As the parent of a 12-year-old Parson Russell Terrier, I've been fortunate to watch Lily age gracefully into her twilight years while maintaining much of her spunk and agility. But each day I encounter clear signals that she's achieved senior citizen status: the onset of cataracts makes her timid around now-blurry strangers, and bathroom breaks are a frequent necessity (or so our carpet has learned the hard way). We remember fondly the tiny creatures we welcomed into our homes years ago, but the reality is that their bodies and minds are changing, and so too must their lifestyles. Here are a few tips to help ensure that your geriatric animal pals stay healthy and happy.
Sit and be fit. You may notice that your furry friend is less active these days. Understand that — just like grandpa — your pet is feeling his age, but this development does not excuse him from exercise. For dogs, daily walks relieve stiffness and limber up arthritic joints, but be prepared to turn for home when he exhibits signs of fatigue. Keep his reflexes sharp with a game of fetch or catch-the-laser-pointer, but tailor sessions to his mobility and energy limits.