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How to Care for Your Older Pet

It can be hard watching old age creep up on our four-legged friends. Getting older comes with its challenges, and it can be upsetting to see our pets struggle to do things they once found easy – but it’s not all doom and gloom! There’s a lot to be said for embarking on a slower pace of life together, and there’s a whole of host of steps we can take that can make a huge difference to our pets’ lives and help them embrace their golden years.   Learn how to care for your older pet. 


What to look out for?   
  • Mobility issues:  Pets can suffer from arthritis just like we can, and this can cause their joints to become swollen and painful. You might notice your pet seems stiffer than usual – your pooch might struggle to manage the stairs, and your feline friend may find jumping trickier. Dogs, especially, often forget they’re no longer sprightly pups, and can feel stiff and sore if they over-do it on a walk.  
  • Eyesight and hearing changes:  If your pet bumps into things more often, or startles more easily at sudden noises, this could be a sign their senses aren’t as razor sharp as they used to be.
  • Changes to behaviour: Just like people, pets can show signs similar to dementia, due to age related changes in the brain. Your four-legged friend may be more restless, especially at night, or they may show signs of memory loss, where they forget commands they used to know. 
  • Coat changes: Distinguished grey hairs are to be expected in our more mature furry pals, but you might also notice that their coat lacks the gleam it used to have, as natural oils decrease with age, and pets are less able to groom themselves. Keep an eye out for any fleas in their coat, too, as these can be more of an issue in older pets.
  • Changes to appetite, drinking habits, toileting: Some diseases are more common in older age, and can cause a range of symptoms. Your vet is your best port of call to get to the bottom of what might be going on, and help get your pet any treatment they need.

Thinking of our pets being in anything other than tip-top health is never easy, but thankfully there’s so much we can do to help:


Visit your vet

Your vet will want to see your pet a bit more often once they get into their more senior years. They will listen to any concerns you have, and will give your pet a gentle but thorough MOT. They might recommend blood tests to check things like kidney and liver function, and can keep an eye on your pet’s weight. Depending on what their findings are, there are a whole range of potential options they might suggest to help your pet. Pain relief for pets with arthritis can help enormously, and your vet can discuss a treatment plan with you for any other issues they find. 


Preventative healthcare   

As our pets get older, their immune systems can struggle to cope with things that they may have more easily shrugged off as a youngster. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to help keep them as healthy as they can be:

  • Keep up with their vaccinations
  • Protect them against fleas and worms: Pets of all ages can be plagued by these troublesome pests, and a flea infestation or belly full of worms is the last thing your pet needs, especially on top of any other issues they’re coping with. Help is at hand though, as there are simple treatments that can rid your pets of these nasty parasites, and doing this regularly will help keep them as healthy as they can be. 
  • Look after their teeth: Dental problems are really common in our more mature pets. As well as potentially causing mouth pain, bacteria can get into your pet’s bloodstream making them feel quite unwell. Your vet might recommend a procedure to clean their gnashers, and you can help at home with regular tooth brushing too. 
  • Grooming sessions: These are a lovely way to spend time with your pet and have the added bonus of helping keep their coat in good condition and letting you spot any new lumps, bumps or creepy crawlies.


Home Adjustments 

Don’t worry, we’re not talking about major home renovations (much as your pet might like their own loft conversion), but some simple adjustments around your home can make a huge difference to your pet’s well being. 

  • Yoga mats on slippery floors can help pets grip more easily
  • Stair gates can stop your pets trying to climb stairs, for those that struggle to get back down
  • Nightlights near water bowls and litter trays can help your pet navigate in the dark
  • A supportive bed with a firm but comfortable mattress can give huge relief to tired, stiff joints
  • Putting food bowls and litter trays within easy reach is great for cats – no jumping required! 
  • A car ramp can help dogs that struggle to jump into the boot

Our senior pets may be slowing down, but exercise is still super important. Stretching those legs keeps them mobile and helps them stay at a healthy weight, not to mention that snuffling around in the great outdoors is a great source of mental stimulation and enjoyment for our pets. You might have to swap hour-long rambles for “little and often” outings, but your dog is likely to love the novelty of an extra walk, even if it’s just a short one! There’s lots of great indoor toys for cats can help keep them active, too.

senior golden retriever



Specially designed diets for our grey-muzzled pals can help them avoid gaining weight – a common issues in older pets when they, understandably, aren’t bounding about as much as they used to. If your furry friend seems fussier about their food, this may be because their sense of smell isn’t as honed as it once was; you can tempt them to eat by warming up their food and feeding them little and often. 


Tips for the winter months

Our older pets may need a little extra TLC as the days get chillier:

  • Extra-warm bedding
  • Daylight walks, to help pets whose sight is fading
  • Coats for warmth outside
  • Dog boots when it’s icy, for extra gripping power
  • Extra litter trays for cats, so they don’t have to go outside if they don’t want to
  • Offer indoor toys to entertain pets
  • If a bath is needed, dry pets quickly and keep them really warm

Although it can be hard to see our pets getting older, there is still so much to celebrate! With help from your vet and some changes to your lifestyle, you can feel confident that you’re doing all you can to support your senior pals; so, enjoy the slower pace of life together, and make the most of these special years.