Senior pets myths

For so many of us pet owners, our pets are a full fledged member of our family.  We grow up together, we go through many life changes together (good and bad) and we grow old together.

Did you know that as your beloved pet enters his or her golden years, he or she will go thru life’s changes similar to us humans?  What we mean is that they will develop dementia, incontinence, sensitivity to sounds and smells, rise in anxiety and even Alzheimer’s. Pets will develop confusion. They begin to lose their hearing and sight. A pet who once could be trusted outdoors on its own can in the elder years find danger in ways you wouldn’t think.

A tumble down a hill.

Tripping over a hole that he or she dug long ago.

Wandering into a water.

Wandering into the woods.

Wandering into the street due to lack of the sniffer working properly.

The list goes on.

We are always saddened when we receive postings of lost, elderly pets.  Many owners feel that their elderly pet has wandered off to die.  This is actually a myth.  In actuality, pets become disoriented and confused.  They begin to meander in their state of confusion.  They can often find themselves in precarious predicaments.

When a senior pet becomes lost, it is important to remember they too get Alzheimer’s and forgetfulness. They become dazed and confused. And sadly, they become frightened enough to shut down.

Elderly pets have been carried away by rising and raging currents during flood season.  We have had elderly pets found sitting in creeks, shivering and shaking, confused about their location.

When an elderly pet becomes lost, we encourage owners to utilize the following tips for searching:

  • Hang signs at every intersection for a 4 mile radius of where the pet went missing, i.e. every direction.  Be sure to use a clear photo of your pet.
  • Search in barns, car ports, open garages, abandoned buildings, etc.
  • Use Google Maps/Earth to locate the nearest water bodies such as creeks, ponds, rivers, etc.  Walk those areas by foot.  Watch for paw prints.
  • Set up wildlife/trail cameras to see if he/she is wandering the area.
  • Search wooded areas.  Grab every nature loving friend you have, and search the woods using a grid pattern.  Look for paw prints.
  • Post to every single web-related site you can find such as neighborhood pages, Facebook (lost/found pages, buy/sell/trade groups, community pages), Craigslist’s Lost & Found section, NextDoor, STL Lost Pets, Instagram, etc.
  • Notify area shelter(s).
  • Hand out flyers to passerbys.
  • Notify your local animal control.
  • Search ravines, caves, underground pipes, any openings in the ground, etc.

While our pets may become elderly, it is amazing the terrain and distance they can cover as their disoriented state may take them on an adventure.

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