5 Things You Need to Know About Your Senior Pet

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We humans love our pets. We love them so much that we have learned a lot about taking care of them during their golden years. If your pet is getting on a bit in years, we can help make sure they’re as happy and comfortable as possible.

How old is a Senior Pet?

We all know dog years and cat years are a thing, but when is your dog or cat officially considered a “senior pet”? Cats are generally considered senior at age 11-14 human years and geriatric over 15 years. Dogs vary by age; large dogs may be considered senior at 6-7 years old, while smaller dogs may reach senior status at 10-12 years or later.

1. Start with the Veterinarian

Regular checkups are essential for any pet’s health, but they become much more important as your pet ages. Age can bring stress, discomfort, or even illnesses that may present no symptoms. Take your senior pet for checkups twice a year and note any changes in your dog's behavior, appetite, energy, or interest in activities he or she usually loves. This may alert your vet to underlying issues.

2. Get the Diet Right

Feeding high-quality food throughout your pet’s life will go a long way toward keeping him happy and healthy, but it’s especially important for older pets. If your pet has become less active, try switching to a food with fewer calories. This avoids the complications that come with pet obesity, which is especially difficult for older pets and can cause joint pain. Speaking of which. . .

3. Exercise

Doctors always recommend exercise. But there’s a good reason for that: it helps! Help your pet maintain a healthy weight with low-impact exercises like swimming, or short walks of 10-15 minutes. Keep water available and never keep your pet out in extremely hot or cold weather longer than a few minutes.

4. Keep Their Teeth Clean

Dental hygiene is critically important to your pet’s health. Dental disease causes severe pain and can make it nearly impossible for your pet to eat. Have your pet’s teeth cleaned by a vet or professional groomer twice a year. If your pet won’t tolerate at-home brushings (and many of them won’t), provide dental cleaning treats or toys to help remove plaque in between cleanings.

5. Keep ’em Entertained

Mental stimulation is important for every pet, but senior pets especially. Learning new tricks or playing with new toys keeps their mind sharp and active. Provide treat puzzles and interactive toys to keep your senior pet entertained and active during the day.

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.