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Senior Pets and the Colder Seasons

My husband and I adopted Ranger at the age of 13 from ElderDog Canada.  Ranger joining our family for the last year and a half of his life was something we will be forever grateful for.  With the colder months now approaching, if your pet is at all like Ranger, it can be a challenging time for these cherished companions.  There are things we can do to help make their lives easier, rewarding their years of loyalty.

As pets age, they may not be as mobile as they once were.  We were able to construct a ramp to allow Ranger to bypass the stairs to the fenced backyard.  That is not always an option so it is important to make sure walkways are clear and free of snow and ice and include adequate space for outdoor bathroom breaks.  Salt can be hard on pet paws so using a pet-friendly salt product, sand or having your senior dog wear outdoor booties may be beneficial.

The phrase “move it or lose it” is true when it comes to senior mobility.  Smaller, more frequent walks are better than your senior being a “weekend warrior”.  Ranger enjoyed regular, safe exercise year-round to help prevent injury, loss of muscle mass, and to maintain a healthy weight.  Senior pets can be more sensitive to the cold temperatures so an outdoor dog jacket may be needed.  Always make sure it fits properly so it doesn’t inhibit movement or vision.  Point Pleasant Park was Ranger’s favorite spot here in Halifax to strut his stuff!

In the home, Ranger had a couple favorite places to sleep that was warm and soft.  It is important to have places that are close to where the family is and also a place they can get away to when they need a nap.  Remember to keep water and food dishes accessible and do not restrict access to water.  If you notice any changes in your pet’s intake or food or water, please contact your Veterinarian.  The best place for a senior dog is with the family – outdoor tethering is discouraged.  Dogs are incredibly social animals and do not do well in isolation.

For those special kitties, a litter box that has lower sides may be needed to ensure they can get in and out without difficulty.  Non-slip mats on hardwood and tile as well as regular nail trimming may help to prevent slip injuries for both dogs and cats.

Finally, no one knows your pet better than you do.  Do not accept the symptoms you may see as “regular aging” without discussing with your Veterinarian.  Regular physical examinations may help to identify areas of concern and early intervention may extend the life of your pet and/or improve their quality of life. Ranger was with us, his second family for 18 months and during that time was well cared for and loved. He had blood work done and was on medication/supplements for the treatment of arthritis.  Other than his mobility issues and being very selective in what he wanted to eat, Ranger was the picture of health and both of his families loved him dearly.  Thanks to ElderDog Canada, Ranger was blessed with a second chance and we are forever grateful to them for the great work they do helping senior humans and senior dogs!

Here’s to this upcoming season being a safe and healthy season your family and especially your seniors as we honor them today.  From our hearts to yours, Clayton Park Veterinary Hospital.

Written by Jen Kendrick

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