Tips to help your senior pet get around and live a happy life.
4. Short Nails
Senior pets show signs of aging in multiple ways. Some of these signs include when they are experiencing pain. We can help manage our senior pet’s pain by making a few changes at home. Consider the following:
- Non-slip area rugs on non-carpeted floors to prevent slipping and sliding
- Carry small dogs/cats up and down stairs
- Ensure food and water bowls are easily accessible in height and location – cats may need the bowl on the floor now or dogs may need it raised
- Modify where you spend time with your pet depending on where they can go – you may need to get a comfortable pillow to be on the floor with them
- Have a safe place for litter boxes and/or lower-sided litter boxes
- Modify how your pet enters and exits the house taking into consideration stairs or elevated thresholds
- Go for slow, short walks every day depending on their ability and stamina
- Use slings or towels to help pets that cannot stand on their own or have a hard time getting up
Exercising can help to stimulate a senior pet’s brain while also strengthening the bond between you and your pet. Exercise is also beneficial in promoting muscle strength, joint flexibility, maintaining an ideal weight, and helping with brain stimulation and overall health. For dogs go for slow, short walks at least once a day, more if time allows and if the dog is willing. For cats make sure to sit on the floor and play with them using lights, toys, or putting pieces of food in different places around where you are spending time with them. (Make sure you count them prior and as the cat eats them to make sure you don’t leave food laying around).
For senior pets who are experiencing urination and/or deification accidents, use pee pads on beds or sleeping areas to help with clean up.
Make sure to keep senior pet’s nails cut short to help with normal foot position to elevate pain in their paws and legs. Also, be sure to check their pads, feet, elbows, and hips for sores and thickening of the skin. Pads should be soft and smooth. Apply balms to dry or rough pads and elbows to help keep them moist. Be sure not to use petroleum products as you do not want your pet to ingest petroleum.
Switching pets to a senior diet is essential for overall health due to decreased fat ingredients and decreased protein which helps to keep pets at an ideal weight that are not as active. Also, consider introducing:
- Joint supplements, especially for pets with arthritis, there are injections that can be given that help with joints for both dogs and cats
- Check out these bundle supplements for senior cats and dogs
- Increasing fiber to prevent constipation and/or diarrhea
- Fish oil supplements for joint care and to decrease inflammation
If your dog is having trouble digesting kibble, soak it in water or no-salt broth. Start this digestive process about 15 minutes before feeding. This method also adds water to their diet which senior pets often need to help flush out the kidneys and remove toxins from the body. Many senior pets go through stages of not eating certain foods so having multiple types on hand is helpful.
Senior pets should have blood work done yearly, at minimum, to monitor their health and provide preventive care. Talk to the veterinarian before changing, adding, or taking away any food or supplement to ensure it’s beneficial for your pet and does not harm them.
See my article on Senior Pet Health Issues to get tips on what to look for as your pet ages.