Our pets are our friends and family. They have the ability to bring us humor, joy, and happiness throughout their lifetime, which can feel tragically short for our liking. That’s why we care so deeply about how we provide for them throughout the various stages of their life. From adopting a new puppy and watching them discover the world, to the old lap cat that enjoys an afternoon cuddle on a sun-soaked chair. Our animals present us with comfort and companionship. So how do we help them get the most out of their time with us?
Your Dog’s Life Stages
Your canine friend goes through a series of six stages in its lifetime. Every breed will go through these stages at different rates, phasing from one to the other gradually. If you want to get more specifics on your breed and what to expect throughout their life, talk with your veterinarian and their team about what you should know and be prepared for in regards to your pet’s behavior, lifestyle, and diet as they get older. Those six stages are:
Your Cat’s Life Stages
Your cat also goes sees a similar six life stages. As with a canine, these stages can differ between breeds, but the gestation of these phases stays relatively similar. These stages are:
Tailor a Wellness Plan
Knowing what your pet needs from the very moment you bring them home can be tricky. We can do all the pet-proofing, buy the best toys, and give them all the tummy scratches they could ask for. Even still, if we don’t do the leg work to understand the lives of our family pets, we’d be doing them a disservice.
Providing the ultimate care means taking the time to understand the awesome, and sometimes tough moments, that our pets will inevitably go through. Work with their primary vet to tailor a wellness plan for your pet based on their breed and age. Learn about what they might be vulnerable to at certain stages in their life. And of course, make a plan for their general wellness.
Exercise is Always Important
Make sure that exercise is a part of your pet’s daily life. Don’t skip out on it as your pet gets older. Daily exercise will help prevent obesity and other common health problems that easily effect senior animals. Not only does it help keep their body’s functioning, but it can help stimulate their senses. Remember, a bored animal is not something you want in your house. It can often lead to destructive behaviors and even depression.
If you’re taking your senior dog out for a walk, keep the distance short at first. Make sure your dog is comfortable before lengthening the distance later. Try and keep your outings to the early morning, or later in the afternoon when the sun isn’t at its strongest. Older canines are more susceptible to heat. Make sure to bring water with you as well. Your senior dog may become more quickly dehydrated than you thought possible.
Find toys that stimulate your senior cat’s senses. If they enjoy chasing around a laser, set some time out of your day to get them moving, or “hunting” after that squirrelly dot. It’s easy for senior cats to put on excess weight in their twilight years, and not getting them up and moving can cause unwanted stress on their joints.
A large part of animal care through the years is keeping diseases at bay. Although ticks and heartworms might be something you worry less about due to where you reside—just as you take care to prevent diseases spread through pests that could harm your own person—it’s wise to make sure similar pest can’t harm your animals, as well. Take necessary precautions on trips to new places, keep a careful eye out for ticks embedded in fur after walks and parasites spotted after bathroom outings.
Annual Visits to the Vet
Never underestimate the importance of an annual wellness exam! The ailments our pets may be dealing with could be going unnoticed. Get your pet to the vet at least once a year. You could have the chance to catch something happening with your pet well before they begin to show signs of discomfort or struggle. It’s also important to get any pet that spends time outdoors their basic round of yearly shots. It’ll give you the needed piece of mind that they’ll be safe at the dog park where diseases can be present.
As your pet reaches their mature, or senior stage, you might decide to visit their vet more than once a year. By nature, your dog or cat could be hiding signs of the pains or discomfort in their old age. Be sure to keep an eye out for signs they may need an extra checkup. For instance, it may be normal for your dog to pant after a long romp around the park, but if your feline friend begins to pant this would be a concern. Keep an eye out for any unusual behaviors.