Some of the most common signs of pain in our fur babies consist of pacing, heavy panting, hunched over posture, limping, crying, whining, walking stiff, unwilling to get up, decreased appetite, lying in an abnormal posture or place, attempts to bite when touched in a specific place.
When our babies develop arthritis and become weak and painful it is harder for them to ambulate. There are several options for pain relief and to help with inflammation, but there are also thing we can do around the house to make it easier for them. Tile an hard wood floors are hard for them to get a good foot hold on. Simply placing matts, bath rugs, or non slip carpet runners along the main paths of the house will allow better mobility and allow them to continue to engage with the family. You may find that your senior baby will start to pant and pace particularly at night. This is usually due to anxiety so a low dose anxiety medication may be indicated to help them rest at night.
As our fur babies get older their nutrition needs change. The diet may need to be modified depending on any disease changes. Also, as the level of pain increases the appetie may decrease. An appetite stimulant may be needed to keep them interested in food. Some things that our fur babies like consist of food that is moist, warm, contains salt, and high protein. During the hospice/senior stage of life we are not necessarly looking for a balanced diet, the goal is to just keep them eating in order to feed the vital organs. It is important to try different foods and feed at several different times of the day.
As our fur babies age they pay less attention/or may not be able to groom themselves. It is important to try to keep them clean with either wash cloth or baby wipes to keep disease and infection under control. Shaving the hair from around the rectum and vaginal area my help to keep them cleaner. Doggy diapers will help keep uncontrolled urination and defecation contained. Baby powder and diper rash cream can help with bed sores and urine scalding.
As end of life nears many fur babies will decrease water consumption or even stop drinking. Low sodium broth, tuna juice, or syringe feeding water may help with hydration. If tolerated by the fur baby and the family fluids can be given under the skin to keep them hydrated.