My 17 year old Siamese wannabe Seren hates being called “old” and prefers “mature.” Magical-Dawg at 8 years old still acts like a teenage German Shepherd. But like people, with age comes creaky joints, less efficient digestion, and dimming senses. These tips can help.
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.
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.
Warm creaky joints. Heating pads and beds soothe achy arthritis and help older pets become more flexible. A heating pad slipped underneath the small pet’s regular bed or blanket may do the trick. 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 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.
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. 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 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 each 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.
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.
What accommodations have you made for your senior cats and dogs? Any DIY cost cutting tips? Do tell!
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