Once a pet reaches about seven years old, it is considered to be geriatric and requires special attention, including a dietary change. Diet changes are especially important because the kidneys in older animals often become less effective and lose some of their ability to process waste materials. This condition can be helped with a proper diet. The guidelines for feeding an older dog or cat include using a high-quality pet food designed especially for older animals. This food should be recommended by a veterinarian who can also advise owners of any diet restrictions or necessary medications. Older animals are much more susceptible to weight gain, so care should be taken to prevent pet obesity. Noticeable changes in weight, however, can be a sign of a medical problem and should be immediately reported. And because older animals are more affected by the unbalancing effects of a diet supplemented by frequent snacks or table scraps, these should be avoided. For more information on older pets, consult a local veterinarian.