A Lifetime of Joy! Recognizing the signs of aging in your pet

With the evolution of the human-animal bond and advancements in technology and veterinary medicine, pets are living longer than ever today.  Spotting the signs of aging may be difficult for someone who spends a lot of time with their loving pet as changes are gradual and happen over a lifetime. Older dogs and cats may require a little extra love and care.  How can you recognize the signs of aging and continue to give your pet their best life?

Just as there are senior benefits for people at different ages, dogs and cats reach senior status at different ages. 

Type Weight Age
Cats All 10-12
Small Dogs Up to 20 lbs. 10-12
Medium Dogs 21-50 lbs. 8-10
Large Dogs 51-90 lbs. 7-8
Giant Dogs +91 lbs. 5-6

The last 10% of a pet’s lifespan is where they struggle the most with the different ailments that come with aging. This is also the time that pet parents struggle to manage their beloved pets changing symptoms and maintain their best quality of life.

The goal of proper and effective care during the later stages of your pets’ life should enhance the quality of life for the pet, empower you to properly care for your pet, and maintain the strength of the human-animal bond.

As your pet moves into and through his senior years, Veterinary care should increase.  When your pet begins to show signs of aging, your veterinarian can help ensure the symptoms are not from a disease or illness and are strictly a part of the aging process.

Older pets can develop the same types of conditions seen in older people:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney/Urinary tract disease
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • Joint or bone disease
  • Senility
  • Weakness

Behavioral changes are often seen in older pets.  These changes can be driven by a decline in sensory perception such as a decline in eye sight or hearing, an increase in anxiety, and physical discomfort from aging joints or osteoarthritis.

Possible behavior changes in older pets include:

  • Increased reaction to sounds
  • Increased vocalization
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Decreased interaction with humans
  • Increased irritability
  • Decreased response to commands
  • Increased aggressive/protective behavior
  • Increased anxiety
  • House soiling
  • Decreased self-hygiene/grooming
  • Repetitive activity
  • Increased wandering
  • Change in sleep cycles

Mobility is the most common ailment reported in aging pets.  Struggling to stand, splaying while at their food or water bowl, and sometimes the inability to walk.  Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of mobility issues, but soft tissue injuries, disc disorders, stenosis, and neuropathy can also play a part.

Signs of Arthritis is pets:

  • Favoring a limb
  • Difficulty sitting or standing
  • Sleeping more
  • Seeming to have stiff or sore joints
  • Hesitancy to jump, run, climb stairs
  • Weight gain
  • Decreased activity or interest in play
  • Attitude or behavior changes (including increased irritability)
  • Being less alert

To help support muscle and joint comfort, PetAlive® Complete Muscle & Joint ComboPack

  • Alleviates minor pain in the joints and bones
  • Reduces stiffness, soreness, and swelling of the joints and muscles
  • Promotes long-term muscle and joint health
  • Supports strong, healthy bones

Changes in weight, with decreased activity many pets will experience weight gain as they age.  As your pet ages into the senior category transitioning them to a senior pet food can help them maintain a healthy weight while receiving the nutrients they need. Sarcopenia is the progressive loss of lean body mass in aging animals in the absence of disease and is common in aging pets.  As muscle mass decreases, so does muscle strength, causing loss of balance and unsteadiness on their feet.

Exercise remains important through all life stages to maintain a pet’s strength and flexibility.  While that half-marathon may no longer be in the cards for your dog, it’s still vital that he get out with walks and active playtime.  It’s not only good for the body, but good for the soul.

Cognitive decline affects both dogs and cats. It can lead to disorientation, reduced or increased activity levels, social issues and memory lapses.  Keep your pet mentally stimulated. For dogs, feeding him through a puzzle toy will encourage him to think and work for his food.

PetAlive® Brain Health products can help support brain function in all stages of your pet’s life and reduce confusion, memory loss and fatigue in older dogs and cats.

Incontinence Frequent urination and reverting to pre-house trained days may indicate a more serious problem but can be caused by the aging process.

PetAlive® helps support urinary tract health in your pets with UTI-Free™ for common symptoms of UTI’s, which are common in aging female pets, and Better-Bladder Control™ to support bladder health and function.

Sight and Sound – both hearing and eyesight can decrease as our pets age.  As pets get older, it is important to utilize all their senses.  For animals with hearing problems, a flashlight may help get their attention.  Using touch and hand signals can also help communication with pets experiencing hearing loss. Do not disturb a sleeping hearing impaired animal or approach it from behind. For animals with worsening eyesight your daily walk may be better taken in the morning than at dusk.  Or for cats, the litter box may need to move where they have better light. For pets with diminishing eyesight it is best to maintain a consistent environment.

Disorientation – Aging pets may get confused in familiar locations. Impaired vision can help contribute to disorientation.  Your pet may walk into a room and stop, or they may stop on the wrong side of the door.

Sleeping – Aging pets will generally sleep more. However, pain and anxiety may cause your pet to sleep poorly.  Pacing and crying at night may be indicators that they can’t sleep. Orthopedic beds can help provide comfort for aging pets.

PetAlive® offers two Hemp products for pets. Hemp and CBD can offer relief from pain, inflammation and anxiety in people and pets.  PetAlive® Hemp products are THC-Free, so there are no psychoactive effects for your beloved pet. Available in Full-Strength and Extra-Strength so your pet gets the support it needs.

To help your pet maintain the best quality of life, create a Joy of Life List. Detail the items that your pet enjoys or gives them their identity and continue with these activities as they age.  While your pet may not have the same energy and activity level it once had, it still wants to interact, be included with its family, and participate in the activities it has always loved.

Here’s to a lifetime of joy!

BY MARY ELLEN

Sources:

https://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/supporting-the-aging-pet/

https://www.familycircle.com/family-fun/pets/care-for-aging-pets/

https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Caring-for-an-Older-Pet-FAQs.aspx

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