We love our pets dearly and it is so hard to see our cats getting older and less active. But, as in humans, these changes are inevitable. While we have taken our kitties once a year to the vet during their younger lives, as our cats’ age, they sometimes require more attention. Below are some normal signs of our ageing cats and what you can do to help your cats’ age with grace.
Changes in diet
While most younger and middle aged cats can get a little chunky at times, our older cats tend to lose some of that fat. Studies have shown that senior cats do not digest, and thus absorb fat, as well as younger cats. This means that older cats may need to consume either more fat or fat that is more digestible to get the same amount of energy. It’s important to monitor the weight of your cat and adjust your cat’s diet accordingly. Your vet, as always, can help make recommendations.
Skin and fur changes
As our cats age, their fur can become matted or more abrasive. Brushing your cat is a great way to give your kitty extra attention and our older cats need to be groomed more often. Our cats will probably love the extra attention. You will also be helping to prevent hairballs, which can be more of a problem in older cats. While grooming, check for any lumps, bumps, or non-healing sores and contact your veterinarian immediately if any are found.
Brittle nails and thickened foot pads
Just as there are see changes in your cat’s fur, our aging cats tend to have thicker foot pads and changes in the nails as they tend to become brittle. It’s important to clip the nails of older cats and they may need to be clipped more often since older cats may not use scratching posts as often as younger cats. Therefore, they have no way of ‘trimming’ their nails on their own.
Decreased mobility and arthritis
Encourage your cat to get more exercise; make high places more accessible to your kitty.
Arthritis can occur in older cats, especially in cats who have had injured joints earlier in their life. As in people, arthritis in cats may only cause a slight stiffness or it can become debilitating. Cats may have difficulty jumping onto favorite perches or going up and down stairs.
Glucosamine can be beneficial to support healthy joints. Cats have a distinct sensitivity to many anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and acetaminophen. Don’t give your cat an anti-inflammatory or pain relief medication unless prescribed by your veterinarian; if prescribed, follow dosage instructions very carefully as it can be dangerous to your cat.
Dental disease is one of the most common changes we see in older cats. Routine dental care including brushing your cat’s teeth can help minimize dental disease. Cats who have not received proper dental care can develop significant dental disease as they age and may develop life-threatening complications. A dental care program should consist of regular dental checkups and professional cleaning as needed. It is not fun for our kitties but often necessary.
Decrease in kidney function
As our cats age, the risk of kidney disease increases. This may be due to changes in the kidney itself or result from the dysfunction of other organs such as the heart, which if not functioning properly, will decrease blood flow to the kidneys. Kidney function can be measured through blood tests and a urinalysis. These tests can identify a kidney problem well before there are any physical signs of disease. The most frequent sign of kidney disease is usually an increase in water consumption and urination. Kidney disease is very common in older cats.
Increased sensitivity to temperature changes
As our cats age, their ability to regulate their body temperature decreases. Cats who could handle cold temperatures when they were young, may not be able to as they age. Monitoring the environmental temperature around your cat and making adjustments will help your older cat be more comfortable. You may need to move your cat’s bed closer to a heating outlet or purchase a heated bed to make your kitty comfortable.
Some cats will experience hearing loss as they age. Slight hearing loss is hard to determine in cats. Often hearing loss is severe before an owner becomes aware of the problem. The first sign could be that your cat has seemingly become more aggressive when it really is that your kitty was caught off guard, became startled when touched (due to loss of hearing your approach), and instinctively reacted.
Changes in the eye and vision loss
Cats may experience vision loss as they age. You may notice that your cat no longer follows a toy with her eyes as you move it across the floor or might may have difficulty finding his or her food dish. Any sudden changes in vision or appearance of the eyes should prompt a visit to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Eye exams should be part of the regular physical exam in older cats.
As always, if you see any sudden medical or physical changes in your cat or anything unusual, call your veterinarian and schedule an appointment.
As our dogs get older, they slow down and are not as vibrant as they were when they were youngsters. And with age comes health ailments, particularly in our dogs’ joints. Arthritis is the most common health issue in our older dogs. It’s understandable as our dogs are constantly on the move and as in humans, their joints degenerate over time.
The obvious and most telling sign of arthritis in middle aged or older dogs is a change in your dog’s gait and/or a reluctance to walk or move. Your dog won’t bound up and down stairs like he or she used to and, on rising in the morning, your pup may be stiff and even limping. These changes almost always come on very gradually.
Your vet will give you some information on what you can do for your specific dog’s ailments, but below are some different ways that you can aid your dog with arthritis.
Diet can help your arthritic dog
What and how much your dog eats throughout his or her life will affect arthritis in his or her later years. If your dog is overweight, you need to reduce your dog’s weight, slowly, to a healthy level. It’s very hard on your dog’s limbs to have that extra weight on him.
All major pet food manufacturers offer a senior brand of pet of food. Most of the senior brands tend to be lower in calories, higher in fiber, with added glucosamine, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
Exercising your dogs can help your dog’s mobility
Dogs who have exercised their entire lives (but not to extreme degrees) tend to develop arthritis later in life. It is important to provide a moderate amount of daily exercise, like taking walks and interactive play-time, to help to delay arthritis. If your dog sleeps all day long, his joints become inactive and they need to be moving to help the joints mobility.
Whirlpool, Heat Treatments and Hydrotherapy can help arthritic dogs
Hot tubs, whirlpools and controlled swimming are great for dogs with arthritis. Short periods of increased warmth, interspersed with cold, can help decrease your dog's aches and pains. Added heat from heating pads and when your dogs are dispersed in warm water, it can help increase circulation in the affected areas and lessen pain. Those effects persist for many hours after the external heat source is removed. As always, use caution and monitor your dog’s reaction to heat.
Extra padding can provide comfort to an arthritic dog
Your dogs’ balance and coordination are not what they used to be. Older dogs do better on carpet or other soft surfaces. Not only are they more confident when they walk on padded surfaces, they are also less likely to form calluses that are common in our older dogs. The only drawback is that sometimes older dogs can become incontinent. Make sure there is a waterproof membrane below the carpet and that it can be removed for cleaning or replacement occasionally.
Make your dogs’ water and food bowls readily accessible
Senior dogs are more comfortable eating and drinking from elevated containers. A low step stool works well for this because their rubber coating keeps the bowls from slipping around. Older, large breeds are more susceptible to gastric bloat. So feeding your elderly pet multiple small meals, rather than one or two large ones, is a wise idea.
Older dogs love a warm, comfy bed
All older dogs love a warm bed. Safe heating pads are available to ease the aches and pains that come with arthritis. Make sure to purchase one that doesn’t rise above 102F. Make entry and exit from your pet's bed as easy as possible with at least one low side. Make sure that your dog can move away from the pad if your dog gets too hot. There are also specific dog beds on the market that are more comfy and designed specifically for older dogs.
Ramps can help our arthritic dogs
Wood ramps, covered with carpet are a real help for dogs that can no longer climb stairs. Make sure to purchase one that is pliable and stable. Make the slope as gentle as possible. Keep one that hooks securely, in your car to help your dog get in and out of the car. Canvas slings work well for this as well.
Assisted Living Devices for your dogs
If your dog is no longer able to get around on his own there are slings, carts and other apparatus that you can purchase that can aid your dog’s mobility. There are online stores that specialize in meeting the needs of disabled pets.
As our dogs age, there are many ways to keep them comfortable and mobile. If your dog does develop arthritis, watch him carefully and have your vet monitor your dog to ensure that it does not progress too rapidly and recommend the best care for your dog.
As many cat owners know, our cats are nocturnal by nature and seem to get extremely active at night. It’s especially true when you are at work all day and come home late and all your kitty wants to do is play. In fact, your kitty has probably been napping all day long and is just starting out his day when you are getting ready to go to sleep.
Below are some ways to calm your cat down at night so can you sleep.
Rule Out Medical Problems First
If your cat restlessly wanders around your house at night meowing or crying, he may be suffering from an underlying medical problem that causes pain or discomfort. If you think this may be the case, take your cat to the vet to rule out medical issues, especially if you notice that your kitty meows excessively during the day as well as at night. Once you get a clean bill of health from your vet, you will know it’s more of a behavioral issue.
Keep your cat active during the day to calm him down at night
Keep your cat active as active as possible during the day. A cat that sleeps all day long will be active at night. If you are home, try to engage your cat in play sessions using toys he can’t resist. Cats love toys with lights and beams or you can throw a mouse and let your cat chase it. Sometimes even a brown paper bag or cardboard box are favorites for cats. Try sprinkling some catnip on either of these items and let the fun begin!
If you are not home during the day, try keeping items that are stimulating to your cat
When you aren’t home to play with your feline friends, make sure they have a toy or outlet that is stimulating for them. You can leave out toys that encourage cats to investigate various holes or fine hidden treats. How about trying a window perch so your cat can watch the birds and activity outside? Try leaving the television on with the animal channel and keep your cat entertained and awake during the day. Who knows, your cat might even learn something.
Try a play session with your cat right when you get home. If you can wear your kitty out, this will help tire you and more importantly, your cat.
Adopt a friend for your cat to help calm him down day and night
If you live in a single cat home, you might want to adopt a second cat. This, of course, is great on so many levels. You are saving another cat’s life while enriching the life of your cat at home. If there are two cats, they are more likely to play together all day long and be more awake during the day and subsequently more tired at night.
Feed your cat before you go to bed
Feed your cat a main meal just before your bedtime. Cats tend to sleep after a big meal. If your cat continues to wake you during the night for food, purchase a timed feeder that you can fill and set to dispense once or twice during the night. If your cat’s hungry, he’ll learn to wait by the feeder rather than bother you while you’re sleeping. Make sure you reduce meal sizes during the day so that your cat doesn’t gain weight.
Do not give into your cat’s bad behavior
Don’t reward your cat’s bad behavior. If your cat pesters you during the night, the worst thing to do is give in to him and get up. As soon as you get up to address your cat’s needs, it reinforces the behavior and teaches your cat to do it again the next night. Keep in mind that even yelling at your cat will be perceived as attention and will encourage your cat to continue and we don’t EVER want to yell at our cats anyway (but sometimes sleep deprivation does strange things to us).
I hope these tips help and with a little effort and patience, you should be able to get a good night’s sleep.
Most dogs have voracious appetites and will eat anything and everything. Therefore, if your dog has suddenly developed a habit of being picky about what he eats, there could be a medical reason or something as simple as your pup no longer likes his food. Once you rule out what the reason is for the pickiness, it is easier to address the problem and solution.
Take your dog to your veterinarian
If your dog has suddenly acquired the habit of being picky about what he eats, the first step is to take your dog to the veterinarian for a check-up. This is especially important if the finicky eating is accompanied by vomiting and/or diarrhea, your dog is showing other signs of illness, or the picky eating is affecting your dog’s weight. Your vet visit will help you rule out any underlying medical conditions that might be causing your dog to be picky about his food.
Check your dog’s food
If your dog receives a clean bill of health from your veterinarian, the next step is to look at the food you are feeding your pup.First, make sure the food has not spoiled. Both dry and moist foods can expire, and it is also possible to buy a bad batch of food. Check the expiration date and take note of any odd odors in your dog’s food.
You should be feeding your dog a high-quality, nutritious diet which your veterinarian has approved. A quality brand of food will supply your dog with all the nutrients he needs, eliminating the need for diet variety. Dogs do not need variety in their meals like humans, because they have all the nutrients they need in their dog food.
Be consistent with your dog’s food to avoid picky eating
Consistently feed your dog only one type of food. If you have changed your dog’s food a lot in the past, you dog will continue to be picky and hold out for something tastier. Further, changing your dog’s food can also cause vomiting and diarrhea in some dogs as their stomachs adjust to the new food. Feeding human food snacks can have the same affect and can also lead to an overweight dog.
When your dog was younger, if you tried offering several different foods to determine the right fit, you may have encouraged your dog to hold out for something better. If you’re opening multiple cans of food and seeing which food your dog likes the best, he will get used to a variety and not necessarily what’s the best for your dog.
Your dog might be picky because he is getting his food elsewhere
Is there any chance your dog is eating something other than his dog food or maybe a family member slipping your dog scraps from the table? Is your dog munching on plants or possible items in your yard or on his walks? Is your dog getting into trash cans indoors or outdoors?
Most often, a dog becomes picky about what he is eating because he is getting table scraps or too many treats. Therefore, your dog avoids eating in hope of getting more exciting food than what’s in his food bowl. The best approach is to stop feeding your dog from the table and limit the number of treats. Remember that dogs have different nutritional needs than we do, so what we eat isn't necessarily balanced for them.
Below are some tips on how to change your dog’s picky habits
Make sure that your dog understands that no other options exist except the food in front of him. Place your dog’s food out for a half hour and if it isn’t eaten, take the food away. When it’s time for your dog’s next meal, set out the food again and take it away in 30 minutes, whether it is eaten or not. In a few days, your dog might start checking around for extra treats.
Maintain your strategy and try not to give in because if your dog s hungry, he or she will eat. As hard as it is, it’s important for you to re-train your dog that this is his food and he should eat it. If you are diligent about feeding your dog only his food and lessen the human food and extra snacks, he will become less picky with his food. Once he eats his food again, you can slowly offer him training treats but only when necessary.
If you have just adopted a rabbit or brought home a rabbit, there are so many things to consider. Where are you going to place your furry friend? Is your cage big enough? And, of course, what are you going to feed your furry new friend? A well-balanced, nutritious diet is essential to your rabbit's health and longevity. Below are some tips to help with your rabbit's diet.
Hay needs to be available at all times
Your rabbit should have a generous amount of hay available at all times. It's nutritious and a necessary source of fiber. Hay encourages good potty habits and digestion. Commonly found hays are timothy, oat, oat/barley, and alfalfa. Alfalfa is good for growing rabbits up to one year's old, but is too high in calcium and fats for adult rabbits. You can often find fresher and cheaper hay at a feed and tack store that carries it by the bale. Keep it cool and dry in a trash can or storage container stored where it won't get wet or moldy. Never feed moldy hay to a rabbit, it can sicken them and even cause death. (Don't worry, your rabbit is smart enough not to eat where he has soiled, but be sure to clean up that hay daily).
Rabbit pellets are the basic staple of your rabbit's diet
Try to buy fresh pellets without too many combinations of corn, nuts and seeds. Rabbits aren't built to process the high doses of fats and proteins contained in these mixes. These foods lack the proper nutrients needed by your rabbit and can cause serious health problems resulting in obesity, compromised organ function and ultimately a shortened lifespan. It's the health equivalent of raising your child on a diet of nothing but fast food and you would never want to do that!
Fresh greens - yes, just like us humans
A daily serving of fresh veggies can aid to the diet and digestion of our rabbits. Always rinse produce before feeding as you would for yourself. Start by feeding only one small serving of each veggie at a time, adding more over a period of weeks. This will not only lessen the chances of loose stools from the introduction of fresh food to the diet, but will also tell you what your rabbit prefers and what might upset his tummy.
The current guidelines to feed your rabbit recommend three different veggies per day, alternating combinations weekly to ensure a good coverage of vitamins. Opinions differ on carrots and fruits as they contain a lot of sugar. Do not feed them iceberg or other light-leaf lettuce, potato or potato peels, rhubarb, raw beans or corn. Just think of this way: if you wouldn't eat the food, than you shouldn't feed it to your rabbit.
Water is essential in your rabbit's diet
Always have clean, cool fresh water available for your rabbit. Use a heavy crock or a sipper bottle or both. Don't allow your rabbit to drink water with algae in it. Check the sipper bottle each time you refill it to make sure it's delivering fresh water properly.
Fruit can be fed to your rabbit in moderation
You can feed your rabbit the following fruit, but only in moderation: banana, mango, pineapple, peaches, apples, cherries, cantaloupe, berries, oranges and other citrus fruits, and papaya. Obviously, no seeds or pits that will be difficult for your rabbit to digest.
Treats for your rabbits
Most treats sold for rabbits are largely sugar based treats that should be avoided. Try sticking to dried fruits that don't have the extra sugar or fillers.
Each rabbit is different and will tolerate some food more than others. Start with the basics and you can then experiment with a little fruit and dark vegetables daily to see how it suits your rabbit's digestion. As always, if you have a question regarding your rabbit's diet, make sure to contact your veterinarian.