November is Adopt A Senior Pet Month. Like older pets, I also move a wee bit slower than in my youth. Shadow-Pup helps keep me active and young, as well as chasing and engaging the more mature Karma-Kat. Aging dogs and senior cats rock!
I’ll admit that senior pets have a special place in my heart, even if they suffer from senility, or from other aging dog or aging cat health conditions. Maybe in part because I can more easily relate to them. Do you love old pets? Are you ready for some old dog and/or old cat love? Oh, here are 7 cheap DIY tips to help your old pets.
Old Fogey Pets Love To The Max!
My Siamese wannabe Seren hated being called “old” and preferred “mature,” just like me. She nearly reached her 22nd birthday before passing two years ago, and I still miss her. 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. Heck, some of ’em might even help YOU!
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. Karma-Kat 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 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 used a low-sided plastic storage box for Seren’s creaky access, and also had 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.
For other care options for your aging pets, you can refer to my award-winning (updated!) books:
What accommodations have you made for your senior cats and dogs? Any DIY cost-cutting tips? Do tell!
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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!