Part 2

Retirees talk about their pets and how satisfied they are with their veterinary care
Retirees talk about their pets like “Henry” who loves to nap beside his fav rag doll

For the second part in this series, retirees talk about their pets, and what’s involved with caring for their dogs and cats.  Those who also participated in my survey were people approaching retirement age, but not yet officially retired.

A Preview Of What’s To Come

On the topic of identification, almost everyone I interviewed said that their pets were microchipped. However, they were decidedly less enthusiastic about collars and tags.

The survey also revealed their leash preferences. A shout out to senior pet owners who use a dog harness, either made of soft fabric or one with straps. Unfortunately, too many still mistakenly believe that retractible leashes are the best thing since sliced bread. However, I am hopeful that one day they will change their mind. 

In addition, retirees talk about their pets specifically regarding what they think of the quality of care at the veterinary clinic, as well as health insurance and medical costs. 


The Findings

Ninety-five percent of the canines and felines discussed in my survey were microchipped. One dog wears it’s collar and name tag 24/7; another just has the County tag. Logan’s guardians only remove his collar when he’s crated. In one isolated instance, because the cat is afraid of the outdoors, it has never been chipped and resists wearing a collar.

An Interesting Fact

A 2009 study done by the American Microchip Advisory Council for Animals of 7,700 strays taken to animal shelters, shows that 52.2 percent of microchipped dogs returned home, compared to 21.9 percent without a microchip. Regarding cats not microchipped, only 1.8 percent made it home whereas the success rate for ones that did, reached 38.5 percent.

Here’s an interesting article you might like that provides information on the importance of microchip registration:

Tips Times Three

1. Always keep the chip information up-to-date, specially if you move.

2. When leaving home, walk out the door backwards so your pet doesn’t escape.

3. Walk your dog before fireworks begin and don’t let it out again until you’re sure all is quiet.


The Findings

Some dogs that are walked using a collar and leash are known to back out of their collar because it wasn’t properly fastened. Happily, lots of small breeds wear a harness. Nowadays, more Moms and Dads are using strap harnesses for their larger pups. 

It was most refreshing to hear that Anna V prefers the two-strap Pack Leader Collar instead of a choker or prong collar for her  occasionally reactive Malamute and Labrador mix pets. Sadly, however, too many use a retractible leash, a/k/a Flexi leash.

An Interesting Fact

If a dog doesn’t walk properly on a leash attached to its collar and the handler pulls hard or jerks, it causes pain and injury to the eyes, ears, thyroid gland, and spinal cord.

Tips Times Three

1. Retractible leashes were created for training, not walking. They can break and cause serious injury to pets and humans.

2. To properly fit a collar, open your hand, palm facing you, put two fingers between the dog’s neck and the collar.

3. A chest-lead harness reduces pulling/lunging and can be fitted to dogs of any size.


The Findings

I have yet to meet a dog that didn’t get excited about going walkies. My good friend Rita in France is fortunate to have an extensive, fenced-in back yard. Even so, she realizes the value of walking which also entails control and discipline.

A number of interviewees stated that their pets were scared by noisy delivery vans. Another commented that they were more startled by cyclists creeping up on them from behind than their own pet! Pet parents also expressed concern over wildlife, and are cautious of bobcats, coyotes, owls and hawks.

An Interesting Fact

Few humans think about this but when sidewalks are baking in the sun, Fido suffers. Blisters and skin burns are common. Worth remembering, too, when visiting the beach.

Tips Times Three

1. Don’t text or read phone messages while walking.

2. Stay clear of lakes and river banks where alligators swim and rest.

3. Use reflective gear and clothing, and a flash light when out after sunset.


The Findings

Visits to the vet are a major concern to people living on a fixed income and some are forced to cut corners unless treatment is an absolute necessity. Most survey participants have not taken out pet medical insurance.

Nearly everybody I talked to was happy with the service provided by their veterinarian. Nevertheless, Pam and Jeff told me they are trying out a different animal hospital each time before making a final choice. 

“We had a rather distressing experience at the animal clinic involving the euthanasia of one of our cats,” Veronica commented. So she now has a mobile vet go to her home for this end of life procedure.

Interestingly, no-one I asked had ever heard of titer testing. Lanny showed interest in learning more and said he would do some research. Everyone believed that the annual shots their pets typically get are what they need, without question.

An Interesting Fact

Surveys show that vets and pet parents have different ideas on when dogs and cats enter the “senior” category. Here’s the breakdown.

Dogs: vets say between 5 and 7 years old; pet parents say between 7 and 9 years.

Cats: vets say by age 9; pet parents say by age 11.

Tips Times Three

1. Find out if your vet gives AARP and military discounts.

2. Seniors pets should get twice yearly checkups.

3. Don’t simply accept what your vet suggests. Ask questions.


Topics to be presented in Part 3 include the groomer, transportation, going away, and transferring care.

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

More must-read articles in this mini series.

An introduction to my interviews with retiree pet parents in this 4-part series:

What concerns retirees the most about caring for their pets?

What do retirees feed their pets and why?

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