1. Mobility: Help senior pets get around by using special harnesses such as “help 'em up harnesses” which have handles to help lift the geriatric pets. You can also use slings for pets with back leg issues to help them walk and get up. Yoga mats on the ground or runner rugs can help pets with slippery floors to gain traction. Yoga mats in front of their food bowl and water bowl also help pets not to slip while they eat and drink.
2. Senility: Cognitive dysfunction affects most senior pets. There are special diets such as B/D prescription diet by Hills that can help. Anipryl by Zoetis is a medication that can help with Senility. SAMe has been used as well as a supplement for the aging mind. Your house may need to change to help aging pet’s needs. Litterboxes may need to be placed in additional locations and a side cut down so older cats can walk into box with ease. Older dogs may require more opportunities for potty breaks. If your pet is waking up at night, you should increase your pet’s daytime exercise. Older pets may not tolerate children and should be provided with protected resting areas. Older pets that can’t see do not do well with changes to the environment.
3. Incontinence: Pets need to stay clean and dry. Make sure bedding is always clean and ready to be used. Proin is available for dogs with urinary incontinence. Pets drinking excessively need to be tested for diabetes and kidney disease.
4. Appetite: It’s hard to see pets lose weight and have no interest in food. Entyce (capromorelin oral solution) is an appetite stimulant for dogs and Mirtazapine is an appetite stimulant for cats. Offer a variety of foods one at a time to elder pets that are not eating well. Offering several foods at once can cause smell overload and may make them nauseated. Older pets sometimes have issues with teeth, canned food should be offered or moistened dry food for pets with oral health issues.
5. Vision: Lots of easy changes can help the visually impaired pet. Halos affixed to harnesses or collars for dogs when they go out can help them avoid trauma to their eyes. Use communication or touch if your elder pet can’t hear for prompts and cues to keep your pet safe and build up your pet's confidence in the house. Use toys and games to keep your pet engaged. Never move furniture, litterboxes, food and water with a blind pet. They can routinely remember where to go but if you change the environment it can cause stress to your pet.
6. Pain: Most geriatric pets ache just like we do when we get older. Dogs have several options of medications for pain management. Cats have seen significant improvement as well with pain management medications. There are wonderful nutraceuticals for dogs and cats including feline cosequin chews and dasuquin chews for dogs. Lots of holistic medications have been studied and have shown good pain management in dogs and cats..
7. See the Vet: Geriatric pets should be examined at least every 6 months with bloodwork to check internal organs. Top geriatric problems include but are not limited to: heart, liver, and kidney function, dental problems (which can be painful and cause pets not to eat), changes in their endocrine system that can cause Cushing's disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism in dogs and hyperthyroidism in cats.