How to Select the Right Food for Your Senior Pet?
Just like in humans, dogs also have different levels of appetite once they start ageing. You might find your beloved friend losing interest in food lately or observing bloating post-meals. Don’t worry, these are all common signs that your pet is now a senior citizen.
In the case of dogs, for example, the larger breeds are considered to be senior when they turn 6 years old and for smaller dogs, the benchmark is eight or nine years of age. This is why big breeds live for about 12-15 years while the small ones can live for as long as 20 years!
Senior pets need special kinds of food for their nutritional requirements. So here are some tips on how to select the right food for your ageing pet.
1. Special nutritional needs
Older pets have a slower metabolism, which leads to bloating, followed by obesity. Obesity is a huge problem in dogs and many dog owners don’t understand how to combat it. So a lower-calorie diet with high levels of fibre is essential.
Since the energy requirement of geriatric pets is much lower than the young ones, they need much fewer calories. If your pet keeps eating the food it used to eat as a puppy or young dog, there are increased risks of weight gain and cardiac problems.
2. Multi-stage dog food
For people who own more than one pet, say two dogs of two different age groups, it becomes hectic to hunt for different types of dog food and compare them with other brands or formulas. In this case, you can go for food that has a multi-stage label on it.
This means that the food inside is appropriate for puppies, young ones, and senior pets. Ideally, this option should only be used when it becomes very difficult to find food for senior pets because when you go for multi-stage food items, you make a little bit of compromise.
This is a good option for owners who cannot differentiate between food types which can lead to the puppy eating senior dog food and the aged dog consuming puppy kibbles.
3. Treats and snacks
When it comes to snacks or treats, you can give your pet low-fat and low-sodium treats. Milk biscuits are a good choice but there are other, healthier alternatives. Vegetables are good. Small slices of carrots or fruits like apples can be given as treats.
4. Water intake
As your pet ages, it becomes increasingly necessary to give them water. Their body’s ability to maintain and retain water becomes weaker with age. Some pets might even start suffering from kidney problems. So practice your dog to drink hearty gulps of water throughout the day.
5. Protein diets
You may notice that many senior pet foods contain high amounts of protein as compared to food for younger animals. This is because high levels of protein help to maintain the ageing body’s muscles and weight without straining the kidneys.
So if you see dog food in a pet store that has a good amount of protein, you can choose it to feed your pet.
Older pets, especially dogs, suffer from a host of problems like arthritis and joint pain. So a lot of senior pet food contains substances like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. These two compounds help to relieve joint pain. But it’s important to remember that glucosamine or chondroitin sulfates should be given according to dog formulations only, not human ones.
Since elderly humans also suffer from similar types of pains and aches, their supplements contain the same compounds but in different ratios.
Always make sure you give your pet the veterinary dosage amounts. Most owners believe that supplements help to ease the pain, but the ideal way out is to manage your pet’s weight.
Bonus: What to do if your pet won’t eat?
If you see your pet refusing to eat, take it to a vet to rule out possibilities of cancer, renal problems, or gastrointestinal problems. If the loss of appetite is due to old age, warm up some chicken broth or add a bit of canned food to enhance the taste.
Over to you…
Taking care of an elderly pet is a lot of hard work. But if you keep it under the supervision and offer it healthy, age-appropriate food, it has chances of living much longer. Always make sure to consult your vet and then do the needful.
You’ve Got a Friend: A Guide on How to Socialize Your Puppy
Dogs are social creatures, so they love to spend time with people and other dogs. If you want your puppy to become healthy and not develop anxiety, you should socialize with them regularly to show them they can have fun and meet new people.
Expose your puppy to new experiences
If you recently got lab puppies, encourage them to have new experiences. For example, if your dog stays at home all day, they won’t become comfortable around others and may form anti-social habits early on.
You could go to the beach with your dog, try different walking routes, and even enjoy hikes. Research your local area to see if you can bring your dog to other places, have fun and experience new places together.
Getting out regularly will allow your dog to learn new things, meet other dogs, and understand the importance of socializing with others.
Go to the dog park and on walks often
As you socialize with your dog, you should take them to the dog park and on walks. Dog parks make it easy for your dog to find other furry friends and interact with them. Do your best to look for dogs of similar sizes, so your dog won’t get overwhelmed or scared.
Walks also work well since you can visit your neighborhood and meet other dogs and people. Many people love dogs, so they may ask to pet your dog or have your dogs get to know each other.
You can even set up puppy playdates to let the dogs have fun while socializing with other puppies.
Offer positive reinforcement and remain calm
As your puppy interacts with dogs and gets to know them, you can give them treats as positive reinforcement. Treats work well since they make your puppy feel good and cause them to associate those delicious treats with what’s happening.
If you encourage them with treats if they interact with dogs and become social, soon, your dog will realize you give them treats because they’re in a safe space. This training will teach them not to worry about playing with other dogs and spending time with them.
Do your best to remain calm and offer your puppy affection, so they feel reassured and recognize that you feel safe.
Remember to socialize with people
While you should have your puppy socialize with other dogs, you should also let them socialize with people. Dogs won’t only spend time with you, so they must become comfortable around others if you want them not to feel anxious.
Doing so requires you to have them spend time with plenty of people at a young age, so invite over friends and let them interact with your dog. You should also let people pet your dog during walks to get them more comfortable around strangers.
If you don’t do this, you may end up with a defensive dog who barks at everyone and gets upset.
Getting your dog to socialize with others can make a difference and help them avoid anxiety. Ensure you put effort into the socialization process, so your dog realizes that they’ll be safe if they interact with people and other dogs. Soon they’ll become a social butterfly who has more fun and makes plenty of friends.
Finding the Best Pet Health Insurance
How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Dog or Cat
Just like human medical costs, pet veterinary bills can be quite expensive, but as pet parents, we’d do anything to keep our furry friends healthy and happy.
To help avoid the most major financial repercussions from unexpected veterinary costs, many pet parents are turning to pet health insurance for their dogs or cats. They subscribe month-to-month for a set fee, and then reap the benefits of coverage almost immediately and every time their pet sees the veterinarian.
But it can be hard to choose the best pet health insurance for Fido or Fuzzy, especially if you’re unfamiliar with how it works. Get informed so you can make a smart decision that’ll save you money as you take great care of your pet.
Is Pet Health Insurance Like Human Health Insurance?
Just as humans have health insurance coverage, pets can, too! All you have to do is enroll your pet in the insurance plan and clear the waiting period, which is usually 10 to 14 days (if applicable). You’ll need to pay a monthly premium to keep coverage active, so you can get access to covered services should your pet fall ill or become injured.
Unlike human health insurance, many pet health insurance plans don’t cover preventative care services and vaccines, but some do – and it’s up to you if you want to purchase one of those plans. You’ll need to shop around to get the best deal.
With no perfect way to predict how much you’ll spend annually on your pet’s medical expenses, your best bet is to review bills from the previous year or two. Remember to consider health issues that may crop up due to your pet’s age; you may want to increase coverage for things like joint problems, heart conditions, vision or hearing loss, cancer, or kidney and liver disease.
And remember: accidents happen. Be sure your plan covers care for physical injury, intestinal blockages, and other issues common with cats and dogs.
As you look for coverage, consider these general categories:
- Wellness and preventative care visits
- Pre-existing conditions (whether your pet has any now)
- Genetic conditions
Not every plan will cover everything. For example, some plans will never cover genetic conditions or preventative care. But if these are important to you, it’s possible to find a plan that covers it.
Numbers You Should Know
Pet health insurance plans come with a range of coverages, which affect the cost of the policy. As you shop for plans, consider your pet’s overall health and the types of issues that may arise as your pet ages. This way, you can be sure that these conditions are covered under your pet health insurance plan.
Typically, the more a plan covers, the more you’ll pay out of pocket for your monthly premiums – but remember that could be quickly defrayed after just one or two pricy visits to your veterinarian.
When selecting a plan for your cat or dog, consider these three financial components:
- Annual limit: The annual limit is the maximum amount of money you will get reimbursed for each year. Limits usually start around $3,000, but some plans are unlimited. The higher the limit, the higher the monthly premium you’ll pay, however.
- Deductible: This is the amount of money that you would need to pay before your reimbursement benefits begin. Deductibles can be as little as $100, with $250 being one of the most common amounts. The higher the deductible, the lower the monthly premium. Depending on the plan, you may pay a deductible annually or for every veterinary visit for a new health concern.
- Reimbursement percentage: This is the amount you’ll be reimbursed. Percentages tend to be from 70 to 90 percent. If your reimbursement percentage is 70 percent, for example, you’ll need to pay the remaining 30 percent out of pocket. The lower the reimbursement percentage, the lower the monthly premium.
So, Which Plan Is Best?
The only person who can determine which pet health insurance plan is best for your pet, your lifestyle, and your budget is you. To make your decision, you’ll need to spend time researching available plans across the many carriers available in the marketplace.
Get a few quotes before choosing the best one for you so you can better choose your annual limit, deductible, and reimbursement percentage.
Remember that this is a difficult decision with a big payoff: the ability to provide more extensive veterinary care to your beloved pet at a much more affordable price.
5 Tips for New Puppy Owners
Getting a new puppy is one of the most exciting things that can ever happen to you. The day you bring your puppy home is filled with joy, but it’s important not to let your excitement overshadow your responsibilities to your new family member. If you’ve ever had a puppy before, you know it takes a lot of work to train them on how to behave and ensure they’re healthy. Being a pet parent isn’t cheap, and you should be prepared for anything. Here are tips for new puppy owners.
1. Start Training Immediately
As soon as you bring your new puppy home, you’ll need to start training. While your puppy might not need behavioral training immediately, you should always start with potty training. Most puppies learn to go potty outside fairly quickly, but you can expect many accidents until they thoroughly learn how to ask for you to take them out.
Once your puppy is potty trained, you can move on to other types of training. It’s best not to train your dog on too many things at once as it can be confusing. Depending on the type of pet parent and your preferences, you can teach your dog which behaviors are acceptable, like sleeping in bed with you, and which aren’t, such as jumping on guests.
When it comes to training, the most effective method is rewards-based training. With this training method, you’ll ask your dog to do any task, including sit, give a paw, or greet guests in a certain way. Once your dog behaves in the way you approve of, you’ll give them a treat. Many pet parents and trainers also prefer clicker training, which can mark the exact behavior you’re rewarding your dog for. In clicker training, you’ll ask your dog to behave in a certain way and immediately click with a clicker. Your dog will eventually associate the sound of a click with a treat and learn about the types of behaviors that are acceptable.
When training your dog, you should never yell or put your hands on them in a negative way. You don’t want to make training or living with you a negative experience. Most dogs can’t learn when they’re being yelled at because they don’t know why they’re being yelled at. Because your dog lives in the present, it’s never practical to scold them for something they did hours ago. For example, if your puppy has an accident while you’re away and yell at them about it, they won’t know what they did wrong.
Additionally, yelling at your dog and spanking them, even if it’s a light tap, can make your dog aggressive and fearful of hands and loud voices, so it’s always best to try a training style that can reward good behavior and ignore the bad behavior.
Believe it or not, training can also ease dog anxiety or prevent it altogether. For example, if your dog gets used to the fact that you leave every day, they likely won’t develop separation anxiety.
2. Find the Right Food
Some dogs will eat just about any dog food, but some dogs can be picky and allergic to certain ingredients. You probably won’t know if your dog will like a particular food until you try it out. For your puppy, it’s best to get high-quality dog food for growing dogs. Dog food for puppies aims to help your dog grow and develop healthy bones and muscles.
As your puppy grows up, you can gradually switch to other foods based on their needs. For example, if your pet has dry skin and a dull coat, you can find food that can help them be less itchy. Additionally, there are many foods on the market for pets with allergies if your dog ever has an allergic reaction to their food.
When introducing new food to your dog, do it gradually. Switching them over to a new flavor with different ingredients or a new brand can cause severe digestive problems, resulting in diarrhea and vomiting.
3. Socialize Them
Dogs need to be socialized to have healthy relationships with people and other pets. Socializing your dog young can prevent them from developing fear-based aggression toward other dogs and people. Additionally, it teaches them how to behave with others. To socialize your dog, you can introduce them to a friend’s dog or take them to a dog park and monitor how they place with other dogs.
You should socialize your pet with people. You shouldn’t introduce too many new people or animals in a short period of time. Your puppy got a new home, so they’re already dealing with a lot. Gradually introduce your puppy to family and friends so they can start forming healthy relationships.
Socialization is important because it can prevent your dog from developing fear-based aggression when faced with other pets and people. It can also make living in an apartment complex with dogs easier. If you live in an apartment, you’ll regularly take your dog out for potty breaks, and they’re more than likely to see another dog. You can train your dog not to get excited by seeing another dog, so they’ll stop pulling on their leash, and you can have a better experience walking your pup.
4. Find a Good Vet
Some vets are great, while others don’t care about the pets they work with. As a dedicated pet parent, it’s always best to find a vet who will take good care of your dog even when you’re not around. Check around for vets in your area and read reviews from current pet parents.
Schedule an appointment once you find a vet you think will be a good match. Even if your puppy doesn’t need any vaccinations yet, you can still schedule a visit to help your dog get acquainted with their vet, who they’ll see at least once or twice a year for heartworm testing and a physical. In addition, visiting the vet for fun can help your dog learn that your vet isn’t there to hurt them and there’s no reason to be scared.
5. Always Have Treats
Dog training is a lifelong dedication. Your dog will learn new behaviors every day, and they should get rewarded when they display the desired behavior. Having treats on you always is a great way to reward good behavior, so your dog can continue to learn no matter where you are. It’s also important to have treats available when your dog displays the right behavior and rewarding them immediately will teach them that what they just did was good.
Being a pet parent is a rewarding experience, but it takes work. You can’t simply let your new puppy go potty in the house to jump on guests. Besides, dogs love being trained because it helps them flex their brains, and they don’t hate being rewarded with treats every day either.
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