Most pets, except for tortoises and African grey parrots, live significantly shorter life spans than we do. As their care takers, we’re responsible for decisions about their comfort during their twilight years.
How can we help them? I’m often asked as an animal communicator whether an elderly pet wants a particular medical procedure for their condition. Some people tend to monitor their pet’s health with frequent veterinarian visits, saying yes to every available test and surgery. Other people prefer to allow their pet to age with minimal medical intervention. Each choice is right for that person and family.
When I talk with pets, most aren’t wild about vet visits, let alone procedures or surgeries. However, pets almost always want us to be happy. And if we believe that a surgery is in their best interest, then they’ll endure it with as much grace as possible.
Caring for an elderly pet is an excellent opportunity to spoil them! Older pets often appreciate an added layer of comfort for sometimes achy bones. As animals age, they may lose weight, feeling the cold more intensely. Extra care for their bedding, even tucking a hot water bottle between layers, might create a little joy in their lives.
If your pet’s appetite has decreased, it could be related to teeth issues, which would be good to have checked out by a vet. Dogs or cats may need warm water added to dry food to soften it. Or meat may need to be cut into smaller pieces.
The primary concern for an aging animal is always their physical comfort. And it can be difficult to tell when an animal is uncomfortable. Here are a few signs that a dog or cat is in pain:
- whining, howling, groaning, grunting
- loss of appetite
- change in eating, sleeping and house training habits
- sleeping more than usual
- licking, biting, scratching a certain area
- repeatedly lies down and gets up
- trembling or lying very still
- more needy than usual
- pants excessively
- enlarged pupils
- dull coat
- acting out of character ~~more aggressive or more passive than usual
- hunches with hindquarters raised and front end down low
- lays on side
Signs of a cat in pain ~
Cats tend to hide their pain. It’s part of their survival instinct. So be particularly observant for subtle signs.
- change in grooming habits
- sleeping more than usual and/or sleeping in one position
- loss of appetite
- nonstop purring
- growling or hissing when touched or moved
- licking a certain area
- hunched-over back or head facing a corner
- reluctance to jump up on favorite spots
- restlessness and irritability
- change in eating, sleeping and/or litter box habits
By becoming more aware of possible signs of pain with your pet, you’ll be better able to take action to alleviate it.
I’m a big fan of pain medications to help an animal remain comfortable as they age. If you sense your pet might be suffering, I’d encourage you to discuss the options of pain management with your veterinarian.
And may all your pets live long and healthy lives.