This week I am going to completely switch gears and talk about a different subject that I strongly believe in which is the care of pets. I have grown up with having many different types and sizes of animals that have needed their own special type of care and treatment. I was lucky enough to have both indoor and outdoor animals since I live on a farm, so the types of “pets” I had/have also included farm animals.
I think the main reason why I feel so passionately about animals and their care is because my mother is a veterinarian technician and she is very passionate about her work and what she does for a living. Without her knowledge and guidance of different animals and their needs I wouldn’t know half of what I need know in order to properly take care of my pets. She is the one who taught me that there are many different ways and stages to taking care of a pet.
This brings me to the main topic I am going to talk about today. The topic I am going to talk about is the care of older/senior pets. This topic is very near and dear to my heart because I have gotten to own some amazing pets in my life and most of them made it to their senior years. What most people don’t realize when they first get a pet is that one day that pet is going to get old (if nothing tragic happens when they are younger).
Once an animal gets to “senior” status (usually starting at the age of 7) how you care for them changes. They may not need as much exercise so their diet might have to change. They usually will have to go to the vet more often because they are more prone to disease and illnesses and their body changes just as drastically as when they were youmger (but usually on a decline). Also their behavior may change and you may have to buy more bedding and rugs to make them more comfortable since they are not as agile as they use to be. But these things are not as bad as people make them out to be. Caring for a senior pet is not the end of the world and if you as an individual think it is then please don’t get an animal.
The main thought you need to keep in your head when you are caring for a senior pet is that they don’t mean to make things “more difficult” for you. They usually know that they are doing things they are not suppose to like relieve themselves where they are not suppose to or walk/be in areas they are not suppose to be in. They can get confused or are unable to tell where they are and end up places they usually are not suppose to be.
Even if you don’t want to admit it senior animals heath does start to decline at some point no matter what.Their hearing, eyesight and smell go away so they tend to not be able to move like they use to or hold their bowel movement as long as they use too or hear when you call them. Their body changes and they loose body mass. However, trust me when i say this your pet is still your pet even if it does not look or act like the same pet it use to be when you first got it. They love you from day one till the very last day they are on this earth. So please for the love to gosh don’t abandon your pet just because its old. It leaves your pet feeling lost, confused and sad because it thinks you have left it since it did something wrong.
Many of you may be thinking “oh my gosh I would never think to abandon my pet no matter how old it is.” But it happens more than you think if you check out any of your local pounds, humane societies or other pet shops you will see that mostly older animals stay there years unlike the younger animals. They usually have tags that state why they are there and they usually have something to do with them being old or having issues that pertain to them being old. But other than that they are good pets and yet they get passed by day after day.
My first senior cat Thomas (1997-2007). He didn’t get to see much of senior-hood since he passed away due to kidney failure.
Don’t get me wrong having an pet from when its really little to its senior days is great but don’t overlook the older pets just because of age. There are plus sides to having a senior pet like the fact that they usually don’t need much training and aren’t as hyper as younger pets.I mean I’m not going to lie having a senior pet can definitely have its days but it can ultimately be rewarding knowing you helped out your pet in its final years instead of making them more stressful. You just need to be patient, don’t get frustrated/yell and don’t punish them too harshly because it is not going to have the same affect it might have once had when they were younger. As a former owner of senior pets I advice other owners of senior pets to just try and enjoy your time with them as long as you can because one day they wont be there.
My one and only senior dog Bud (1998-2013) who passed away (from old age) while I was at college.
I can say truthfully and sadly that the worst and hardest part of having a senior pet is saying goodbye for the final time. I still mourn the recent-ish loss of two of my senior pets and one was already two years ago. it does get easier with time but can still be hard especially if you weren’t there in person to say goodbye (I was at college when my dog and one of my horses were put to sleep). It can be hard and everyone copes differently but what ultimately helps people is knowing that they were there to help the pet in its senior years and enjoy the little moments together.
My most recent loss. My oldest Percheron Mike (1993-2014) who passed (while I was at college) due to old age and intestinal complications.
So ultimately please understand that senior pets need to be cared for differently compared to younger animals. Also know that just because a pet is older doesn’t mean you should abandon it or put it to sleep right away. It might sound strange but you will know when it is the right time to euthanize your pet but don’t think its just because it has reached a certain age (that would be like euthanizing a grandparent just because they are old). Senior pets are still pets and should not be discarded just because of their age. All you have to do as a owner is adjust the way you care for you pet and continue to love them until the end. It is not that scary or big of a change. if you ever have questions on how to care for a senior pet just got to your local vet and they should be able to help you. I also posted some links below on how to tell if a pet is a senior and how their care might change with age. I also have links on how to watch for certain diseases in senior pets and the animal humane society page listed to look at all the animals for adoption. Make sure to look at the “forget me not” page to see all the senior animals!
Just remember a pet is a “forever” pet not just a “until” pet.
Here are my links:
https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/aging (a page from ASPCA’s website on how to care for a senior dog)
http://www.petmd.com/cat/care/evr_ct_caring_for_older_cats_with_health_problems (a page from Pet MD’s website on how to care for a senior cat)
https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Caring-for-an-Older-Pet-FAQs.aspx (a page from the American Veterinary Medical Association’s webpage on how to care for a senior pet)
http://www.animalhumanesociety.org/ (Animal humane society’s webpage, check out the “Forget Me Nots” page)