What can you do to make life easier for your senior pet?
As your pet ages, one of the main physical changes that can occur is arthritis. This can occur at any age but will often occur earlier in larger dogs or in pets that have had previous joint injuries. Arthritis can cause discomfort in your pet and change the way they are able to move.
- Be sure to provide them with a warm and comfortable bed. Padding will help to protect older joints and the warmth will make it easier to get up in the morning. You can now buy heated beds or memory foam beds specially designed for arthritic animals.
- Use non-slip matting. If your dog lives indoors, they may have trouble getting up and walking on slippery surfaces such as tiles or wood. Use mats to create pathways through the house to reduce accidental slipping.
- Raising the food and water bowl can help to reduce discomfort at dinner time. You can use milk crates, bricks, or buy special raised bowl holders.
- Get down to your dog or cat’s level and follow them around for a while. You will soon see things that are causing trouble for them that never used to be a problem.
- If you have stairs consider installing a ramp. You can also buy ramps for your car if your dog is too big to be picked up.
Your pet’s vision is likely to deteriorate as they age. This is a normal part of ageing and there is nothing that can be done to stop this from happening. Night blindness is the first sign that you will notice. A night light can greatly reduce the anxiety associated with not being able to see in full darkness. It is uncommon for your pet to lose complete vision. But to help your pet out when vision is reduced or if dementia is a problem try to keep the layout of your house and furniture the same.
Hearing is another sense that tends to deteriorate as your pet ages. This does not seem to affect the life of your dog or cat too much, as they don’t rely on hearing to get through their day. What you as an owner tend to notice is that your pet will sleep a lot more soundly and deeply than before. You may frighten your dog or cat if you wake them suddenly from a deep sleep. It is better to slowly wake them by making vibrations on the floor near them, moving the bedding slightly or moving air above tem so they know you are there.