isn’t for your pet, and sudden changes could be a sign that they are sick. Also keep an eye out for gradual behavioural changes occurring over time. Cats and dogs can suffer from dementia (called cognitive dysfunction) much like their human counterparts. Certain conditions like hyperthyroidism or epilepsy can also cause changes in behaviour and require medical intervention.
What do I do when my senior pet passes away?
Saying goodbye to a pet is extremely hard. They are a member of your family and we understand how important they are to you. Calgary Humane Society offers cremation and memorial services for your furry friend and can assist in ensuring their memory is preserved.
Just like humans, pets change as they get older. The most important thing is to check in on your buddy and make sure they are still enjoying a good quality of life. Dogs and cats can live happily and healthily well into their senior years, even if they slow down a bit. Regular veterinary care and routine checks are especially important for our senior pets to ensure they live a long and happy life.