All of us that classify ourselves as animal lovers could fill pages with all of the benefits that our pets have brought to our lives and to the lives of our families. Anyone who has both two-legged and four-legged children has seen firsthand the joy and unconditional love that pets bring to our children, as well as teaching them about responsibility, care, and compassion. Many of us have also seen how pets can bring a sense of purpose and devotion into the lives of our elderly relatives, with the pet sometimes being their only constant companion. When we consider bringing a pet into a family with kids, most of us parents are well aware that, to varying degrees, the day-to-day care of that pet will likely fall to us. When we have elderly people in our lives we should remember that, also to varying degrees, they may sometimes require extra help with their pets.
If you have parents or other relatives that are getting older, they may have more of their own medical care to balance, more medications to manage, as well as possibly having more difficulty getting themselves to their own appointments. It is because of these sometimes complicated changes that we wanted to address the common issues to watch for in the pets of the special older people in our lives. When our own daily schedules become more difficult to manage on our own, it is easy for routine care of our pets to fall by the wayside. It happens to all of us, but with the elderly, we should be extra aware that when we are helping them with their own care, we should also make sure that their pets are receiving the routine care they need. This can be as simple an issue as regular nail trims on a beloved feline companion, or making sure flea and tick preventatives are being administered at their scheduled times. These may seem like small issues, but the complications of not keeping up with them can be much more difficult. Untrimmed nails, over time, in both cats and dogs can actually grow into the pads of the feet, causing significant pain, lameness, and infection. Not preventing a flea infestation could lead to hot spots and skin infections, as well as the need to chemically treat the entire residence since 90% of fleas are in the form of eggs and larvae in the environment, not on our pets. Checking to be sure that routine well care is kept up with on the pets of the elderly can prevent much larger, more complicated pet health issues that can be costly and sometimes difficult to treat.
There are other small ways to be sure that older people are not becoming overwhelmed with the care of their pets. When visiting, being aware of the smells within the house can communicate whether it has been possible for the pet owner to keep up with cleaning the litter box or walking the dog regularly. Keeping an eye on the pets’ body weight can be helpful to be sure that the feeding schedules are consistent and the correct amount. If the pets are on regular medication for their own health issues, make sure their elderly owner can reliably give the medication on schedule and if not, consider enlisting outside help to administer the treatments to remove that stress from their shoulders. This is especially important if elderly relatives are not local. Making contacts with veterinary hospitals or licensed technicians within their area could be very helpful in providing routine care or regular medication to pets that need it. Encourage the elderly pet owners in your life to have a plan in place for their pets in the event that they pass away or if their living situation changes, such as the need to move into a nursing home where their pets may not be able to relocate with them. Preplanning for these situations can be stressful, but it can also help the pet owners know their beloved furry kids will be cared for and loved.
We, here at Full Circle Veterinary Hospital, understand that getting a pet to our office can sometimes be challenging and we want to make it as easy as possible for our clients, elderly or not, to provide that needed care for their pets. Whether it’s wrestling the cat into her carrier, or trying to walk the dog to the car instead of him walking you, we want to remove that stress from both you and your pet. This is why we offer house calls for all types of routine care like vaccines, blood testing, and nail trims. We also offer senior discounts to ease the financial burden that pet care can have on our older clients. We encourage all of our clients, but especially our elderly pet owners, to have emergency contact numbers for which veterinary hospital they use, both during business hours as well as an emergency hospital, available in case someone outside their household needs to help with the care of their pets. We are fortunate in our area to have a company called Vetmedics (845-202-7200) available to us. This is a pet ambulance driven by a licensed veterinary technician who can transport your pet for you if needed, to places like the emergency hospital, or a specialty hospital that may be too far a drive for the client. Our goal is to provide solutions and aid in making the care of your pets as hassle-free as possible!