Andy on “her” chair!
Every November we promote our seniors. November is traditionally “Senior Month.” At Snelgrove Veterinary Services, we do this by offering special bloodwork panels for our senior patients, both feline and canine. This helps our doctors determine if there are any changes going on that should be addressed. Liver and kidney functions are looked at, as well as a complete blood count which could indicate possible anemia and thyroid function. After the blood results are reviewed, the doctor will decide if a change in diet or medications should be considered. Our doctors and staff go one-on-one to help educate our clients on how to help our senior’s live a happier and more comfortable life.
As the old saying goes, “If they’re happy, we’re happy!”
I was so honoured that my dog Andy was chosen as “November’s Senior Month” mascot. Her picture was displayed on the monitor in reception and in previous blogs with information on the importance of “Seniors”. Every so often I would glance up and there she was. Awww yes, my beautiful girl!! Then I realized that living with a senior pet is not about just one month out of the year, it is an everyday experience.
Where did the time go? When did she get so old?
Just like everything else in life, time flies by in a blink of an eye. Our pets, both cats and dogs show subtle signs of aging. Most of these signs we really don’t notice until later on when things become more apparent. Then we think back and realize that this had been going on longer than we thought.
We sometimes misinterpret signs of pain/discomfort/illness by thinking they are finally settling down. Everyone loves a dog that is content to lay at your side and just hang out. One that has matured and no longer jumps up, racing around barking at everything and everyone. Cats that no longer walk all over you at all hours of the night, just because they can. Waking you up whenever they please with a case of the “night crazies.” Racing from one room to another. Again just because it’s fun. We love when they become of an age when all the training and time spent is finally paying off. We now enjoy our “Best Friend” like never before! They have become that “he/she is such a good cat/dog.”
Now all of a sudden your dog is reluctant to jump into the car. Hmmm, this is different. They never did that before. After some coaxing and a couple of tries they do it. So, we carry on. We come home from work and that happy face and wagging tail is not there to greet us. We look around and to our surprise find them sleeping. We think, “that’s ok, they’re getting old.” Getting up is more difficult. Some lameness but once they get going they seem fine. At bedtime they stand at the bottom of the stairs, watching us go up, reluctant to climb. Before, they used to charged up ahead of us. We would find them standing on the bed with that big smile as if to say, “hurry up!” Dinner time is not so exciting, and food is left behind. We think, “oh well, they’re not as active so maybe not as hungry?” They no longer sit in their favourite chair looking out the window. They now lay on the floor. Walking through the house was always difficult as they were always under foot. Now we go from room to room without getting tripped up. We don’t see our cats on the counter as often trying to steal the dinner preparations. They are no longer in those high places peering down at us as, now we are searching everywhere for them. They seem to prefer under the bed, behind a piece of furniture or in the basement. Litter box habits have changed. Using the litter box more or not using it at all. They are laying down more than normal. The list goes on and on.
Maybe this is not just “old age.”
Maybe it is something else.
Our “Best Friends” are heroic and never want to disappoint us. They choose not to let us know anything is wrong. They will compensate as best as they can until it becomes so apparent – YES! something is wrong. It could be pain or even worse, something more serious.
It is important to do annual examinations and blood work, to ensure that they are healthy. More importantly if they show signs of behaviour changes during daily routines, this may be a sign of something else and should be looked into.
Getting old is not easy for us. And let me tell you, it is not any easier for them. It is up to us to ensure that they remain healthy and happy. Living with a “senior” is truly a daily responsibility. They are most likely on medications and it is important that we comply. They need our assistance with stairs and getting into vehicles. They deal with hearing and vision loss. It takes them longer to walk from room to room and keeping up with us.
It must get very frustrating for them.
They just get to their destination and lay down to watch what we are doing and we leave and go somewhere else. They get up to follow us and soon all we are doing is passing them back and forth. We need to slow down and be there for them. There is a lot we can do for them. There is a large variety of medications and foods available to help keep our “Best Friends” more comfy and happy.
For dogs there are tools we can use. Like harnesses, floor mats and car ramps. Harnesses are great for grabbing and giving that little extra needed pull up the stairs or guiding them up the ramp into the car. Floor mats on hardwood, laminate and ceramic tiles gives confidence to walk without slipping. Putting pet steps at the bottom of beds or that favorite chair for easier access. Beds outdoors for support on those ageing limps and elbow calluses. For our felines, we can put chairs near those higher perches to assist them to those places they love to go. Bring a litter box upstairs for them. Lift them up and help them down if we see they are about to jump. Carry them from room to room when we know they are going to follow us.
With a few small changes we now have given them freedom to again enjoy all their little pleasures. They feel better about themselves and truly enjoy being part of the family again. We are all they have and we are truly the center of their existence.
Watching Andy grow old and keeping up with her daily challenges makes me love her all that much more. I am so grateful that I can help her with all the wonderful products and medications that are available. The most important thing to remember is to be patient and wait for them. They are doing their best. Hug and kiss them more and tell them you love them. They believe in you and need that reassurance. Remind them you will always there for them no matter what. That is all they ask from us.
Thank you for reading my blog.