How To Make Older Pets More Comfortable As They Age8 min read
MAKING OLDER PETS MORE COMFORTABLE IS NOT DIFFICULT
Everybody gets old one day. That is if you avoid disasters that can shorten one’s life. Time passes by way too quickly for our pets. The average lifespan of a Great Dane is about 7 while a cat can live 16 years or so. Either way, you cannot compare the lifespan of a pet to that of an average human. Making older pets more comfortable will go a long way in extending their lives.
The two major problems that affect older pets is osteoarthritis and loss of muscle mass. The combination of these two problems makes it difficult to ambulate. Not being able to move is often made worse by obesity. Many senior pets are overweight due to being fed a calorie-rich diet. Females gain pounds over the years secondary to a more sedentary lifestyle after having been spayed.
There are many ways to make older pets more comfortable as time flies by. Many of them are ideas that can be immediately implemented or by a few online purchases.
An obvious way to make older pets more comfortable is to make frequent visits to your veterinarian. As your pet ages, he or she may prescribe cartilage building products such as glucosamine and chondroitin that make the hip joints function in their normal ball and socket movement. As animals age, the chances of medical issues increase. It is wise to have periodic blood work performed to rule out any medical condition that could make a pet uncomfortable. The problem of obesity can be handled by a combination of diet change and exercise.
In case your senior pet is farther along with showing clinical signs of arthritis, veterinarians will often place dogs on a tailored dose of Rimadyl® or some other anti-inflammatory. In advanced cases, variations of corticosteroids are employed. If your pet is placed on Rimadyl® make sure your dog’s liver enzymes are checked at least twice a year.
THOSE SLIPPERY FLOORS MAKE THINGS DIFFICULT
Problems moving around the home for senior pets are often due to the presence of hardwood flooring or linoleum throughout the home. Tile is used in the majority of Florida homes and is even slippery than wood. Anyone that has mopped a tile floor knows that they are slippery than ice when wet. Imagine an older dog or cat that has problems getting around. They can splay their legs causing them to fall over and further injure themselves. Try to employ carpet or at least purchase carpet remnants that can be placed over parts of the home making traction easier for the animal.
Older dogs are usually going to go to one of two places; outdoors to go to the bathroom or to their food and water bowls. Facilitate their outdoor adventure by building or purchasing a ramp that makes it easy to go outside. That ramp should not be slippery otherwise the animal will be petrified of it each time. Make sure that you elevate the pet’s food and water bowl onto a stack of books or facsimile that will make it easier for the animal to get nutrition without having to stoop down. Many older dogs suffer from cervical (neck) pain secondary to arthritis or a prior injury.
GIVE ME A NICE THICK BED TO SLEEP IN!
Anyone that has slept on a hard floor knows how difficult it is to get comfortable during the night. That is even more difficult for a dog or cat feeling discomfort from arthritis. Trying to get into a comfortable position to sleep is made more difficult by having your pet sleep on a thin bed. Pets tend to pace throughout the night since they cannot get comfortable. Provide a thick bed that is even made more comfortable by placing a thick blanket underneath. Older dogs use their elbows to help themselves stand up. Making older pets more comfortable by providing a thick comfortable surface will prevent hygromas or other elbow issues.
IT’S TOO COLD OUTSIDE!
Down here in Florida I find it absolutely ridiculous seeing people in December dressed up in gloves and other wintertime gear. They do not know what real cold is! Up north dressing your pet in appropriate winter gear makes sense. Like older people, animals lose a lot of body fat and muscle mass. Fat is an insulator that helps keep the body warm in cold weather. Muscles in cold weather are needed to contract to generate heat to keep a dog or cat warm. Lacking either the pet will feel cold outdoors or even indoors in a heated home. When you see any old dog sit and shiver it is usually caused by one of two things; the animal is too cold or in pain from osteoarthritis. Make your pet more comfortable by buying a suitably fitting jacket.
There is one thing you cannot change if you live in a temperate climate. It is the ever-present cold, damp weather seen in early spring and early autumn. That type of climate makes it much more uncomfortable for any older dog or cat. In warm climates like Florida, this is much less an issue.
WE OWE OUR OLDER FRIENDS A LOT OF RESPECT
It seems that it was just days ago that we picked up that little puppy or kitten at the shelter or breeder. As we watch our best friends age it is the little things that count. Sure, we can purchase harnesses or make slings that make it easier for the dog to get around but just being gentle to the animal makes its life easier. Pick up the animal slowly. Do not pick an older, small dog up by lifting under its armpits with the dog facing you. You can injure its lower back. With both hands support the animal from underneath THEN pick the dog up.
Dogs and cat lose their visual acuity as they age often due to cataracts or glaucoma. This makes the cat’s life a bit harder. They love to jump all over the place. With advancing age, their eyesight and arthritis make that fun chore much more difficult. Provide a small stool or another object that will split the jumping distance in half so the cat can do its thing in two steps rather than one difficult jump. Older dogs with declining visual acuity can also injure themselves falling down stairs. Making older pets more comfortable and safer is achieved by using any gate that can be put across stairs in the home. Try to avoid changing the orientation of furnitureChanging the orientation of furniture in a home is a great way to test if any animal can see or not. Try changing the furniture in a small room. Have one person hold the dog at one end of the room and another call the pet from the other end of the room. A dog that has vision will be able to navigate the new pattern without bumping into the new furniture arrangement. when you have senior pets in the home. Pets live by smell and know how to navigate in the home when their vision is declining.
Little things done for cats trying to use a litter box will make its life more comfortable. Cut away the plastic from the front of any litter box so that a cat is able to walk into the box rather than jump in. Your cat’s hips will thank you.
Pets love to eat. Make their lives more comfortable by frequent dental cleanings. Dental disease hurts and animals will not be able to comfortably eat their meals. The bonus of dental cleanings is receiving up to date blood work. All veterinarians perform blood work prior to anesthetizing any senior pet.
Above all, go real slow with an older pet. Sudden gestures may startle the animal. Pet and caress the animal more. They deserve it. They have been your loyal companions their entire lives.