The WORLD, November 1994 Vol. 1 Issue 3by by Lynn Roberts, DVM
Topics: Health, Pet-Care
Due to the short life span of animals, most of you will pet sit for geriatric animals on a routine basis. While dogs and cats begin to undergo these changes starting at age 5 to 7 years, different pets will show the various signs of growing old at different rates. A little more care and responsibility come with sitting for these important family members.
Older dogs and cats have slower metabolisms and therefore have an increasing intolerance to heat and cold. They are producing less of the hormones which are critical for maintaining the body’s normal temperature.
With colder weather coming on, I would recommend that owners keep their thermostat at 65 degrees Fahrenheit. For outside dogs and cats, shelter from the wind and cold is a necessity.
Many of you will also note that the older pet may be blind, deaf or both. This means that when letting them outside, close supervision (even in confined areas) is a must! Always avoid moving furniture or familiar objects; i.e., food bowls, water bowls and bedding. Geriatric pets need a consistent routine in their lives.
These pets also tend to have more health problems than their younger counterparts. Therefore, it is very important to always give medication and food on time. This is especially important for the diabetic dog or cat. Always follow the owner’s schedule and instructions precisely.
Special diets are common among geriatric animals. Common ailments that require special diets include kidney disease, liver disease, urinary tract problems, allergic disorders and obesity. These diets need to be given strictly with no substitutes. Giving these animals a small “treat” brought from home without the owner’s permission could result in dire consequences. Geriatric patients with kidney disease could pose a special problem for pet sitters. Most of
them drink two to three times more water and urinate two to three times more than the normal pet. This may require more visits to allow the pet outside and replenish the fresh water supply to prevent dehydration.
If you find yourself pet sitting for a geriatric pet, make sure the owner has listed all health problems that may be present and provides a thorough list of medications that may need to be given.
Always have their veterinarian’s name and phone number available, because geriatric pets are more at risk of health problems while the owner is away than the younger pet.
To find a professional pet sitter in your area, visit the PSI Locator.
© Copyright 2010 by Pet Sitters International. All rights reserved. For reprint permission for this article, contact EllenPrice@petsit.com.
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