Help for Aging Animals

Thinking about your family’s beloved four-legged friends getting older is tough. The good news: There are easy ways to help keep pets happy and well cared for as they age.

Watch weight

While it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your pet’s weight, it’s especially important as they age, says Louise Murray, D.V.M., and vice president of the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City. Being overweight can put strain on bones and joints; being underweight could be a sign of underlying health problems, she says. Also important: Make sure older animals drink plenty of water to help keep them in top shape—if your pet has difficulty getting around, consider having water accessible at various points throughout your home, suggests Murray.

Manage medicine

As pets age, their ability to detoxify their body lessens, so it’s important to evaluate what medicine (and how much of it) your pet is taking—some dosages may be too high and could cause complications, says Shawn Messonnier, D.V.M., and owner of petcarenaturally.com, so check in with your vet to ensure your pet is on track. And if you’re looking to sidestep possible illnesses like arthritis or heart disease, talk with your vet about supplements. Depending on your animal’s health history, supplements could help slow down the effects of aging and other oncoming health issues, says Messonnier.

Help with hygiene

Brushing daily will help keep your pet comfortable and prevent his coat from knotting, says Murray. The same goes for dental care: It’s common for older dogs and cats to have dental problems, so, if possible, brush your pet’s teeth every day in order to prevent the onset of issues, says Messonnier.

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