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  • Writer's pictureDr. Karin

How We Love Our Pets!

Updated: Sep 14, 2022

I wrote this blog last year when things around me seemed to be crumbling due to personal losses in my family. Sadly, my 13 year old dog was part of those losses and had to be euthanized due to extraordinary pain secondary to cancer that had spread to his pelvic bone. He is gone, but the memory of him through this blog post, that I never published, brings me joy. He was a medical mess but was so greatly loved. I miss that little guy, but the amazing memories of sharing life with him was worth the sadness of loss to me. Easier to say, now that time has softened the blow. Here is that blog:

This is an exclamation of love rather than a list of adorations! Love is many things but the most important aspect is that it's unconditional. I have a special needs dog that is 13 years old, diabetic, going blind, can’t hear, has an immune-mediated skin disease and is on enough medications to sink a small boat. I love him unconditionally. My other dog is also a special needs dog that is 7 years old, highly active, obsessed with playing ball, has a vendetta against the cat, dons a hair coat not meant for south Texas summers and he can finish a full bowl of food in 3 seconds flat Okay, he’s needy AND special...I love him, it's different, but it's still get the picture. Ultimately, all pets have needs, all are special, all deserve love. Much like humans, personalities vary and how you treat and interact with your pet will differ too.

Do you have an older pet that requires extra care? Young pets receive the benefit of you accommodating their whims and needs because it's fun for us as humans; walks around the block, playing ball, catnip, going on the boat or “for a ride”, getting brushed, hunting, sleeping on the bed, frisbee on the beach, climbing posts, going to the dog park, a sunny spot in a window where they can watch birds or squirrels, special treats, etc. Age has a way of changing up these joyful events for both you and your special companion. It's important to evolve with your pet's needs and you can do that while still bringing joy to yourself and your pet. Here are a few examples of ways to "adapt" to your older pet and maintain the joy:

  • Shorter, more frequent walks for dogs. Use a harness rather than a collar.

  • Provide traction in the home for pets with mobility issues or trouble getting up (bath mats, rugs with rubber backing and foam floor puzzle mats are great options).

  • For cats, keep litter box entrances low, uncovered and in quiet places. Use shallow litter (easier for arthritic cats) and at least one more litter box than the number of cats in the home.

  • Provide support for car rides. Seat belts made for pets, car caddies or crates can help stabilize a pet that is arthritic and can't brace for turns, stops or acceleration. Dogs should never ride in the back of a pick-up truck unless enclosed in a well-tethered crate or enclosure.

  • Keep nails trimmed and hair coat groomed. Long nails affect mobility and mats in the hair are very painful, affecting play, interaction, and even eating and drinking. Brushing your pet is spending time with your pet and isn't that what they crave most? If your pet hates brushing, keep up with scheduled groomings.

  • When going to dog parks, keep older dogs in a secluded area where they are comfortable and not in the way of rambunctious and playful dogs.

  • If your dog loves swimming...just keep swimming...just keep swimming! It's a great exercise for older pets who often suffer from arthritis.

  • Keep up with preventative veterinary care and if your pet seems painful, ask about pain management options.

  • ABOVE ALL, be present and slow down. We may be in our prime, but pets age faster than we do and need our love and support to get them through their golden years.

As I sit here typing, both of my dogs rest peacefully beside me. Different ages, different personalities, different needs, but the common thread is unconditional love for them both. Remember how important you are to your pet in every stage of their life!

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