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Caring for an aging pet is at times challenging. Know your options and do what is best for them. Be there for them as they age, providing comfort, security and a loving home. 

More than half of American households provide homes for not only humans but also dogs, cats, and other furry friends. Our animals are an important part of our families, but they, unfortunately, age proportionately faster than we do. Because of this, we have to learn how to adapt to their ever-changing needs. Here are some tips on how to care for your aging companion to ensure they have the best life until the very end.

 

Understand Their Life Expectancy

 

Your first step is to understand your animal's life expectancy. Dogs live an average of 10 to 12 years, whereas cats carry on for up to 14 years — some live longer than others, and some animals have a shorter life expectancy. Keep in mind that as they age, like humans, animal behavior changes; their needs change too. An older animal may have a poor appetite or revert back to house training accidents. One of the most important things you can do now is to be patient and to look for ways to keep them safe and comfortable as these changes occur.

 

Provide Comfort

 

The way that you comfort your pet depends a lot on their needs and temperament. Many dogs, for example, will be most at ease resting on the couch next to their humans. Your cat may also enjoy a new place to sleep, but they may prefer a warm and cozy cave-like bed or a heated or elevated model, depending on where they tend to lounge the most. The Walkin' Pets Blog also suggests doing things like keeping your house warm and leaving your animal’s personal belongings — food, bed, toys — in a familiar place.

 

Get Tricky When It Comes to Medication

 

Another way dogs are like people is that they don’t like taking medicine. You’ll want to get creative when it comes to ensuring they have everything their vet has prescribed. We all know the old “pill in a piece of cheese” trick, but you can also use bread, peanut butter, and deli meats to mask undesirable flavors. If your pet is still somewhat energetic, you can make taking their medicine into a game or try giving it to them when they are distracted on your daily walk.

 

Ease Your Own Financial Burden

 

You can’t do the best for your pet when you are stressed. And if you are stressed over money due to unexpected veterinary bills, they’ll know. If your pet currently doesn’t have any health concerns, you may be eligible to sign them up for pet insurance. Geico notes that pet insurance covers things like broken bones, dental illnesses, and cancer, the latter of which is diagnosed around 6 million times each year in cats and dogs alike. Pet insurance is usually a nominal fee, but can eliminate up to 90 percent of your routine and emergency veterinary bills.

 

Lavish Them with Love

 

Perhaps the most important thing you can do when you have an aging animal is to double up their daily dose of love and affection. A quick belly rub, an ear scratch, or a long afternoon snuggle can help settle and anxious pets. Keep in mind, however, that if they do not want to be touched, they will pull away, and it is best to follow their lead. You can also show love and compassion by keeping the house quiet when they are visibly unwell or agitated.

 

Caring for an older pet — no matter the species — is a labor of love. And as difficult as it is to watch our beloved feline and canine companions deal with the effects of age, it is now when they need us the most. Don’t turn your back, educate yourself on their life expectancy and any potential breed-specific health conditions they might experience. Then, give them all the love and affection they can handle. This, combined with proper medical care, may not extend their life, but it will ensure their final years are their best ones yet.

Jessica is a dog lover and is passionate about sharing pet photos and stories with others. She created Our Best Friends to be a venue for pet lovers to share their pet pics, stories and adventures. Jessica believes that pets are family and enjoys her bonding moments with her furry pals

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