Our dogs and cats are not just pets, they are family members. They find their way into our hearts and hold a spot there forever. More than 70% of US households own a pet, and shifting trends have seen more people treat their pet as a beloved family member and not simply as just another animal.
Our pets show us unconditional love and loyalty. They fill an emptiness in our hearts we did not even know existed. Every pet owner can testify to how much better their lives became once they decide to open their homes and their hearts to an animal. Nothing beats the feeling of coming back home after a hard day’s work and being enthusiastically greeted by a wagging tail, or a soft purring.
Unfortunately, as our beloved pets become older, their enthusiasm remains but their body cannot keep up. They become less energetic and are no longer as agile as they used to be. Much like humans, their spirit remains young but their body is frailing.
As a result, our four-legged loved ones navigate their way around our home with increased difficulty and need the same help as senior humans do. As much as we ache to see our cherished friends get old, we need to understand that they need us more than ever.
Making their elderly days easier is no longer a matter of “if” but a matter of “when”. Our animals bring us tremendous joy and we need to take into consideration their changing needs as they age. Because unfortunately, they do age and nothing we can do will change the course of nature.
When it comes to navigating the aging process, there are a few simple things you can do to provide a helping hand. Here are six hacks to make life easier for your older pets.
Fortunately, elderly pets do not require extensive home modifications to feel more comfortable. Most can be done at minimal costs but they will go a long way in making your beloved pets’ lives easier. Below is a list of several things you can do to care for your older pet.
1. Raise Food And Water
As your pet ages, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to eat food or drink water if their bowls are on the floor. As they become less agile, and move more slowly, lowering their neck to reach their bowl can be an arduous task. This is especially true for taller dogs, who have to make an even bigger effort to bend their bodies and reach the floor.
Make feeding and drinking easier for them by investing in a raised platform. It does not have to be an expensive one; even a small plastic footstool will do the trick. Place the bowls somewhere in the house where your pet can easily access them; ideally, close to their bed.
2. Add A Ramp
Adding a ramp will help your elderly cat or dog get inside or outside the house. As arthritis kicks in, it is harder for them to jump steps or even climb up the stairs. A ramp will help your pet move around more easily without burdening their aching legs.
3. Upgrade Their Litter Box
As your cat gets older, using the litter box becomes increasingly harder. Arthritis prohibits your cat from jumping in the litter box and shrinking kidneys force your aging friend to use it more frequently. There are litter boxes with lower openings that make it easier for your cat to get in and out.
4. Prep Your Floor
As your beloved four-legged friend becomes older, pet incontinence becomes a frequent occurrence. For many pets, loss of bladder control can be scary and stressful. Prep your floor for such involuntary accidents. Remove carpets and cover your wooden tiles with absorbing pads.
5. Create A Routine
Having a routine greatly helps your senior dog and cat. Knowing what to expect and when soothes them and helps to keep them calm. The more predictable their routine, the calmer they are.
6. Have A Comfortable Temperature
Much like humans, older pets cannot control their body temperature and get too cold or too hot more easily. Adjust your home’s temperature to a comfortable level. Do not turn off the heating when you leave the house, your pets need to keep warm while you are away at work. Remember that constant temperature changes are detrimental for arthritis and the pain can become too much to bear.
7. Ease Stress With Music
When they are in pain, your cherished friends won’t be able to verbalize it. But they will show it. They may crawl up in their bed, and may even shake and shiver. Try to alleviate their stress with soft music. Gently pet them, and talk to them, making your presence known. The endorphins released when they feel their human’s touch will do wonders to calm them down and alleviate the pain.
8. Invest In An Orthopedic Bed
Senior dogs and cats suffer from joint problems. If you find that your four-legged family member has trouble walking, maybe you should invest in an orthopedic bed, specifically designed for aging pets’ needs.
Remember that smaller pets need a bed relative to their size. As they age they cannot regulate their temperature and get cold more easily. A smaller bed, tailored to match their size, will help them keep warm.
If you own a dog and have a dog flap installed, place the bed near the door so that your friend can easily go outside even during the night. Similarly, if you own a cat, place their bed near their litter box.
9. Show Unconditional Love
Just because they are getting older, does not mean they need less love and affection. As their end approaches, they need to feel loved and pampered. Make their senior years the best of their lives. As much as it breaks your heart, remember that to them, you are their whole world. Do not keep away because it hurts to see them age. Stay close to them, and love them more than ever.
It is painful to watch your precious pet get older. The pain can be numbing and sometimes you may want to ignore it and push it out of your mind. The fact that they get older makes their imminent loss even more real, and the thought is unbearable and debilitating.
However, your four-legged family member needs you now more than ever. It is heart-wrenching to watch them get older, but it is even more painful to watch them suffer. So planning ahead to make their senior years as comfortable as possible is crucial if you want to help your pet and show them the love and care they deserve.
You need to understand that the lifespan of cats and dogs rarely exceeds a decade. As their end approaches, you might want to make preparations to help your beloved pet transition as calmly as possible.
More than 80% of pet owners prefer to cremate rather than bury their pets. This allows them to keep their precious family member’s ashes nearby. Choosing unique custom-made dog or cat urns is a great way to honor your beloved pet’s memory.
There is nothing more rewarding than making the last years of a cat or dog as comfortable as possible. It is painful to watch them get old, but planning ahead and making the right modifications to help their final years, can ease the pain of watching them wither.
Nothing matches the love you have for your dog or cat, and no other love can be as unconditional as the one our pets show us. Honor this love, and do everything you can to keep them safe, comfortable, and loved when they become old.