By Dr. Karen Whala, Co-founder of CodaPet

As our furry friends age, they may experience a variety of health issues that can impact their quality of life. As pet owners and pet parents, it’s important to take steps to keep our senior pets comfortable and happy in their golden years. As a veterinarian actively practicing in end-of-life care for our older pets, here are five tips for doing just that:

  1. Provide Comfortable Sleeping Arrangements

Like us, as pets age, they may develop arthritis or other joint issues that make it difficult for them to get comfortable. Providing a soft, supportive bed can help alleviate some of the discomfort associated with these conditions.  However, also like us, your pet may have preferences on the type of bedding they like.  Consider the height of the bedding and access.  If there is a ‘lip’ to step over, your aching pet may find it difficult to lie down.  Ensure the bed is large enough to lie comfortably.  Other things to consider is placement of the bed.  Some dogs prefer to be in the middle of the family space, whereas some cats prefer quiet and peace.  Some dogs prefer ‘cooler’ surfaces to lie on and may in fact enjoy cooling mats or beds with increased airflow for their comfort.  Other pets may prefer deep, cushioned beds which tend to be warmer  and many of our elderly pets may find more comfortable.  In short, if your pet doesn’t quickly take to your bedding choice, I encourage you to find out what they prefer to ensure they are as comfortable as possible.

  1. Adjust Their Diet

Senior pets often require different types of food than their younger counterparts. As pets age, their metabolism slows down, and they may become less active. This means they require fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight. Additionally, some senior pets may have specific dietary needs due to health conditions such as kidney disease or diabetes. Many elderly diets may contain additional nutrients and joint support.  Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your senior pet.

  1. Keep Them Active

While senior pets may not be able to run and play like they used to, it’s still important to keep them active, both physically and mentally. Gentle exercise such as short walks or light play sessions can help keep your pet’s muscles from atrophying as well as reduce stiffness and joint pain.  Encouraging a pet to remain active physically also can encourage mental activity which has been shown to improve overall quality of life.

  1. Provide Regular Veterinary Care

Regular veterinary care is essential for keeping senior pets healthy and comfortable. Senior pets should see their veterinarian at least twice a year for check-ups and preventative care. During these visits, your veterinarian can identify any health issues early on and provide treatment before they become more serious.

  1. Give Them Extra Love and Attention

As our pets age, they may become more dependent on us for love and attention. Taking the time to cuddle with your senior pet or simply sit with them while they nap can help them feel loved and secure.

While we all hope that our pets will live long, healthy lives, there may come a time when euthanasia is the kindest option. When a pet is suffering and their quality of life has diminished, it may be time to consider euthanasia as a peaceful way to end their suffering and the dying process.

It’s important to remember that euthanasia is a personal decision and one that should be made in consultation with your veterinarian and others who know you and your pet well. Your veterinarian can help you determine if your pet’s condition can be managed to maintain a good quality of life or if euthanasia is the best option. If you do decide to proceed with euthanasia, there are several options available. Some veterinarians offer in-home euthanasia services, which can be less stressful for both you and your pet. Additionally, many veterinary clinics offer private rooms where you can spend time with your pet before and after the procedure.

It’s important to remember that grief is a natural part of the process when saying goodbye to a beloved pet. Take the time to grieve and seek support from friends, family, special support groups, or even a grief counselor if needed.

In summary, keeping our senior pets comfortable and happy requires attention to their changing needs as they age. Providing comfortable sleeping arrangements, adjusting their diet, keeping them active, providing regular veterinary care, and giving them extra love and attention are all important steps in ensuring our furry friends enjoy their golden years. And when it’s time to give them that ‘final gift’,, euthanasia can provide a peaceful passing for our beloved pets who have brought us so much joy throughout their lives.