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Happy Spring!

Important Steps For Older Pets

As we all know (or will find out), getting older can be tough. If you're like us, we have a soft spot for senior pets. Here are some simple ideas to make life a little bit easier for our best friends as they age.

Supportive orthopedic bed - Just like us, our pets can get arthritis and sore joints. We all know how important a good night's sleep is; a supportive bed will lessen the aches and pains so your dog or cat can catch some zzz's.

Buy or make ramps or steps - Getting in and out of the car, hopping up on the bed, or jumping to a windowsill perch will get harder for our fur babies as they get older. If you're crafty, it's not too hard to make a ramp for your pet (put carpet on it for some grip); otherwise, there are many types for sale on Amazon. A ramp will make it easier for your pet to get to her favorite snooze spots.

Baby gates - Some of our pets may lose a little vision as they age. If this has happened to your buddy, blocking off a set of stairs or a drop off on the deck is important so he won't fall.

Water - Older pets tend to get dehydrated more easily than younger ones, in some cases because getting up is challenging for old bones or your pal may just forget to hydrate. It's a great idea to add an extra water bowl in another location in your home, so he won't have to walk too far. It's a good idea to monitor how much your best friend is drinking; not enough water can be a sign of a health issue.

Food toppers - Sometimes, as our pets age, their tastebuds don't work quite like they use to, and your dog or cat may not be as excited about their meals as they once were. If this seems to be happening with your pet, add a topper to make their kibble more appetizing. You can either buy them or make something yourself. Consider rice, tuna fish, scrambled egg, or chicken.

Shallow litter box - Our felines may find it much harder to get into a littler box with high sides. Most pet supply stores (and Amazon) have low-sided litter boxes that will make using their box much easier for your cat.

Slip-proof mats - Walking on tile or hardwood floors is much more difficult for older pets (usually dogs, but some cats have problems as well). Be sure your pup's nails are clipped regularly and the fur in between his toes is trimmed; this will help with his stability. If he is still having problems, buy more area rugs or mats so he can get a grip. We've found that yoga mats work well.

This is only part one; we love senior pets so much, we're going to continue this list next month! Our fur-friends have been there for us for years; we can return the favor with these ideas.

Hitting the Hay, Every Day!

Does it seem like your kitty is "cat-napping" all the time? If you're wondering if this is normal cat behavior, rest assured, it is! Big and small cats are hardwired as predators. It's natural for them to chase and hunt, and catching prey is an exhausting business.

Your average indoor house cat's instincts are to conserve energy so they can have enough firepower when it's time for a hunt (even if she is only moseying up to the food dish twice a day). Your cat knows she needs to conserve her stamina for the chase.

Your kitty is programmed to sleep between 15 and 20 hours a day! While most cats snooze a lot, they aren't deeply asleep all the time. As most cat owners know, even though your feline appears to be asleep, she will spring to attention if anything unusual goes on in the household; that's instinct too.

Cats are crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk (prime hunting times). So, your kitty may sleep all day and be active most of the evening, which is good for her, not so much for humans trying to get some shut-eye! Cats are very social and adaptable, so your kitty may end up adapting to your schedule.

Should you worry if your cat appears to be sleeping most of the time? Just make a note of your cat's sleep patterns now. Should those patterns start to change, there may be a health issue, which would be a good time for a vet visit.

Spice up your cat's life and let them enjoy their predatory instinct by playing games with them at least a few times during the day (especially chase/hunting games). Most cats adore feather wands they can chase while you move them around. Some cats love laser toys; others become frustrated with them because there is nothing to catch. Almost all cats love toy mice - try a few to see what your felines preference is: fabric mice with catnip, plush, rubber, and those with squeakers are great. When you're done playing these games with her, please give her a treat; because feline hunting usually ends with food!

Maybe our cats can teach us all to relax, catnap more often, and play with more zest.

Can Your Dog Learn to Talk to You?

A new study in Scientific Reports found that gifted dogs learn new words after hearing them only 4 times. Wow! They found that more learning took place in social playtime rather than in task-based learning. This means that if you are trying to teach your dog the names of a few of their toys, you'll have better luck if you repeat the toy's name while you are playing with him. If you sit him down and try and teach him new words, he likely won't do anywhere near as well in learning vocabulary.

Most dogs we have had the pleasure to live with or work with aren't always quite that gifted. However, your pooch already talks to you in many ways, and you can teach him to communicate with you even more. For example, most dogs learn to tell their people when they need to go out. Some people even teach their pooch to ring a cowbell that hangs from the doorknob when they need a potty break. Another system uses a button that buzzes - there are many videos on the internet showing dogs that ask to go out by pressing a button.

Your dog probably knows what "dinner time" means or "fetch." Teaching a dog to grab things you point at while saying "get it" is not complicated either. So, you and your dog are already talking! Your buddy will learn better if you use hand signals paired with a word; after all, we all learn differently, and the more signals, the better.

Many people have spent some of this COVID lockdown teaching their best friend new tricks. If you want to teach your dog better communication, start small, make it fun, and be patient.

Look at this Instagram account of a speech therapist teaching her dog, Stella, to communicate with buttons.

This is a great video on Facebook teaching a dog to talk and do some tricks with buttons and modeling. It's fun!

Even if your pooch isn't a gifted learner, you can still teach him a few tricks. It will strengthen your bond with him, and the more time you spend with your dog, the more rewarding life will be for both of you.

Great Pet Links!

April is:
Heartworm Awareness Month
Prevent Lyme Disease Month
Pet First Aid Awareness Month
National Greyhound Adoption Month

April 1 - April Fools Day
April 10 - Hug Your Dog Day
April 22 - Earth Day
April 30 - National Tabby Day


April 2021 Newsletter