How To Keep Your Older Pet Live A Happy Long Life.

 How To Keep Your Older Pet Live A Happy Long Life.

Just like people, pets need the right combination of diet and exercise to maintain a healthy weight and a good health.

These 3 factors, diet, exercise and weight, get even more important as the pet ages. Lets take a look at how to keep these 3 factors optimal in the older pet.


Does My Pet Need Special Senior Pet Food?

 As your pet ages it usually becomes less active and therefore needs less calories to prevent weight gain, but at the same time it has an increasing need for a good supply of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients, because the digestive system may not be as capable as it used to be, to absorb all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are needed to keep healthy for many more years. Therefor a diet that is designed for older pets with the tendency of becoming overweight is optimal, as these foods are high in nutrients, vitamins and minerals and low in calories.

In some cases the opposite may be the case. The older pet may start to loose weight and have a hard time gaining back the weight or just keeping the weight on. In this case a pet food with a higher than average calorie count and highly digestible proteins and other nutrients may be the right thing. The choice of diet depends on the cause of weight loss as well.  

Older pets may also need a special diet in order to control diseases like diabetes, kidney stones or other infirmities. In these cases it is best to discuss what diet would be best with your veterinarian.


What Factor Does Exercise Play?  

 “There’s an entire nation of pet owners who are loving their pets to death with too many calories and not enough exercise,” says, Dr. Joe Bartges, a veterinary nutritionist and Small Animal Clinical Sciences department head at University of Tennessee Knoxville’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The solution to that is to also provide sufficient physical exercise and mental stimulation to keep your senior pet youthful and active.

Dr. Heidi Lobprise, DVM, DAVDC and spokesperson for the International Veterinary Senior Care Society recommends a two-pronged approach – indoor and outdoor physical activities.

Use treat toys to dispense your pets meals in smaller doses and make them work for their food. This will improve both their physical and mental function and promote weight loss in heavier pets. If they are able to go up and down stairs in your home, then have them use that to keep their joints moving and muscles loose. If stairs are too difficult or painful for the pet, then invest in ramps to help your pet keep moving around the house.  

Bringing home a few treat toys that will dispense their meals in smaller doses to improve both physical and mental function and promote weight loss in heavier pets. If they’re able to go up and down the stairs, have them move around your home and go up and down stairs slowly to keep their joints moving and muscles loose. Should climbing stairs be out of the picture, invest in some ramps to help your pet keep moving around the house without causing them too much pain.

Outdoor activities such as walking your pet is also great for your pet. It gives it exercise, fresh air and is stimulating on the mental well being. But keep the walks short and pay attention to if your pet shows signs of fatigue or pain. It is better to go for multiple small walks than one long walk each day. Swimming can also be a great exercise for older dogs, because it is less strenuous on their joints but gives them a full body workout in a short time.  


Did you Ever Consider a Fitness Tracker for your Pet?

A fitness tracker can be a great tool to keep track of how much your pet is actually moving around. This can otherwise be hard to determine, if your are not together with your pet 24/7. The results from the fitness tracker is also a great tool for your veterinarian to determine if your pet is getting enough exercise.   

 By Regitze Juul Simonsen

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