Written by Kellie Ceccarelli, IAMS Veterinary Manager
We’re very fortunate to have so many mature dogs and cats in the world - in fact the total number of senior dogs and cats makes up a significant proportion of the total animal population 1, 2. Additionally, it is widely recognised by the veterinary profession that pets are living longer, healthier lives3 which is great news, especially considering how awesome older pets are
Imagine this - the typical cat and small/medium sized dog is regarded as a senior citizen at 7 years of age - if they then go on to live to 16 years or beyond, (many cats can live into their twenties), this means they will live more than 50% of their life in the senior age bracket! That’s a big chunk of their total lifespan
The truth is older dogs and cats make great companions; they’re often much easier and less time consuming than younger pets, plus more mature pets are already housetrained; dogs may have already received basic training, and cats, well they’re great at any age!
Adopt don’t shop.
Whilst it’s true that cats and dogs are living longer lives due to better living standards and advancements in veterinary care, many older pets still find themselves in rescue homes waiting to be picked by a new family whose house they will make their home.
If you’ve been thinking about adding a new pet to your family, but are worried about the fun, but often lengthy and demanding puppy and kitten phase, then consider adopting an older pet. You’ll make an enormous difference to an older pet with a lot of love left to give.
Reasons why adopting a senior pet is a simply splendid thing to do:
Older cats require less supervision than young cats, their energy levels are much lower and they already have experience of home life.
They already have their own personality. In general older cats tend to be more homely and relaxed and yet they can still be playful and enjoy going outside, though this is often less frequent than a younger cat.
Older cats can be a real pleasure to care for. They make wonderful companions who really enjoy their home comforts, and you won't need to worry about them using your curtains as a climbing frame or training them to use the litter tray.
With age comes wisdom - senior dogs are already house trained. This, by far, is the best benefit. No worries about house training as they already know the drill.
Understanding of good dog behaviour. Senior dogs understand the basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “down.” They are less likely to jump up on your friends and your children - it’s more likely they already know how to be “good dogs.”
Older dogs already know how to walk on a lead. This is unlike puppies who need to be trained to walk on a lead. Your senior dog will walk with you, not against you.
Activity levels are often reduced versus younger dogs. While they are still active and can walk or run, very often a smaller walk is just fine too.
They love sleep too. Older dogs know when it’s time to go to bed AND they know when it’s time to wake up. Their crepuscular tendencies are likely to have softened, (crepuscular = very active during both dawn and dusk).
Senior dogs and cats are super lovable and enjoy love and attention too. They will often sit while you give them the attention they need.
You could be saving a life. Often, younger dogs and cats are adopted faster than senior animals in rescue centres. The reality is you could be giving a senior dog or cat their final years of happiness, helping to extending their life.
Nutrition for older pets
Try to remember that while many senior dogs and cats still look young on the outside, changes will have started on the inside. The good news is that feeding IAMS for Vitality Senior can help them live a healthy, active and happy life.
IAMS for Vitality Senior supports the ageing process by providing:
- Lower fat and calories* to help prevent middle age spread before it starts (many older pets are prone to weigh gain).
- Crunchy kibbles with special minerals to help prevent tartar build up on teeth.
- Extra immune boosting nutrients such as extra Vitamin E support wellbeing.
- High quality animal protein and added glucosamine (naturally found within the cartilage of your dog’s joints) to support mobility.
No matter our approach, our common goal is to ‘add more years to the life of dogs and cats and more life to those years’, and if we can understand the impact of nutrition on healthy ageing and longevity more completely, then we can bring this goal even closer for all pets, including the millions of golden oldies.
- Wise JK. The Veterinary Services Marketing for Companion Animals, Schaumburg, IL. 1991. Am Vet Assoc
- DaviesM. An introduction to Geriatric Veterinary Medicine. In: Davies M ed. Canine and Feline Geriatrics. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Science, 1996: 1-11
- PFMA.co.uk. Using the right ingredients factsheet, 2015. https://www.pfma.org.uk/using-the-right-ingredients
*Compared to IAMS for Vitality Adult recipes