- in Dog Health
It is a fact of life that every pet grows older. Some pets will survive to be old enough to have age-related discomfort and health problems. How can you care for a geriatric pet and make sure that its quality of life remains adequate?
Divisions Of Aging Pets
There are three divisions of aging pets: seniors, the elderly, and the truly old. When your pet moves from being middle-aged to a senior, you may notice changes in his eating and sleeping habits and energy levels throughout the day. Your dog or cat's fur may begin to go grey or thin out.
At this stage, you may begin to see age-related health problems develop as your pet's immune system declines. Your pet may be more prone to illness or may develop serious health problems such as cardiac issues or cancer.
The difference between a senior pet and an elderly pet lies in the quality of life. A senior pet will still enjoy the activities he enjoyed when young, while an elderly pet will spend much more time sleeping or enjoying your company and affection than playing or taking walks.
Caring For Elderly Pets
A senior pet may require a new type of pet food. Remember, when switching pet foods, to gradually mix the new into the old over a period of days rather than making a sudden change to avoid upsetting your pet's metabolism. When your pet begins to show signs of seniority, it may also be a good idea to take him to the vet to ensure that he is in good health and that the changes associated with old age aren't due to a different health problem.
The vet will also be able to suggest lifestyle changes for your pet, such as shorter walks, more frequent bathroom breaks, a reduction in food portions or a change in diet. Senior animals may begin to suffer from arthritis or other age-related maladies, and visiting the vet will help you learn how to help your pet cope with those changes.
When your pet ages past its senior stage into an elderly pet, the most noticeable trait will be a drop in energy. Your pet will spend more time cuddling and sleeping than it used to, and may no longer enjoy active games of fetch or other high-energy activities.
The best thing you can do for your pet is to adapt to this change instead of trying to interest him in activities he no longer enjoys. An elderly pet may want a more peaceful life. It is your job, with the help and support of your family and veterinarian, to figure out what lifestyle changes will be necessary for your pet and implement them effectively.
An elderly pet can still enjoy life with your help. Again, at this stage you may want to visit the vet to ensure that the changes you are seeing in your pet are normal and healthy.
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Last Decision About Elderly Pets
When your pet becomes truly old, you may find yourself faced with a difficult decision. Truly old pets often have a declining quality of life, and it may be up to you to decide when your pet is suffering and should be euthanized.
Euthanasia is an incredible dilemma for the pet owner whose pet cannot simply tell them when it is time. When your pet has difficulty moving around or seems to be in constant pain, it may be time to consider putting it down.
It is important to remember that you have given your pet a wonderful life, and that euthanasia may be the last gift you can give to your suffering pet, though it is upsetting to think about. Ask for your vet's advice on putting your pet to sleep. Your vet will know whether the animal is suffering, and will have an objective viewpoint on the subject.
Truly old age in a pet can be a time to comfort your pet and give it special treats to enjoy before its time comes. If you choose not to put your pet to sleep, be sure to give your pet plenty of affection and love, and don't be afraid to feed it table scraps from time to time. When your pet is truly old, it is time to ensure that it has fond memories of its life, and there's no better way to do that than by showering it with affection and treats.
Pet loss can be an extremely trying experience, especially for children who have known the pet. If you have to explain the loss of a pet to children, give them an honest but happy picture of what has happened to the pet, and make sure they know that the pet's death was a natural thing.
If you feel able, prepare the children before the pet passes away by explaining what is going to happen before the traumatic experience takes place. Make sure to remind the children that it is okay to feel sad about the loss of their pet, and that they should feel free to express their feelings.
When you lose your pet, it is important not to hold your feelings inside and try to be strong. Instead, hold a memorial service for the pet or write about him. Celebrate your pet's happy life with you, and remember that you gave your elderly pet the best care it could have.