We love our pets, and it’s been a joy being with them through the years. They are there for you and you’re noticing that perhaps now, perhaps they need a bit of help from you. As pets get older it’s hard for them to tell you what their changing needs are. I always like to point out that old age is not a disease; pets slow down not just from “getting older,” but because they’re dealing with arthritic joints or underlying diseases that lead to muscle wastage and weakness. These are things that can be managed, or even treated, to ensure pets aren’t suffering in silence.
What was once the easiest of jumps onto their favourite sleeping spot could now be a daily chore. A ramp or small steps around the house is a good idea to get onto the bed or outside to the toilet. Even just moving their bedding, litter trays, or food and water bowls to more accessible areas in the house could be the solution.
Cats especially love being warm, and their heat-seeking behaviour will increase as they get older due to loss of body fat. Pet heat mats and beds ensure your furry friend is kept as toasty as they’d like to be when sitting on you isn’t an option.
Many owners find that their pets are going to the toilet in inappropriate places. Doing a bit of investigative work could let you know that your old cat isn’t naughty, but struggling to get into the litter tray because of creaky old joints. Or your furry senior needs to go more frequently due to underlying medical issues (mainly kidney disease or hormonal disease like hyperthyroidism or diabetes), and hence wants the tray to be cleaned more frequently, or have multiple litter trays. Dogs may need to be let out more frequently. If these issues arise, your vet may recommend a urine and/or blood test to check if these problems can be fixed.
And don’t forget to give them a bit of a once over every month. Check their coats for matts, as some animals just aren’t nimble enough to groom those odd spots anymore. Check their nails as they can be very brittle and wear down more slowly, requiring them to be clipped more frequently. There has been the odd occasion where they grew so much that it curled back into the animal. This is obviously painful for the animal and completely avoidable. And check them all over for lumps and bumps so we can deal with them early if needed.
So, just like our bodies get a bit of wear and tear and need a bit of extra TLC as we age, so do our beloved pets. It can be so rewarding to see them living full and pain free lives.