Just like people, some older animals have special needs. Here are some tips for helping your older pet get the maximum enjoyment out of life.
As dogs age, their nutritional needs change. There are many diets formulated to meet your older pet's needs. The next time you purchase food for your dog, check to see if the brand you use makes a diet for senior dogs. If your dog eats only one meal a day, he/she may benefit from dividing that up into a morning and evening meal.
It may be difficult for some older dogs to eat when their food is on the floor. Many older dogs benefit from elevating food and water bowls. Elevated feeding bowls should be positioned about 6 inches below the pet's wither height (top of it's front shoulder). For small dogs, subtract 4 inches. Older dogs are more sensitive to extreme hot and cold temperatures. Be careful to limit your pet's exposure to heat and cold.
Many older dogs have difficulty with the stairs and getting in and out of cars. This can be due to mobility problems and decreased vision. Here are several suggestions that may be helpful:
- Try increasing the amount of light on stairs. Stairways are often poorly lit and the shadows may cause some confusion for your pet.
- A harness may help you to steady your dog on stairs. You can hold the part of the harness over you dog's back as you go up or down stairs to provide extra support.
- A ramp covered in rubber or carpet may help your pet to go up and down small flights of stairs, or get in and out of taller vehicles.
An orthopedic bed can provide your older dog with extra cushioning from the hard floor. If your pet is slowing down, regular exercise such as moderate walks are helpful for maintaining mobility and muscle tone. Older dogs may need to go outside more often to urinate and defecate. They may also take longer to eliminate when they get outside. Your older dog may require more grooming to prevent matted hair and to keep the skin and coat healthy. Also, nails may need to be trimmed more often.
Check out www.seniorpetproducts.com for senior bedding, feeders, harnesses, boots, incontinence, ramps, etc.
As cats age, their nutritional needs change. There are many diets formulated to meet your older pet's needs. The next time you purchase food for your cat, check to see if the brand you use makes a diet for senior cats.If your cat only eats one meal a day, they may benefit from dividing that up into a morning and evening meal. Older cats may experience a decreased appetite. One reason might be due to an impaired sense of smell. Cats like to smell their food before they eat. If you notice a decreased appetite in your cat, try warming canned food to increase the aroma. If a decreased appetite persists, your cat needs to be examined by a doctor. As some cats get older they become more stiff and it may be difficult to crouch down to eat and drink. Try slightly elevating food and water bowls to make it easier for your cat to eat and drink. Choose litter boxes with lower sides. Your cat may simply have a hard time getting in and out of the old box. Also, add more litter boxes to your home in easily accessible places. Your older cat may have trouble making it to another floor or a hard to reach location. Try increasing the amount of light on stairs. Stairways are often poorly lit and the shadows may cause some confusion for your pet. A decrease in mobility may make it harder for your cat to reach a favorite perch. A series of steps or a carpeted ramp may make the perch easier to reach. Older cats may be more sensitive to extreme hot and cold temperatures. Be careful to limit your pet's exposure to heat and cold. Even cats that were impeccable groomers in youth may become a bit careless and require assistance from you. If your cat is matted, a trip to a professional groomer may be needed to get things under control. Your feline companion may need regular brushing to keep their coat and skin healthy. You may also need to trim nails regularly. If you have any questions on grooming tools or how to trim nails, please ask. Generally, a rubber brush can be used to keep a short-haired cat's coat healthy. Long-haired cats will likely need a comb or slicker brush to get through the undercoat and prevent matting. Grooming tools can be purchased at Kingsbury Animal Hospital or local pet stores.