By Jessica Brody (of ourbestfriends.pet)
As beloved pets get older, unique challenges can come up. At the same time, pet owners want to ensure that their furry family members can experience their twilight years pain-free and with as much joy as possible. Here are four ways to manage your pet’s senior care—and make their later years happy, too.
Plan for Pet Health Costs
Whether unexpected or not, sudden veterinary expenses are not part of most pet parents’ budgets. Planning for those costs becomes even more crucial as your dog or cat ages, however. Because veterinary care can be expensive, purchasing pet insurance is often beneficial.
Investigate insurance options to see what services are covered and how much you’ll pay for deductibles, should the need arise. Consider quality pet insurance companies like Embrace that provides both accident/illness coverage and covers routine preventative care.
Another financing option that you can use in conjunction with pet insurance is Care Credit. Care Credit works like a standard credit card, notes Investopedia. However, pet owners may never end up paying interest if they pay down the balance within a specified timeframe.
Get Creative with Giving Meds
Many older pets require maintenance medications for a range of health conditions. While chewable medicines are available, The American Kennel Club explains that these are often less effective than alternative forms. Therefore, if your dog must swallow tablets whole, you may need a healthy dose of creativity to get the medicine down.
If your pup’s diet allows, you can offer the pill wrapped inside a piece of cheese or another snack. You may also consider a special device to prevent bites while you manually insert the meds into your dog’s mouth.
Getting cats to take their medicine might be easier in some cases—since you can wrap your kitty like a burrito to hold them still. But hiding pills inside a ball of wet cat food or kitty gravy can also be helpful.
Change Your Pet’s Environment
Whatever your pet’s ailment as they enter old age, you can make tweaks to their environment to compensate. For example, many older dogs begin to have trouble jumping up onto their favorite napping spot due to arthritis or hip dysplasia.
The good news is that changes to your home may be as simple as adding a step for your pet to reach the bed or couch. If your home has stairs and your pup is too big to carry, you may want to install ramps to provide them access to all areas of the house. Adding rubber mats to slippery floors or outfitting your canine with grippy booties are also helpful adjustments to support mobility.
Another way you may need to adjust your older pet’s environment relates to their potty habits. Senior pets often begin experiencing health issues that impact their ability to make it outside in time. Pet parents can start offering extra bathroom breaks, use puppy pads to provide more accessible potty spots, and give additional baths to keep everyone clean.
Choose Non-Food Treats
If your pet is on a special diet to treat a health condition, it can be tough to skip rewards. After all, lavishing your pet with love often involves providing tasty snacks for them to enjoy. Fortunately, there are plenty of non-edible goodies your older pet will like.
For example, even older dogs often enjoy interactive toys. Make sure your senior dog’s toys are soft if they have teeth problems—but also look for playthings that appeal to all their (potentially dampened) senses.
Cats and dogs both appreciate comfortable beds with plenty of padding to support sensitive bodies. Adding a warming pad may also help soothe achy joints due to arthritis or other conditions and show your furry family member that you care.
Caring for your older pet can prove difficult, both financially and emotionally. But as your pet ages, they depend on you for affection, physical support, and appropriate medical treatment. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to show your pet plenty of love—and help them continue to enjoy their golden years.
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