Nick and his wife Mary had fifteen years with their dog Willie before he crossed the bridge. They have spent the past year grieving and helping others navigate the process of caring for an elderly pet. Nick and Mary have also dedicated their site to offering tips, resources and support to dog lovers everywhere.
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Try These Tips to Help Your Pet Age With Grace
Pets age and, just like people, they experience changes with each passing year. Because of this, as your furry friends reach their seventh or eighth year, you’ll need to start thinking about ways to enhance their lives at home. From home modifications to simple changes you can make starting today, the following tips can help you and your pets enjoy their golden years.
Combat mobility issues.
If your dog has to go up and down stairs to get in and out of the house, consider buying or building a ramp. Many dogs experience mobility issues later in life. Arthritis and hip dysplasia, for example, can make it more difficult for them to navigate an 8” to 10” step. Because getting up and down off the couch or bed can be a challenge for an older pet, you can also build an adjustable ramp to help here as well. DIY Network explains that plywood, hinges, a few tools, and a long afternoon are almost all you need.
Consider urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence has many causes in cats and dogs alike. American Veterinary explains it can result from a congenital abnormality, among other things. Commonly, animals have less control over their bladder and bowels as they age. As a responsible and loving pet owner, you will want to get ahead of issues that might arise from bathroom accidents. One way to do this is to modify your behavior so that you can take your pet outside more often. This may not be practical, however, so consider adding a dog door, which will give them unrestricted access to their bathroom of choice: the backyard. A word of caution here is to be patient. They may have many accidents, and getting rid of the smell and discoloration can be frustrating. It’s not impossible, however, you just have to get creative and be willing to do everything from clean the carpets to replace the subfloor in areas they tend to frequent.
Plan to carve out a corner of the room that your pets rest in most often so that they will have a place dedicated to their personal belongings. Their area should have a bed and any toys, blankets, or bones they enjoy. To keep things contained, have a bucket or wicker basket nearby. Make sure it is low enough so they can access their stuff when they want it. You’ll also want to invest in an elevated dog feeder. This is essentially a platform where their food and water bowls sit a few inches off the floor. This is beneficial for dogs with arthritis or animals with health conditions, such as megaesophagus.
Just because your pets are getting on up in years does not mean you can let their hygiene fall to the wayside. For example, even if stiff joints and muscles make it harder for your dog to climb in and out of the bath, you still need to bathe him periodically. Fortunately, installing a dedicated dog wash station is not that expensive or difficult. If you have an extra bathroom with a standup shower, you may even be able to get away with replacing a stationary showerhead with a hand sprayer so that you can get down on your dog’s level. If you want to invest in quality equipment, there are certainly ways to save. For instance, a Chewy promo code can help you get the gear you need to keep your pet clean without soaking your bank account.
Manage their safety.
The Humane Society of the United States points out that safety concerns should also be front and center. You can do things such as add baby gates to stairways and restrict their access to areas that could pose a health hazard. Spend an afternoon looking for potential problem areas, including outdoor fire pits and swimming pools, which can be fatal to a pet that falls in and cannot escape. Make sure he also has on a collar with your contact information in the off chance he wanders away from home and can’t find his way back.
Keeping your pets safe and comfortable is one of the best things you can do for them as their health and physical condition deteriorates with age. The above tips are the gold standard in home modifications for aging pets, no matter how much silver is in their muzzles.