Aging can be a tough process for pets. Just like humans, dogs and cats have to learn to slow down as their bodies age and their joints start to ache. At Wapiti Labs, we offer supplements for aging cats and dogs to maintain their long-term health, support the flexibility and mobility of their joints, promotes cartilage development and enhances renal function. But it will take more than a supplement regimen to keep your senior pet safe and comfortable at home.
Even simple tasks like climbing stairs or jumping up on the couch can become insurmountable tasks for an older pet. That’s why it’s so important to make accommodations to your living space to ensure your senior animal doesn’t strain or harm itself to reach its food, head outside for walks, or plop down on your favorite (and exceptionally hairy) furniture. Today we’ll be discussing the steps you should take to make your living space more accessible for your aging cat or dog. But before we jump in, it’ll be useful to discuss aging in pets and determine the signs that your pet is struggling with an age-related condition first.
Is My Pet Geriatric?
Cats and dogs can age at different rates, making it difficult to determine when they’ll be at risk for age-related issues. Generally speaking, cats and small dogs are considered geriatric once they hit 7 years old. Larger dogs are usually considered geriatric around age 6. For more information on the age of your specific pet, look into a few resources online. It’s not an exact science, but figuring out the age your pet is considered a senior will tell you when they’ll start needing home accommodations from you.
Signs of a Geriatric Pet
Due to all the incredible advancements we’ve made with veterinary care, pets are living longer than ever before. And that’s great! The only trouble here is that we need to deal with a host of age-related medical conditions in our cats and dogs now. General conditions like weakness and gaining weight are pretty easy to spot, but cancer, joint disease and dental disease are all serious conditions that indicate your pet is geriatric. Here are a few tips on spotting each.
Signs of cancer include lumps and bumps in both cats and dogs. Check your pet a couple times every week for any abnormal bumps (you’re essentially petting them to do this, so it won’t bother them one bit) and keep a record of any you find for your vet. Bear in mind that not all bumps are cancerous, but you should always have them examined by your vet to be sure.
Joint disease is easier to identify in dogs than cats since cats hide their pain and weaknesses, but look for signs of limping or decreased mobility. Often, cats with joint issues will be reluctant to jump and use the litter box because those activities are very painful on them. Keep a record of these occurrences, even if they seem minor or fleeting, and discuss them with your vet at your pet’s next checkup.
Symptoms of dental disease are relatively easy to spot, too, it’s just that most people don’t check their pet’s teeth often. Visible tartar, excessive drooling, and difficulty eating or chewing are the primary indicators to watch out for. If you do notice any of these, call your vet and make an appointment. Arranging regular teeth cleanings with your vet is the best way to keep these nasty conditions away from your animal.
Alright then, we know that your pet is geriatric and we’ve been to the vet to start treating any serious age-related conditions. Now it’s time to think about ways you can make your home more accessible for them.
1. Invest in pet ramps for your senior pet
Pet ramps make life much easier for senior dogs and cats because it allows them to get up to various places without straining their joints too severely. With a pet ramp, your cat or dog will have no trouble getting into the car, onto the bed or up a small set of stairs. These come in all sorts of colors and sizes, and a few are even durable enough to last outside if you need a ramp for your porch.
2. Make it easy for your pet to use the bathroom
As we discussed, older cats with joint issues can struggle to hop into the litter box since it causes them pain to hop inside it. To remedy this, look into buying a litter box with a small ramp or lowered section for your cat so they can walk inside instead of climbing or jumping. Search online or call around to local pet stores to see if this is something they carry. Easy-to-use litter boxes can go a long way in making your house more comfortable for your cat.
Many older dogs need to use the bathroom more often than they used to, which is problematic if they live indoors with you. Believe it or not, you can train your dog to use a litter box, and there are even a few custom large boxes and pads for large breeds. If you do go down this route, choose setups that don’t require your canine to climb or jump up since their joints start to ache as they age, too. If an inside restroom isn’t an option, consider getting your dog an enclosed space outside (with a doggy door leading back inside) so they can use the bathroom whenever they need to.
3. Eliminate sharp corners and any objects that can trip your pet
Another issue that affects most older dogs and cats is degradation of vision. An animal’s vision gradually worsens as it ages, leading to issues like cataracts. A cataract is essentially a clouding of the eye lens that causes blurry vision and eventually blindness as it grows. Cataracts occur naturally over time and are usually more prevalent in dogs than cats. You can opt to surgically remove these from your pet’s eyes, but these procedures are expensive and can be dangerous. Most owners, particularly those with very old dogs and cats, simply choose to make their homes safer to avoid any damaging collisions or falls resulting from their pet’s vision problem.
Crouch down and match your pet’s vision level next time you’re inside the living room. Chances are good that you’ll see at least a few sharp corners of furniture. This little trick is an excellent way to scout for objects and obstacles that your older pet could accidentally bump into or trip on as his or her eyesight worsens. Be sure to keep the rooms your pet has access to neat and orderly to avoid any tripping incidents. Also look into cushioned corner guards for your tables and other furniture.
Consider Supplements for Your Senior Pet
Now that your living space is safe for your pet, it’s time to think about other methods of ensuring that he or she stays comfortable over the coming years. Wapiti Labs provides unique supplements specifically designed to support the eye function, immune system, and joint health of older cats and dogs. Research your options and talk with your vet to determine the ideal supplement regimen for your favorite furry friend.
Call or message us today for more information on how you can care for your older pet and keep them healthy for years to come.