OLDER PEOPLE AND THEIR PETS

Part 1

A great example of how older people and their pets can have a great life together
“Good Jake” and Mom show how older people and their pets can enjoy a good life together

It truly is a win-win situation when older people and their pets are able to enjoy a really good life together. So, I’d like to tell you a little bit about why and how I came to write various articles about seniors and their companion animals.

ELDERLY PET PARENTS AND THEIR COMPANION ANIMALS

Some Background

Just in case you didn’t already know, pets are my passion! I happen to spend a lot of time every day either working with them, or writing about them. 

Soon after I launched my blog site, some nine months ago, I was invited by a private sector organization to become a contributor on their website. Delighted, I accepted and decided to initially focus on their target audience…retirees and those who are approaching retirement age.

So, in order to get to know this segment of the population a little better, I undertook some research of my own. I developed a survey and conducted interviews, either in person, by phone, or online. The end result is a four-part series about older people and their pets, and the objective is clear. It is designed to help pet-loving retirees everywhere care for their dogs and cats the best way possible, and within their means.

BENEFITS TO HUMANS

The Findings

Without exception, everyone I interviewed confirmed the positive effects of sharing their lives with pets. Like Judy, all had been pet parents for many years, and simply couldn’t image an existence without dogs and cats!

The primary benefit is companionship. And, the emotional upside doesn’t only apply to those living alone, but to married couples as well. When Sandy’s Mom underwent treatment for a serious illness, her cat was always close by to comfort her. And especially so when her husband was out running errands.

The physical advantages are also well documented. Dogs have to be walked which means that humans and their furry friends get to exercise together. Even simple chores like keeping the home clean and providing the basic comforts that dogs and cats require gives their caregivers a sense of worth. These elderly pet parents have more time to devote to another living being and less time to worry about themselves. 

An Interesting Fact

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that pets can decrease your blood pressure and triglyceride levels and according to the American Heart Association, pets may help reduce your risk of heart disease https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-bond-for-life-pets/a-dog-could-be-good-for-your-heart.

Tips Times Three

1. Choose a pet that matches your lifestyle.

2. Rescue a senior pet. Too often they are overlooked.

3. Volunteer at your local shelter.

PET ENRICHMENT

The Findings

Unanimously, everyone wanted to keep their canine and feline companions entertained indoors and allow them to view the outdoors. This can be achieved from a window, behind sliding glass doors, or on an enclosed patio. And, if cats like Jade and Buttercup have a tower to climb, they are absolutely in seventh heaven!

Toys, of course, keep most pets amused periodically throughout the day. In addition, however, some delight in being brushed/combed because of the undivided attention they receive from their humans.

An Interesting Fact

Mental stimulation is an essential element of a pet’s wellbeing. And when dogs and cats can watch the world go by, they stay alert and happy. In the cat world, famed behavior expert, Jackson Galaxy, calls this “cat tv.”

Tips Times Three

1. Leave the radio or t.v. on low if you go out for over two hours. Cooking channel, good; sports, no good.

2. Never give a dog cooked bones to chew on for distraction. They splinter easily.

3. If playtime gets a little rough and your cat scratches you, don’t blame the cat!

ACCIDENTS AND SITUATIONS

The Findings

I found that cat “owners” are especially careful to pick up toys when not in use so they don’t step on them and fall. When Trip (that really is his name) the long-haired Dachshund is taken out briefly before bedtime, his Mom is precautious. She makes sure they stay close to a street light so there is good visibility and no-one…trips!

Patti shared that when any of her pets take medication, she keeps a record on the calendar in her kitchen to ensure she doesn’t skip a dose.

Another factor worth considering is caring for a large dog that is very sick or injured. How can an older person move, lift or transport it? That’s an issue someone was confronted with when Good Jake, her Blue Tick Hound, was seriously ill. “If I ever get another dog, it would definitely have to be smaller,” she said. 

Naturally, any giant breed, such as a 130 pound Newfoundland, can present issues most folks don’t even think about. No matter how well it walks on a leash, it could suddenly become agitated and pull you over. Then, how do you get a dog that size to the vet if it hates car rides and flatly refuses to get in? Well, in Dixie’s case, the vet had to come to her!

An Interesting Fact

For emergency situations like a gas leak or flooding, you can put static cling stickers on the windows to alert authorities and neighbors that animals are inside the home. They are available from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack and your local County Animal Services.

Tips Times Three

1. Take care no-one trips over cords when recharging cell phones and laptops.

2. Avoid uneven ground. Never walk on shiny, slippery leaves.

3. Keep your canine by your side, not 10 feet ahead or 10 feet behind. 

WHAT TO EXPECT NEXT TIME

Topics for Part 2 include identification, leashes, walking and vet visits.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

More must-read articles in this mini series. 

Retirees talk about IDs, walks and vet visits: https://petpeevesunmasked.com/retirees-talk-about-their-pets/

What concerns retirees the most about caring for their pets? https://petpeevesunmasked.com/senior-pet-owners-concerns/

What do retirees feed their pets and why? https://petpeevesunmasked.com/how-seniors-feed-their-pets

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