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Older pets need to be treated differently to younger pets.

A guest post blog by Nick at Our Best Doggo

When most people buy or adopt a new pet, they are too excited to think about how their new friend may change over time. As animals grow older, they require a slightly different approach, one that usually involves being more watchful, thoughtful, and attentive. Here are the main things you should know if you find yourself with a senior pet.

They Need You 

If your long-time pet is getting older, now is the time they need you the most. It’s especially important now to commit to taking good care of them as they go into their twilight years.

If you are looking for a new pet, consider adopting a senior one. You will often be saving them from a bleak future and giving them the chance to enjoy the end of their life in a happy home. Petplan explains exactly why you should consider adopting a senior pet, including links to great shelters in the UK.

They Are Wonderfully Loving

Senior pets have their disadvantages, but they also come with benefits. Older cats often become more affectionate and crave attention, which is good news for owners who love spending hours cuddling, petting, and playing with their cats. Senior dogs tend to be calmer, making them a soothing presence in the home.

You Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

The old saying is a myth. Senior dogs are just as capable of learning new behaviours as their younger counterparts, and may even be easier to train. This is because puppies are excitable and can’t focus on one thing for very long. An older dog doesn’t have this problem and will usually already understand how training works.

Not All New Behaviors Come Down To Aging

Changes in behaviour could simply be a result of ageing, or they could be a sign of illness. You should always have troubling behaviour checked out by your veterinary professional to make sure you are not missing something important. For example, if your cat keeps urinating outside its litterbox or your usually calm dog is showing anxiety or aggression, schedule an appointment with your vet immediately. There could be an underlying issue that is causing these changes that isn’t related to their age.

They May (Or May Not) Require A Change Of Diet

According to the Veterinary Center at Tuft’s University, many cats and dogs can continue their normal diets into old age. Only those with specific illnesses will need to modify their diets: for example, lower sodium for pets with heart disease, low phosphorus with those with kidney disease, or high fibre for animals with intestinal issues. Therefore, ask your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet.

Exercise Is Important

You may assume that you need to exercise a senior dog less, but this can worsen problems like arthritis, heart disease, and obesity. A daily walk is still recommended, although you may have to slow down the pace and be mindful of things like extreme temperatures. This guide to walking a senior dog has some more detailed tips.

It Will Hurt When They Go – And That’s OK

Losing a pet is never easy, but many first-time pet owners are surprised at just how hard it can be. If you find yourself overwhelmed by grief, don’t hesitate to seek help and support. Online bereavement programs like 12 Weeks of Peace can be incredibly helpful, and they are also free and easy to fit around your schedule.

Your pet’s final years are a wonderful time, so make sure you enjoy them. You should also focus on being the best, most supportive pet owner you can be. Just like humans, animals can find ageing confusing and scary, so they need their beloved owners now more than ever. Show them plenty of love and remain attentive and observant. This way, when they do eventually go, you will be able to know that you did everything you could to ensure their happiness and comfort. 

This article was kindly written and offered as a guest blog to Bob Martin by Nick Burton at Our Best Doggo. Nick and his wife Mary found the inspiration for Ourbestdoggo.com and this blog post following the death of their believed family dog Willie, a 15-year-old lab/terrier mix, who recently passed away. We’d encourage you to check their wonderful site and blog posts out.

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