old black dog resting.

Every pet ages a little differently. Some might not show any signs of slowing down until well beyond their 10th birthday; others have a gray muzzle by age 6. Their breed, health history, and lifestyle all play important roles in the aging process, and it’s important to know how to recognize the changing needs of senior pets. There are many components to successful, effective senior pet care, and we’re happy to help you prepare. 

Age-Appropriate Diet

Puppies and kittens should eat a specially-formulated diet that aids in proper growth and development. Likewise, aging pets benefit from eating food that meets their highly-specific nutritional needs. It is crucial to keep them at an optimal weight. Older pets can shed pounds in their later years, others put on unhealthy weight. We can help you identify exactly what your pet needs so you can prevent weight-related issues, such as diabetes and arthritis.  

Some older pets gradually make the switch from crunchy kibble to soft canned or pouched foods as a result of missing teeth or painful chewing. Dental care continues to be a priority for aging pets, and is assessed at each senior wellness exam

Keep On Movin’

Provide consistent, daily opportunities for exercise. It might seem like your aging dog really wants to stay in their warm, cozy bed, but keeping them going is a major boon to their overall wellness. Daily movement increases muscle strength and tone, flexibility, and keeps weight gain at bay. Plus, even a short walk around the block helps to keep their mental acuity sharp.

A Healthy Coat

One of the most obvious markers of aging appears on the pet’s skin and coat. Your pet may have lost some of their flexibility to groom themselves, or has simply lost interest in their appearance. However, pets feel good when they are clean and well-groomed. 

Regular soothing baths are key. Be sure to lay down a grip on the tub, to ease their shaky legs and balance. Daily brushing moves natural skin oils throughout the coat, adding to its luster. This process can also clue you into any developing problems on the skin, such as lumps and bumps. These are common in older pets, but should be examined to know if they pose a threat to their health.

Behavior and Socialization

Some owners of aging pets find themselves wondering if their pet is lonely. Adopting a younger pet to befriend your senior pet can definitely work out, but it does require careful planning, preparation, and time to ensure that your senior pet doesn’t feel put out by an interloper. Introduced the right way, a younger and older pair can make wonderful friends, and this friendship can add to your older pet’s lifespan.

Alternatively, give your senior pet opportunities to meet new friends on a regular basis. This could be at the park, out on walk, shopping, or simply in your neighborhood. 

If you need assistance giving your senior pet the best possible life, please call us at (210) 681‑1391. Our vets and staff are always happy to help at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital