Make your home safer, more comfortable for senior pets.
Friday, October 7, 2022
These tips will help keep your aging pet comfortable and safe, while also maintaining your house and keeping it clean.
Help them move
Older pets can experience a decline in their mobility, and hard flooring can make it even more difficult to get around. Add carpet or rugs where you can, but make sure you use a non-slip mat underneath. Sliding around on an area rug isn’t much of an improvement. Remember stair treads, too. Just like you would for humans who need extra traction, add some non-slip strips to steps.
Textured flooring can also help your pet find its way around, particularly if it has vision impairments. A mat that’s a different material than the surrounding floor and placed under their food and water can help them find their bowls. You could also do this near doors or steps so they know where potential hazards are.
Help them lounge
An aging pet may have more bladder accidents, much like they did when they were a puppy or kitten. Invest in some furniture covers to protect your upholstery. What should you look for in a pet-friendly couch cover? Choose between form-fitting, which is tighter and less noticeable, and hanging, which simply drapes over the couch. Whichever you decide on, check the width and length of the cover so that it fits your couch. Choose a fabric, both in material and color, that matches your décor and tastes. The fabric should be water-resistant, too. Finally, look for a cover that’s anti-slip to save yourself from having to readjust it every time you sit down.
Pets can learn where furniture is in the room. As their eyesight starts to go, avoid moving things around too much and confusing them. Also, keep main pathways open so they don’t won’t bump into furniture or clutter and hurt themselves.
Help them eat
If you’re of a certain age yourself, you know how hard it can be to stoop down and tie your shoes in the morning. All that back stiffness and knee creakiness. Pets are no different, even when they’re lower to the ground to start with. Put their food and water bowls on an elevated stand. By raising them up, you make it easier for your pet to reach the food, even if they have arthritis. Handmade on Half Street shows us how to make a pallet wood dog bowl stand with storage below.
While you’re making adjustments to food and water bowls, consider adding multiple bowls throughout the house. At the very least, make the one you have easy to find. Pet memories can fade with age and you don’t want your fluffy friends to go hungry simply because they don’t remember where their dish is
Older pets do tend to sleep more and be less active. However, you can help their brains stay sharp with games. You might try a snuffle mat or puzzle feeder. They’ll love the treats and you’ll love that they stay a little more puppy-like for a bit longer.
Help them relax
Orthopedic beds for pets are a thing. Memory foam can make them more comfortable when their joints get achy with age. Wherever they like to lay, make sure it’s soft and easy to get to. If you can add a heating pad, even better. Fur sometimes thins with age, so the extra warmth will be much appreciated, especially for cats.
Most pets like dens to hide away in. Cat caves or crates for dogs can make them feel more protected. This becomes even more important for senior pets who may have more anxiety if their eyesight or hearing starts to go. A secluded spot where they feel extra safe is more calming.
Similarly, make sure they have an out-of-the-way room to retreat to when they need more peace and quiet. Many experts recommend limiting the number of new people your older pet comes into contact with. If you don’t want to stop hosting get-togethers, just make sure your pet has a safely escape to where they can avoid the ruckus.
Help them get around
Jumping on furniture can be difficult at best and dangerous at worst for an aging pet. If they still want to get on the couch or bed, you might install a ramp or set of stairs. A portable one you can also use to help them in and out of the car or something more substantial like this DIY dog ramp with storage from HGTV are both good options. Here’s another good wiener ramp tutorial, starring Weenz, the senior sausage dog.
If stairs are a struggle, move everything your pet needs to one level in your house. This includes food and water, beds, toys and litter boxes or puppy pads. Litter boxes should have low sides, too. The top-entry ones might be good for keeping messes to a minimum, but you’ll regret it if your kitty can’t access it in the first place.
Baby gates are another good way to control access to certain areas of the home. Maybe you want to keep them away from steps or out of the kitchen where you might step on them – their own reaction time slows as they get older – while you’re cooking.
And speaking of reaction time, that’s a good reason to keep them indoors as much as possible. Use the baby gate in an exterior doorway or to corral them on the deck if they do venture outside with you. A DIY catio is another great way to keep indoor/outdoor cats safe, no matter what their age is.
This last one is for you, too. Consider a smart lock for your front or side door. Dogs may not be able to go as long without being let out. If you hire a dog walker or ask a friend to check on your pet while you’re at work, a smart lock can make it easier to securely control access to your home. Create a unique access code just for your pet sitter or dog walker, then track it via an app so you know when they’ve entered your house, see if they locked up on their way out and enjoy greater peace of mind that both your pet and your home are safe.
Our pets love us unconditionally, so we’re willing to do almost anything for them in return. The best way we can show our love is to keep them safe. Find tips for protecting your pet around indoor plants, during the holidays, when you’re moving and even when you bring home a new baby, all at the Schlage blog.