Click here to learn more.
We all know how hard it is to see pain, illness, or just the aches and stiffness of old age affect someone we love. That’s just as true when it’s our pets who are suffering — they are beloved family members, after all. There are some simple things that you can do, though, to help a sick or elderly animal feel better.
Is your cat or dog underweight or uninterested in his food? Many illnesses can cause pets to lose their appetite, and age can decrease the sense of smell. To encourage your pet to eat, warm his food slightly to make it more aromatic. If he can smell it, he’s more likely to eat it. Additionally, scratching your pet’s head and neck or feeding him by hand can also increase his interest in food. The extra attention from you may be just the incentive he needs to chow down.
Medication may work for cats or dogs who don't respond to warming food and feeding it by hand. Ask your veterinarian whether an appetite stimulant is an option for your pet. With that as a jump-start, many pets start eating again on their own.
If all else fails, talk to your veterinarian about a feeding tube. It sounds drastic, but pets often do very well with feeding tubes. A feeding tube can be placed very quickly under anesthesia, either through the esophagus or directly into the stomach. You can put food into a blender to make a slurry that is given through the tube. (For short-term help with feeding, some tubes can also be placed through the nose and into the stomach, and a liquid diet may be used.) If your pet regains his appetite, he can still eat on his own, even with the tube in place. Once he starts to do that, you can decrease the meals through the tube and have it removed when it’s no longer needed.
Make sure your pet drinks enough water — he might not feel well if he’s dehydrated. I recommend pet drinking fountains for a couple of reasons. Some pets, especially cats, prefer to drink running water, rather than water that has been sitting in a bowl. A fountain can make drinking more appealing for these pets.
If your dog or cat turns up his nose at drinking more water, you may need to learn to administer subcutaneous fluids at home. They can be a lifesaver, especially for cats with chronic kidney failure.
We always think of cats as self-grooming machines, but stiff joints or oral cancers can make it difficult for them to clean themselves. And dogs who are incontinent may also need help keeping themselves clean and dry. Gently brush or comb your pet daily, bathe the urogenital area so urine doesn’t scald the skin if your pet wears diapers and check for dingleberries on fur around the rear end.
Can your pet get around without assistance? Portable steps and ramps are an easy fix to allow dogs and cats to climb in and out of the car, or get over the edge of the litterbox. For a dog who still enjoys getting out and about but doesn’t have the get-up-and-go of his younger or healthier years, consider purchasing a pet stroller or a child’s wagon that he can ride in. A harness with a handle to lift the chest or rump or a mobility cart can also help your pet move around better.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank You For Signing Up
for the Petwire newsletter, sending you all the pet news each week directly to your inbox.
Get the latest pet news, tips, tricks, and expert advice sent right to your inbox!
For the next four days, patrons of the café will be able to meet 16 adoptable kitties as they sip on espresso…
The last Friday in April is dedicated to undigested cat fur. To celebrate, we found photos of the cutest kitties…
A new film features 11-year-old Cory Gould, who has Asperger syndrome, and his incredible knowledge of dog breeds.
Disco, who knows more than 80 phrases, songs and sounds, is a YouTube star who's beloved around the world.
We polled Vetstreet readers and veterinary professionals to see if they drift off to sleep with their cat or dog…
Want to make some enemies in your vet’s waiting room? This funny new video from Dr. Andy Roark shows you how.
The silky-coated Burmese is a compact but heavy feline who loves to show off his impressive athletic skills.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.