Our dogs and cats are not just pet's. They are family members. As they get older they need more help from us. Ageing people benefit from simple changes that make life easier and more comfortable and so do our furry family friends.
So How Old Is My Pet?
A dog is considered elderly when they reach 6-10 years of age. For dogs size factors into age because larger dogs have shorter life spans. Cats tend to have longer lifespans than dogs, so depending upon weight and breed, some cats may not be considered elderly until they reach 10 or 11 years of age.
11 Ways to Make Life Better For Senior Pets.
1. Raise Their Food and Water
As your pet gets older, it may become more difficult for them to lower their neck to eat food or drink water. You could buy a raised platform or bowl station or use something already around the house, like bricks or timber to lift the food and water bowls your animal already uses.
2. Consider the Litterbox
For older cats, arthritis and failing kidneys contribute to issues using their litter boxes. There are litter boxes on the market with lower openings designed for older cats, but you can also use a storage bin with an entry way cut out in the front. If you have multiple cats in your household, you should have one litter box for each cat, plus one extra.
3. Ramp it up
Arthritis is a common problem in dogs as well. An easy home modification to enable easier mobility for your dog or cat companion is to buy or build a ramp or shallow stairs. A ramp or stairs of stable cushions allows your animal the same freedom and access to couches or beds that they had when they were younger. We see lots of old pet's with lameness suddenly from jumping off beds and couches and a ramp or stepped access could help prevent this.
4. Tread your Stairs
Install anti-slip treads made from carpet or rubber onto stairs. If your pet can no longer make it up the stairs at all, place their bed in a comfortable spot downstairs. This way they have no need to be anywhere other than the first floor of your home.
5. Floor Talk
If your floors are smooth or slippery your could trial non-slip rugs, outdoor carpet squares or even yoga mats for better traction for your pet. Think materials that are easy to wash and do not absorb stains and odours easily.
6. Try a Doggie Door
If a dog has urinary incontinence issues then a doggy door or dog flap is useful. These can provide the freedom for your canine to urinate outside as they need. You will want to install the door in a low area to provide ease of access for any mobility issues.
7. Buy an Orthopedic Bed
If your dog displays any of the behavioural symptoms of joint problems, an orthopedic bed is specifically designed for their needs. Smaller dogs should sleep in a bed relative to their size because they get cold more easily and may feel insecure in a larger bed. If you have a dog flap installed, place the dog bed near the door for easy access to the bathroom. If your pet is an older cat, place their bed within the vicinity of their litter box, but not too close to it. Cats also enjoy cave-style beds just like their ancestors.
8. Double Check Your Temperature
Older animals have more difficulty regulating their body temperature, so they are more sensitive to temperatures that varies significantly from their own body temperature. If you use aircon set it between 22-24 degrees and pay attention to your animal’s specific behaviour and be guided by their behaviour (panting or shivering etc).
9. Create a Routine
Dogs love consistency, so keeping their routine consistent will help mitigate anxiety. This goes for cats as well. As cats age, anxiety can be caused by disorientation and confusion, so a regular daily routine and consistent placement of your cat’s litter box, bed, and food is important.
10. Reduce Stress with Sound
Increased sensitivity to sound is stressful for older animals as well. Keep a white noise machine or background music playing in your home to prevent this source of stress. Thunder shirts can help with noise anxiety in dogs.
11. Keep Them Moving Within Their Abilities.
Your dog used to like going for walks? They probably still do, just not as far. Exercise and mental stimulation is important for muscle strength, keeping joints moving and helping prevent cognitive decline.
You Can Improve Their Quality of Life
These simple modifications can improve your animal companion’s entire quality of life and increase their lifespan. Our pets deserve to live out their lives in safety, love and comfort.