Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks: 3 Ways to Manage Cognitive Dysfunction At Home
As your senior pet enters their golden years, they may not age gracefully. Instead, they may begin getting stuck in corners, waiting at the wrong side of the door to go outside, or pacing and crying all night. Rather than waiting until you notice cognitive dysfunction signs, our team at Washington Family Vet Clinic wants pet owners to follow these three tips to help ward off and manage cognitive dysfunction in your pet.
#1: Work your senior pet’s mind with thinking games
If you don’t use it, you lose it—this is true for your pet’s mental function, as well as for people. If your furry pal is slowing down physically and mentally, with no encouragement to flex those muscles—brain included—they are likely to age more quickly. Instead of letting your pet slip away into senility, keep their mind sharp with daily training sessions, brushing up on old tricks, or teaching new skills. Strive for at least two five-minute thinking games per day, to help ensure your dog or cat keeps using their brain.
#2: Beat your senior pet’s boredom with environmental enrichment
Although our faithful companions delight in our company, we can’t always give them constant attention. With a lot of free time on their paws, your pet is likely to get bored, and sleep the day away. Keep their mind focused on puzzle-solving activities by incorporating a variety of environmental enrichment options into their routine. For example, ditch your pet’s food dish, and feed your companion out of a food puzzle, whether it’s a do-it-yourself creation, or a commercial product. Cater to your pet’s natural behaviors by building your dog a digging box full of hidden treasures in the backyard, or leaving tasty snacks on the top of your kitty’s climbing tower that overlooks a bird feeder.
#3: Clear up your senior pet’s confusion with a daily routine
Pets thrive on routine, especially easily confused senior pets. Stick to the same feeding, walking, and playing schedule, if possible, and head to bed around the same time each night, to promote feelings of comfort and security in your old pal.
Is your pet’s mental function taking a dive? Contact us to schedule an appointment with our team, to help your best friend stay sharp and focused.