In our last blog post, we discussed the importance of the what and the why of grooming… let us now discuss how we help our loved ones keep happy and healthy in regards to their appearance and grooming habits.
Diet and Supplements
There are several diets and supplements on the market that are specially fortified with essential ingredients for aging pets. These work to improve mobility, cell regeneration, weight control, and energy levels. You should discuss the options that may be appropriate for your little loved one with your veterinarian. Exercise and Stimulation While our senior pets may not be able to run 4 miles or climb the beautiful Rocky Mountain trails anymore, they can certainly participate in low-impact and less strenuous exercise. They also still love to play, even if it’s modified to accommodate their aging bodies and for shorter periods of time. This counteracts boredom as well.
Whole Body Wellness
Regular visits to your veterinarian is recommended at least every 6 months for any animal over 7 years of age (over 5 years of age for giant breed dogs). It may feel like you are always at the veterinarian, but because our animals age much faster than we do, 6 months between visits is actually more like 2 years on their timetables. At these visits, you can discuss changes you are seeing in your pet, and your veterinarian may notice changes you could have missed. Animal massage or acupuncture, in addition to diet, supplements, medications, and exercise/stimulation recommendations may be discussed during these appointments. Finally, I’ll start discussing actual grooming! Regular brushing, bathing, and nail trims can be done at home with professional instruction, which you can discuss at your veterinary visit. If your animal is resistant to these actions, it may be due to pain, discomfort, or the wrong environment (arthritis is a big culprit of discomfort, and a quiet room before bedtime is the ideal environment).
The grooming needs of our furry friends become more important and frequent as they age. If you’ve ever seen an elderly dog or cat (I’d be surprised if you haven't!), you may have noticed mats in their fur, dandruff, or oil. Additionally, food or other foreign material such as grass or small sticks may become tangled in the coats of longhaired breeds. Keeping a healthy coat is vitally important to our four-legged companions.
What factors are at play when the once beautiful and shiny coats begin to look unkempt?
Both canines and felines may become less flexible as they age. If they experience pain and cannot reach their body parts with ease, they may stop grooming themselves. This can be due to arthritis and/or muscle wasting (either from disuse or another underlying disease process). Arthritis can have many causes, including injury, change in metabolism, immune system compromise, and genetic factors. Essentially, if your pet is suffering from arthritis due to any of these aging changes, their grooming habits may decrease or stop altogether.
If your pet becomes tired or bored, they may lose interest in grooming. This can be a normal aging change, but could have other contributing factors such as inappropriate diet or lack of stimulating exercise. If your elderly dog or cat’s diet is lacking in essential nutrients, their metabolism and energy level may slow down. Also, we might decrease our playtime with our pets as they age with the assumption that they require less attention or stimulation. This couldn’t be further from the truth!