Your older pet may have several years left before he crosses the Rainbow Bridge, and it’s up to you to make sure he’s healthy and happy until that day comes. Caring for a senior cat or dog is not the same as taking care of a kitten or puppy. Their health will change, and it will become necessary to monitor their behavior and well-being for the safety of your entire family.

Behavioral Changes

Okaw Veterinary Clinic in Tuscola, Illinois, explains that older dogs may behave differently with each passing year. They may become anxious or fearful of rambunctious children to the point of outright aggression. Soiling and exhibiting compulsive behaviors are also common. Similarly, older cats may not be as able to use the litter box, and they may scratch in retaliation when disturbed unexpectedly. One of the most crucial things you can do for your pet now is to discuss ways that your entire family can adapt. Children should be taught never to come up on the family pet from behind and to keep the horseplay out of their way.

Comforting Pain

Like an older human, your elderly animal may feel discomfort. This is often caused by arthritis and other orthopedic issues. A few ways to keep pain to a minimum are to invest in a supportive bed for their muscles, bones, and joints and to ensure they get adequate exercise. They may not feel like going for an hour walk each day, but even a few short bursts of activity will help keep their body and its best shape and improve muscle flexibility and strength. You can also purchase a set of stairs to help your pup get in the car or to their favorite spot on the couch.

Talk to your veterinarian about adding supplements, such as CBD oil, to your arsenal of animal health tools. CBD is a derivative of the cannabis plant and can help ease joint pain, anxiety, and systemic inflammation. Do your research before buying, however, to ensure you’re getting a quality product.

Dental and Vision Concerns

In addition to pain, older animals can suffer from dental problems and declining vision. Dental disease, cavities, and excess tartar can make it difficult for your pet to eat. If you notice bad breath, that’s a good sign that it’s time for a veterinary checkup. Once your vet has identified issues, you can take steps to prevent future issues. The most effective way to keep your animal’s mouth healthy and hygienic is to brush their teeth.

Vision problems can range from chronic dry eye to blindness. Hill’s pet food company (which was inspired by a seeing-eye dog!) notes that good nutrition is exponentially important to ocular health. So, pay careful attention to your animal’s diet to ensure they are getting enough beta-carotene and other nutrients – your veterinarian can help you pick a food that meets their needs. When your animal’s vision has declined significantly, add a small bell to other animals in the home so they know where their companions are.

Most important to your senior four-legged friend is your relationship with your veterinarian. Your animal’s health care team can monitor for common conditions, including cognitive disorders, cancer, kidney failure, and other age-related maladies. Make sure they receive a full physical checkup at least once each year, which may include a urinalysis and heartworm tests. Routine care, including staying up-to-date on their vaccinations and parasite control is essential.

You want your pet to be healthy and happy for as long as possible. However, they can’t do that on their own. The above information can help you create a more harmonious environment for your entire family and help you begin the emotional journey of taking care of an animal that’s toward the end of their life.

A big thank you to Nick at  for writing this great article for Shutter Hound!

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