Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How a pet sitter can care for senior pets

I have a special spot in my heart and home for old pets, and have adopted many. A few were only with me for a year or two, some for five or more. When caring for a client’s old pets there are some special needs you will be asked to meet.


Old dogs can’t go for much of a walk, but a good cuddling goes a long way to making them comfortable.

In hot weather, make sure the dog has extra water. If you can’t find another dish, use a bucket or bring something from home.

If possible, offer the dog access to the house on extremely hot or cold days. If you can’t let him inside, at least be sure he has plenty of shade. If you arrive on your next visit and the dog hasn’t moved from his spot, that is a bad sign. Check for excessive panting; it could mean heatstroke or pain. Call the owner.

Old dogs often get matted, ratty looking coats and long toenails. Don’t assume the owner has neglected him. It may just be too hard on him to be groomed anymore. Ask the owner before you start grooming the dog.

Old dogs will often have accidents, even when they’ve been perfectly housetrained for years. 

Don’t be too harsh on the dog. He can’t help it. The owner will probably leave you some cleanup supplies. Sudden runny or bloody diarrhea is a bad sign, and it’s time to call the owner or vet.

It is hard for an old dog to walk on tile floors. A throw rug or runner will help him get across the room from his bed to the back door.

The dog shown above is Gizmo, and elderly Chihuahua who stayed with me.


Cats can also get ratty looking coats when they are really old. The owner will tell you if she can tolerate being groomed. Sometimes a bad coat is a sign of illness.

Older cats often suffer from diabetes, heart failure, or kidney disease. They get very thin and frail. If the cat is not on medication, suggest to the owner that it might be time for a trip to the vet.

To keep kitty eating, canned Fancy Feast is a good choice. It is especially smelly, and will stimulate her limited senses. At the Humane Society where I used to volunteer, they fed Fancy Feast to sick cats that couldn’t smell their food very well due to upper respiratory infection.

Soft beds in a warm spot will comfort an older kitty. One client keeps a cat bed at the base of the refrigerator, where the warmth of the motor warms the cat. Kitty might not be able to climb like she used to.

This cat is Felix, 15 years old. He is the one who likes his warm spot by the refrigerator.

Do you have some tips for caring for old pets? Please share!

1 comment:

Dara said...

Wow.... interesting facts about pets & their sitters.