For most of us, realizing our pet has reached his senior years is something that comes on gradually. Maybe you’ve noticed your dog’s step has slowed a bit, or your cat isn’t as spry as she used to be. Whatever signs you see, there are sure to be more changes that are less obvious, as well as others you should prepare for.

Comfort and Care

With all the changes your pet is going through, the best thing you can do is give them the comfort and care they need. Mobility is a common challenge for senior pets, and many will develop arthritis and achy joints. To make life more comfortable, you may want to get an orthopedic bed for your arthritic pooch. To make getting around your home easier, both dogs and cats will appreciate slip-resistant surfaces, such as non-slip rugs or yoga mats.

Besides making everyday life more comfortable, another important thing to think about is the type of care your pet gets whenever you can’t be around. Senior pets may need extra walks during the day, and if you need to go out of town on occasion, it’s easy to find a good pet sitter online, but you’ll want to do some research to make sure you find the right match. Once you have a prospective candidate, make sure they’re comfortable with any special needs your pet has.

Health Concerns

Senior pet parents should also be aware of common health concerns, along with ways you can prevent and treat issues when they happen.

Nutrition and Digestive Health

Just like humans, a pet’s nutritional needs change some as they get older. One option to look into is switching to senior food because these formulas are made to meet an older pet’s nutritional needs. If you do switch them to a senior formula, DogTime explains that choosing a quality dog food is what matters most. Another concern is that older pets often become overweight since they’re less active than they used to be. Obesity can lead to bigger health problems, especially for senior animals, so you may need to switch them to a lower-calorie food if this happens.

Food is of course your pet’s primary source of nutrition, but senior pets can also benefit greatly from certain supplements. For cats especially, digestive supplements have all kinds of benefits. In addition to keeping their digestive system healthy, a supplement can also keep their immune system strong. As with anything you give your pet, you want to make sure whatever supplement you choose is high quality and well rated.

Joint Health

Your vet can give you the best course of treatment for a pet who has arthritis, but you may also want to try joint-support supplements, along with activities and accommodations that make pets more comfortable. For example, in addition to giving them a supportive bed to rest, it also helps to make sure your pup gets some exercise. Dog massage is another way to ease achy joints from arthritis, plus it’s a great way to give him some extra attention and strengthen your bond.

Oral Health

If your senior pet has oral health problems, these issues may indicate other medical concerns. For example, Dogster explains how bad breath is often a sign of a problem with your dog’s teeth or gums, and possibly even an infection. One of the biggest concerns to be aware of is the possibility of your pet losing teeth in old age because this could make it harder for them to eat, and it could exacerbate nutritional issues. The good news is that these problems can be prevented with brushing and regular dental cleanings.

With all these concerns, remember that seeing your vet is always the first line of defense. Keep in mind that senior pets may need more frequent vet visits, too. Most of all, remember that just because your furry friend has been around the block a few times doesn’t mean he can’t maintain a great quality of life.

Health Insurance

While we want to do all we can to take care of our senior pets, that care can get expensive. Lendedu has a great article that compares pet insurance from five different providers. It also shares some other helpful information to consider while deciding when, and if, pet insurance is right for you and your pet.

This Article is written by Jessica Brody.

Photo credit: Pixabay