Caring for Your Senior Companion
The cost of caring for a senior pet isn’t cheap, but after you’ve spent so many years with your beloved animal companion, you’d do anything to meet their growing needs and give them the life they deserve. And fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to keep costs down while giving your senior companion the best possible care as they grow older. These tips from Atlas Assistance Dogs will help you do it!
As your canine companion grows older, their dietary needs will change. It may be necessary to monitor their calorie, protein, fiber, and mineral intake, as well as make adjustments to their food as time goes on. According to Caroline Coile, PhD, some senior dogs will benefit from a diet that’s lower in calories and fat, especially if they’re overweight, while underweight canines may need to increase their fat and calorie intake.
Moreover, high-protein diets help to preserve muscle mass in senior dogs, while fiber can ease constipation and regulate glucose levels. On the other hand, high-fiber diets often result in weight loss, which isn’t ideal for senior dogs.
As you can see, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all diet for senior canines, and it may take some trial and error before you find the right fit for your companion. And unfortunately, all this trial and error can add up, especially if you’re purchasing high-quality foods for your beloved senior pet.
Food and Supplies
To save on food and other supplies for your elderly canine companion, keep these tips in mind:
- Talk to your veterinarian about making your own senior dog food at home.
- Shop online at retailers like Chewy and PetSmart where you can use discount codes, coupons, and cashback offers before placing your orders. Chewy, for instance, sells everything from dog food and toys to supplements and orthopedic dog beds.
- When experimenting with different dog foods, visit the manufacturer’s website to see if you can score some free samples. Your veterinarian may offer free food samples as well.
In addition to purchasing senior-friendly food and supplies for your aging canine, your pooch will typically require routine health examinations, urine tests, and blood screenings. According to Fred Metzger, DVM, most senior dogs need at least two veterinary visits each year — but additional examinations may be needed depending on a dog’s age and health status. Through these routine blood screenings and urine tests, common age-related conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and kidney or liver disease can be detected and treated early on.
If you’re having trouble affording your senior pet’s veterinary care, a few options are worth exploring. Erin Huffstetler of The Spruce recommends weighing the pros and cons of purchasing pet insurance policy, visiting a local veterinary college for discounted services, and gathering fee information from several different vets in your area.
Furthermore, some vet clinics offer payment plans and discounted services. Be sure to ask your veterinarian for lighter payment schemes if you need it.
Give the Best Care
Like humans, senior pets often need to take prescription medications for various health conditions, engage in regular physical activity (even if it’s just a short walk each day), and struggle with mobility impairments that make getting up and sitting down a challenge. However, healthy homemade treats, senior pet supplies (like orthopedic beds, toe grips, and pet ramps), and a whole lot of love and attention can help to make a dog’s Golden Years as happy, healthy, and pain-free as possible.
And fortunately, there are some simple strategies for keeping costs down without depriving your senior pet of the things they need to feel their absolute best. From using online promo codes and coupons to making homemade food and treats for your companion, your pet’s senior years can be much more affordable if you keep these budget-friendly tips in mind.
Special Considerations for Service Dog Handlers
Caring for a senior pet is not always cheap or easy. Retiring a service dog and caring for them as they age, may be even harder. Most service dogs retire between the ages for 8 and 10. This happens either when the dog is no longer medically fit to work or gives clear signs that they are no longer thriving as a working dog and would be happier as a pet.
Some people chose to have their retired service dog placed in a loving home as they cannot physically or emotionally care for a non-working dog. Others will keep and care for their aging dog, and may even begin training a new service dog at the same time. There is no right or wrong way to do this. It is up to the handler to make the best decision for themselves and for their dog.
It is normal for a handler to go through a grieving process as they retire their service dog. But they can be comforted by the fact that their dog has spent many incredible years at their side, helping them through thick and thin. They can now enjoy their retirement after a full and meaningful working life.
About Atlas Assistance Dogs
Atlas Assistance Dogs is a non-profit organization that fundamentally expands access to assistance dogs. We support people with disabilities to train and certify their own service dog using positive, ethical training methods. At Atlas, we believe anyone who would benefit from a qualified assistance dog should be able to have one.
We work with people with a wide range of disabilities who wish to train their own service dog and offer a comprehensive Academy for professional trainers wanting to become service dog trainers.
Author: Jessica Brody
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.