Growing old is part of being alive, and aging happens to all of us – even our furry friends. As your companion ages, you’ll begin to notice changes to their body. Older dogs and cats start to slow down, and many experience weight fluctuations, loss of hearing or vision, arthritis, and even cognitive decline.
But senior pets can still have happy, satisfying lives filled with love and comfort. Here are ten tips for modifying your home and lifestyle to accommodate the needs of your furry companion so that you can make the most of their twilight years together:
1. Switch to senior pet food. As pets age, their metabolism slows. Senior pet food is formulated to have a lower fat and calorie content without affecting its nutritional quality, which will help your pet maintain a healthy weight. Some senior pets may have special dietary needs to help manage diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, or other conditions. Ask your veterinarian about an appropriate diet for your pet.
2. Tend to their grooming needs. Older pets may sometimes struggle to keep themselves clean. A major issue is dental health. Senior pets benefit from frequent tooth brushing and dental treats or toys. Keep their nails trimmed and brush pets frequently to prevent the dry, flaky skin and shedding that often comes with age.
3. Eliminate unnecessary jumping and climbing. Consider confining your pet to one level of your home. Install a pet-friendly ramp where necessary. Provide lower perches for cats to sit on, and add ramps to your kitty’s favorite sleeping spots. Also consider providing your cat with horizontal scratching surfaces rather than vertical ones.
4. Adjust the height of food and water. Add a no-slip mat around the food and water dishes and use adjustable racks or even cardboard boxes to make dishes more accessible. Consider getting a pet fountain; the sound of running water can make it easier for a blind pet to find their water, and many pets find drinking from a fountain more palatable. Cats in particular might benefit from having multiple water dishes available throughout their living area.
5. Provide soft places to sleep. Consider switching from a blanket to a memory foam or orthopedic pet bed that offers more joint support. Put a comfortable sleeping spot in every room your pet spends a lot of time in. Senior pets sleep more than younger animals, and they’ll appreciate having a cozy spot close to you wherever you are in the house.
6. Don’t move furniture unnecessarily. Blind pets and those with dementia may struggle to find their way around the house if you rearrange the furniture. Do not move food bowls, litter boxes, pet beds, or other essential parts of their lives unless necessary. If you do rearrange, guide your pet around the reorganized space and use treats to help them remember where things are.
7. Make accommodations for incontinence. Older pets may have weaker bladders and require more bathroom breaks. Consider increasing the number of litterboxes, using pee pads, and using diapers or belly bands to help manage incontinence. Plan for more potty breaks throughout the day.
8. Keep up with playtime. Just because older pets have slowed down doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate lots of opportunities for physical and mental stimulation. Playtime helps them maintain a healthy weight, improves mood, and is fun for both of you. Plan for more frequent play breaks of shorter duration, so you don’t stress your pet’s more fragile aging body. Never let a blind or deaf pet roam off-leash in an unsecured area.
9. Plan for more vet visits. Annual vet care is essential for your fur baby’s wellbeing. Senior pets may need more frequent veterinary care. If your pet has a chronic condition like diabetes or kidney disease, plan to visit the vet’s office more frequently. Work with your veterinarian to find a consistent schedule that will fit into your lifestyle while meeting your pet’s needs. Also discuss timelines with your veterinarian and learn about signs of decreased quality of life so you can come up with a plan for saying goodbye to your pet when the time comes.
10. Consider what happens after they’re gone. It’s never pleasant to think about life without your dearest companion. But it’s a good idea to plan for the end of their life now, while you still have time together and your head is clear of grief. Having a pet cremation company chosen in advance and knowing how much money to save for the event can relieve a lot of stress from you when it comes time to lay your companion to rest.
Best Friends Pet Passings and Cremations is an Albuquerque pet cremation service. We know how hard it can be to say goodbye to your furry family member, and we’re here to support you however we can in this time. We offer three flat-rate cremation packages in addition and can accept prepayment for arrangements up to six months in advance. Call us at 505.345.5615 to learn more.
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