These days, with advances in veterinary care, pets are living longer, healthier lives. However, as your beloved furry friend ages, how you care for them may need to change a bit. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you’re giving your pet the best life possible. 

Continue reading to learn tips to help you care for your senior pet, so you can help them stay comfortable even in their later years. 

When Does a Pet Become Senior?

First, it’s helpful to know when your pet is considered a senior. The answer varies depending on the type of pet you have, and in some cases, its breed. 

Most cats are considered senior when they are aged 11 and older. For dogs, the answer is based on their size and breed, as follows:

  • Small breeds: 8-11 years
  • Medium-sized breeds: 8-10 years
  • Large breeds: 8-9 years
  • Giant breeds: 6-7 years

Tips to Help You Care for Your Older Pet

As your pet gets older, these are the best things you can do to help them be comfortable and healthy. 

Increase Vet Visits

As a good rule of thumb, you should take your pets to yearly vet appointments for wellness check-ups. However, senior pets can benefit from more frequent visits. We recommend taking them in twice per year so your vet can keep an eye out for any potential health problems and catch them early. 

Give Them the Right Food

As your pet ages, the type of food they need will also change. Look for senior-specific pet food to ensure your furry friend is getting the right nutrients to support them as they get older. For example, as pets age, they likely aren’t moving around as much as they used to. So, a senior pet food might be lower in calories to help prevent excess weight gain.

Make Sure They’re Mentally Stimulated

Just like humans may notice a cognitive decline as they get older, the same can happen to your pet. You can help keep your pet’s mind sharp by providing them with mental stimulation. Since many pets are food-motivated, look for food puzzle toys that encourage your pet to solve a puzzle for a treat. 

Help Them Get Gentle Exercise

Along those same lines, you can help your pet get gentle, safe exercise as they get older. Many pets experience stiff joints once they become seniors, which may make them hesitant to move as much as they used to. For senior dogs, you can slow your walks down a bit or take them on shorter walks to help keep them safe and healthy. For cats, look for laser toys or feather wands to encourage gentle, safe movement. 

Make Sure Your Home Is Senior Pet-Proof

Senior pets often have a harder time getting around your home safely. Whether they develop joint pain, hearing loss, or vision issues, there are small updates you can make around your home to help them feel more comfortable. For example, if they love to sleep in bed with you but have trouble jumping up, look into pet stairs to help them safely climb up. You can also put soft pet beds downstairs so they have plenty of places to relax without having to go very far. 

Give Them Extra Love

It can be hard to admit that our pets aren’t going to be around forever. Treasure the time you have with your senior pet, as you never know when it will come to an end. Spending quality time together playing, cuddling, or just giving extra pets and scratches will mean more to your pet than you’ll ever know. Then, when it is time to say goodbye, you won’t have any regrets about how you spent your last days and weeks together. 

Here for You When It’s Time to Let Go

When it’s time to euthanize your senior pet, the Pet Passages team is here for you. We encourage you to honor your pet’s life by creating a Pet Tale to help your pet’s legacy live on, even when their time on Earth is done.