The American Veterinary (AVMA) estimates more than 40 percent of all pet owners have an animal age seven or older. This totals nearly 44.8 million senior pets exhibiting signs of aging.
But many owners are unaware of what signs to look for. While senior status is generally defined by age, other variables include the animal’s breed, size and history of care. However, there are several key signs to look for in every aging pet:
* Changes in eating habits may indicate anything from loss of smell to dental problems.
* Changes in sleeping habits, such as excessive day sleeping, may indicate fatigue.
* Unresponsiveness to call may indicate hearing loss
* Seeming unfamiliar with surroundings many indicate diminished vision
* Bad breath may indicate periodontal problems
* Joint stiffness or difficulty moving may be due to arthritis or other joint conditions
* Increased frequency or amount of urination may indicate bladder problems
* Excessive panting or coughing may indicate heart or lung problems
In addition to watching for signs, what steps can be taken to maintain your senior pets’ health?
* Clean teeth to prevent gum disease
* Groom animals to keep skin and coat healthy
* Check ears for odor produced by infection
* Feed a diet specially formulated for senior pets
* Participate in a senior wellness program for regular checkups
Don’t forget about bringing home new toys and playthings for our special golden age pal. Sure, I know you’re thinking he hasn’t played with anything in years, but on the other hand, I bet you haven’t brought much of anything home in years either. Maybe you tried
a few things here and there and, at best, there might have been an occasional playful outburst. The key is to keep the playthings rolling in – hoping that one of the games or toys might be just the right thing to spark some interest. At the very least, Kitty will like having them around even if they are of no real use. Think of it as the “junk” Grandma collects from the grandkids. There’s no way she’s going to use those shell ashtrays or plastic woven key chains, but she sure loves to get and look at them. It’s nice to know you’ve been remembered.