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Bone & Biscuit’s Guide To Caring For Senior Pets For National Senior Pet Month

November is National Senior Pet Month, a month dedicated to celebrating senior cats and dogs. Senior pets can offer so much love, loyalty and companionship to pet owners, but it can be tricky knowing the right way to care for your senior pet as they age and adapting to your dog or cat’s new health needs. As our pets continue to live longer and more research is gathered around pets and aging, the more important it is to make sure we’re giving our senior dogs and cats the best care for their needs.

Here at Bone & Biscuit, we value giving our pets the best care for them possible, no matter their age or breed. To celebrate Senior Pet Month, we are giving you our guide to caring for a senior dog or cat. If you have a senior pet or are looking to adopt a sweet old soul from a shelter and need some tips, keep reading for Bone & Biscuit’s guide to caring for senior pets!

A senior pet, an older jack russell terrier, walks up carpeted stairs in its home. Using carpets in your home is a great way to keep your senior pet from slipping.

Tip #1: Use Carpets Where You Can

If you have a lot of hardwood floors or slippery surfaces, it can be difficult to walk on for your senior dog or cat, especially if they have arthritis or other health concerns. Carpeting stairs and floors or adding rugs and non-slip mats in spots they frequent is a great way to make it easier for them to walk around your home comfortably. If you can’t add carpets to your home, there are many comfortable options like booties and grips for your senior pet’s feet to help them walk on slippery floors.

A senior pet, an older dachshund with a greying face, walks on a cobbled pathway with a dog wheelchair to help keep him mobile. Building ramps is a great way to help your less mobile senior pets stay independent for Senior Pet Month.

Tip #2: Set Up Ramps & Small Steps

If your dog or cat is set to sleeping in higher-up spots, but can’t make the jump anymore, setting up a ramp or steps to their favourite spots (like your bed or the couch) helps to make sure they can still reach them. It’s a simple way to keep them mobile and independent as they age.

A senior dog, a grey face beagle, eats treats from its owners hands while on the couch. Finding a healthy diet for your senior pet is a good way to support a healthier future for your pet for Senior Pet Month.

Tip #3: Find A Diet That Works For Your Dog Or Cat 

With senior cats and dogs, weight gain can quickly become an issue. A healthy, more natural and nutrient-dense diet can also help ensure better health and keep them living longer and happier lives. Also, if your senior pet has sensitive or missing teeth, choosing softer foods over hard kibble (or softening kibble by adding water) and treats is another thing to consider. Of course, making major switches suddenly can also be difficult for their digestion, and you should always take into consideration your senior dog or cat’s particular needs and health concerns. We recommend consulting with your veterinarian for diet advice and collaborating with your local Bone & Biscuit for specific products.

A senior dog on leash walking along a trail with its owner. A gentle walk is a great way to keep your senior pet active and healthy for Senior Pet Month.

Tip #4: Exercise & Take Them On Frequent (But Short) Walks

Keeping your senior dog or cat physically active is especially important as they age to keep them mobile and healthy. Taking your dog on more frequent, but shorter and more gentle walks help to make sure they’re getting the exercise they need at their own pace. Avoiding rocky hikes or walks with sharp inclines is another thing to consider. Taking some time for extra (but gentle) playtime is another great way to add to their exercise routine.

A senior cat, an orange tabby, sniffs a treat in the palm of a veterinarian's hand while getting a check up. Regular checkups with the vet for your senior pet is a good way to keep on top of your pet's health for Senior Pet Month.

Tip #5: Take Them For Regular Checkups

The older they get, the more often they’ll most likely need more checkups from your veterinarian. They can check their bloodwork, check for illnesses, monitor their current health conditions, and help you detect issues early on. Setting up regular checkups can help you keep on top of things and feel more secure in your pet’s health. Of course, this can depend on your pet’s personal needs, as not every dog or cat needs the same amount of specialized care. Consult with your vet to find a routine that best fits you and your senior pet’s needs.

A senior dog lays in the green grass in its backyard. Be sure to gear up your senior pet for hot or cold weather with the right accessories and gear to help them manage weather.

Tip #6: Gear Up Your Senior Pet

Older cats and dogs can feel the weather more than younger pets can. If you live in an area that can get extremely hot or cold, you’ll want to prepare to make sure your pet is comfortable despite the change in weather. Consider things like water bottles, cooling vests, life jackets, or paw protectors for hot asphalt for hotter weather, and warm jackets, sweaters or snow booties for colder weather. Also, getting a comfortable harness that wraps around their body (instead of their neck) is usually more comfortable for senior dogs.

A senior dog, a golden retriever, shakes its paw with its owner while training in a grassy field. Teaching your senior pet with voice and hand signals can help them better understand you while training.

Tip #7: Make Sure To Use Hand & Voice Commands

This one can be a bit tricky if you haven’t trained them from a younger age, but we firmly believe that you can train an old dog new tricks. As senior dogs and cats get older, they often lose some of their sight and hearing capabilities. Teaching them both hand and voice commands will help them to better understand you as they age. If you have a younger pet, we highly recommend starting to train them with both now.

A senior cat, a grey tabby, sniffs its owner's nose by the door as they spend time bonding with one another. Spending extra time bonding with your senior pet is a great way to celebrate Senior Pet Month.

Tip #8: Spend Lots of Bonding Time Together

A simple cuddle session on the couch for a movie can go a long way in bonding with your senior pet and giving them the attention they need. Spend some extra time cuddling, petting, and praising them to help strengthen your bond and boost their mood. Bonding time is especially important if you’re adopting a senior pet into your family, too.

A senior dog lays with its head down on the ground looking sad. An anxiety vest can be a great tool to help your senior pet with anxiety and separation.

Tip #9: Get An Anxiety Vest 

Also called a thunder jacket, this type of jacket can help keep your dog or cat calmer when they are in stressful situations. As dogs and cats become older, often they can also become more anxious. Using tools like an anxiety jacket will help keep them calm and avoid straining them.

A senior cat sleeps on a woven wicker chair in the sunlight. Keeping your senior pet calm and comfortable is key for a healthy pet.

Tip #10: Keep Your Senior Pet Comfortable & Calm

This is a bit easier said than done, but one of the best ways to keep your senior pet calmer and healthier is to ensure they’re comfortable. For instance, if you know your dog finds busy areas or lots of people stressful, try to avoid parks or shopping areas that could cause your pet stress. Understanding what does or doesn’t stress out your senior dog or cat is key!

A senior dog lays on a purple yoga mat for dog yoga exercises. Things like dog yoga and other mobility exercises for your senior pet can help keep them more mobile and healthier for Senior Pet Month.

Tip #11: Try Different Activities for Mobility

While similar to exercising your dog or cat, for pets that are especially arthritic or stiff, investing time in mobility exercises can go a long way in keeping them healthier. Many cities and towns have physical therapy or pet yoga classes, but there are plenty of options online as well. Doing gentle stretches to help keep them mobile and keep them more active for longer, and help with stiff joints. Of course, you always want to be careful not to overdo it, so always consult with a professional or your vet for advice geared towards your cat or dog.

Two senior dogs, a chihuahua and terrier, lay in fluffy dog beds to rest. Choosing comfortable bedding for your senior pets will keep them happier and comfier for Senior Pet Month.

Tip #12: Invest In Their Sleeping Arrangements 

Who doesn’t want a comfortable space to sleep in? As your pet gets older, senior pets tend to sleep more than they used to, and harder surfaces or worn-down beds can take their toll on your pet’s joints and muscles. Many pet owners advocate for heated beds, too, as a way to not only keep them warm but to also relax your pet’s muscles (although they don’t work for every dog or cat). Investing in comfortable bedding, blankets and softer toys will help ensure they have a comfortable place to rest.

A senior dog, a black lab, stands in the middle of a field looking back at its owner. Being patient with your senior pet as they age will help you and your pet manage their care better.

Tip #13: Be Patient

As dogs and cats age, they can often become slower, more tired, and have a harder time hearing. Many dogs and cats also experience things like dementia and other health issues, and can often struggle with things like holding their bladder for long periods of time. While it can frustrating if it seems like your pet isn’t listening, or if you have to clean up accidents for an older pet when you didn’t have to before, remember to be patient and compassionate. Your senior dog or cat, as they age, physically or mentally isn’t always able to behave like they used to. A little patience and love can go a long way in helping them feel comfortable and helping you handle the aging process of your beloved family member better.

A senior dog laying in a field happily gets pets from its owner. Spoiling your senior pet for Senior Pet Month is a great way to keep them happy!

Tip #14: Spoil Them Rotten!

There’s nothing like spoiling your senior pet with new toys, tasty treats, and loads of affection! As your senior pet ages, it’s important to take the time to treat them now and then to a little something special. Of course, always keep in mind their dietary restrictions or needs, but spending that extra time and care to spoil your senior dog or cat will not only make their day but also help you to strengthen your bond with one another and make sure they’re having the best time possible. 

If you’re on the hunt for the perfect thing to spoil your pet with, stop by your local Bone & Biscuit store for tasty treats, new toys, healthy pet food options, and some extra affection from our staff and store owners for your senior pet. Check out our store directory to find your nearest Bone & Biscuit pet supply store today.

*Disclaimer: The contents of this blog post, such as any graphics, images, text and other material contained on this site are for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s medical condition. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately. Reliance on any information appearing on this website is at your own risk. If you have medical concerns or need advice for your dog or cat, please seek out your closest holistic or integrative veterinarian.

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