How to Help a Senior Dog with Incontinence

As dogs get older, they may start to lose control over their bladder and bowels. Oftentimes, incontinence can be a symptom of several types of conditions. Certain breeds are more prone to develop incontinence and female dogs are more likely to develop urinary incontinence. Certain large breed dogs are more common to develop fecal incontinence. There are several medications that can be used to help with dog incontinence. 

If your senior dog has issues with incontinence, it is advisable that you consult with your vet first to determine the underlying condition. Dog diapers, belly bands and pee pads can help manage senior dog incontinence. Washable bedding and plastic sheets can also be used to help protect flooring or furniture. Water restriction, especially at bedtime, may also help in some cases. 

It’s important to note that house trained dogs often feel embarrassed when they soil indoors. Pee pads or indoor training can also help, as can taking your pet out more often. Dog diapers can be used, depending on the severity of the incontinence and whether it is urine or fecal. There are both disposable and washable diapers. Belly bands are used for male dogs to inhibit peeing, but they can also be used for light incontinence when used with a panty liner placed inside to soak up urine. Overalls are great for dogs who try to remove the diapers. Pee pads are great for dogs who may have difficulty getting up and down stairs to go outside, or for those senior dogs who may have frequent urination due to illness.  

Below are a few examples of incontinence products you might consider for senior dogs with incontinence issues. We do not endorse or promote any of these products or companies. Products are listed for demonstration purposes only based on available information at the time of publication. You should always consult with your vet before treating dog incontinence to rule out medical issues that can be treated by your vet. 

 

Disposable Male Dog Wraps

Disposable diapers should be adjustable to fit your dog comfortably. If the diaper has elastic edges it will allow for freedom of movement and leg lifting comfort. A wetness indicator helps you know when the diaper needs changing. 

Washable Male Wraps Diapers

Washable diapers are nice because they have no crinkle or uncomfortable texture. A velcro closure makes taking them on and off easy. Be sure the diaper pad sewn inside has a waterproof outer layer to prevent leaks and damage to rugs, etc. 

Female Dog Disposable Diapers

Disposable diapers designed for female dogs provide leak protection for dogs in heat, for dogs who suffer from excitable urination or incontinent dogs. Female dog diapers can also be used for urine, poop, diarrhea, and bowel incontinence. 

Washable Female Dog Diapers

Dog Diaper Overall

If your senior pet doesn’t like wearing an incontinence product then you may want to consider a diaper overall that cannot be easily pulled off.  Overall diapers are also suitable for odd-shaped or long-body dogs. 

Waterproof Dog Bed

A waterproof dog bed can be used as a stand-alone bed or inside a dog crate and is helpful for incontinent dogs because the washable cover zips off and is waterproof with a rubber grip non slip bottom. 

Indoor Potties

Some incontinent dogs have trouble getting outside, either due to hip dysplasia or arthritis, and become incontinent because of the difficulty they have getting in and out of the house. Indoor potties are also helpful if you are away extended hours and can’t give your pet the relief they need, especially as they age and cannot hold their urine or feces as long as they did when they were younger. 

Providing your senior dog with an indoor area to potty can help dogs get to their potty area faster, especially if going outside means navigating stairs or waiting for an elevator. This type of potty can be used on a balcony, deck or indoors for your pet’s convenience. 

Dog Urine Cleaning Products

Eliminate odors and stains, including urine, feces, vomit and drool with a stain and odor remover meant to eliminated dog incontinence messes. A product with a natural enzyme formula is safe for pets and home and can be used on floors, carpets, furniture, clothing, litter boxes, kennels, crates, and car upholstery.

Supplements for Urinary Health

If your dog is having difficulty with urine flow and inflammation or leaking urine, then it is important to speak with your vet about causes and potential treatments. Supplements may be prescribed to help reduce inflammation and encourage a healthy urine flow. Always consult with your vet before giving your dog any supplements as some can interfere with medications your dog may be taking. 

Top 10 Reasons Your Senior Dog or Cat is Finicky

As pets age, pet feeding can become more challenging especially if your senior pet has become more finicky during meal time. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, some older pets just don’t love to eat. Pet feeding can become a real source of stress for pet parents, especially if your cat or dog was a hearty eater at one time. It can be especially concerning if your senior pet is also losing weight, or has developed other illnesses that may require eating in order to administer medications. 

There are many reasons a senior pet won’t eat, some are more serious than others, but if at any time your pet is becoming more finicky and is eating less and less, and especially if they are losing weight, they should be evaluated by a veterinarian or vet nutritionist. 

Here are the top 10 reasons a senior pet may become finicky at meal time. 

  1. Too much people food. 

Once dogs or cats have a taste of people food, they can become increasingly finicky about eating their commercial dog or cat food. Let’s face it, people food generally has more fat and flavor, both of which may not be appropriate for your senior pet, but nonetheless, just taste better. If your senior pet’s appetite is changing and people treats and table scraps have become a more regular part of your pet’s diet, it stands to reason that they may start to turn their nose up at their commercial pet food. 

One way to help is to stop feeding your pet people food and table scraps. Stick to a dog or cat food that is designed for pets. People food simply does not have the proper nutrients a dog or cat needs to flourish. For more on cat or dog foods, read our article on senior pet food. 

       2. Change in schedule

Pets are creatures of habit and rely on their pet parents to keep to a regular feeding / potty schedule. If you constantly change their routine, feeding them at different times on different days, this can cause them to become more finicky at mealtime. 

One way to help is to ensure that your pet is fed at approximately the same time of day every day. If your work schedule dictates that you feed your pet very early in the morning, try to feed your pet within an hour of that same time each day. Being a responsible pet parent means making your pet a priority. If your senior pet is more finicky and your feeding schedule is erratic, this fluctuation in his feeding schedule can be the cause. 

      3. Stress

If you recently moved, added a new member to the family, a death in the family or divorce, or a new pet has been added to the home, your senior pet may be feeling anxious about the changes. This anxiety can be causing your pet stress that can be affecting his appetite. Another consideration is distractions that cause stress at mealtime – thunderstorms, fireworks, or too much activity during mealtime may be causing your pet stress. 

One way to help is to monitor your pet closely and offer lots of love, attention and extra exercise. Exercise will help your pet feel less stressed and may also help your pet to work up an appetite. If loud noise or people are distracting your pet from eating, you may want to move your pet to an isolated/quiet area so he can focus on eating, instead of the commotion. 

      4. Stomach Upset

As pet’s age, their appetite may change because their stomach has become more sensitive to certain foods. If your pet has developed a food sensitivity, it may be time to switch his food. If stomach upset is the cause of your pet’s finickiness, talk with your vet about switching his food or introducing a medication to help ease stomach upset in pets. There are medications that can help ease stomach discomfort and help pets feel better. 

If your vet recommends switching your pet’s food, read our article on pet food for senior pets.

     5. Illness or injury

If your pet is not eating, it is important that a vet evaluate your pet for an underlying illness. If your pet has had a recent injury or illness has been diagnosed, it can affect his appetite. A pet who doesn’t eat great for a few days may not be a great concern especially if there is a specific cause. However, if your pet goes more than a day or two without eating, then it is important to have him seen by the vet again. 

Vet’s can help by taking xrays and blood work to determine other reasons why your pet may not want to eat. Your vet can also prescribe an appetite stimulant if no other cause has been identified. If it turns out that an injury is the cause, and pain is the issue, then a pain reliever may help ease your pet’s discomfort to where he enjoys eating again. If an illness is the culprit, medication to help treat the illness may help alleviate symptoms and help your pet feel better.  

      6. Medication

If your pet is ill and taking medication, some medications can cause stomach upset and also cause a pet not to want to eat. If you recently introduced a new medication and your pet is refusing to eat, talk with your vet about alternatives. Oftentimes there are other comparable medications that won’t have stomach upset as a side effect. 

If the medication is causing the stomach upset, then switching the medication may help. If there are no alternatives, then your vet may prescribe an appetite stimulant to help get your pet to eat. 

      7. Bored

Sometimes pets get bored with their food, especially if they’ve had a taste of people food, and would prefer your t-bone steak instead of their dry kibble. Sometimes changing their food, or even just warming their food, or topping their traditional kibble with wet food or broth can change things up enough to encourage your finicky pet to eat more regularly. 

Read our article on feeding a finicky pet for more information on switching your pet’s food.

      8. Bad Teeth 

As pet’s age, they may have issues with their teeth which may cause discomfort chewing food. Your vet should assess your pet’s teeth to ensure there are no issues that may be causing your pet to shun their food. 

Some older pets do better having the problematic teeth extracted, after which they should resume their normal feeding schedule and start eating again.

      9. Too much food

As pet’s age, they often do not require the same amount of food as they once did. Many pet parents overfeed their pets to begin with, which can often cause them to become overweight. Especially if you feed your pet treats throughout the day, they may become full more easily and just not be that ravenous at meal time. If you are feeding them more than they need, they may just pick at their food or not eat at all. 

One way to help is to limit treats throughout the day, exercise your pet often, and feed the appropriate amount of food based on your pet’s ideal weight. It is recommended that a dog should be fed approximately 1/3 cup for every 10 pounds over 100 pounds of body weight. It is recommended that most dogs be fed their daily allotment over two meals per day; once in the morning and once at night. 

dog food feeding chart

For cats it is recommended that a cat get between a half a cup and 3/4 cup for a 15 pound cat. Cats should also be fed 2 times per day, once in the morning and once at night. A larger cat may require more food and more feeding per day. 

 

cat feeding chart

 

      10. The pet feeding dish

Believe it or not, sometimes the feeding dish can be the issue. Many dogs and cats prefer to eat off the floor because they don’t like being obstructed by a traditional dog or cat bowl. A flat pet dish can often help a finicky pet because it changes the presentation of the food. Another consideration is an elevated food bowl. Some senior pets experience pain when stooping over to eat. An elevated bowl can often help older pets who have joint pain and discomfort while eating. 

Read more about feeding a finicky pet. 

Top Ten Foods You Should Not Feed Your Senior Pet

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, cats and small dogs are considered seniors at age 7; large dogs are considered seniors at age 5 or 6. Owners should be careful about many people foods they may feed to their pet, regardless of their age. However, senior pets are even more at risk of serious illness or death from foods that may be toxic to them. It’s not enough to be careful for items in their natural state, it is also extremely important that you not feed your dog or cat anything that CONTAINS any of these items as well. Even a small amount of one of these foods can make your pet very sick. 

As a general rule, you should not feed your pet food that is intended for people. If your pet accidentally eats one of these items or something containing one of these items, it is important that you monitor your pet closely for the following symptoms. 

Chocolate

Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, high heart rate, tremors, seizures and even death. 

Coffee

Coffee can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, high heart rate, tremors, seizures and even death. 

Alcohol

Alcohol can cause vomiting, drunkenness, coma and death.

Avocado

Avocado can be fatal to birds and rabbits. It can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. 

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts can cause temporary hind leg weakness, paralysis and tremors in dogs.

Grapes / Raisins

Grapes or raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. 

Bread Dough / Raw Yeast

Bread dough or raw yeast can cause bloat and drunkenness.  

Candy, Gum & Peanut Butter with Xylitol

Candy, gum and peanut butter that contain Xylitol can cause seizures and liver failure in dogs.

Garlic

Garlic can cause vomiting and red blood cell damage.

Onions

Onions can cause vomiting and red blood cell damage.

It is extremely important that you not feed your pet any of these food items, and it is especially important that you read ingredient labels or check the product for any of the items on this list. Foods like pizza, pasta sauce, gravies, stews, etc. may contain one or more of these ingredients and should not be fed to your pet. 

If you think your pet has ingested something toxic, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

How to Detect Urinary Issues in Senior Cats

A cat is considered a senior cat at age 7 and oftentimes, senior cats develop urinary tract issues. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease is not merely one problem, but a collection of clinical symptoms that may have more than one possible cause. Cats with FLUTD can experience painful urination, bloody urine and frequent licking of the urinary opening. Causes can include bladder stones, urinary tract blockage, infection or cancer. Cystitis or inflammation of the bladder is the most common diagnosis.

Some of the symptoms of lower urinary tract problems include: 

  • Inability to urinate or only passing a small amount of urine
  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • Loss of bladder control, dribbling urine
  • Increased frequency of urination or visits to the litter box
  • Straining and or crying when passing urine
  • Prolonged squatting in the litter box
  • Fear or avoidance of the litter box
  • Soiling in inappropriate places
  • Constant licking of urinary opening
  • Strong odor of ammonia in urine
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Increased water consumption
  • Hard, distended abdomen

If you suspect that your cat has a urinary tract issue, it is important that she is seen by her vet as quickly as possible. Untreated urinary problems can cause partial or complete obstruction of the urethra, preventing the cat from urinating. This is a medical emergency that can very quickly lead to kidney failure and or rupture of the bladder, which can prove fatal if the obstruction is not relieved right away.

One way to regularly monitor your cat’s urinary health and help you determine if their is a problem, aside from the symptoms discuss previously, is to consider health monitoring cat litter for your senior pet. A relatively new concept, health monitoring cat litter can alert you to issues before your cat show’s outward symptoms. 

What is Health Monitoring Cat Litter?

  • it is a color-changing, health-monitoring cat litter  
  • it is dedicated to improving and monitoring the health and wellness of cats, no matter their breed or age
  • super porous crystals absorb and then eliminate moisture which means you do not need to keep replenishing your litter throughout the month. 
  • health monitoring cat litter eliminates moisture so you only need to scoop the poop!

How Health Monitoring Cat Litter is especially suited for aging pets?

Senior cats are notorious for hiding illnesses, so it’s often hard to tell if they are sick or in pain. Health monitoring litter makes it easier for you to know if your cat is experiencing a potential health issue before urgent medical care is needed, saving you money, stress and potentially your cat’s life. Potential health issues that can be associated with color change include:

  • BLUE OR DARK GREEN: Certain types of urinary tract infections. High urinary pH can lead to bladder crystal and stone formation. (Alkalinity)
  • ORANGE: Metabolic acidosis & kidney tubular acidosis. Low urinary pH can lead to Calcium Oxalate. (Acidity)
  • RED: Bladder inflammation, bladder Stones, urinary tract infection. (Blood)

Health monitoring cat litter not only monitors your cat’s health, and can detect issues before your cat shows outward symptoms, but it is odorless and scentless. When in contact with urine, it traps the odor and then eliminates the moisture. 

 

We do not endorse or promote any products or companies. Products are listed for demonstration purposes only based on available information at the time of publication. You should always consult with your vet to rule out medical issues that can be monitored and diagnosed by your vet. 

How Joint Supplements May Help Senior Dogs

Joint pain is often caused by bone-on-bone wear and tear to a joint. If the fluid and cushion between joints has worn, and bone is rubbing on bone, this can cause joint pain in your senior pet. Once the cushioning is worn, there is very little that can be done to restore the cushioning. Some pet medications and joint supplements can alleviate the symptoms of joint pain and arthritis in senior dogs, but there is no medication or supplement that can fully restore the cushion. Pain management is typically the course of treatment your vet may prescribe for your senior pet.  

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, supplements are not recommended for your senior pet unless specifically prescribed by your veterinarian. If your pet is eating a complete and balanced commercially available pet food, supplementation may not be necessary. 

That being said, if your senior pet suffers with joint pain or arthritis, supplements that are prescribed by your vet may be helpful in decreasing your pet’s discomfort and increase their joint mobility.

It is vitally important that you discuss any pain management and treatment with your vet. Supplements are not regulated and may contain ingredients that can potentially be harmful to your pet, especially if they are taken in conjunction with other medications.

Also, supplements do not provide instant results. Oftentimes, supplements can take up to 4-6 weeks before your pet exhibits relief. If your dog is in pain or showing signs of distress, he should be seen by his vet immediately. Your vet may prescribe an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) and your vet may also recommend a joint supplement. Keep in mind, NSAID’s that would be prescribed for a dog are NOT the same as an NSAID that would be prescribed for a human, and some of these drugs (including ibuprofen and acetaminophen) can be toxic for pets. 

If your vet has authorized the use of joint supplements for your senior pet, there are several that may be helpful to your pet. Some studies suggest that Glucosamine and Chondroitin may help alleviate joint pain symptoms and it is very likely if your vet suggests a supplement, that it may contain one or both of these ingredients, depending on your pet’s unique situation. 

Joint supplements typically come in a pill or chewable form.  Some joint supplements can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Be sure to read the ingredients and discuss any supplements with your vet before purchasing, especially if your pet has allergies or if your pet is taking any other medications. 

We do not endorse or promote any products on our website. Products are listed for demonstration purposes only based on available information at the time of publication. You should always consult with your vet before treating dog joint issues to rule out medical issues that can be treated by your vet. 

Help for Senior Pets with Allergies

Pets can develop allergies at any stage of life, but allergies in elderly pets can be very frustrating, not only for pet parents but also for pets. Pets with allergies are often itchy and uncomfortable and can cause skin irritations that need to be addressed by a vet.

The good news is, there are new medications available to help treat pet allergies that can alleviate most if not all symptoms, helping your elderly pet live more comfortably. There are also more holistic options available for treating a senior pet who is suffering from allergies, including hypoallergenic foods, shampoos and conditioners made for sensitive skin, and more.

The first thing you should do if you see your pet constantly scratching, licking his paws, or gnawing at his fur, is to talk with your vet especially if you notice excessive licking, scratching or general discomfort. If allergies are diagnosed, there are medications, as well as holistic treatments that can help.

If your elderly pet is suffering from allergies, there are several steps you can take to help your senior pet.

  1. Talk with your vet to determine if allergies is the actual cause of your pet’s discomfort and discuss possible treatment options that may help.
  2. Consider switching your pet’s diet. Some vets recommend home cooked diets to help control allergies, but you should work with your vet before switching your pet’s food. You can also work with a vet nutritional specialist to determine what foods may help reduce symptoms.
  3. Bathe your pet more regularly and consider a hypo allergenic shampoo. Pets who have allergies tend to flare up the more they are exposed to allergens. Bathing helps remove some of the allergens and can reduce symptoms. Also, wiping your pet’s paws with hypoallergenic towelettes can also reduce allergy symptoms.
  4. Salmon oil may help some pets alleviate dry and itchy skin
  5. Keep your home free of allergy triggers. Like people, pets are susceptible to household allergies like dust and mold. Cleaning your home regularly can help reduce allergens and help improve your pets symptoms. A cool mist humidifier can also put moisture in the air during dry weather and can help relieve dry, itchy skin.

If you suspect that your elderly pet has allergies, do what you can to help but be sure to speak with your vet to determine if allergies are the true cause of your pet’s discomfort. Rest assured, with the proper care and treatment, your furry friend should feel better in no time.

Allergy medications can be expensive and pet insurance can help offset the cost of allergy medications that your vet may recommend.

We highly recommend pet insurance for senior pets. It’s important that you purchase pet insurance before your pet is diagnosed with a particular illness because most pet insurance will not cover a pet with a pre-existing medical condition. Visit our pet insurance facts page for more information about pet insurance.

Below are a few examples of options you might consider for senior dogs with allergies. We do not endorse or promote any of these products or companies. Products are listed for demonstration purposes only based on available information at the time of publication. You should always consult with your vet before using any products or switching your pet’s food.

 

Hypoallergenic dog food is a good option for senior dogs with allergies. Watch for dog foods that contain corn, wheat or soy which can be allergy triggers for many senior pets. 

For cat’s with sensitive skin and stomach issues, a hypoallergenic cat food developed specifically for cat’s with sensitivities and allergies is a good option to consider for your senior cat. 

A hypoallergenic pet shampoo should treat yeast infections, ringworm, pyoderma and skin allergies, plus a good shampoo also deodorizes and gently cleanses skin. 

Hypoallergenic wipes developed for cats or dogs with sensitive skin can be used in between washing to help remove dust, dander or dirt that can irritate your pet’s skin.

Salmon oil is a natural fish oil additive supplement that supports the skin, coat, hips, joints, heart and immune system. Developed for cats and dogs to help alleviate dry skin, dull shedding coat, hot spots, or itching and irritation. 

This vacuum is features an anti allergen complete seal technology plus HEPA filter to trap 99.9% of dust and allergens inside the vacuum. 

A cool mist humidifier safely moisturizes the dry air in your room letting you breathe easy and moisturizes skin to alleviate discomfort. 

Celebrating Holidays with Elderly Pets

The holiday season will soon be upon us and if you have an older pet, the holidays can be especially challenging for them. Older pets are prone to illnesses and disabilities such as arthritis or blindness, which can make getting around holiday crowds more difficult. 

Certain foods and holiday plants are toxic to pets and guests bringing these items may be unaware of the risk to your pet. Be especially aware of guests attempting to feed your pets anything containing chocolate, baked treats that may contain xylitol, grapes/raisins, onions or other toxic foods. Even certain treats can pose a risk to your elderly pet if your pet has food sensitivities or illnesses that may disrupt his digestive tract. Caution well-intentioned guests of any food sensitivities your pet may have and carefully inspect anything guests may bring for your elderly pet. Other foods that should be off limits to elderly pets include: turkey and turkey skin – sometimes even in small amounts – can cause a life-threatening condition in pets known as pancreatitis. Table scraps – including gravy and meat fat –also should be kept away from pets. Many foods that are healthy for people are poisonous to pets, including onions, raisins and grapes. During the holidays, when our own diets tend toward extra-rich foods, table scraps can be especially fattening and hard for animals to digest and can cause pancreatitis. Yeast dough can cause problems for pets, including painful gas and potentially dangerous bloating.

In addition to food safety, don’t leave your pet alone in the room with lit candles, a decorated tree or potpourri. Keep holiday plants (especially holly, mistletoe and lillies) out of reach of pets. 

If guests will be visiting, provide pets with a safe and comfortable place to retreat from guests. If guests are bringing other pets with them, be sure your pet and the guest pet get along and if not, bring your pet to another part of the house if guests will be bringing their pets. Older pets that become afraid of crowds or other pets, may become overwhelmed and try to escape. It is best to crate them or put them in another room during holiday gatherings if they seem stressed in any way. 

If guests insist on bringing something for your furry friend, below are some great ideas that are pet friendly for elderly pets. We do not endorse or promote any of these products or companies. Products are listed for demonstration purposes only based on available information at the time of publication. You should always consult your vet to determine what is most appropriate for your pet. 

 

Elderly Pet Safety in Cold Weather

Cold weather can pose serious threats to pet health. Pet’s cold tolerance for cold weather can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level and health. 

You will probably need to shorten your dog’s walks in very cold weather to protect you both from weather-associated health risks. Arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and may be more prone to slipping and falling. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but are still at risk in cold weather. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection, and short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. The same goes for very young and very old pets. If you need help determining your pet’s temperature limits, consult your veterinarian.

Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it’s untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods in below-freezing weather.

Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. During a walk, a sudden lameness may be due to an injury or may be due to ice accumulation between his/her toes. You may be able to reduce the chance of iceball accumulation by clipping the hair between your dog’s toes.

If your dog has a short coat or seems bothered by the cold weather, consider a sweater or dog coat. Have several on hand, so you can use a dry sweater or coat each time your dog goes outside. Wet sweaters or coats can actually make your dog colder. Some pet owners also use booties to protect their dog’s feet; if you choose to use them, make sure they fit properly.

During walks, your dog’s feet, legs and belly may pick up deicers, antifreeze, or other chemicals that could be toxic. When you get back inside, wipe down (or wash) your pet’s feet, legs and belly to remove these chemicals and reduce the risk that your dog will be poisoned after (s)he licks them off of his/her feet or fur. Consider using pet-safe deicers on your property to protect your pets and the others in your neighborhood.

Hot cars are a known threat to pets, but cold cars also pose significant risk to your pet’s health. You’re already familiar with how a car can rapidly cool down in cold weather; it becomes like a refrigerator, and can rapidly chill your pet. Pets that are young, old, ill, or thin are particularly susceptible to cold environments and should never be left in cold cars. Limit car travel to only that which is necessary, and don’t leave your pet unattended in the vehicle.

Odds are your pet will be spending more time inside during the winter, so it’s a good time to make sure your house is properly pet-proofed. Use space heaters with caution around pets, because they can burn or they can be knocked over, potentially starting a fire. Check your furnace before the cold weather sets in to make sure it’s working efficiently, and install carbon monoxide detectors to keep your entire family safe from harm. If you have a pet bird, make sure its cage is away from drafts.

We don’t recommend keeping any pet outside for long periods of time, but if you are unable to keep your dog inside during cold weather, provide him/her with a warm, solid shelter against wind. Make sure that they have unlimited access to fresh, non-frozen water (by changing the water frequently or using a pet-safe, heated water bowl). The floor of the shelter should be off of the ground (to minimize heat loss into the ground) and the bedding should be thick, dry and changed regularly to provide a warm, dry environment. The door to the shelter should be positioned away from prevailing winds. Space heaters and heat lamps should be avoided because of the risk of burns or fire. Heated pet mats should also be used with caution because they are still capable of causing burns.

 If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Cold weather also brings the risks of severe winter weather, blizzards and power outages. Prepare a disaster/emergency kit, and include your pet in your plans. Have enough food, water and medicine (including any prescription medications as well as heartworm and flea/tick preventives) on hand to get through at least 5 days.

Keep your pet at a healthy weight throughout the winter. Some pet owners feel that a little extra weight gives their pet some extra protection from cold, but the health risks associated with that extra weight don’t make it worth doing. Watch your pet’s body condition and keep them in the healthy range. Outdoor pets will require more calories in the winter to generate enough body heat and energy to keep them warm – talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s nutritional needs during cold weather.

Below are some ideas of products that may help your senior pet in cold weather. We do not endorse or promote any of these products or companies. Products are listed for demonstration purposes only based on available information at the time of publication. You should always consult your vet to determine what is most appropriate for your pet. 

 

Even furry dogs tend to lose their fur as they age and the winter months can be especially difficult for senior pets. A winter coat or jacket can help keep your senior pet warm when outdoors. 

Older cats are more susceptible to chills in colder weather and a sweater can help keep them warmer when outside, especially during the colder months. 

Dog booties or boots can keep your senior pet’s feet from getting wet and cold during colder months. Some also feature a non-skid bottom which can help keep older pets from sliding around, as they often do. 

Some older dogs live outdoors, or spend a lot of time outdoors and it is important they stay as hydrated as possible – with plenty of cool, clean, fresh water. Water bowls that stay outside tend to freeze over and a heated water bowl can ensure that your senior pet always has access to his water. 

As pets age they can chill more easily in cold weather. A heated cat house can help keep your outdoor cat comfortable in even the coldest weather. 

Some older dogs love to stay outside, and for some pet owners it is practical for them as well. Older dogs tend to chill more than younger dogs, so it is important that their home is warm and comfortable. A heated dog house can help. 

When pets go outdoors in winter, they can track in salt and sand from weather treated roads, driveways and sidewalks. Grooming wipes allow you to clean your pet’s fur and feet to ensure they don’t ingest harmful chemicals.

During winter months, many pet owners treat their sidewalks and driveway with chemicals that are harmful, and sometimes toxic to senior pets. Pet friendly ice melt is safer for pets and gentler on their paws. 

Every pet owner should always be prepared for an emergency, especially for a senior pet. No matter the time of year, it is important to be prepared and have supplies on hand to care for a sick pet, especially to communicate more effectively with your vet – such as temperature, wound care, etc. 

How to Soothe Pet Crying and Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is triggered when dogs become upset typically because they have been separated from their caretakers. Dogs with separation anxiety will bark, howl or display other distress behaviors typically within a short time of being left alone. 

Fortunately there is help for anxious pets. First, it is important to rule out medical problems that can contribute to anxiety or anxious behavior. Speak with your vet to determine if an underlying medical condition is part of the cause. 

There are also other behavioral issues that can resemble separation anxiety such as boredom, excitement urination, outside disturbances. If you have ruled out a medical condition or behavioral issue, then you may want to try other at home remedies to help soothe your anxious pet. 

Gradual separation – stepping out of view for short periods can help desensitize your pet to your absence. 

Exercise – exercising your pet before you leave can help tire him out so he will be more relaxed. Some vets recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic activity such as running or swimming to help your pet relax while you are gone

Busy bones or kong toys stuffed with treats, peanut butter or cheese can keep dogs busy while you are out

Soothing toys – there are several toys available that emit a low sound and can soothe a pet in distress

Television or radio – keep the TV or radio on when you leave so your pet will be less sensitive to every outside noise and it can help him feel that someone is in the home with him

Automatic treat feeders – an automatic treat feeder will help your pet focus more on his treats than you being gone and can help

Some or all of these strategies may or may not work for your elderly pet in distress. If these tactics do not work, your vet may recommend an anti-anxiety medication. 

It is important that you not scold or punish your dog. Remember, your dog is acting out because he is trying to cope with the stress and anxiety of you being gone. Punishing him will make him more anxious and stressed. So be patient and try some of the strategies we have outlined to help your pet feel better when you are gone. And be sure to give him lots of love and affection when you return. 

Some of the following products may help. We do not endorse or promote any of these products or companies. Products are listed for demonstration purposes only based on available information at the time of publication. You should always consult your vet to determine what is most appropriate for your pet. 

Snuggle Puppy helps reduce negative behaviors such as whining and barking and can help pets transition to a new home or even reduce stress caused by fireworks or thunderstorms. Features a real feel pulsing heartbeat and heat pack to calm your pet. 

The Kong classic dog toy can be stuffed with peanut butter, cheese, treats and more to help occupy your pet while you are away.

This camera is also a treat dispenser which has a 2-way audio and barking alert and barking sensor to let you know when your dog is barking and sends a push notification to your phone when it detects barking. You can talk with your pet and calm them down via the app and send them a treat when they relax. 

Elderly Pet Travel Safety

Elderly pets are at greater risk for injury during travel because some may not react as quickly as a younger pet would if a vehicle stops short or is in an accident. Many animals, especially dogs, love driving in the car with their head out the window. This is not only unsafe but can put an animal at risk for serious injury. Pets should be secured in a moving vehicle to prevent unnecessary injury should there be any sort of sudden movements or accidents. Pets should travel in the back seat of the vehicle and if your pet likes the wind in his face, the window should be opened only slightly so as to prevent your pet from attempting to jump from a moving vehicle. 

When traveling with pets, keeping them safe is important. Keeping them comfortable is another consideration. Leather seats can get hot in summer and cold in winter. A blanket or cover on the back seat will not only protect your back seats, but will also provide comfort as well as protection in the event your pet soils during the trip. 

Another concern when traveling with pets is distraction. A pet that is not secured in the backseat can easily distract the driver of the vehicle and cause serious injury or death if there is an accident. 

Flying with Pets

When flying with a pet, only small cats and dogs are allowed in most airline cabins and they must fit in the carrier that fits under the seat in front of you at all times. Larger dogs can fly in the planes cargo hold with some capacity and weather restrictions. Service animals or emotional support animals can travel in the cabin with a disabled passenger on many airlines. 

Airlines have restrictions on the weight of the pet as well as the pet carrier used for flying with pets to determine where your pet will be traveling, so be sure to check with your airline to ensure that your pet carrier meets size requirements. 

Train Travel with Pets

Traveling by train is similar to other modes of travel, but Amtrak has some requirements that may differ from the airlines. For instance, to travel by train with a pet, the trip must be 7 hours or less, you may only travel with one pet per passenger for travel in a compliant pet carrier, travel is Coach only with pets, pets must be at least 8 weeks old, pet must be stowed under the seat in a compliant pet carrier, and the combined weight of your pet with the carrier must not exceed 20 pounds. 

Carriers must be leakproof and waterproof with adequate ventilation. Many trains have carrier size restrictions as well. Typically there is a cost to travel with a pet. 

Medically certified service animals can ride on any train traveling in the continental US. Other countries have specific requirements and restrictions. 

Rules for traveling with pets on a train varies from place to place, so it is important that you check with the train company you are traveling with to determine what the current rules are. Some trains do not accept pets.

Bus Travel with Pets

The rules for traveling with a pet on a bus are similar to train and airline travel, with most requiring that the pet be in a carrier that fits under the seat. However, not all bus lines allow you to travel with your pet so it is important that you contact the bus line before traveling to ensure your pet is allowed on board. Many have special rules or procedures for boarding with a pet, so it is best to know what to expect ahead of time and contact the bus company first. 

Securing your Pet

Today, there are many ways to help secure a pet, similar to how a person is secured in a moving vehicle. There are simple tether seat belts that attach to your dog’s harness and buckle in the seat belt clip. A basic seat belt clip is the simplest, least expensive option for securing your pet when traveling in any sort of vehicle that has a seat belt.  

We do not endorse or promote any of these products or companies. Products are listed for demonstration purposes only based on available information at the time of publication. You should always consult your vet to determine what is most appropriate for your pet. 

Tethers or seat belts work similar to a regular seat belt. One end of the tether clicks into the seat belt buckle and the other end fastens to your pet’s harness. Never secure a tether to a pet’s collar because sudden stop can cause the pet to choke and break its neck. By securing the tether to the harness, the animal may become injured during a crash, but the harness combined with the tether will keep the animal from catapulting forward off the seat.

With a booster seat, the entire seat secures to the vehicle keeping the seat completely in place during sudden stops/starts or crashes. The pet is then secured to the seat with a clip – but the clip should be secured to a harness, not the pet’s neck collar. There are many videos that show the clip secured to a pet’s collar and if the vehicle suddenly stops, the animal can choke. Always tether an animal at the harness instead to avoid such injuries.

A backseat bridge helps fill the gap in the backseat between the front and back seats, creating a platform for the animal to land on in the event of a sudden stop or start, to prevent the animal from falling to the floor. A backseat bridge can make a pet feel more comfortable when traveling in a vehicle because it provides a flat surface for them.

Similar to a bridge, a backseat hammock fills the gap between the back and the front seats, providing your pet with the illusion of more room to stretch out and relax. By providing more surface area for your pet, it can help your pet feel more comfortable when traveling.

Elderly pets often need a boost when getting in and out of a vehicle. Ramps are especially useful when your older pet needs assistance. It easily allows pets to enter and exit the vehicle, without straining your back.

Pet lifts assist owners with safely lifting the pet in the vehicle. This is especially helpful for older pets who may not be able to jump in the car on their own. Pet lifts are great for older pets, not just for travel but to help assist them in and out of the house as well. 

Pet carriers are great for both cats and dogs. They can help easily transport pets to vet visits or other outings, keeping them safe and secure. Be sure to secure the carrier with a seat belt  – this particular carrier secures to the back seat to ensure pet stays put. 

Read more about the different types of pet carriers options for senior pets.

Whatever pet travel solution you choose for your elderly pet, you can rest assured that your pet will feel more safe and secure when traveling in a vehicle, airplane, train or bus if you secure them properly. 

Elderly Pet Dental Care

Elderly pets are at higher risk for tooth decay and gum problems than younger pets. Pet parents must be especially vigilant with older pets to ensure that their teeth and gums stay healthy and strong into pet old age. 

AVMA recommends that all pets be seen by their vet at least once per year to check your pet’s teeth and gums. It is also recommended that you conduct frequent checks of your pet’s mouth to look for any issues that may present themselves. 

Call your vet if your pet exhibits any of the following warning signs of dental disease:

  • bad breath
  • broken or loose teeth
  • extra teeth or retained baby teeth
  • teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
  • abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
  • reduced appetite or refusal to eat
  • pain in or around the mouth
  • bleeding from the mouth
  • swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth

And while most tooth or gum related illnesses can be treated oftentimes with anesthesia, older pets may be at higher risk for anesthesia dental cleanings if they have other underlying medical conditions. Therefore, prevention is the key to caring for your pet’s mouth.

Pet parents are encouraged to check their pet’s mouth monthly to ensure that their pet’s mouth is clean. Regular brushing is the single most effective thing you can do to keep your pet’s teeth healthy between dental cleanings by your vet. Even brushing just several times per week can be effective. There are a number of products available that can help you brush your pet’s teeth more effectively and there are some products that aid your pet in their brushing. Speak with your vet before purchasing dental products, treats or dental-specific diets you may consider for your pet. 

Below are some ideas on products that are available to assist you with taking care of your pet’s teeth. We do not endorse or promote any of these products or companies. Products are listed for demonstration purposes only based on available information at the time of publication. You should always consult your vet to determine what is most appropriate for your pet. 

Itchy Pets and Constant Licking in Elderly Pets

Many dogs and cats lick and scratch as result of itching (also called pruritis). The most common cause of itching is allergies, skin disease, dry skin, external parasites, infections and in rare cases, skin cancer. Elderly pets lick and scratch as they age if any of these conditions occur and can be treated with the help of your vet. It’s important to monitor your pet if they are constantly itching, licking or scratching.

Oftentimes, bathing your elderly pet can help alleviate the symptoms that are causing the itching. However, in some cases, long term antibiotics may be necessary in the case of a staph infection, or a medicated bath might be necessary in the event of fleas. Your vet can help determine what is the root cause of the itching and can help alleviate the symptoms. Prescription allergy medication can also help if it is deemed that your elderly pet is suffering from allergies.

The bottom line there is no need for your pet to lick and scratch, especially if it is on a regular basis and especially if they seem agitated from the itching, scratching and licking. Skin infections are a common cause of scratching and often a month long round of antibiotics can do the trick. You can often see skin infections by looking closely at your pet’s skin; especially if you see dry patches and flaking. Talk with your vet if your pet’s licking, scratching or itching become troublesome for your pet. In time, your pet’s irritation can be resolved and he can go back to living without constant itching and will be more comfortable.

 

How to Keep Senior Pets Safe

Keeping pets safe at home or while traveling can be challenging especially as pets age. A large dog is considered a senior dog at age 5-6 years of age, and smaller dogs and cats are considered seniors at age 7. As pets age, they can develop arthritis or joint injuries that make once ordinary tasks difficult and painful for elderly pets. Other pets can develop cognitive dysfunction or dementia, making it difficult for them to do things they once could. Senior pets often need more safety precautions in place to ensure they do not injure themselves or worse. 

For example, a dog or cat that could once jump on the bed, for instance, may require assistance to get up on higher surfaces. Pet stairs are one solution that can not only keep pets safe at home, but can help keep pet parents safe as well – avoiding unnecessary injuries lifting pets. There are a variety of pet products designed to help elderly pets who may have difficulties walking, jumping or performing everyday tasks that they could when they were younger.

If you have an older pet that is having difficulties with jumping, walking or no notice that your senior pet is having difficulty with everyday activities that they could do at one time, it is important to consult your vet to rule out any serious issues. If the vet determines that it is a manageable condition that may need an assistive device to help your pet get through the day more easily, then there are a number of products that can be used to assist your pet. 

We do not endorse or promote any of these products or companies. Products are listed for demonstration purposes only based on available information at the time of publication. You should always consult your vet to determine what is most appropriate for your pet. 

A pet gate can help keep your pet confined to a restricted area of your home, especially during the day when you may be out of the home at work or running errands. A pet gate can keep your pet safe and secure in a specific area of your home. 

A pet ramp is a convenient way for pets to get onto furniture or beds. If your furry friend is accustomed to sleeping on the bed, but they are in need of assistance, a pet ramp can help them get situated without jumping and risking injury. 

Some pets have difficulty as they age with bending over to reach their meal. Meal time can be very frustrating for an older pet who is in pain when hunched over too far. An elevated pet feeding dish can help alleviate some of that discomfort. 

Similar to ramps, pet stairs can help an older pet climb onto furniture or bedding. If your older pet is having difficulty getting onto their comfortable piece of furniture, pet stairs may be a solution to aid them in their quest. 

A pet lift can save your back if you are dealing with a pet that has difficulty standing or getting into the car or on the couch. There are many types of lifts including full body lifts, sling lifts or lifts that lift only the front or rear legs. 

As pets age, they may have difficulty keeping up on long walks. A pet carrier can help your pet enjoy the outdoors and the journey, without exhausting himself physically. Pet carriers are typically used for smaller pets. 

A cat or dog who typically enjoys the outdoors, may become adverse to outdoor temperature fluctuations as they get older. A pet door can allow you pet the freedom to come indoors when they need to. 

Older pets may develop cognitive dysfunction which can cause impaired thinking. Senior pets may have difficulty staying in their yard without some sort of confinement. Pet fences help keep pets contained to a confined area. 

A wireless fence is similar to a physical fence in that it can help keep your pet from wandering off, especially if they develop dementia or other cognitive illnesses. They work by providing a shock around the perimeter of the yard. 

A tracker, would enable you to locate your pet anytime, anywhere. Using the app on your smartphone, you can see the exact location of your dog or cat. A tracker will allow you to track your pet wherever they are, and especially if they wander off. 

A pet camera can allow you to keep an eye on your furry friend when you cannot be home. Some offer treat dispensers or can allow two way communication so you can talk to your pet from outside your home. 

Similar to a carrier, a stroller can allow your pet to tag along outside without exhausting your senior pet. Strollers can be used for larger pets or multiple pets. 

A pet booster seat can help keep your pet secured while driving in a vehicle. It restrains your pet and keep your pet from disturbing you while driving. Many have a tether or harness to prevent your pet from jumping out. 

A seat belt can restrain your dog from distracting you while driving. The seat belt buckles into a regular seat belt clip and attaches the other end to your dog’s harness. 

Pet ID tags are very important for senior pets who may wander off and get lost. It is more common for senior pets to wander off than younger pets, so an ID tag can provide important details if your cat or dog is lost, and found by someone who needs to contact you. 

Lyme disease and other tick born illnesses can be deadly to senior pets. Flea and tick prevention should be applied to any pet that goes outdoors, even in winter months. 

Does Cataracts Equal Blindness in Pets?

dog-3656987_1920Many people think that when a dog or cat develops cataracts, it means the pet may go blind. In many cases, it is true, cataracts can lead to blindness in animals. However, what many people don’t know is cataracts can often retract over time. This was the case with one of our pets, who developed cataracts as a result of diabetes. He got cataracts in both eyes and in one of the eyes, he had a lot of issues. The eye developed glaucoma and he eventually went blind in that eye. The other eye however, retracted to the point where he could actually see again. Where the cataracts had initially obscured his vision, he was later able to navigate much better because the retraction left his view partially visible again.

So just because a pet has cataracts does not necessarily mean they will go blind. Some cataracts start small, with only minimal decline in visibility. They may have challenges, for sure, because their vision, at the very least will become somewhat obstructed. Over time, cataracts can get worse and worse and as they worsen, vision can decline. But if the cataracts retract, pet’s vision may actually improve. Although the animal’s vision may never be perfect, they may still be able to navigate their world better than when they originally developed the cataracts.

Of course, this is not a guarantee, because not all cataracts retract, but in some cases they do and the pet’s vision can actually improve from its original condition when the cataracts first appeared.

There are also medical procedures for cataracts, to correct before a pet is blind. If your pet has symptoms of cataracts: cloudiness or opacity in pupils or if your vet has confirmed cataracts, it doesn’t necessarily mean your pet’s vision is totally obstructed or that they will go blind from the cataracts. Speak with your vet about your options and should you decide to have the cataracts removed, surgery is typically the course that a vet would recommend. Since most cases of cataracts are hereditary, there is little that can be done to prevent them, although some vets suggest that diets rich in fish oil (omega 3 fatty acids) can help with eye health. Limiting sun exposure while outside can also help limit sun damage to the eyes, which can also cause cataracts.

Cataract surgery for pets can run into the thousands of dollars, for the actual surgery, follow up visits and for special medicated drops that the pet will need for a long time. Pet insurance can help pay for expensive surgeries and continued treatment and examinations that will likely be needed, so long as the policy is in place before the diagnosis is made.

For more information about why you should consider pet insurance, please read our blog. 

Is the Anti-Vaccine Movement Hurting Pets?

Vaccines are health products that trigger protective immune responses in pets and prepare them to fight future infections from disease-causing agents. Vaccines can lessen the severity of future diseases and certain vaccines can prevent infection altogether. Today, a variety of vaccines are available for use by veterinarians. But with more and more people opposed to vaccinations, more and more pets are at risk for life threatening illnesses.

Pets should be vaccinated to protect them from many highly contagious and deadly diseases. Experts agree that widespread use of vaccines within the last century has prevented death and disease in millions of animals. Even though some formerly common diseases have now become uncommon, vaccination is still highly recommended because these serious disease agents continue to be present in the environment.

Just because a pet stays at home and does not interact with other animals, does not necessarily mean the pet should not be vaccinated. Vaccines have protected millions of animals from illness and death caused by infectious diseases. All medical procedures, however, carry with them some risk. Fortunately, in the case of vaccination, serious adverse responses are very infrequent. Veterinarians minimize risk by carefully selecting vaccines on the basis of a pet’s individual needs and by choosing appropriate injection sites.

The bottom line is if your pet is vaccinated, he can be protected from life threatening illnesses, and more importantly, he can protect other animals he may come in contact with. As pets age, they become more vulnerable and in some cases, their immune systems can become compromised – making them more vulnerable to illnesses especially if they are not vaccinated and protected.