Since dogs and cats have a much shorter lifespan than humans do, pet owners may feel like their pet is aging rapidly. A dog changes from a cute puppy to elderly canine in just ten years. It is important for people to understand why their pet is slowing down and changing their behavior. Aging pets need plenty of love, care and understanding.
1) Failing Pet Health
Aging cats and dogs experience a wide variety of health problems. Most older pets develop arthritis. Frequent joint pain and stiffness can make it difficult for cats to jump or dogs to walk up the stairs or run. Elderly pets may develop high blood pressure, heart conditions, kidney problems, hypothyroidism, urinary tract disease or cancer. They may also experience dental problems such as dental disease.
2) Loss of Their Senses
As dogs and cats age their sight, hearing and sense of smell deteriorates. As animals lose their senses they may also lose interest in playing some of their favorite games or fail to respond to their owner’s presence. A pet that once eagerly greeted their owner when they walked into the room may start to become disinterested in their owner’s presence. This is likely because the pet does not hear, see or smell their owner when they enter a room or because the pet is feeling tired or sore.
3) Change in Behavior
Most adult cats are a bit lazy but old cats become even more sedentary. Older cats lose their curiosity and spend most of their time sleeping. They may become inpatient and irritable. They may lose their appetite due to digestive problems or stop using the litter box when it becomes too much of a chore.
Old dogs may lose interest in their owner or become extremely clingy. They may forget how to do tricks or fail to obey commands. They may begin to defecate in the house because their physical or mental health is deteriorating.
4) Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome
Many geriatric cats and dogs experience loss of brain function. They may have trouble remembering familiar faces and places. After the age of 16 most cats begin to show signs of disorientation. Old dogs lose their ability to learn new things and may have trouble sleeping at night. A veterinarian can prescribe L-deprenyl (Anipryl) to improve cognitive function in dogs. Scientists are conducting research on drugs that will improve the symptoms of Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome in cats as well.
5) Change in Physical Appearance
As cats and dogs grow old the hair on their faces may turn gray or white. Their coat may become thinner and the texture of their fur may change. Older cats and dogs should eat senior pet food that includes nutrients that help keep their coat soft and healthy. High quality senior pet food can improve the condition of the coat and help the animal maintain a healthy weight.