Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
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.
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 subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
Little Barnacle, a rescued 2-year-old
terrier mix, has become the mascot for a
Milwaukee Coast Guard station.
These breeds are perfect to have at your
side while swimming, boating, fishing or
even stand-up paddleboarding.
As your dog ages, he could face a
number of health problems like arthritis,
cancer and cognitive dysfunction.
Think you're ready to raise chickens? In
her new video, Dr. Patty Khuly gives us
her most important dos and don'ts.
No one wants his best friend to be sick in the car. Dr. Andy Roark (literally) reveals the many signs of motion…
The Lagotto Romagnolo was bred to seek
out truffles, the fungi highly prized by
chefs, thanks to his keen sense of…
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.