As our pets age, their needs begin to change. The once energetic puppy or kitten might not be as active as it used to be and may require a bit of extra attention to stay comfortable and happy. If you have an older furry friend at home, here are some tips to help make their golden years as comfortable as possible.
Invest in a comfortable bed
Many older pets develop arthritis or other joint problems, which can make lying down uncomfortable. Investing in a comfortable, supportive bed can provide much-needed relief for sore joints. Look for a cat bed or dog bed that is easy to step into, with thick, supportive foam or padding. If your dog is on the larger side make sure they have a large dog bed. We recommend a comfy memory foam bed.
Provide easy access to food, water and the toilet
As pets age, they may have trouble bending down to reach their food and water bowls. Thankfully there is a way to improve the comfort of their dog bowl. Consider raising them to a more comfortable height, or investing in a raised dog bowl or raised cat bowl. You can also place water bowls in several locations throughout the house to make sure your pet always has access to fresh water.
Cats should have their water, food and litter trays in different areas. We recommend at least one litter tray per cat plus an extra litter tray. Remember to have trays upstairs and downstairs. A litter tray with low sides is preferable for older cats so they can easily climb in and out. Some cats can become more sensitive with their paws as they age so a slow and gradual switch to soft litter can improve their comfort.
Keep them warm in the winter and cool in the summer
Older pets may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, so it's important to keep them warm, especially during colder months. A cosy pet blanket or heated cat bed or heated dog bed can keep them comfortable and help with aching joints. Avoid a pet blanket that has wires which can be chewed on. With pets that cannot move easily, they mustn't get overheated. A jacket that can be easily taken on and off to help arthritic joints can help keep your dog warm whilst walking.
To keep cool in the summer, a wet towel can be used and draped over your dog. Cool jackets are also available as an alternative. Opt for shorter walks in the heat and try walking as early or as late as possible to avoid the peak heat during the middle of the day. Hydration is also essential when it’s hot. Encourage your fur baby to drink by putting ice cubes in their water or even frozen homemade low-salt stock cubes. Try to stop your pet from lying in the sun for too long and provide shelter from the heat where possible. Fans are a great way to help your pet stay cool in the summer.
Help them move around
As pets age, their mobility may decline. Help them move around more easily by providing a dog ramp or cat ramp that can help them get up and down stairs and get in and out of the car. Dog steps or cat steps can help your pet walk onto surfaces. You might also consider removing any obstacles that could make it difficult for them to move around. Also, tailor your dog's walks to their mobility. It may be a good idea to opt for short regular walks over one long walk.
Yoga mats and anti-slip stair tread tape on slippery floor surfaces help with grip. A sling can help support your dog’s back legs whilst going out to the garden. An alternative can be to use a towel under their tummy if they are struggling to get to their feet and stay upright. If your dog is smaller and still wants to be outside but cannot walk for long, a dog carrier bag is a great idea. If your dog is bigger, a stroller or trailer is also great for long walks.
Schedule regular vet visits
Keeping up with regular veterinary checkups is especially important for older pets. Regular wellness checks can help identify any health problems early on when they're easier to treat. Your veterinarian can also provide advice on any dietary or lifestyle changes that might be beneficial for your pet.
By following these simple tips, you can help your older pet stay comfortable and happy at home. Remember, regular checkups and lots of love and attention can go a long way toward keeping your furry friend healthy, happy, and comfortable in their golden years.
If you are considering hospice care for your pet call us on 0800 049 59 44. Together with the hospice team, you can create a plan that prioritises your dog's comfort and happiness, easing their pain and providing them with the love and care they deserve.