As pets age, they often face various health issues, just like humans. Senior pets may develop mobility issues, visual or auditory loss, memory loss (dementia), and other conditions that may affect their quality of life. It is our responsibility to give our elderly pets the support and care they require to live comfortably and happily in their golden years. One approach to do this is by using environmental assistance, which can help senior pets adapt to their changing needs.
What is environmental aid?
Environmental aids are devices or modifications to the environment that can improve a pet’s solace and mobility. These aids can include ramps, stairs, raised food and water bowls, orthopedic beds, and mobility carts. Pet owners may assist their elderly pets to preserve their freedom, lessen suffering and discomfort, and enhance their general quality of life by employing these tools.
Common Issues for Senior Pets
- Slippery surfaces: Senior pets may have difficulty walking on slick surfaces such as hardwood floors or tiles, which can increase the risk of falls and injuries.
- Stairs: Stairs can be a challenge for older pets, especially those with mobility issues or joint pain.
- Poor lighting: Older pets may have trouble seeing in dimly lit areas, which can increase the risk of falls or accidents.
- Loud noises: Loud noises such as fireworks or thunderstorms can be stressful and overwhelming for older pets.
Environmental Aids to Help Senior Pets
There are a ton of things you can purchase or do to help your pet feel more comfortable in their senior years.
Ramps and Steps
Ramps and steps are great environmental aids for older pets that have trouble ascending stairs or getting onto furniture. Ramps and steps can be utilized indoors and outdoors to provide secure access to high sites. You can purchase ready-made ramps and steps, or you can follow tutorials online to create them from scratch.
Age-related joint problems and arthritis can make it challenging for them to get up and lie down comfortably. Orthopedic beds provide additional support for senior breeds and help ease pressure on their joints. You may pick one that best meets your pet’s needs because they are available in various sizes and designs.
Due to dental issues, arthritic conditions, or other medical issues, aging pets may have difficulty eating. Feeding aids such as elevated food bowls, slow feeders, and digital feeders can help make feeding easier and more pleasant for your old furry friend.
Elevated food bowls can be adjusted to a height that is suitable for your pet to reach, decreasing the pressure on their neck and spine. Slow feeders can assist in limiting your pet from eating too quickly, which can cause intestinal issues. Automatic feeders can ensure that your pet is fed at scheduled intervals, even if you are not home.
To treat a variety of medical issues, older canines may need medication. Medication aids like pill splitters, pill crushers, and pill pockets can assist make administering medications simpler and more effective. Pill pockets are treats that can be loaded with medication, making them more convenient for your pet to swallow. Pill splitters can be used to cut pills into smaller portions, making them easier to consume. Pill crushers can be used to crush pills into a powder form, which can be mixed with food or water.
Senior Pet-Safe Supplements
Joint supplements can help support your pet’s joint health, reducing the risk of rheumatism and other joint problems. Probiotics may benefit your pet’s digestive system, lowering the possibility of digestive problems. Vitamins can help support your pet’s immune system, reducing the risk of infections and other illnesses. Ask your veterinarian about safe and appropriate supplements as some can be contraindicated with certain medical conditions.
Pets may experience slower reflexes and trouble walking on slick surfaces as they become older. Non-slip mats can be placed in regions where your pet spends most of their time, including next to their bed or food bowls. These mats provide a grip and prevent your pet from slipping, reducing the risk of injury.
Due to hip dysplasia, or other ailments, elderly pets can develop movement problems. Mobility aids such as harnesses and slings can be used to support your pet’s weight and provide extra stability. Wheelchairs can help your pet move around more independently, allowing them to exercise and maintain their muscle tone. A bath towel used as a sling under the belly can be an aid to an older dog attempting to stand. Nail covers such as Toe-Grips are excellent aids in helping unsteady pets navigate slippery floors.
Senior Pet-Safe Flooring
Senior pets may have difficulty walking on slippery or uneven flooring. Senior pet-safe flooring can provide better traction and reduce the risk of injury. This type of flooring is also easier to clean and maintain, reducing the risk of slips and falls. Many owners use outdoor rugs and bathmats for easy washability. Yoga mats are also helpful.
Dogs in their golden years may struggle to regulate their body temperature, especially during the winter. Heating pads can provide warmth and comfort to your pet, helping to relieve joint pain and stiffness. Heating pads can be placed under your pet’s bed or used as a standalone pad. They come in different sizes and styles, and you can choose one that suits your pet’s needs.
USE EXTREME CAUTION as heating pads not specifically designed for animals can cause severe burns when used directly on pets. This is especially dangerous for hairless cats and dogs. If your pet is a chewer avoid electric heating pads and NEVER leave a pet unmonitored on a heating device.
Pet Diapers and Pads
Aged dogs might encounter problems like bladder or bowel control, particularly if they suffer from a medical condition such as renal disease or diabetes. Pet diapers and pads can help manage incontinence and prevent accidents. If your dog is suffering from this kind of condition, contact your vet to see how they can help.
Senior Pet Toys
Mature pets can become less active and might just not be as interested in playing as they used to be. Senior pet toys are designed to stimulate their senses and keep them engaged cognitively and physically active. These toys come in different sizes and styles, and you can choose one that suits you.
Senior pets may have mobility issues and may not be able to engage in high-impact exercise. Low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, and gentle stretching can help your pet maintain their muscle tone and flexibility without putting too much strain on their joints.
Walking is a great low-impact exercise for senior pets. It can be done outside or on a treadmill. Make sure you allow lots of time for sniffing as this stimulates your dog’s mind. Swimming is also a great low-impact exercise that can help your pet build strength and endurance. Gentle stretching exercises can help your pet maintain its range of motion and prevent muscle stiffness.
Senior Pet-Friendly Classes
Some pet stores and training facilities offer senior pet-friendly exercise classes, such as yoga, agility, and obedience training. These classes can provide a safe and supportive environment for your senior pet to engage in exercise and socialize with other pets and their owners.
Grooming is an essential part of senior pet care that can help keep your pet clean, comfortable, and healthy. As pets age, their grooming needs may change, and they may require additional environmental aid to maintain their hygiene. Be slow and gentle as aging joints can be painful when manipulated for grooming.
- Brushing and combing
- Nail trimming
- Dental care
- Monitor your pet’s behavior.
Regularly monitor your senior pet’s behavior and mobility to ensure that their environmental aids are still meeting their needs. As your pet continues to age, their needs may change, and modifications to their environment may be necessary. Consult with your veterinarian if you notice any significant changes in your pet’s behavior or mobility.
Environmental aids can make a significant difference in the lives of senior pets. By identifying your pet’s specific needs, consulting with your veterinarian, choosing high-quality products, introducing aids gradually, keeping the environment safe, providing exercise and mental stimulation, and monitoring your pet’s behavior, you can help your senior pet adapt to their changing needs and live a comfortable and happy life. With the right care and support, your senior pet can continue to bring joy and companionship to your life for years to come.
If you are looking for a veterinarian to help care for your senior pet near Matthews, NC contact our team at Caring Hearts Animal Hospital. Our team is Fear Free Certified and AHAA accredited. Make an appointment for your pet by calling us at (704) 893-2799 or by scheduling an appointment online.