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Posts Tagged ‘senior’

How can I increase my cat’s water intake?

As our cats enter their elderly stages of life, they are at more risk of becoming dehydrated, therefore it is important to adapt your house for their needs.

There are some tips on increasing water intake in our cats:
  • Provide multiple water sources around the home.
  • Providing moving water sources (such as fountains)
  • Provide a variety of different cups and bowls
Cats are able to taste water and usually avoid stagnant water, so always ensure that water is fresh. You could try a variety of different waters including spring water, filtered water and tap water. If your cat is reluctant to drink then extra water can be added to their food to prevent dehydration from occurring.
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Tips on improving your senior cat’s appetite


Cats rely heavily on their ability to taste and smell food and these are both reduced in elderly cats. If your cat has a reduction in appetite it is always advised to get them checked with your vet, however sometimes it can be due to their decreased senses.




There are ways that you can encourage food intake at home, this includes the following:
  • Warming foods to 30˚c – A cat’s taste receptors are most receptive when food is at body temperature as this mimics the temperature of live prey.
  • Strong smelling foods such as fish can help encourage them to eat as a cats sense of smell may be reduced due to age.
  • Offering foods that you know they have enjoyed in the past as familiarity is important to cats.
  • Offer a different variety and consistency of foods. Often a cat that has always enjoyed biscuits may develop a preference for wet food due to dental disease causing pain. Adding water to the diet and mashing it up may encourage your cat to eat.
  • Shallow bowls that do not restrict your cat’s whisker movements are important. In the wild your cat would use their whiskers to wrap around their prey to help them bite in the appropriate location. Whiskers are also important to help cats locate food and objects that are close to their face.
  • It is also important to offer fresh, high protein diets. Cats possess taste receptors that are able to detect the amino acids produced by meat and this can help them to distinguish the nutritional quality and protein content of the food. Offering a variety of foods, including wet and dry as well as a variety of food shapes will give your cat the opportunity to choose their preference.
  • Offer food little and often, do not leave uneaten food down for long periods or lots of different food choices at once as this can be overwhelming for them. Place the food in a quiet, easily accessible part of the house.
  • Raise food bowls up on stands or boxes as this may provide more comfort for cats suffering with osteoarthritis affecting the neck.
  • Providing your cat with attention whilst they are eating can help increase appetite.
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Grooming Care for our elderly felines

Elderly cats will find it more difficult to maintain their own cleanliness due to arthritis, dental disease and being less active, it is important that you provide extra care for your cat.
  • Spend time grooming your cat, ideally weekly to prevent matts forming. It is important to be gentle and use a soft brush as they may be stiff and arthritic.
  • Keep their face clean using damp cotton wool and make sure that their anogenital region is clean, you may need to do this a couple of times per day. If they are prone to getting a dirty bottom it is a good idea to shave the area around the bottom and tail to prevent them from becoming soiled.
  • Older cats are more prone to hairballs due to their sluggish digestive system, this makes regular grooming even more important to remove a build-up of dead hair. You can also purchase a paste from your vets to assist with hairballs.
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Cognitive dysfunction syndrome in older dogs

Ever walked into a room and wondered why you went in there in the first place? I know I have, and at 50 years old it seems to happen more and more! This is part of normal ageing, along with creaky knees and my silver fox hair. Not every person (or dog) ages the same way & sometimes we see changes that are more severe than those of normal “healthy” ageing.

One of the more common questions I get asked by the owners of geriatric dogs is “do dogs go senile?” The answer is yes they can, although we call it cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). Cognition is the mental process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and the senses, dysfunction simply means it is going wrong!

The age at which a dog becomes geriatric will depend on the individual, and factors such as breed, but is generally about eight years of age. It is important to realise that geriatric dogs will be less active and rest more, this is normal healthy ageing. What we see with CDS are behavioural issues which may affect the pet’s welfare and the human-dog bond.

Possible symptoms include disorientation (sometimes the dog doesn’t seem to know where he is even though he is somewhere familiar) and reduced interaction with the family, which may lead to fear or irritation. Disturbed sleep, for example becoming restless at night and sometimes crying at night for no apparent reason. You may see loss of housetraining and an increase in anxiety levels. In severe cases these changes strongly resemble senile dementia in old people, and can be very distressing for the dog and owner.

What can be done to help? It is important to realise there is no such thing as a cure for CDS. However a number of things can help.
  1. Drugs – the most commonly used drug is Selegiline .This is an enzyme blocker which increases levels of helpful chemicals in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine
  2. Diet- there has been a lot of research into “healthy brain” diets. As the brain ages it becomes less able to use glucose as fuel. By suppling diets that are rich in certain fats called medium chain triglycerides, we can fuel the older brain more efficiently. Also correct levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins B C & E and other ingredients such as Arginine can improve blood flow to the brain, reduce inflammation and help reduce free radicals which damage the brain.
  3. Enrich the environment – It is important to give plenty of attention and interaction to geriatric pets. Most older dogs will still enjoy walks and play, although maybe not so energetically as they did in their youth. Make sure beds are comfy and warm as older dogs will spend more time in them. Puzzle type dog toys can also be useful just as Sudoku and crosswords are helpful in keeping our human brains active
Remember growing old is a natural process which comes to us all (hopefully) and the vast majority of dogs enjoy their geriatric years despite the occasional “senior moment”. Now where did I put my car keys?
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