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May 2, 2018
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Advice for Keeping Pets Happy and Healthy in Their Senior Years

By: Jessica Brody

It’s always hard watching our furry companions grow old. Like humans, cats and dogs have to navigate some challenging physical changes as they enter their senior years. This can make daily life difficult for your lovable friend. Pet owners can also struggle as costly veterinarian visits become more frequent and everyday health issues increase in severity. If you’re adjusting to life with an aging pet, check out the following care tips!

Paying for Veterinary Care

Veterinarians recommend taking your older pet in for a checkup twice per year. These checkups are important for spotting health problems before they become serious. In addition to your regular checkups, you may find yourself visiting the vet more often to have your pet treated for age-related conditions like dental disease, hearing loss, kidney disease, cancer, and arthritis.

Since trips to the vet can be expensive, you may be concerned about increasing the frequency of these visits. Consider purchasing pet insurance to reduce your out-of-pocket costs. There are numerous different pet insurance providers out there, so make sure you evaluate your options carefully. Reputable companies like Trupanion will offer insurance with no payout limits, no age limits, various included benefits, and the ability to make direct payments to participating veterinarians.

Accommodating Changes in Health

In addition to visiting the vet more frequently, you may need to adjust your at-home care routine to accommodate your pet’s changing needs. For example, you may have to learn how to administer medication, which can be very challenging for owners with stubborn cats and dogs—Pet Central recommends hiding pills in soft treats for dogs or placing medication on cats’ paws so they will lick it off. If your dog is having trouble walking, you may need to slow down your daily walks or purchase a pet support harness to take some of the weight off their legs.

Older pets can have a hard time being left alone, especially senior dogs that need frequent bathroom visits. If you work long hours, consider hiring a pet sitter to visit your home during the day. Pet sitters can also come in handy if you are going out of town, and it can be easy to find local pet help and learn more about hiring a top-notch sitter through a quick online search.

Making Modifications to Your Home

Modifying your home for your senior pet will ensure they can remain safe, comfortable, and as independent as possible. The Humane Society of the United States recommends using non-slip carpets to provide stability on hard floors and installing ramps to give your older pet easy access to the backyard or their favorite spot on the couch. You may also want to get a new pet bed that is easier for your pet to get in and out of. Opt for an orthopedic bed to relieve stiff joints and prevent pressure sores.

Treating Your Pet to Healthy Luxuries

Your senior dog deserves a little luxury. Find ways to spoil your pet without harming their health—this is not an excuse to feed them from the table! Buy your dog a new toy, treat him to a gentle massage, or visit the park and let him explore the sights and smells at his leisure. You could even get creative and bake your pet some homemade treats! In the end, the best way to make your senior pet feel loved is to spend as much time with them as possible.

No matter what’s going on in our lives, our pets are always there to provide friendly support and unconditional love. We owe it to our pets to make their senior years as comfortable as possible. So, go for those extra checkups at the vet, purchase a few helpful supplies, make some modifications to your home, and whenever possible, spend time with your lovable companion. The memories you make today will stay with you forever.

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