Pets

Caring for elderly pets (the trick is to think of them as furry grandparents)

Would you put your grandma out on a cold night? No!

By Now to love with Hill's Pet Nutrition
When pets are in their youth they're full of energy and enthusiasm. 'Why walk when you can bound?' they ask. 'Is there a game in that?', is how they roll.
But with age they begin to slow down and we see many changes in their behaviour.
Once-agile cats begin struggling to get up on the couch and they're less interested in spending time outside. Our canine friends seem less keen to go for walks and are slower when they do step out.
Our furry friends become less responsive when we call or command them, less receptive to being picked up and they definitely spend a lot more time sleeping. They may not even care if they soil in the house, where once they would have always 'asked' to go outside.
This is all normal behaviour. Just like people who move into their senior years, ageing animals begin to suffer from age-related ailments too. Arthritis, stiff joints, hearing and sight loss, organ degeneration, digestive issues, a less sharp memory and foggy brain function can all become part of daily life for them.
And while it's important you take your furry senior citizen to your vet for regular check-ups to keep them in optimal health, there are a number of lifestyle changes you can also introduce to keep your fur BFF comfortable at home:

Adjust their diet

The pet food they ate as younger animals will no longer serve them in their old age.
Hill's studied how nutrition impacts pets' cell function for over 10 years, developing a pet food which works with your 7+ age pet's biology to help fight the effects of ageing. Hill's Science Diet Youthful Vitality formula contains ingredients that provide key nutrients that support:
● Brain Function: Powerful antioxidants for a healthy brain to support desire for family interaction
● Energy and Vitality: Protein and L-carnitine support improved ability to run and play
● Healthy Digestive System: High quality, easy-to-digest ingredients with great taste
● Luxurious Fur/Coat: Essential fatty acids increase shininess and softness
● Healthy Immune System: Vitamins C and E help bolster a strong immune system
After feeding their older pets Youthful Vitality pet parents reported improvements in their cats and dogs' behaviour and appearance: increased vitality, more affection-seeking behaviors, improved ability to rise from rest and softer and shinier coats.

Adjust their environment

Everything is simply more of an effort for them now, so make life easier for them:
Ensure their beds and resting spots are easy for them to access (and in warm, dry spots in winter - cool, dry spots in summer).
Some pet parents provide ramps or footstools so their pets can still get up onto a favourite piece of furniture.
Sometimes older cats can become fearful of going outside because they know they are more vulnerable to the alpha cats in their neighbourhood. Can you set up a litter tray in the garage or in a sheltered spot near the house entrance so they feel secure enough to leave the house to do their business?
You'll notice they're more likely to stay outside if you're out there too, and guess what - it's perfect gardening weather!
In summer, make sure your pet has plenty of water (bowls inside the house and outside) as well as cool places to rest. If they seem hot and bothered try adding ice cubes to their water bowls or fill a paddling pool for your pooch to cool down in.

Adjust your behaviour

An animal with stiff joints or arthritis may no longer enjoy being picked up or patted the way they used to. Be gentle and follow their cues; they undoubtedly still want your attention and affection.
If your dog seems reluctant to go for a walk, let it go for that day. When they are willing, go in the early morning or evening during summer when the temperature is cooler and the footpaths not hot. (You should be able to rest the palm of your hand on the pavement. If it's too hot for you, it's too hot for your dog.) Walk at their pace and reduce the distance. Provide them with plenty of fresh water on your return.
Be patient. If you call and they don't come, they may not have heard you. If they start bumping into furniture, they're definitely not seeing as well as they used to. Your older furry friend may also be more forgetful and less 'with it'.
Talk to your children or any children who visit the house about being gentle and careful with your furry friend. Unfortunately with old age animals are less likely to be tolerant if they're teased or exposed to lots of noise or sudden movement.
And as the saying goes, let sleeping dogs lie. Older animals need their rest!
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