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Treasuring Time With Our Older Pets

Growing older isn't an illness, so let's celebrate our best friend's golden years.Our pets live longer thanks to improved nutrition, veterinary care, and indoor living. Here are some things we should consider as our pets age to keep them in tip-top shape.

Both dogs and cats need to keep moving to stay fit; even though most older pets nap more, they still need walks and playtime. If you used to hike or walk miles with Rover, you'll likely notice that with age, these treks become more challenging, he probably won't be able to go as far, and hills may give him some trouble. However, he still wants to go out and see the world (and sniff). Remember that Rover may struggle a bit, so make sure his walk is appropriate for his age. Be careful not to overdo it.

Your buddy will probably get cold more quickly. An older body doesn't regulate temperature as well as it used to; make sure he has a nice bed to stay toasty in. Rover may need a coat outside in the cooler months.

The same goes for Fluffy; she may not chase the laser light or other toys with quite as much vigor, but she still wants her playtime. If she doesn't seem as interested in her toys, see if she'll chase a tasty cat treat across the floor. When she wakes up from a nap, she may enjoy playing with a cat wand (and she doesn't even have to get out of bed!)

Diet and weight are essential in keeping our buddies healthy. A heavy cat or dog will be less active and have more joint pain. In addition to weight management, consider changing to food made for older pets. Look into a senior food that contains joint supplements or Omega-3s for their joints, coats, heart, and eyes.

Senior cats and dogs may lose some vision and hearing. When outside, keep them on a leash because they won't be able to hear a car or a predator. Don't think they are ignoring you when they don't respond; they probably can't hear you! If they seem more clumsy, perhaps they can't see as well. Keep their water, food, and litter box in the exact same location (unless they can't reach them anymore). Keep your floors clear of clutter and block off any area that could be dangerous, like steep stairs. Consider leaving a night light on so they can see better after dark.

Also, remember that your pets don't understand why they are losing their vision or hearing. This change can be scary! If your dog or cat is surprised by unexpected stimuli, this could trigger a fight or flight response. If your friend snaps at you, don't be offended. Please remember your buddy isn't mean in his old age, just frightened.

Here are a few more things to consider that may make life easier for Fluffy and Rover. Be sure they can reach everything - their bed, the window perch, food and water bowls, and the litter box. They may need steps or a ramp for the car, sofa, or your bed. Groom them more often; it may hurt them to clean up (none of us are as flexible as we used to be). Do things on a regular schedule. Older pets like a routine; they can get anxious when things change. And as they age, be sure your vet is involved regularly to monitor how they are doing.

Finally, give them lots of attention, love, and snuggles. Cherish every day you have with your buddy!

Preventing And Treating Tear Stains

Does your dog or cat have stains or gunk around their eyes? Our pets are so cute we don't want their adorable faces marred by brown goop under their eyes. What is this stuff? Wiping it up is a temporary solution, but should we do something more?

Tear staining is a result of excessive tear production and is called epiphora. It is more common in certain breeds: Pugs, Shih Tzus, Malteses, Persians, and Himalayans, for example. It's also more common in dogs and cats with lighter coats.

There are several reasons tear staining can happen. Getting to the cause is important because there are some medical conditions that, if left untreated, could affect your pet's vision and cause pain.

The problem could be allergies, dry eye syndrome, an infection, an ingrown eyelash, an injury, a foreign body in the eye, glaucoma, or even a tear duct blockage. Our first recommendation is a vet visit since your best friend's eyesight is too important to fool around with.

If your vet determines that it isn't a medical problem, great! Here are some ideas for dealing with your buddy's drippy eyes. You could try changing their food to see if it's allergy-related, and probiotics may help. Some people have reported success in using bottled water instead of tap water in their water bowls. Plastic bowls are a culprit for some; try ceramic or stainless steel.

Some pets with long facial hair do better with a bit of trimming and grooming so fur doesn't get in their eyes. Use a soft cloth and clean around the eyes several times a day. There are also many commercial tear stain solutions at your local pet supply. You may want to ask your vet for a few recommendations. Be sure they do NOT contain hydrogen peroxide, as this should not be used near their eyes.

As long as your vet has ruled out a medical condition for Fluffy or Rover, their excess tears are not harmful, just a bit messy. Keep your eye on their eyes, so your buddy always looks their best!

Great Books With Cat Characters

The winter months are a great time to catch up on your reading. Cats have been featured characters in many books for ages, and every cat lover we know loves reading about them! Below is a list of favorites that make great reading and holiday gifts. Check with Amazon, your local bookstore, or your library to purchase or read them. Remember, most libraries now offer access to e-books for instant gratification!

Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat by Gwen Cooper

This is a delightful story about a kitten no one wanted, and he ends up teaching the author all about life and love. It's a genuinely touching story about a cat with a giant heart.

Sneaky Pie Brown series by Rita Mae Brown

New York Times bestselling author Rita Mae Brown pens delightful "cozy" mysteries that take place in rural Virginia. It's about a vet and her 3 animal companions: Mrs. Murphy (cat), Tee Tucker (dog), and Pewter (cat). There are a lot of books in this series, and you'll enjoy every one of them.

Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

No cat book list would be complete without this book! I bet most of us read this book as kids. It's fun, rhyming, and features a tall cat with a red striped hat that finds all sorts of mayhem, which he ultimately cleans up. This book is a great children's book and makes a great gift.

The Incredible Journey by Shelia Burnford

A Lab, Bull Terrier, and a brave Siamese set out on an adventure to go back home in the Canadian wilderness. This great classic inspired the movie Homeward Bound, and if you haven't read it, it's an unforgettable story that will capture your heart!

The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun

These books are delightful! This is a great and funny series about Jim Qwilleran, a reporter, and his two Siamese cats, Koko and Yum Yum. They all work together to solve mysteries in the town of Pickax, which is in Moose County, said to be "400 miles north of everywhere."

A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen

A heartwarming story about a man and a cat and how they both get a second chance. This book is non-fiction and is about James Bowen, a street musician in London, who finds an injured cat (Bob) in the hallway of his apartment building. He nurses Bob back to health, and in turn, Bob changes his life.

Shop Cats of New York by Tamar Arslanian

NYC has a lot of shop cats that reside in unique places like bookstores, yoga studios, bike shops, and even the Algonquin Hotel. This coffee table book has stunning images and stories of some of the city's shop cats. A must for every cat lover, whether you live in New York or not!

These are just a few of many great cat books, just in time for National Cat Lovers Month (every December). Let us know if you have other favorites! Make a cup of tea and enjoy!

Great Pet Links!

December is:

National Cat Lovers Month

December 2 - National Mutt Day
December 4 - National Cookie Day
December 10 - International Animal Rights Day

How to Take Great Holiday Pet Photos
Some Very Cute Holiday Card Photos
Pets at Christmas on Instagram
Keep Your Pet Warm in Cold Weather


December 2022 Newsletter