Elderly Pets and Caring for them.
As your pet ages, you will find that they need more care and can become more high maintenance.
At Natural Pet, we have Pipi – also known as Pip, Pipsqueak, Pipi long stockings, Pipalicious and a few other names my partner calls her that are too rude to put on here. (Pipi is no longer with us, she went across the Rainbow bridge in July 2019)
She is 15 and a half (yes, the half matters when you are this old). She has been with me long before Natural Pet and Tagiwig. In her younger years, she grew up with Tag, which the Tagiwig brand was named after. I have had her since she was eight weeks old, when I could hold her in the palm of my hands, and she only weighed less than 1 kilo.
We have been through a lot together, and now she is old and needs more and more care. Below are some tips on how you can look after your ageing pet.
Feeding them good quality food is very important, not only for their health but also for their weight. In addition, your pet's eating habits may change, thinking about how they may find it hard to eat on a slippery floor, so putting rugs under their feet so they can grip might make it easier.
Pipi has specific ways of eating now. She has a huge bowl. This is because you have to roll her meat into mouth-sized meatballs and place them a certain space apart, as she doesn't like her nose to touch the other meatballs as she picks them up. If you don't do this, she won't eat and annoy you till you get it right.
What to do: If you don't raw feed already and it is of interest, google raw feeding to get some ideas. Adding supplements such as chondroitin, glucosamine, deer sinew, and flax seed oil help support joints and muscles.
Bad teeth can lead to many health problems, so it is something that needs to be checked regularly in your elderly pet. Looking in the mouth to check their teeth is a good start. If you suddenly notice an odour or bad breath, this could mean a rotten tooth or other health problems.
What to do: having something soft to chew that takes a while is good. For example, you can get dental chews, or things like raw chicken frames or necks are great. Chewing does so many things for their health; it not only massages their gums but cleans their teeth at the same time. In addition, the chewing action gets their digestive enzymes flowing, so it helps them to digest their food easier, gives their face, neck and potentially whole body muscles a good workout, and gives them something to do, so it makes them happy. Unfortunately, you may find that they may need surgery to get a clean or rotten tooth taken out. If this is a concern with their age, get in contact, as we can do things to help.
Older pets are more prone to health problems – diabetes, cancers, diseases, heart, liver or kidney problems are all more common in older pets. They can also start to lose their hearing and sight. Some, especially females, can become incontinent. We have our BladderTone to help with this. Pipi now can get quite itchy, and her skin gets hot and clammy. This is because their immune system reduces as they age, so their skin is not sleuthing off and renewing as it once was.
What to do: Keep an eye out for changes in your pet: - are they acting different, looking for quite dark places, or doing things they would not usually do? This can be a big red flag that things are changing. Taking them to your nearest health provider for a check-up is a good idea. With Pipi's clammy skin, I just bathed her regularly. Over summer, we have a large trough, so I dunk her in that most days. I don't use shampoo. Instead, I rub her skin to help get rid of the old skin, and it also helps to cool her down. It works a treat. Over winter, it is not such a problem, so I bathe her when she gets itchy.
Exercise is so vital for any pet, especially when they get older. Maintaining a good exercise regime is critical; pets that are kept fit and active tend to have fewer long-term health problems.
What to do: walkies every day is a great gentle exercise. Just remember that the activity level will change and not be so demanding as they age. It would help if you changed to their needs. I used to take Pipi on an hour's walk daily, but now we go on a 20-minute stroll around our block of land. She is happy after that and goes for her morning sleep.
Many elderly pets will develop arthritis. Signs of this may be slowing down, not being able to run or be as active as they were, having trouble jumping into the car, being slow to rise or lie down and may be reluctant to do certain things.
What to do: Keeping your pet at a healthy weight is a biggie. Your pet being overweight can exaggerate this problem. Feeding a good clean diet, at Tagiwig, we like raw feeding, it is more along the track of what they were designed to eat, and their body doesn't have to process all the chemicals, by-products and preservatives. Adding things like glucosamine and flax oils to their diet helps. We have our Keep Moving which assists pets with arthritis and is a big seller, especially over the winter months.
Bedding and general accommodation
You can look at their bedding as they age and find it hard to get up and down. There are some great orthopaedic beds around that support their bodies well. If they struggle with stairs, you can look at ramps or carpets on hard floors where they usually like to sleep, and this can give them something to grip as they get up.
At Tagiwig, we have many remedies that can help elderly pets. Below are a few, but you can also call or email us with any specific problems. We are here to help.
BladderTone for incontinence
Keep Moving for arthritis
Kidney Tonic for kidney disease and support
Liver Tonic (Hom) for liver disease and support
Heart Tonic for cardiac issues
The biggest thing you can do for your elderly pet is to realise they are getting older and treat them like that. Notice their subtle changes and change things to make them more comfortable. Be observant of any health changes; take them for an annual check-up so any problems can be picked up early.
But mostly - love them like there's no tomorrow, as pretty soon for them, there won't be.
Paulette and the Tagiwig Team (RIP Tag and Pipi)
Posted: Monday 24 June 2019