WHILE just 20 or so years ago larger breeds of dog like Labradors could be expected to live to the age of nine or 10, nowadays they can be with us for 15 or 16 years thanks to improved care.
Dr Robin Downing, from the Downing Center for Animal Pain Management in the US gave five key tips to keep ageing pets comfortable and help them remain healthy:
1. Routine is all
Pets feel safe, and are healthier, when they have regular routines. These should include check-ups with the vet and a good diet.
2. Protect and prevent
Older dogs and cats should visit their vet at least twice a year. “The most dangerous words in the English language are ‘Let’s just watch it’,” Downing said. While we may think it’s normal for our four-legged friends to slow down and age over time, early detection is critical.
3. Chubby is not healthy
Obesity is the most frequent preventable disease in cats and dogs in the US, Downing said. Pets should be fed the correct type and amount of food for their age.
4. Keep an eye on science
Investigators are making breakthroughs all the time, so tomorrow there may well be something that can be done for your pet’s problems that wasn’t possible last week.
5. Ease and comfort
We can adapt our homes to cater for our pets as they age. Carpet-covered steps or ramps can be put in place to help aging hips move from one level to another, non-skid carpets or rubber mats put down to avoid slips and falls and food and drink bowls raised to avoid straining backs.