How to support your pet during their golden years

For most of us our furry friends are family, and an integral part of our lives. No one wants to endure the heartbreak of losing a pet, but there are a number of ways you can make their final years more comfortable. We explore tips on caring for an elderly pet, as well as how to deal with the loss of a beloved companion.

Tips for looking after an elderly pet

If you find that your dog or cat is slowing down as they get older, they are most likely transitioning into their golden years. Once they reach this stage, elderly pets may only have a limited time left on this earth, so it’s important to take care of them as best you can. Here are some tips to help you make the most of the time you have left together:

  • Consult with your vet: Your vet will be able to give you advice on how to care for an elderly pet, such as the food they should eat (and frequency of meals), how often to exercise them, as well as whether they should start taking any supplements for their joints or brain health.
  • Keep them entertained: Your greying four-legged friend may not be as active as they once were, but just because the body is unwilling doesn’t mean the mind is weak! Ensure your elderly pet gets plenty of mental stimulation by keeping their favourite toys around the house. And if they are still up for daily walks, keep the trips short with access to drinking water, and avoid potential hazards.
  • Look into veterinary hospices: There may come a time when your pet needs end-of-life care. Vet hospices can provide the comfort they deserve while allowing you time to say goodbye, so it’s worth looking into any that are close by.
  • Review your pet insurance: Older dogs and cats may be more likely to get sick or injure themselves, so consider checking if your pet insurance policy is up to date.

When it’s time to say goodbye

When you know the heartbreaking moment is approaching, reach out to your vet sooner rather than later so they can help prepare you for the difficult time ahead. If your pet is unwell and in your vet’s care at this stage, they can help you through this hard time with advice and guidance.

When the dark day arrives and your pet is no longer with you, it’s important that you take care of matters quickly in order to give yourself the time and space you need to grieve. Some decisions you may need to make include choosing between burial or cremation of your pet, which you can chat to your vet about in order to weigh up the options and make the best decision for your situation.

You will also need to tie up loose administrative ends. Start by contacting your local council as they will need to know your pet has passed and is no longer required to be registered. Also speak to any other pet-care services you use, such as dog washers or pet day care centres so they can stop sending you marketing material, which can come as a painful reminder if received in the weeks and months to follow.

How to deal with grief

Everyone grieves in their own way, but it’s always a good idea to have a support system in place – this could include your friends and family, who understand first-hand how much your pet meant to you. There are even dedicated support services that can connect you with grief support lines and councillors if you are struggling with the loss.

Finally, you may want to keep a physical reminder of your furry friend. Some people set up memorials in their home – it could be as simple as a framed picture or carving their pet’s name into a tree in the backyard. Others get their pet’s name or paw print tattooed on their body, and you can even get your pet’s ashes turned into diamonds.

Support in a difficult time

Losing a pet is extremely difficult, so it’s important to spend their golden years providing the comfort, love and support they so richly deserve.

As your pet ages it may be important to consider how pet insurance could help reduce your financial burden for eligible accidents and illnesses. Compare pet insurance with Choosi to help find the policy that’s right for you and your furry friend.