Written by Aurora James for Chitra Walmsley
As a loving pet owner, you want nothing more than your furry friend to lead a happy and healthy life and grow old alongside you. As your animal pal enters their later years, you will have to adjust your care plan to their changing needs. Discover how you can nurture your senior pet below.
Modify your home to pay for your senior pet's needs
Older animals may struggle with mobility issues. Make sure your space is free of clutter that could impede a pet's progress and keep the house tidy. A clean home can reduce the presence of dust mites and other allergens that ruin air quality and impede comfort. Other helpful modifications for senior pets include adding no-slip rugs for traction, placing steps and boxes for climbing, and installing night lights. If you live in a chilly climate like Canada, make sure there are plenty of soft, cozy, warm spaces for them.
Make grooming a top priority
Older cats and dogs may become less vigilant about grooming, so it's on you to help them. Whether you pay for a professional groomer or do the job yourself, follow best practices when helping elder animals with their hygiene. These include keeping sessions short, using soft brushes, and using a non-slip surface. Also, keep an eye out for health problems on their body as they groom, such as skin lesions.
Invest in quality healthy food made for older animals
As animals get older, their metabolism slows down, which means they may lack an appetite. You need to ensure your cat or dog still gets the nutrients they need while eating less. Towards this end, look for dog or cat foods geared specifically towards "senior" pets. Consult reliable sources for top-rated foods. For example, the American Kennel Club provides tips for brands that are ideal for older dogs.
If your senior pet is scratching frequently, is acting submissive or aggressive, or isn’t eating as much, these can be telltale signs of stress. Fortunately, there are a few things that pet owners can do to help reduce stress in their older pets. First, it's important to keep them healthy by providing them with a nutritious diet and regular exercise. Second, create a predictable routine and stick to it as much as possible. And finally, make sure to spend quality time with your pet, providing them with the love and attention they need.
Be prepared for accidents
Beware that older animals may lose bladder control and have accidents indoors. Remain patient and don't get angry at your pet if this happens. It's simply part of the aging process. You can cover furniture or carpets to help protect them, and get a waterproof cat or dog bed. When accidents happen, clean them thoroughly. You want to remove stains and smells completely or you risk a repeat of the incident. This guide explains how it's done.
See your veterinarian regularly
You should schedule veterinary visits regularly at any point in your animal's life. However, these checkups become even more important as they get older, at which point they are more prone to various illnesses. Your veterinarian can also make personalized recommendations on everything from pet food to addressing accidents.
Prepare yourself emotionally for the big goodbye
As your pet gets older, you will have to prepare yourself for the inevitable loss that comes with their death. While it might seem morbid, preparing in advance can make it easier to let go when the time comes. For example, you might want to make sure you're taking plenty of pictures and videos of your pet in their later years to remember them by. When the time comes, follow these tips from Psychology Today for preparing for the process.
You want to do all you can to help your pet live their best life in their later years. Trust the tips above to help. You can then rest easy knowing you've given your favorite furry pal the happiest and healthiest life possible.
For positive-reinforcement, force-free training, trust professional dog trainer Chitra Walmsley. Virtual training sessions are also available!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.