Guest Post by Jennifer Scott
As dogs get older, their needs begin to change. They may need special supplies, different food, or new forms of treatment. Most owners accept this as part of pet ownership and continue to love and care for their dogs as they learn to adapt to their aging pet’s new needs.
However, there is no denying that these changes can be worrying, both emotionally and financially. The only thing you can do for the former is to enjoy and cherish the next few years as much as you can. When it comes to finances, however, there are small ways you can ensure you are not overpaying for all the things your older dog needs.
As your dog gets older, you may have to buy her new supplies, whether it’s simply a more comfortable bed or a specialized product for senior dogs, such as pet stairs, a lifting harness, or a specially designed rubber toy for aging teeth. You can save money by looking at big box retailers, and be sure to check for online deals like Walmart promo codes and coupons that will cut your costs even more. The more money you save on items like accessories, the more money you will have for bigger costs like healthcare.
It is true that food requirements for older dogs can vary in terms of nutrition, texture, and digestibility, and some dogs will need adjusted diets as they age. For example, dogs that are losing muscle mass may need more protein, and dogs with sensitive teeth need softer foods.
However, a lot of “senior dog food” is the same food sold in different packaging, and often at a higher price. Don’t fall for this — rely on your vet’s advice to make any adjustments. Often, your senior dog can be just as healthy with the food they have been eating all their lives. Just remember to adjust portion sizes if their physical activity has decreased.
Healthcare and Insurance
This is likely to be the biggest cost of having a senior pet. Healthcare for pets always runs the risk of being expensive; according to CNBC, emergency vet bills average between $800 and $1,500. In the case of senior pets, there is an increased chance you will have to pay for ongoing treatment, some of which can quickly become expensive. Cancer treatment, for instance, can cost up to $10,000. You will also have to take your senior dog to the vet more often, which means more money spent on checkups and ailments.
You could start putting aside some money for this, but it may also be wise to invest in pet insurance. Ideally, you will have purchased health insurance for your dog when she was young to take advantage of cheaper premiums. However, if you haven’t, now is the time to consider doing so. Ultimately, it’s a small price to pay for your pet’s health and longevity. The Bark has a detailed guide on pet insurance, including help with understanding caps and deductibles. Consumers Advocate also offers a free pet insurance guide. Many insurers don’t offer policies for dogs above 12, but there are still some good options.
In many ways, caring for a senior pet isn’t much different from caring for a younger one. You still need to give your dog plenty of love, attention, and exercise — you just need to also be mindful of any special needs they have as a result of aging. Stay aware of any potential issues and be proactive about preventing and addressing them, and you and your furry friend will enjoy many more happy years together.
Jennifer Scott is a lifelong sufferer of anxiety and depression. She created her website, SpiritFinder.org, as a platform for advocacy on opening up about mental health. Through the site, she hopes to share the types of steps and success stories that can help others realize their own power. When she isn’t working on her website, she enjoys traveling, working with animals, and seeking out new friendships and adventures.