Aging Changes: Common Behavior Problems in Senior Pets
Advancing age seems to bring with it a number of health issues for pets, including behavior problems. As your furry pal grows older, keep an eye out for common behavior issues that may pop up so you can get help for them.
Senior pets and excessive vocalization
Pets who were previously quiet, but have turned to excessive barking, meowing, groaning, or grumbling in their older age, may be suffering from a painful health condition. For example, osteoarthritis is common among senior pets and can cause them to vocalize their discomfort. Cognitive dysfunction is another reason your senior pet may be “talking” more. Although more noticeable in dogs, cats also can develop this behavior issue, which is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in people.
Senior pets and house soiling
As your pet grows older, they may develop elimination issues and begin urinating and defecating in inappropriate areas. Again, osteoarthritis can cause house soiling, because it can be painful for your pet to navigate the litter box or the stairs to go outdoors or to posture correctly when eliminating. Other potential causes for this issue include cognitive dysfunction, urinary tract infections or cancer, gastrointestinal problems, renal failure, diabetes, or other endocrine disorders.
Senior pets and disrupted sleep patterns
Your senior pet may display a change in their normal sleep pattern, becoming more restless and anxious at night. Many times, this is caused by cognitive dysfunction, but an inability to get comfortable and relax also can be the culprit. Pets with heart or respiratory disease may find it difficult to lie down and breathe comfortably, while arthritic pets may experience discomfort when lying down for long periods. Pets with urinary, gastrointestinal, or endocrine disorders also may need to urinate or defecate during the night, when they could previously hold it. You can help your pet sleep at night by ensuring they receive plenty of exercise and attention during the day, and managing any underlying health issues.