KEEP THEM MOVING The mind/body connection can slow down just as much as the physical body. If you have a dog, have him walk up and down hills and step over logs— it helps to use varying surfaces. And when his muscle memory kicks in and he doesn’t think he can do it, don’t feel sorry for him! Take it slow and believe in him.
Sometimes if you create an obstacle course or find a spot outside where he has to walk over several things quickly, he won’t have time to think about whether he can or can’t do it; he will simply respond. Have him step up on a curb, over some sticks, etc. This will keep everything moving.
If your indoor cat isn’t jumping like she used to, make gradual risers with her favorite treat at the top. She will use her entire body in a way that she otherwise wouldn’t if you weren’t challenging her.
TRY MASSAGE AND BODY WORK Start by stroking Fido from the top of his head to the end of his tail to increase circulation down the spine. Then, focus on the top of the head down to the bottom of each foot: The bottoms of the feet are the beginning point of many of the meridians in Chinese medicine. These are very important acupressure points that contribute to the health of the immune system as well as obvious circulation benefits. GET THEM UP AND DOWN AT NIGHT Just like humans who sit too long in our advanced age, animals get creaky and groan as they get up. Even though we don’t want to bother our animal companions because they look like they’re in pain, this is actually the time to consider getting them up and down. When circulation lessens in age, there is a greater tendency for the hind limbs to fall asleep, and as a result, getting up is more painful if they can’t use their back legs. Waking them up from a deep sleep a couple of times in the evening is good for their circulation (and can ease arthritis pain).
WATCH THE FOOD As is also the case for humans, treats for our pets should be minimal. Weight on animals is hard for not only their joints, but also their internal organs. Although it is hard to refrain from spoiling our elderly animal companions, we want them to be as healthy as possible, even down to their last breath.
If you are going to give treats, consider vegetables such as green beans or asparagus. These are healthy and hold water, which is beneficial to aging pets because sometimes they have difficulty staying hydrated. Carrots can be a good treat, too, but have a fair amount of sugars. As long as your pet doesn’t suffer from insulin resistance, vegetables with natural sugars can be great treats when given in moderation. HAVE FUN ON YOUR OUTINGS TOGETHER This is important for everyone. You may have one elderly pet, or a household with pets in varying age ranges, but there are some animals we may never have the pleasure of experiencing in old age. The ones that grace us with their age are truly a gift. Yes, it can be difficult and hard as things start to fall apart, but they are still with us because they are truly tough souls. By making the little things fun, the whole household gets a moment of joy.
With all of this being said, it’s also true that we don’t know the time clock on the other animals in the household. As an animal communicator, I have seen a client fixate on the older animal, only to lose one of the younger animals in the time of decline. In fairness to the entire household, levity is a great thing.
There is nothing like seeing a toothless dog smiling or hearing an old cat that can barely groom herself purring as if there was no tomorrow. Everyone benefits from fun!
Joan Ranquet is an animal communicator, speaker, and author of Communication With All Life. Learn more at joanranquet.com.