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Creating Comfortable Homes

Navigating Your Pet’s Golden Years

One of the hardest parts of being a pet parent is the fact that pets age at such an accelerated rate. However, at Island Animal Hospital, we like to think of it as us finally getting to take care of them after so many years of them taking care of us. 

To best care for aging pets, it’s important to understand when your pet is considered a senior pet. Cats often live longer than dogs, but breed, size, and genetics play a large role in a pet’s longevity. For some dog breeds, the transition to senior status may start as early as five years old. However, there's no need to be intimidated by the prospect of having a senior pet. It's all about adapting to their evolving abilities and ensuring their comfort.

Keep an eye out for changes in behavior and physical limitations. Simple daily activities like climbing stairs or going for a walk can offer valuable insights into your pet's well-being. If you start to notice any of these things, or your pet parent sixth sense starts kicking in, please contact your veterinarian.

Creating a safe home environment is paramount for enhancing the quality of life for senior pets. Here are some things to think about in your home to keep your pet comfortable:

1. CONSIDER NONSLIP FLOORING 

Just like humans, a big part of taking care of our aging pets is reducing the risk of falls, especially those with mobility challenges.

2. ELEVATE FOOD AND WATER BOWLS

This minimizes strain on joints, making mealtimes more accessible for your aging dog.

3. MAKE SURE THEIR SLEEPING AREA IS EASILY ACCESSIBLE.

Pets love to be cozy, so make sure it’s easy for them to do so. If your pet loves sleeping on your bed or the couch, investing in pet stairs can minimize the need to jump, promoting joint health.

4. HAVE ADEQUATE LIGHTING. 

Ensure well-lit areas in and around your home, as aging dogs may experience changes in vision. Proper lighting helps them navigate their surroundings more comfortably.

5. ADAPT BATHROOM ROUTINES.

For cats specifically, you may need to consider using litter boxes with lower sides or ramps for easy access. For dogs, this may mean finding routes outside that require less stairs.

6. PROVIDE MENTAL STIMULATION.

Your pet, like you would be, may be bored with a decrease in physical activity. Stimulating your pet with interactive toys and gentle play time may help them stay engaged.

7. STICK TO A ROUTINE.

Establish routines and maintain a predictable environment. This helps reduce stress and anxiety for your aging dog, promoting a sense of security.

Embracing the journey of your pet's aging involves a holistic approach that includes accommodations, medications, and dietary adjustments. Your veterinarian is an invaluable resource for personalized recommendations.

Even before your furry friend officially becomes a senior, routine twice-yearly exams and annual blood screenings are critical to identify diseases early. By being proactive, you can ensure a happy and healthy senior phase for your cherished companion. At Island Animal Hospital, we’d love to discuss a plan for helping your pet age gracefully.

Island Animal Hospital’s team will help your pet age safely and comfortably at home

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