7 Tips for Senior Pets

October and November are senior focus months at Cumberland Veterinary Clinic!  As our pets age, it is important to make modifications to their daily life to allow them to enjoy their golden years.

  1. Seniors pet need stimulation too!

As our pets age, their desire to play may decrease, but it is still important to provide senior pets with environmental enrichment.  Senior dogs may enjoy a more relaxed play session with softer toys than when they were younger.  Senior cats also appreciate play time.  You may need to shorten play sessions and be aware of any mobility issues or discomfort that your cat may have when initiating play activities.

  1. Adapt their surroundings.

Older pets often suffer from joint pain and discomfort.  Be aware of any activities that your pet may be struggling with as they age.  Could your dog benefit from a ramp to help them get in and out of the vehicle?  Do they now need or prefer a lower piece of furniture to sleep on which is easier for them to access?  Could they benefit from carpeting on slippery floors?  Is your cats’ favourite cat tree located in front of a cold, drafty window which is making mobility more challenging for them?

  1. Think comfort.

Regularly evaluate your pets bedding and sleeping areas.  There are a lot of great options for specialized beds for older pets such as orthopedic foam or even heated pet beds.  When using a heated bed be sure to purchase a bed specifically for pets.  Do not put a heated bed in a confined space that your pet cannot get away from if they become too hot.

  1. Make life easier for them.

This tip is more specifically aimed at our feline companions.  Senior cats can have different preferences and needs for their litterbox area.  As they age, it can become challenging for them to enter their litter box and get into a comfortable posture to urinate and defecate. A larger litter box with high sides and a low point of entry are preferred by most senior cats.  Consider placing a litterbox on the main floor of your home to avoid stairs or installing a night light near your cats’ litterbox.  As cats age their ability to see in the dark can decrease.

  1. Ease their pain.

Limping, struggling to do stairs or difficulty rising are all signs of pain.  There are several supplements and medications for both cats and dogs.  Always consult with your veterinarian before starting any supplements and never give human medications (Advil, Tylenol etc.) unless directed by your veterinarian.

  1. Keep an eye on your pets’ habits.

Changes in your pets’ normal routine can also be signs of pain.  Is your cat urinating or defecating inappropriately because they struggle with using the stairs to access their litter box?  Is your dog no longer coming upstairs to greet or sleep with you when they have been doing so all of their lives?  Observing your pets’ behaviours on a regular basis can give us a lot of clues about how our pets are feeling.

  1. Be vigilant.

It is always important to be vigilant when children and pets are together but especially with senior pets.  Their joints and backs are often more delicate, so they are more sensitive and less patient.  Be sure to provide your pet with a safe designated area where they can get away if they have had too much.  Teach children to be gentle when handling your senior pet and to recognize the signs when they have had enough!

Written by Janet Hofos

Went here as my vet was out of town and I need to bring my dog in to be checked…

Haley Rodman

We had to euthanise our dog and the staff at the clinic were amazing. They were compassionate and kind, and…

M. Teresa Carlson

Fantastic vet clinic. Vet was very thorough with explaining things to me.


Cumberland Vet is a super vet clinic! They look after both our dogs and cats, and have for years.…

Deanna Valentine

wellness-program OC



Prepare for Poison Prevention Week!

Safety proofing your house for a four-legged friend is essential and knowing what to look out for is critical! Protecting your animal should be a high priority and isn’t as easy as it may seem as some common foods can be toxic to our furry friends! There are many things not toxic to us, but are to the canine and felines we love! Can you name any of them?Common Food Hazards1. Chocolate is at the top of the list! This one is difficult to avoid around many times of the year. Especially Easter which is right around the corner, be careful with those chocolate egg hunts! Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine which can cause toxicosis, seizures and possible death. 2. Coffee is another common household item that contains caffeine. This creates a toxic danger to your pet if consumed similar to chocolate. 3. Who doesn’t love grapes or raisins?! Be careful with these around your furry friends though; do not share these delicious snacks! If consumed it can cause acute renal failure in your little friends. 4. Macadamia nuts are a surprising one! Keep an eye on your baking! 5.  Onions are another common concern in the household.  If these are ingested, blood cells are targeted, killed and result in a condition called Heinz Body Anemia, which could be life-threatening. Even a little onion powder can have this effect. 6. In large quantities, garlic can be harmful as well. 7. Alcohol has effects on our bodies as well as our furry friends. Liver and kidney damage can occur, as well as possible acidosis, which can lead to cardiac arrest. 8. Avocados have a big centre seed, which provides a potential choking hazard for your dog. 9. Chicken bones or other kinds of bones cause issues. Bones can splinter and harm your animal. Cooked bones are also hazardous and can be brittle. 10. Raw meat can pose some problems like salmonella and bacterial poisoning. We recommend deworming regularly if feeding any kind of raw diet to protect our pets.Human Pharmaceutical Hazards1. Acetaminophen found in Tylenol can interfere with oxygen flow, and harm the liver of our dear friends. Other human drugs can also have negative effects. Consult your veterinarian before using any human pharmaceuticals for your animals. 2. Also be careful with your veterinary medicines! They are often flavoured and animals can be drawn to that. Keep secure and out of reach. They can overdose on these, just like we can!Chemical Hazards1. Insecticides 2. Rodenticides 3. Cleaning products 4. Heavy metals 5. Fertilizer 6. Detergents 7. Antifreeze 8. De-icersOther Hazards1. Batteries cause mouth ulcers, as well as throat and stomach issues. 2. Children’s toys! Small parts can be dangerous if swallowed and/or lodged in your animals’ throat. Resulting in a veterinary visit! 3. Fabric softener sheets 4. Plants 5. Some rawhide dog chews can host bacteria such as Salmonella. Keep an eye on how these are stored, used and monitor your pet while chewing on bones or chews of any kind.Ways to Prevent Your Animal Access1. Keep these items in high, unreachable places and childproof cabinets. 2. Keep items in sealed containers. 3. When having guests over be sure to keep food out of reach. 4. Warn visitors of your rules of feeding your animals. 5. Follow instructions for bug and rodent traps. Try your best to keep them away from places your pet may be able to access. 6. Keep an eye out for any spills of chemicals and clean readily. 7. Invest in household cleaners that are pet-friendly.If you have any concerns, do not hesitate to contact your veterinary clinic for advice! ASPCA has a 24-hour poison control help line as well. Material Safety Data Sheets are also a valuable resource if any concerns appear!

Read More
See All Articles