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Living With Your Older Pets

Updated on August 4, 2011

Pets bring such enjoyment, love and companionship to our lives. They are our constant companions through the good and bad times. They greet us when we come home from a long day at work and comfort us after our breakups. They put up with our friends and busy schedules and wait for us to give them what they need. When you have spent years with your precious companions and shared a life with them, it can be so hard to watch them age and deal with all that comes with the end of life. Pets don’t live as long as us, so eventually (if you are lucky) this is something you will have to encounter.

As pet owners, we aren’t ready for our pets to get old. We see them as the little creatures we adopted and want them to be with us forever. Dealing with the sicknesses and illnesses that come with advanced age are often too much for us to handle when it comes to our little ones. Because we love our pets so much, we owe it to them to provide them with extra support and comfort as they age.

My Elderly Cat Miko

Helping Your Pets Age With Grace

  • Be extra mindful of your pet’s health. As they get older, our pets tend to have more health issues. Many of these aliments can be treated if detected early. Note any changes in your pet’s behavior. Watch to see if they are eating and drinking. Take them to the vet when you are concerned.
  • Provide the small comforts for your pets that will improve their quality of life, especially if you notice that they can no longer do certain things. If you older pet can longer jump onto the bed with ease, provide steps or a ramp to make it easier. If your pet seems to have trouble with arthritis, get a comfortable bed or heated pad to prevent joints from getting too stiff. By doing these types of things, your pet can still be with you and be safe.
  • Get the right kind of food. Our pets’ digestive systems change with age. They might not be able to eat the same fatty foods because their metabolism slows down and they are less active. Buying lean, high quality food can help your pet feel better and stay in shape.
  • Reassure your pets that you are still best friends. While older pets might spend more time sleeping and less time playing, they still need your attention to keep their minds and bodies active. Talk to your pet (talk with your hands if your pet is going deaf), play with your pet and continue to teach your pet new things. Older pets need simulation, especially as they may start to go senile.
  • Be sensitive. Don’t force your elderly dog to run a mile or expect your elderly cat to chase a mouse all around the house if they are not physically able to do these things. Instead of being overly disappointed that they cannot do the same activities, find activities that they can do and make them fun. Make new memories with your older pets.

Enjoy your older pets. Celebrate the years you have had together on a daily basis, appreciate that you still have them around and give them the best care. Don't distance yourself from your aging pets. Adapt and change with your pets. Savor the time you have left together and make it last. Your pets will love you so much for taking such good care of them.


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    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Very good tips- sometimes we forget just how old our pets are getting! Voted up and useful.

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 6 years ago from Illinois

      This is very touching. Our cat lived for 19 years. The last 6 years we treated him for diabetes. He had to have insulin shots, special food, and eventually we had to hydrate him with fluids under his skin once a day. None of it was painful to him and his quality of life was pretty good. I regret that we probably kept him a little too long with us before finally having the courage to do what was best for him. But boy did he provide us with so much love and companionship for 19 years. He has been gone 4 years now and we got a new puppy about 7 months ago. It's great to have a pet again.

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 6 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      Chatkath, I agree with Lucky Cats that the cats are doing fine and that you can't save the world. The no-kill shelters are pretty good about finding homes and taking good care. Glad you are such a good pet owner.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      note to Chatkath...Allehy Cat Rescue sounds very good; they must be w/a name like that...don't fret and worry, friend here in Napa walked out his door a while ago and there were 3 black kittens - very young - in his breeze way...w/food left too. He kept them inside for 4 weeks but, because he is a single man who is away alot and already had one very stand offish kitty he rescued who didn't like the others; he was able to turn them over to Whiskers, Tails and Ferals..a no kill cat rescue/foster/adopt group here. Alley Cat Rescue sounds similar...don't worry. As much as I'd like to; we can't save the entire world. much love to you and TFN! Kathy

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Great information TFN, my kitty is about 15 now and although healthy, you can see the changes in her behavior now that she is a senior. I am so grateful though, as I have learned first hand, there are so many cats, homeless, feral, etc. that live such a tortured and short life, simply because they didn't get the care that they need and deserve. I have had to narrow my rescues down to 8 cats/kittens because I moved and I worry about the 5 I placed with Alley Cat Rescue constantly.

      Thanks for an eye-opening hub, animals do enrich our lives so much! Rated up, useful, and beautiful!

    • Daffy Duck profile image

      Daffy Duck 6 years ago from Cornelius, Oregon

      This hub is interesting since I just started to watch my dog, Moxie, more closely. She doesn't play hardly at all anymore. I've taken to having a pet step that I've made for her to get on and off of the couch. She uses it to get on the couch, but she hasn't used it to step down yet.

      Anticipation and preventive medicine is better than pills.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Oh.,.truth! you are speaking for me big time! Perfectly! it breaks my heart for the same reason; knowing that some may never know the love and tenderness they deserve. I think of animals just like young children from underprivileged areas....on survival time for the benefits of learning, relaxing and growing emotionally and; they spend their lives trying to survive. Give that child and, in my opinion, that homeless animal love and nurturing and, they grow expoentially! Ir is the same dynamic..same results ! Bless you for caring as you makes my heart soar...for the animals!! kathy

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 6 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      Thank you Lucky Cats for your wonderful words. This hub was easy to write. I love my little baby so much, she inspires me. I want everyone to love and treat their pets right. Nothing makes me sadder than seeing a stray animal on the streets that has never known what it is like to be someone's most precious being.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Thank you Truthfornow for this wonderful and tender hub about caring for our aging pets. What a helpful and caring thing you've done, TFN! When we love our companion animals so much, and then have to experience the loss of their presence in our ever day lives, it is one of the greatest sorrows, least, this certainly is, for me. I am so pleased and impressed with your writing and your heart. Thank you. All positives UP! Beautiful awesome useful interesting, and CARING!!! Kathy

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 6 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      Katharella, glad you and Rottie are hanging in there.

      Thanks Sherlock221b, I wish my Miko would live forever as well. Time goes by so fast.

    • profile image

      Sherlock221b 6 years ago

      I have had a few cats, but only have the one elderly one left now, called Dennis. He is almost 15, and cannot jump up anymore. He needs a lot more company than when he was younger, and always looks for a lap to sit on. It is hard seeing them get old, especially when it only seems five minutes since they were kittens. I wish cats could live as long as we do.

    • Katharella profile image

      Katharella 6 years ago from Lost in America

      I have a Rottie, she's about 6 years past her lifespan. Her bed is a baby mattress with extra pillows so she can lay her neck comfy. Funny, we have arthritis in the same place so I know her pain. About 4 years ago I was rubbing her tummy and felt a hard crusty lump. It was cancer. They took it out, and then I literally insisted this past time she limped a full body ex-ray and they said they were glad I did, her spine was worse than they thought. Great hub, and yes, we have to take their age into consideration just like ours. She gets more spoiled by the day, and worth every second. Thanks for making a hub so people remember they hurt too! :) I'm glad you got your cat taken care of. Feels great to know you have more time doesn't it?! :) v-up! -Kat

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 6 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      I love my cat so much. About a year ago she got real sick and I thought she was gonna die. And, I so was not ready for dealing with all of that. Now, I appreciate every second I have with her in a much different way.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      You do sound like a caring person when it comes to pets. Good hub!

    • MicheleLynn profile image

      MicheleLynn 6 years ago from Wilmington , NC

      You sound like a wonderful mommy. what an interesting hub and one that I think will be a great help to those that have pets that are getting older. voting up, interesting and useful :)