Old Pets? 7 Cheap DIY Help for Old Fogey Dogs & Cats

November is Adopt A Senior Pet Month. Do you love old pets? Are you ready for some old dog and/or old cat love?

old man old pets

Old Fogey Pets Love To The Max!

My Siamese wannabe Seren hates being called “old” and prefers “mature.” She’ll celebrate her 22nd birthday in February. My beloved Magical-Dawg at 11 years old still tried to act like a teenage German Shepherd. But like people, with age comes creaky joints, less efficient digestion, and dimming senses. These tips can help your old pets.

Making accommodations to keep them happy and comfy as long as possible is every pet parent’s goal. Basically, look for things they LOVE to do as youngsters and help them continue to do the same as seniors. Products for seniors can help–and DIY inexpensive options also work.

7 DIY Old Pets Tips For Old Dogs & Old Cats

Give ’em a boost. Cats love high spots to snooze and lounge, but may not be able to manage the leap. Move a chair or even a cardboard box close to a window or bed to give them a leg up. Dogs benefit from commercial ramps so they don’t have to manage stairs. You can also get blocks of styrofoam and glue together for lightweight/cheap ramps or steps for your old pets.

Warm creaky joints. Heating pads and beds soothe achy arthritis and help older pets become more flexible. Seren loves a heating pad slipped underneath her regular blanket. Eggshell foam-type beds also relieve and prevent resting sores that can develop on big dogs. You can place a lamp over top of pet’s favorite snooze spot, too. Seren also sleeps underneath the stained glass lampshade on our dining room table!

Keep them sipping. Older pets–especially cats–don’t always drink as much water as they should. Pet water fountains that aerate the water make it taste better and encourage an increase in water intake. There are many fountains for pets available, most work best for cats and small dogs. We have three going at all times, plus a couple of bowls, so water is always available.

Offer a sling. Big dogs especially can have trouble getting up in the morning. Pet products stores offer dog slings that fit under the tummy to give your dog the needed lift up. Or you can use a large beach-towel to give him the boost. We helped Magic this way during his last weeks with us, and once he got up, he was good to go. For dogs and cats with more serious mobility problems, you can now find dog and cat “wheelchairs.” The pet’s furry tail rests over the wheels, while the front paws provide locomotion, and most dogs and cats are up and running around very quickly!

Add better boxes. Old pets like senior cats can have trouble climbing in and out of their litter box if the sides are too high. They may also have trouble reaching the facilities in time. Add an extra potty or two, ensure at least one is on eold pets old catsach side of the house or floor. Choose a box with lower sides for arthritic felines. Or use a plastic low-sided shirt box storage container–your cat will thank you. I use a low-sided plastic storage box for Seren’s creaky access, and also have puppy pee pads placed in strategic places to protect carpet–and Seren’s dignity.

Offer tantalizing toys. Old eyes see less clearly, old ears lose their sensitivity, and even smell sense (and taste) changes over time. Pet senses may dim gradually or abruptly–but that doesn’t mean fun must stop. Choose noisy toys for sight-impaired pets so they can still hear the squeak-jingle to chase and play, for example. Spike old boring toys with intriguing scent to refresh the fun by putting the dog’s ball in a baggy with stinky fish flakes, or the cat’s mouse in a bag with catnip. Remember that part of the cat’s play-hunt repertoire is to simply WATCH, so don’t be disappointed if your old fogey kitty declines to chase. She’ll still enjoy watching the fluttering feather toy.

Treat healthy. Dogs love puzzle toys and using their brain to figure out games helps keep them young, too. old pets old dogs

For other care options for your aging pets, you can refer to my award winning (updated!) books:

COMPLETE CARE FOR YOUR AGING CAT

COMPLETE CARE FOR YOUR AGING DOG.

What accommodations have you made for your senior cats and dogs? Any DIY cost cutting tips? Do tell!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Halloween Pets Safety: Protect Pets from Halloween Goblins

The nights leading up to Halloween—and October 31st itself—bring visitations from a wide assortment of ghosts, goblins, and gremlins. Halloween at its best is a night of mystery, fun, and thrills for human children and many adults. But it can be a nightmare for your furry kids.

devil dog for halloween with ownerWhy Pets Hate Halloween

The calmest, most laid-back pet may get his tail in a twist when masked villains with flapping capes ring the front doorbell. Cats and dogs identify friends and family not only by scent, but also by appearance. Remember how King barks and growls and doesn’t recognize Uncle Jerry when he wears that baseball cap? Just imagine how King will react to a rubber mask that covers the neighbor child’s face!

Stranger danger can turn confident pets into nervous wrecks. If you know trick or treaters will visit, prepare your pets and put safety first–for you AND the kids. After all, you don’t want frightened pets to lash out at well-meaning kids.

Halloween Pets Safety

Dogs faced with unfamiliar people, especially if they wear “scary” outfits and carry objects that look dangerous (like a noisy bag, a flashlight, or “pumpkin” goody bucket), may react with fear. A fear reaction reduces some poor dogs to hiding under the bed. Other dogs attack the frightening intruder.

Cats more typically become scared and hide from anything that’s new and different. Hiding under the bed is bad enough, but it can turn dangerous if the cat or dog runs out the door and is lost, hit by a car, or injured by other animals.

How to Protect Halloween Pets & Kids

Save your sanity and give your pets peace of mind by confining them in a safe room on Halloween night. That way, they aren’t tempted to bark at each doorbell ring, or dash outside. You don’t want them scared—or to scare others—on this night and spoil the fun for everyone.

If your children plan to visit homes where you know pets reside, call ahead. Ask neighbors about confining their pets for all the reasons mentioned here. If you aren’t sure of the pet status at a particular house, why not skip that visit to be safe. Just as you don’t want your child frightened or injured, neither do you want to be responsible for a beloved pet becoming lost.

Keep Pets Safe Inside

I strongly urge that ALL cats and dogs be confined indoors on Halloween night, even if you don’t expect trick-or-treaters. For outdoor cats and dogs, shutting them up in the garage for a few nights before the holiday could save their lives.

It’s not a bad idea to confine cats—especially solid black and solid white kitties—for up to a week leading up to the holiday. There are some truly sick “demons” that do mean, nasty things to pets at this time of the year.

Beware Halloween Pets & Candy

Remember that the days before and after Halloween offer indoor temptations that also pose dangers, especially for sweet-toothed dogs. Keep candy out of reach, in latched cupboards, to keep your canine glutton from over-indulging. One year my shepherd managed to climb onto the kitchen table, and empty a bowl filled with suckers—only the paper and gnawed sticks remained, scattered all over the carpet. While eating any sort of candy in excess may cause vomiting and/or diarrhea, and can wreak havoc on pet teeth, chocolate is particularly dangerous. Too much chocolate causes toxicity that may kill your pet. Prevention is best, but first-aid can help stricken pets feel better.

Avoid these dangers by planning ahead. Let your pets do “tricks” for their “treats” the rest of the year—give them Halloween night off in a safe room of their own.

 

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE

Halloween & Black Cats: Kitty Myth-Teries Explained

Halloween and black cats kitty myths are just around the corner. But loving cats and dispelling kitty myth-teries should happen all year long.

black cat myths

An early color mutation of wild cats was the solid black color–and also was apparently associated with cats being “friendlier.”

Take a look and keep a tally of just how many of these spooky cat tails—and tales—from around the world sound familiar even today. More of these cat myths can be found in my book Complete Kitten Care, too. 🙂

Cats As Gods (Even Black Cats!)

Egyptians loved and revered all animals, and considered many to be emissaries of gods. The large wild cats including leopards and lions represented virility and power, but the common housecat came to be worshiped as a god of pleasure and happiness. Called alternately Bast, Bastet and Pasht, this human-shaped goddess (with a cat head) rose to prominence in the ancient city of Bubastis, and her temple cats (much like the one sleeping in your lap) were considered emissaries of the goddess.

The name “Bast” can be translated as “the tearer” or “the render” which referred to the goddess’s nightly battle with the sun’s mortal enemy, the Serpent of Darkness. Bast was symbolized by the moon—which waxed and waned like the cat’s eye—and each day when the battle was won, the sun rose again.

Egypt’s cats were protected and cherished by the priests, and each whisker-twitch and tail-dance was carefully interpreted as messages from the goddess. Because they were so sacred, other countries took advantage of the fact. The Persian King Cambyses II had his solders use kitties as shields, and because the Egyptians refused to risk hurting a sacred cat, they offered no resistance and the battle was lost.

Black kitten on red cat tree.

Cats love being put on a pedestal!

Cats Revered Around The World

Buddhist, Burmese and Siamese cultures had similar beliefs as the ancient Babylonians that cats served as sacred vessels for human souls to attain paradise. When a holy person died, the cat hosted the spirit for as long as the cat lived, and then carried the human soul into Paradise when the cat died. Wow, maybe that’s why my Siamese wannabe Seren-dipity has such a high-and-mighty c’attitude.

Cats in Japan were greatly honored and in AD 600 served as guards to precious manuscripts housed in pagodas. They believed a cat crossing the path was good luck. Cats were valued so highly in the 10th century that common folks weren’t allowed to keep cats. Only noble families were granted that privilege.

In early Ireland, a cat-headed god was worshipped during the 1st century AD. Black cats crossing your path was considered good luck during the Middle Ages in Britain, and a black cat was also supposed to be able to cure epilepsy. Scandinavia also celebrated animals in religion. Freya, the Viking goddess of love and beauty, rode in a chariot drawn by “the most affectionate of all domestic animals, the cat.”

Some folks believe this "throne" is more appropriate for devil cats!

Some folks believe this “throne” is more appropriate for devil cats!

Cats As Demons

The gods and angels of earlier religions become the demons of later ones. So since cats had been celebrated by early civilizations, they became the scapegoats of ‘modern’ religions.

A Medieval legend recounts that the Devil tried to copy God and create man, but only managed to produce a sorry, skinless animal—the cat. St. Peter felt sorry for the pitiful creature, though, and generously gave it a fur coat—its one and only valuable possession.

Hebrew folklore prompted the legend that cats steal an infant’s breath. The story may have stemmed from tales of Adam’s hated first wife, the vampire Lilith. She assumed the form of a gigantic ebony cat called El Broosha, and newborns were her favorite prey.

Cats became associated with witchcraft and the devil during the Middle Ages in Europe and suffered greatly. Tales of feline familiars were common. In Europe and early America, black cats became linked to the devil and evil and were feared, because black was the color of the night and darkness—hence the devil.

black cat under bed

Black cats deserve to come out of the shadows and into our laps!

Why Cats Get Blamed?

Because of the cat’s unique sensory capabilities, feline behavior foibles have given cats a bad reputation. Cats were thought to influence the weather, especially storms at sea. Today we know that felines can detect changes in barometric pressure, silent earth tremors that announce future earthquakes, or yowling just before a loved one dies.

Superstitious people found it easy to blame the cat as a cause of disasters, rather than celebrate kitty’s unique detection skills at predicting such things. But that doesn’t make the cat’s mysterious abilities any less extraordinary.

Today, some cat haters continue to point fingers particularly at feral cats. It’s up to responsible cat parents to take proper care of their feline family members (including community cats!).

cat-smile

Do your cats dress up for Halloween? Image Copr. JT Seimer/Flickr

Do you share your life with a black cat? Have your cats ever seemed “other-worldly” or acted in a spooky way? What kinds of ghostly Halloween-like antics have you and your cats (and dogs!) experienced? Will they dress up this Halloween, or prefer to go “au naturelle?” Do tell!

Check out the Howl-oween pet safety and costume tips in this TV segment, too.

WEIRD FACTS! Wonder Why Pets Love Bathrooms? CLICK to find out now!


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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

What to Do for Fire Hazards & Pet Smoke Inhalation

I wrote about disaster preparation on the blog back in August to address hurricane issues, but now another disaster with fire hazards and smoke inhalation issues has sent parts of the country into a tail spin. Too many folks have already lost homes, property, and even the lives of human and animal loved ones. Some of my Facebook friends asked me to post about smoke inhalation information (you can read that thread here), and I wanted to expand on that. Knowing what to do should your cat or dog suffer fire-related injury could save their lives.

fire smoke inhalation tips

Most cases of smoke inhalation involve situations where the pet cannot escape. Dogs and especially cats tend to hide when frightened, and may not make an effort to get out of a burning building until too late. But the recent wind-fanned flames of grass fires move quickly, produce a lot of smoke, and can catch outdoor pets unprepared.

SIGNS OF PET SMOKE INHALATION

Pets who breathe smoke gasp or cough, and may faint from lack of oxygen. Their gums can turn pale or blue for lack of breathable air. This is an emergency that requires prompt vet attention.

Soot and ash causes irritation and can clog lungs but it’s the invisible gasses that often kill. Gasses like acrolein, benzene, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide danger, even after the pet seems to recover, and can affect pets hours to days after the initial inhalation. Keeping pets on the first floor, low to ground, helps because smoke rises. Getting them into fresh air immediately also helps enormously. If people need to evacuate, so do the pets.

burned house dog smoke inhalation

WHAT TO DO FOR PET SMOKE INHALATION

Dogs and cats with history of respiratory problems, such as flat-faced breeds or pets with asthma, may suffer health problems even with mild exposure to smoke. With mild cases of smoke inhalation, moving the cat or dog into clean air may be all that’s needed.

People with access to oxygen may be able to “rig” an enclosed kennel space with more breathable air for at-risk pets. Don’t hesitate to ask EMTs about oxygen help for your pets as well as yourself. These days, many come equipped for just such a situation.

But all pets require veterinary attention because even if they seem to recover, smoke can kill hours to days after it’s inhaled.

IF YOUR PET STOPS BREATHING, REFER TO THIS POST ON PERFORMING RESCUE BREATHING AND PET CPR.

pet fire smoke inhalation

FIRE HAZARDS & FIRST AID FOR BURNS

With burns, the fur often hides the damage, so be sure to carefully examine your pet if you suspect he’s been in the vicinity of a fire. Remove his collar, and trim the fur short with blunt scissors around and over the area of the burn.

First-degree burns cause red marks and can be treated with simple first aid. Flush the burn with cool water for 5 to 10 minutes to temporarily anesthetize and clean the injury. Burns continue to “cook” the tissue even once the heat source is gone so prompt attention stops the damage. Use a garden hose for outdoor pets or bring smaller pets into the bathtub or sink and use a spray bottle or handheld showerhead. You can use aloe vera ointments or vitamin E directly on mild burns to help speed healing. These won’t cause problems if the pet licks them off. Mild burns won’t need bandages.

Burns that cover 25 percent of the pet’s body lead to shock (that can kill him!) and applying cool water makes shock worse. Instead, apply a bag of ice to the burn (frozen peas or corn works well), wrap the pet in a towel and get him to the vet immediately. You can estimate percentage of body mass the burn involves by knowing that each limb represents about 10 percent of the pet’s total.

In these windy, dry days, protect your furry family members–and yourselves–from the threat of fire. But should the unthinkable happen, be prepared.

More first aid tips are available in the book, THE FIRST AID COMPANION FOR DOGS AND CATS. I hope you’ll never need it.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE

How to Deal with Pet Loss Grief: Love Lives Forever

I’ve often before about pet loss, the grieving process for both owners and pets, and even whether we can expect our animal friends to be with us in heaven. Whatever your personal belief system, the universal commonality is if you love pets, it hurts to lose them.

Magic and Amy

Spending last glorious days just hanging out in the sunny grass–building memories.

TEARS ARE GOOD–WASHING AWAY PET LOSS

As many of my readers know, last February’s vet check for our dog raised questions and worries about when normal hurts. We were able to relieve the hurties to a degree, and in July our Magical-Dawg celebrated his 11th birthday. But as of today’s posting, it’s 15 days since we said goodbye to our Magical-Dawg.

I’ve been in the hospital now for 7 days (should get out today) but felt it important to post. This is the first I’ve been able to write, other than the tribute lyric here. But I was put here to advocate for pets and those who love them–so yes, this is for me, but also for you. May a bit of this help as together we walk through this deep valley.

Magic and Karma

Remembering the fun–“A cat that LIKES me! Sniffing friend, tag buddy, tease-kitty, my furry best friend!” Seren-Kitty never liked him, so Magic had to wait 7 years to get his dream-kitty…and he rescued Karma. Match made in doggy heaven.

REMEMBER THE LOVE–IT NEVER ENDS

It still hurts, and will for a very long time. Now my husband and I have begun to share memories, and smile a bit through the tears. But emotion ambushes you at the oddest moments.

…leftovers at the restaurant we now leave behind instead of taking doggy bags, for instance. Or a funny poignant TV commercial featuring a special canine. Or . . . my Pastor bringing me a “Prayer Bear” to my hospital room, and knowing that Magical-Dawg’s all time fave toy was his Bear-Toy. My Karma-Kat also suffers grief, with no easy way to explain where his best friend has gone.

STAGES OF GRIEF–NO WRONG ANSWERS

I suspect most readers are familiar with the Kubler-Ross stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. I’ve read that for some, the grief process is a soul journey of seven stages, progressing from lost soul to becoming re-enchanted with everyday life. And that the soul is the deepest, most precious part of us, and where we encounter God, and that, we must listen to our soul to help us move through this process and leave our hearts singing again. Just turn within, and listen. I’m trying. I really want to be happy again.

The steps can be experienced in any order and various lengths of time, depending on the individual. They are: feeling alone after the death; dealing with “why me?” learning to receive and offer compassion; realizing an overall purpose; sorting through past life experiences; returning to daily life; and committing to a new level of aliveness and reality.

dog on towels

Spoiling the boy–a nice long up-to-his-neck wade in the pond, followed by lots of towel attention. Bliss!

KNOWING WHEN TO SAY GOODBYE

All of us who love and care for dogs and cats understand that we will outlive our pet, and ultimately have to say goodbye. But knowing that doesn’t make the reality any easier. I knew as early as last December that things had changed for Magic. Oh, how I hoped to be wrong. But in some ways, it was a gift to have the time to come to terms–and to ensure Magic’s last months were happy and pain free.

Quality care for aging or ill pets can prolong their lives only for so long, and not all pets die in their sleep. When the joy of living is gone, when pain replaces pleasure, and when your dog or cat is ready to leap forward into the next adventure beyond your side, you can grant her the greatest gift of all – a merciful death. That’s what we regretfully gave to our precious baby-dawg.

PET LOSS GRIEF–LIVING WITH BEREAVEMENT

Grief is normal, and a testament to the many years of love you shared. When a beloved animal friend nears the end of life and ultimately dies, grief can be overwhelming and paralyzing. I’ll be putting some of this together into a future Quick Tips booklet, too, as I’ve been asked to share guidance how to understand deep sorrow, move through it, and eventually use the power of that emotion to transform lives.

Friends reached out to me, sharing their empathy and sympathy, support and love. It can be hard to accept–almost picking at that wound–but open your self as much as you can and accept the love you’re given. It helps, it really makes an incredible difference. And offer your own support back. That is the beauty of pet love, after all, sharing in the funny/sad/whimsical/hurtful/uplifting/glorious memories our family members bring to us.

For myself, writing is therapy, and trying to give back. I gave his nearly full bag of dog food to the local shelter, donated left-over meds to his caring veterinary team, and we submitted blood work to a university study that may help future dogs avoid Magic’s untimely death. His legacy lives on.

cat with dog collar

Karma is more quiet now, doesn’t pester quite so much. Bereavement (as for people) is a process and he’s still working through things. My being gone a week impacts him, too. *sniff*

WHAT ABOUT GRIEVING PETS?

For pets left behind like Karma, the grief is just as real and intense, and often more confusing. How do you tell your other animal companions they will lose or have lost one of their family, and that he isn’t coming back? It’s not unusual for these pets to search and cry for the missing love one.

When we’re working through our own pain, it’s hard to know how to help. If the departed pet was ill, often the surviving animals may already know. I think Karma suspected for longer than we did that Magic’s time was short. And when it’s possible, I recommend allowing surviving pets to view the body, sniff and examine (or ignore) and in that way, KNOW that there’s no need to search and cry. We placed Magic’s collar on his bed, left his toys out for a week, and Karma chose to nuzzle and roll, lick and groom and ultimately sleep with Magic’s collar. Cue more tears…

We also talked to Karma, not that he’d understand the words, but certainly the emotions would resonate. Things as simple as, “We miss Magic, too. We’re sad too, and it’s not your fault.”

Dogs and cats grieve different, just as people do, and there’s no right or wrong. There is no timeline limit on grief, for any of us. And we all choose what’s right for our circumstances, with the knowledge we have at the time.

If nothing else, please share this message with anyone who needs to hear–Such painful but loving decisions made with the heart cannot be wrong.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE