Caring for the older generation

When it comes to joints, it is very true that “rest equals rust” and “move it or lose it”.

As your dog slows down he may not be able to walk or run as far as before: break up his daily exercise into 2 or 3 shorter walks rather than one long one. Swimming is ideal if you can find a place where they don’t have to scramble over a lot of rocks to get there.

For cats, encouraging them to exercise can be a bit more difficult. If they still like to play, that is great. If they are past that, take them out into the garden with you when you go to hang out the washing or pull weeds. Even if they wander straight back inside, it’s more exercise than they would have gotten before!

Keep a close eye on their weight: being overweight affects joint health, immunity and endocrine (hormonal) function. Ongoing weight loss can indicate underlying disease.

If you think they are drinking a lot, try and measure how much water they consume in a day. More than 100ml per kg bodyweight is excessive and should be looked into.

Look after their coats. Using a soft bristle brush or grooming mit improves coat health and is a gentle massage to skin and muscles underneath. It’s also a good opportunity to check their skin for any new lumps, or changes to pre-existing ones. It’s a good idea to measure lumps so we can tell if they are growing over time. You can do this at home or ask us to record it at their annual check-ups.

Consider changing to an age appropriate diet. Most senior diets contain easily digestible proteins, reduced calories for the less active retiree, and supplements such as omega 3 and green-lipped mussel for joint health.