It may seem like yesterday that you first fell in love with your puppy or kitten, but everyday they are getting older.  Certain changes are common in aging pets just as they are for people.  These changes can affect how your pet behaves and experiences life.  By acknowledging them, however, we can help our pets to cope with these new challenges and maintain a great quality of life.

  • Dulling of the senses:

Just like an elderly person, senior pets may not hear or see as well as they once did.  While there may not be any way to reverse losses, the conscientious pet owner can help their animal adjust.  Take care to not surprise pets that cannot hear or see you coming.  If your pet’s eyesight is failing, you may avoid rearranging furniture and other objects in the household in order to make them feel more secure.

  • Difficulty getting around:

Creaky bones are an unfortunate consequence of normal wear and tear.  If you notice your pet having a hard time, try to make adjustments to accommodate this challenge. There are many varieties of steps and ramps made just for pets that can help them get in and out of the car, climb onto the bed, or nap in their favorite window.  If you notice Fluffy having a hard time getting in or out of the litter box, consider a shallower and/or larger box.  If Fido is slow to rise out of his bed, consider a thicker, plusher cushion.  Your veterinarian may also be able to prescribe medications or recommend treatments that can help with arthritis pain.  Older pets should continue to be active, however less intense activities may be necessary.

  • Changes in personality:

A pet that is in pain or not feeling well may become crabby or distant.  Older pets may not be as tolerant as they once were simply because they hurt.  Take this into consideration, particularly when they are around small children who may not always be gentle.  Pets can also suffer from a form of dementia known as cognitive dysfunction.  Any major changes in personality indicate the need for an examination by your vet.

  • Loss of housebreaking:

Accidents in the house may indicate a health problem including arthritis, kidney problems, endocrine problems, or cognitive dysfunction.  These should be investigated in order to head off problems early.

Making small adjustments and discussing challenges with your vet can make a big difference in your faithful friend’s golden years.