Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The challenges and rewards of senior pets.

We all love our pets, and whether you are considering adopting an older pet, or yours has gotten older, there are challenges you may face. Senior pets require a different diet, a more relaxed exercise plan, and a bit more understanding from us. Here are some things to think about if you have an older pet.
• More medical expenses – Though this may not always be the case with your pet, a lot of older animals need more medical attention for health problems they acquire.
• Unable to adapt to changes – Some animals have a decreased ability to cope with changes in their routine. Moving to a new place or unfamiliar people moving in can cause them stress.
• Separation anxiety – This is one of the most common behavior issues found in older pets. A lot of older dogs start to bark, howl, and even urinate or defecate in the house. They become very anxious and nervous when you leave.
• Aggression – This is not always the case, but some dogs or cats may start to show signs of aggression. Most the time this is a result of pain, or a medical problem. Watch and see if you can find any signs of stress if this happens.
• House soiling – Some older pets who have been house trained for years, can out of nowhere start having accidents. This could be a result of a bladder infection, and should be treated by a veterinarian right away. Also another factor to consider is it may be harder for the animal to hold its urine like it once did. Try taking them out more frequently and see if the problem decreases.
• Fearful – Some older pets may become very timid or jumpy with noises or new smells. This goes with hearing loss, or blindness that a lot of older animal suffer from. If you see them being more jumpy, let you veterinarian check them out to make sure everything is okay.
• Pain – A lot of older pet’s especially seen in dogs, will have pain in their legs and joints. Goes a long with age, some smaller dogs do not suffer as much as the bigger ones. You may find them having a hard time going up the stairs, or jumping down. Keep a close eye on them, and if you see them struggling, you can always get stepping stools to give them some extra help.
• Diet – Older animals need a different diet then younger ones. They need more calcium for their bones, and less fat. Be sure to get the right type of dog food for your senior pet, or it could cause them to not be as healthy as they could be.
Owning a senior pet is very rewarding. If you are adopting, you will not have to worry about the puppy stage or training because older dogs have already been taught. On the down side, you may not have them as long as if you were to get a puppy, however the rewards are much better. More time loving, less time training and correcting. Older dogs are calmer, and much more relaxed. They do require more focus, but having an older pet can be exactly what your household needs. If your pet has been with you for a long time, then this is your chance to make each day with them count. Lots of love and attention will help them feel at ease.

Sheena Diane, Freelance writer

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