Today as I was fluffing and decorating the Christmas tree, Oreo decided to help out. He must have been feeling a bit of the empty nest since the boys have moved away to college. Although he has reached the latter stage of his life, his memory still serves him well, as he reacts to situations deeply rooted in his memories, even when he hears the name of our long-gone family cat, Hobbes.
Aging is hard enough on us human beings not to mention our furry friends. Just as we get achy and temperamental, so do our cats and dogs when they get older. Luckily, for the most part, we are able help ourselves or seek help when needed. Our pets, however, rely on their owners to make changes and decisions that will make the transition of the aging process a little more comfortable. My husband and I have experienced first hand the difficulties that are encountered in a 19 year-old cat’s life and are now watching the slow down of our 10 year-old Boston Terrier. Several tips and adjustments that will make life easier for an older pet include:
- A ramp or portable steps for use when your dog can no longer jump on furniture. Our dog can still jump on the couch but no longer likes jumping on our bed since it sits higher. Treats can be used to train your dog to use a ramp or steps. Disregard this if your pet isn’t allowed on furniture.
- A fresh bowl of water on the second floor of a two-story house so Fido or Calico doesn’t have to go up and down stairs for a drink of water.
- Limiting time outdoors when it’s really hot or cold.
- Asking your veterinarian for food recommendations if your dog or cat has digestive issues. Experimenting with different brands and formulas can greatly improve your pet’s overall health.
- Removing table food and scraps from diet.
- A pain medication if suggested by your vet for arthritis or injury.
- More frequent bathroom breaks as needed which could now include middle of the night outings for indoor canines.
- Shortened playtime bursts since your pet may be more prone to injury.
- Securing your pet by seat belt or in a carrier during short car rides or long road trips. Their sense of balance isn’t what it used to be.
- Teaching your old dog or cat new tricks!
- A daily, leisurely stroll on a leash, weather permitting, will provide sufficient exercise for senior dogs.
- Routine visits to the vet for vaccines, injuries, and ailments.