As your pet(s) get older, their needs start to change. The holidays are a great time to give them the gift of health.
Give the gift of health!
Geriatric pets should have semi- annual veterinary visits instead of annual visits. This allows early detection of illness or other problems. It is also a great time to look at:
- Nutritional needs - senior pets often need more easy to digest diets, and need different calories and nutrients to help as they age. Senior pets may need more of a specialized diet due to disease or aging changes. Increase or decrease in water intake can signal health changes.
- Weight management (gaining or losing weight)- weight gain can increase the risk of health problems and difficulties with mobility. Likewise, weight loss can signal concerns for illness.
- Parasite control and vaccinations: older pets' immune systems are not as healthy as those of a younger animal, so they are not as able to heal or fight off disease as fast as younger pets. Also as your pet ages there may be a lower risk for certain diseases based on lifestyles. Your veterinarian will help decide on what parasite prevention and vaccine protocol your senior pet should be on.
- Aging Changes: Mobility and Senility: Stimulating pets through appropriate interactions and activities can help keep them physically and mentally active.
Your veterinarian can help you help your senior have more comfortable golden years.
Most senior cats or dogs will develop arthritis and mobility issues, so think about giving the gift of comfort.
K&H Thermo-Kitty Beds are comfortable all-season beds. They offer comfort and warmth. This cozy bed envelops your kitty in a bed of heated comfort with heater on, or remove heater easily when weather is warmer.
Not all cute beds are comfortable for the changing needs of a older pet. Look for Orthopedic Beds which offer more support and comfort. Arthritis can cause pain and stiffness, so pets who used to curl in a tight ball may find more comfort in stretching out on their bed. So a bigger bed may offer more room to stretch out. Offering more beds throughout the house so your cat or dog can sleep or relax near you can also be comforting.
The ability to jump or climb up and down decreases as your pet gets older. Offering pet stairs or ramps can give your pet the freedom to still get to the spots they love. You can make “step ups” by moving boxes or ottomans for your pet to climb up on. Ramps are great additions for travel. They allow (with a little training) the ease of helping get your dog in and out of the car safely.
As our pets age, they can lose weight and muscle mass, which can cause them to become chilled easier. Dog or cat sweaters can help your pet keep warm. Also consider using pet friendly portable heating disks which can bring back warmth to their favorite resting spot. Snuggle Safe Dog, Cat & Small Animal Microwave Heat Pads let your pets cuddle up with safe and soothing warmth for 10 hours. There are no electrical cords to worry about. The Thermapol filling is nontoxic. We use these at Animal Hospital of North Asheville!
Urinary and fecal incontinence can happen as dogs age, and families can feel the stress of maintaining clean sleeping areas for our senior friends. You do not have to give up your pet’s comfort for cleanliness. There are disposable pee pads that can be put down under blankets or on top of bedding. Another option is using human crib/mattress protectors. You can usually find them in the baby department or online. They are easy to wash, offer great protection and are very comfortable to lie on. Priva makes high quality ultra waterproof sheet and mattress protectors.
Disposable and washable pet diapers and belly bands are another way to help your dog feel comfortable if they should have an accident.
Waterless Shampoo can also be helpful for our senior friends, when you need to spot clean without having to go through the stress of a bath.
We all need a hand from time to time! Give your dog a hand with the Help’em Up Harness. It is an extended wear harness that is designed to help families lift and support the dog.
Booties and Toe Grips can help add traction for your dog. Toe Grips and Ruffwear Boots.
Let Your Pet Ride in style! Our pets may not be able to take long walks or hikes like before, but they still like to “go”. Consider pet strollers that can contain a pet safely. This allows you to still have adventures with your cat or dog.
Make Mealtime more comfortable! Consider raising the food and water dishes with pet friendly stands or boxes. Place rubber backed rugs near the food and water dishes for your pet to stand on to help prevent slipping while standing and eating or drinking
Litterbox love! Consider lower sided litter boxes for easier entrance and exit for your cat. Offer more litterboxes, especially if you live in a multi-story house. Arthritis can make going up or down stairs to get the litterbox more challenging which can result in unwanted bathroom habits.
Feliway and FeliScratch: Help your cat relax with the soothing pheromones of Feliway. Feliscratch can help deter unwanted scratching and add life back into your cat’s scratching post.
As your pets get older, they still need enrichment. Whether they have decreased mobility, vision, hearing or more there are still options for them to have fun!