Getting old is not a disease.
“Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.” —Stanislaw Jerzy Lec
Your clients with senior dogs and cats truly have a work of art, a real treasure. These animals have probably been through more joy and pain with their owners than your clients care to admit. It can be difficult for your clients to watch their pet getting older as they notice changes in their dog’s activity or their cat’s temperament. You can help your clients celebrate their pets’ golden years with frequent veterinary examinations, and appropriate modifications at home. Because – these seniors deserve special care!
Take every opportunity to educate your clients that age is not a disease. A pet does not suddenly gets a case of being old. Help your clients look for small subtle changes that can indicate early signs of actual disease. Include in your history open ended questions, such as:
- Changes in water intake, frequency, and amount
- Changes in appetite or evidence of difficulty eating
- Difficulty on walks, getting in and out of the car, jumping up on and down from furniture
- Difficulty managing stairs or slippery floors
- Onset of house soiling or failure to use litter box
- Bumping into furniture or walls
- Apparent lack of hearing or attention
- Changes in daily routine, such as different sleep/wake cycle, elimination schedule
- Concerns with finding food or litter box or sleeping areas
- Your veterinary team will rule out medical problems and work on potential cognitive issues. Fortunately, there are many medications and supplements to help senior dogs and cats feel more comfortable and healthier.
And there are so many little things clients can do for their senior pets at home. Have them imagine what they would do for an elderly person in their home. For instance,
- Keep furniture, food bowls and litter boxes in one place.
- Include simple gestures along with verbal commands.
- Find a comfortable and supportive pet bed.
- Allow cats to have low sided and easily assessable litter boxes (without going down stairs)
- Use non-skid mats or runners on slippery floors.
- Provide ramps for those few steps out of the house.
- Offer special ramps or soft steps for getting on furniture or into cars.
And keep things interesting for these seniors. They do best when their mind is stimulated by novel toys, simple food puzzles and lots of attention from their owner. Once your clients know what changes to look for, understand how they can help their pet cope with senior changes, and rely on your team for ongoing support, your clients will certainly enjoy the work of art that is their senior pet.