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The Truth About Cats and Dogs: Seniority Issues Facing You And Your Aging Pet

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Now that you are married and starting or with a family of your own, chances are, your spouse and family are your new “best friends”. But what about your trusted “old” companion, yup, the family pet.

Besides sensing a shift in priorities, your pet is also may be feeling a bit sluggish these days, especially is she’s no spring chicken (cat or dog).

Professionals point out that while older pets are usually less active and require less playtime, they “do” require more care, concern and attention.

They note that a canine’s senior status varies with size, with smaller dogs maturing faster but living longer while larger breeds are considered seniors by their seventh birthday (47 years old in human years). A feline’s age however is simply determined by its chronological age, and most enter senior status at around eight (48 years old in human years).

Creating Comfort Zones:

For Dogs:

· Make sure bedding is plush and warm to help alleviate pain from arthritis and to abate bedsores.

· Install baby gates to prevent unstable dogs from falling down the stairs.

· Adjust and improve lighting making it easier for dogs struggling with poor eyesight to explore through darker areas of the house.

· Consider placing non-slip rungs over hardwood floors or other hard surfaces such as patios, decks, etc., making it easier for your aging dog to walk about if he/she is showing signs of arthritis, including instability or stiff movements.

· Raise food and water bowls off the floor and to a more convenient height so that older dogs don’t have to struggle with balance or bending forward.

· Incorporate gestures in addition to your usually “calls” to get a response out of your aging pet.

· Explain to youngsters that the family pet may need more “downtime” than before. Also “warn” them about potential aggressiveness if the dog is instigated while in pain.

For Cats:

· Instead of dry, hard cat food, consult with your vet about switching to moister, high-quality, wet alternative. This will offer senior felines increased moisture intake.

· Should your cat exhibit difficulty jumping or climbing, lower his/her bed or fasten a ramp leading up to it, but bare in mind, cats are quite independent and will likely find the most suitable bedding on his/her own.

· Preen your cat at least once weekly (more frequently for long-hairs). Remember, self-grooming becomes more difficult for them with age.

· An unstable kitty may mean restricting her to a secure area. It’s really hard to “cat-proof” a home, and unless you limit her access she likely to “risk” jumping on something and hurting herself.

· Talk to children about the new rules and about your aging pet. Help them understand the new demands and make it clear that your cat may now need more time and space to herself and may “snap” at them if she doesn’t get it.

Long Island Home & Lifestyle Articles > The Truth About Cats and Dogs: Seniority Issues Facing You And Your Aging Pet

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