CARING FOR OLDER PETS

On average dogs live for around 12 years , although many live much longer. And cats can live between 12 and 20 years.

Older pets may need more rest, somewhere quiet and warm with a soft cosy bed away from draughts.

They may need to go to the toilet more frequently. Incontinence or changes in toilet habits should be discussed with the vet as there are several treatments that can help.

Make sure everything for your pet is more accessible so they don't have to go too far to find their water, food, toys and bed etc.

Smooth slippery floors can be difficult for older pets with arthritis or weaker limbs so you may need to put a rug or carpet down to give them grip.

As pets get older their dietary requirements will change. It varies with breed and size but at around 7 or 8 years old it may be advisable to change your pets diet to a senior diet, which will factor in calorie intake etc.

Monitor how much your pet is eating and drinking - again discuss any changes with the vet as this could indicate an underlying medical issue - take your pet for regular weigh ins to avoid obesity or drastic weight loss.

Although older pets need more rest they still do need regular exercise to keep their limbs moving and for mental stimulation - little and often works best.

As they get older they may appreciate a warm coat when the temperature drops as they find it harder to regulate their temperature.

Gentle grooming gives you an excellent chance to check for lumps and bumps or changes in your pets coat or skin.

If your pet starts to show symptoms of stiffness then discuss with your vet - there are several products that can make your pet more comfy and pain free.

Older pets may have poor hearing or sight so try to avoid loud or sudden noises. Also try not to move your furniture around - pets can cope very well with poor sight as long as their surroundings don't change.

Older pets may need their nails trimming more often due to less exercise.

A lot of people put different behaviours down to 'old age' - but generally it is a sign of an underlying medical problem which could be resolved or helped by medical treatment so always discuss any changes with your pet so we can keep them as comfortable and pain free as possible.