Old Dog, Aging Cat: Common Senior Pet Behaviors to Keep an Eye On
A dedicated pet owner is especially keyed into how their pet looks and behaves, and strives every day to provide a comfortable, happy, safe and healthy life. Luckily, between modern advances in veterinary medicine and exceptional owner involvement, pets are living longer than ever before.
But longevity doesn’t always translate into robust vitality. Certain senior pet behaviors can help raise awareness of their mental and physical health, and can help guide the way toward higher quality of life.
Many pet owners can typically recall the exact moment they realized their best friend was slowing down. The signs may be subtle at first, such as missing an occasional jump, but over time the red flags can become more pronounced. Difficulty getting up, a reluctance to move quickly, lethargy, and irritability can all become part of the new normal.
How Can I Support You?
There are many different types of common senior pet behaviors associated with the aging brain. Hormonal imbalances, disease and organ deterioration can alter their personality and behavior patterns.
Cognitive dysfunction can affect both cats and dogs, and when you know what to look for you can provide better care for them.
You may find that your aging pet appears disoriented, lost or confused doing things that were previously habitual, like using the dog/cat door. Other symptoms include:
- Soiling inside the house, or outside of the litter box
- Inability to follow commands
- Interrupted sleep patterns
- Anxiety or stress
- Increased vocalizations
- Change in self-grooming habits
Senior Pet Behaviors and Pain
Aging pets are prone to osteoarthritis, dental pain, and more. Your senior pet may exhibit certain signs that they are feeling pain or tenderness. Watch out for excessive sleeping, withdrawal, and slow movements. If you try to touch them where it hurts they may growl, hiss, bark, or bite you.
Sharing the House
You can help ease their pain by creating space just for them away from busy household traffic. Keep their beds on the floor or on low-lying surfaces that don’t place your pet at risk for falls. Provide ramps, heat, insulation from drafts, and move any potential obstacles out of their way.
Exercise actually helps pets with physical pain, and is great for mental health, too. Don’t forget to continue providing them with brain games, like food puzzles to keep them active and engaged.
The Long View
Maintaining your senior pet’s bi-annual wellness exam can help with early detection of disease and effective treatment. We will carefully assess their vision, hearing, dental health, weight, mobility, lumps and bumps, and overall behavior. Routine blood work can also reveal possible metabolic shifts that have an effect on senior pet behaviors.