By Jessica Brody <[email protected]>
Aging is inevitable, even when it comes to our dogs, cats, rabbits, and other animal companions. As pet owners, we’ll one day realize that the spunky, fun-loving animal companions we’ve shared many years with are beginning to slow down, display some common signs of aging, and spend more time sleeping and less time playing or frolicking around. In some cases, our aging pets may even require daily medication, specialized care, syringe feeding, and frequent visits to the vet.
As our pets grow older and learn to navigate the aging process, there are several things we can do to help our beloved animal companions enjoy their golden years. After all, we know our pets would probably do the very same thing for us if they could. For some tips that will help you to care for your aging animal companion, read on.
Prepare for Extra Veterinary Bills
As our beloved animal companions grow older and begin to develop age-related medical conditions, they’ll likely require more veterinary attention than they did in past years. However, an aging pet’s medical needs and estimated veterinary costs vary widely depending on the species, breed, and size of the animal companion. According to Money.com, the annual cost of owning a dog ranges between $1,001 for smaller pups and $1,448 for larger breeds—but these annual fees could increase as a dog grows older and develops chronic conditions like arthritis or diabetes.
To prepare for the veterinary costs associated with caring for an aging pet, it may be worthwhile to purchase a pet insurance policy—as these specialized plans can help you to manage the growing cost of caring for a senior animal companion. However, it’s important to compare several policies before making a decision—as covered services, monthly premiums, and deductibles vary by insurer. Through a high-quality company like Embrace, for instance, you can choose affordable coverage for:
- Preventative care services
- Illnesses and accidents, including emergencies
- Routine wellness visits
- Specialty services
If you can’t afford your senior pet’s veterinary expenses, however, financial assistance is available through national organizations like The Mosby Fund, The Big Hearts Fund, and Pets of the Homeless. Many state organizations also offer financial assistance to qualifying pet owners, so don’t be afraid to look for help if you need it.
Give Your Senior Pet the Care He Needs
If you’ve never lived with a senior pet, you may be unfamiliar with the additional steps you’ll need to take each day to keep your animal companion safe, comfortable, and healthy as he grows older. If your pet needs a daily dose of medication, for instance, you may not know how you’re supposed to trick your dog or cat into chewing an entire pill before he finally spits it out.
To assist you in caring for your senior pet and ensuring he receives everything he needs to be healthy and happy in his golden years, keep the following tips in mind:
- Experiment with different ways of administering prescription medication to see what works best for you and your pet.
- When possible, opt for a flavored medication that turns each dose into a sweet snack for your animal companion.
- Feed your senior dog a balanced diet that best fits his age, breed, size, and nutritional needs.
- Spoil your aging pet by massaging his muscles on a regular basis, as this helps to alleviate pain and tone his muscles.
- Make sure your pet exercises each day and remains active as he grows older.
Your Pet’s Senior Years Could Be His Best Yet
Aging is rarely a simple process for humans, and the same is true for most companion animals. However, keeping your pet comfortable, smothering him with love and attention, and getting him the veterinary care he needs to feel his best will all help to keep your pet happy and healthy as he navigates the aging process. Caring for an aging pet can be a real challenge at times—especially if health issues are present—but the many advantages to growing older with a beloved animal companion will be well worth it.