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Top tips for caring for your older pet

As our pets age, their needs change. Our Senior Veterinary Advisor, Robin Hargreaves, gives his top tips to help them enjoy later life

Things to look out for in ageing pets

Age impacts elderly animals in the exact same way it affects humans. As they age, older pets can start to have issues with both their mobility and circulation, affecting things such as their blood pressure, heart and joint health. When caring for a senior pet, the most important thing to look out for is any type of change. Never assume that any significant difference is just due to old age, whether that’s a change in behaviour, activity levels, appetite or smell, these can all be indicators that your pet is unwell. 

Managing a senior pet’s diet

As pets age, it’s important to monitor their food intake and ensure their bodyweight remains stable. If your pet is less active than they used to be, but you are still feeding them the same as you always have been, they might start to put on weight which can have an impact on their health. Your vet can advise on a healthy bodyweight for your four-legged friend, as well as suitable food for senior pets, helping you to monitor weight loss or gain.

Appetite is a very important indicator of health and a change in appetite could be a sign that there is something wrong with your furry companion. If your pet’s appetite changes significantly, book a check-up with your vet to make sure all is well.

Exercising older animals

When exercising a senior pet, it’s important to take into consideration their health status. Often, a healthy pet will be just as active as they’ve always been, however, if a dog has a health condition such as arthritis, shorter, more frequent walks are a good idea to keep your pet mobile and active without putting them under too much stress.

As cats and rabbits become older, a good way to encourage them to exercise is by splitting their food up and locating it in different places for them to find. This will keep them active as they will have to walk around and explore to find their food.

Pet insurance

To ensure your furry friend can receive the care they need in later life, pet insurance is vital for managing any unexpected costs. A Lifetime policy is best, as this will provide cover towards vets’ bills year after year, which is a great help should your older pet develop a chronic condition – which is unfortunately common in senior pets.  

If you’re considering getting an older pet...

Rescuing a pet

If you’re looking for an older pet, a rescue animal could be ideal. However, it’s important to do your research beforehand and have a clear picture in your mind of the type of pet you want and can provide for. If the only animals available are inappropriate for your needs or your circumstances, you must be prepared to wait for the perfect match.

The right pet for you

It’s important to think about which pet will fit best with your lifestyle, to ensure you can look after them and meet all of their needs. For example, if you have mobility or health problems, a more independent cat could be a better choice for you. You also need to consider an animal’s lifespan; a dog can live into their upper-teens, even 20s, so you will need the ability to still care for them in their later years. An older pet can make an ideal companion, as you don’t have to plan for such a long period of time.

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