older dog care

Pets can be a significant assistance to older people, not only as trained assistants but, through friendship, actually improve or maintain health and activity (who wants to walk alone and cleaning the litter pan is daily exercise.) But, too frequently, as the story below discusses, people don’t know how to care for the oldest pets. Many people worry about care for their pets after their death or a lengthy illness or if an assisted living residence is needed.

Every dog, horse and bird at the elder-care animal sanctuary and hospice south of Santa Fe has a story, and most stories belie the wagging tails and the contented neighs heard here. …

Most of the animals at Kindred Spirits have ended up at the sanctuary under dire circumstances. Many were abandoned at animal shelters because they were old or ill, or their human companions had died or could no longer take care of them. The sanctuary rarely takes animals from private individuals; they are generally referred by veterinarians, shelters or other animal-welfare organizations.

On-site workshops on death and dying, first-aid and caring for elderly animals help people grow, but changing attitudes toward senior companions is an uphill battle.

“It’s about making a lifelong commitment,” Schildkraut says. “Animals aren’t disposable. I don’t think people realize what they’re saying to their children by doing things like that. There’s a value — across the spectrum of life, (aging) is just another phase. You can teach your children to ignore it or be fearful of it, and that’s a disservice. They really need to embrace this phase of their life just like any other.”


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