Tips to Care for Your Aging Pet

We can all agree that dogs and cats all make our lives so much better. Pets are our closest companions, and like us, they may lose their agility and their level of activity drops considerably as they get older.

As our pets age, some special care is required to prolong their lives and keep them as comfortable as possible. Their dietary needs will change, and visits to the vet will become more important (and frequent) than before. In addition, however, it’s extremely important to keep them active and engaged … and we can help!

Club Pet was one of the first doggie daycares in Michigan, and we’re experts at caring for your beloved pet. Whether they need a little extra attention for an afternoon, or full-time care while you’re away on vacation, we’re always happy to help.

Benefits of Daycare for Older Pets

As your dog or cat gets older, you may start to notice behavioral changes. They may start to exhibit signs of loneliness, especially now that more pet parents are returning to the office and leaving them home alone. Socialization is important at any age, and that’s why daycare is a great option for the health and wellness of older dogs and cats.

Our philosophy is simple: make the pets in our care feel loved, and love them all. We care for pets from 13 weeks old all the way through their golden years, no matter their special needs. We carefully structure their introductions to give them the time and space they need to be successful. And as they show more confidence, they are given more freedom to interact with additional playmates.

Signs of Aging Pets

To better care for older pets will hinge on your ability to discern the signs of old age. Knowing what to look for will help you to track changes in behaviors and take the appropriate action. Some of the most noticeable physical signs of old age include;

  • Clouded/teary eyes
  • Graying/thinning hair coat
  • Sudden changes in appetite
  • Dietary intolerance
  • Loneliness

Besides these physical signs and symptoms, you may also notice some behavioral changes. Increased aggression, longer stimuli response time, and sleep cycle changes are all signs that your dog or cat is getting older, and possibly, becoming uncomfortable. If you see behavioral changes, it’s time to act … your pet may need more than just a hug! Socialization, mental stimulation, and lots of playtime can go a long way toward helping curb behaviors stemming from boredom or loneliness.

Here are few tips to help your pet get through these tumultuous times.

Lifestyle Adjustments for Senior Pets

Some pets lose muscle mass and suffer from conditions like arthritis, neck pains, sprains, and fractures. Your once springy friend will require some changes to accommodate their new senior status. Consider making some tweaks around the house to provide a more comfortable living arrangement for your aging pet. Adding more rugs on the floor to provide some traction, installing a litter box with lowered sides, and adding some “pet steps” to the bed or sofa are some small (but significant) changes that will help prolong a happy healthy life for your beloved pet.

While they’re in our care, we will take all the necessary precautions to make sure they’re as comfortable as possible. While some facilities kennel dogs for long periods, provide short play sessions, and sometimes provide no private space at all. Club Pet dogs get 1-hour long breaks at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This gives them time to dine, rest, and decompress which is ideal for older dogs.

Keep them Mentally Engaged

Aging pets, like humans, can also experience a decline in cognitive ability. In pets, the condition is referred to as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome or CDS. As your pet ages, it is not just their body that tires, their mental capacity declines as well. Play time will no longer feel the same.

When this happens, your pet should not be left alone to their own devices! Keeping them active will stimulate and rejuvenate their mind and keep them engaged. Daycare is a great option while you’re away at work. And at home, puzzle toys and hidden treats around the house are an excellent way to keep your pets happy and healthy in their old age.

Regular Exercise

Obesity is as much a human problem as it is a pet problem. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention states that over half the population of dogs are overweight. Obesity reduces a pet’s life span, increases the risk of metabolic diseases, and triggers orthopedic complications.

There is plenty of time to play at daycare, and all the fresh air and exercise will work wonders on your aging pet. It’s especially important if busy work schedules limit time for walks. We know physical fitness is as crucial for aging pets as it is for younger animals which is why we’ve prepared outdoor yards for active play time at both of our convenient locations!


Aging pets require grooming, especially for long-haired dogs. Regular grooming helps a dog feel more relaxed, promotes healthier skin, and improves general body condition. Grooming also reveals hidden injuries and sucker parasites such as fleas.

We provide all-breed pet grooming in the hands of experienced professional groomers – not just the simple bathing provided by most daycare or boarding facilities. On top of that, our grooming clients enjoy all the care that our guests receive- large facilities, a loving staff providing for their needs, and if you choose, free daycare!

Enjoying the companionship of a senior pet can be a wonderful experience, even if it takes a little extra effort. Older dogs and cats may not be as quick and agile, but they will be happy and healthy and provide you with many years of companionship. Please contact us to schedule your pet’s next visit. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Dogs and Children

“Dogs behave as though they expect us to read their expressions accurately. When we don’t … both dogs and humans can get in a lot of trouble.” -McConnell, Patricia. For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend. Ballatine Books, 2009.

The key to successful child-dog relationships is in communication and careful management.

Dogs provide us cues about how they feel. Don’t wait for obvious cues, like trembling, growling, or biting, to intervene in child-dog interactions. More subtle signs your dog may be stressed are panting, yawning, tongue flicks, ears not in their natural position, wide eyes, avoiding eye contact, tail tucked, or tail tilted to one side. If they are up and moving around, they may sniff a lot, drink more water, mark/urinate, mount, or seem distracted. One major word of caution… you should not correct your dog for growling. It is a warning sign for a bite, and if you take that away, they are more likely to bite with no warning. Instead, manage the cause of the aggression.

I have observed certain practices in my home that I believe created a loving and respectful relationship between my nine-year-old dog and my three-year-old daughter. While I am not an animal behaviorist or dog trainer, my years of working with dogs have given me a lot of insight into how dogs communicate their emotions, and how to successfully respond to the messages they are sending. My personal belief is that it is not enough that our pets tolerate their relationship with children, but that they have the same excitement and bond with them that they do with us.

Try using these phrases:

  • What is Buddy’s body doing?
  • When Buddy’s body does ___, it means he feels stressed/scared/tired.
  • Isn’t it fun to watch Buddy do ____ It means he is happy/relaxed/excited.
  • How do you think Buddy feels when you do ___?
  • You may play with Buddy when he invites you.
  • If you are upset/angry/scared, ask a grown up for help with Buddy.
  • When you are calm, Buddy feels calm. When you are excited, Buddy feels excited. He looks up to you.
    Here are some other ideas for creating a respectful and loving child/dog relationship:

  • Allow your children to participate in caregiving routines as soon as they show interest.
  • When petting your dog, ask them to pretend their hand is a pancake.
  • Massage your child’s arms, legs, or head with your fingers, then ask them to give your dog a massage the same way.
  • Practice body parts by only allowing them to touch or pet the spot you say. “Show me Buddy’s ear, shoulder, foot,” …etc.
  • Dogs and children should have safe spaces and breaks from one another.
  • If your dog is experiencing sickness, pain, or outside stress, they may act differently.
dogs and little boy


First Aid Kits for Pets

At Club Pet and Club Pet Too, we enroll all our staff in Pet First Aid courses as a part of their job training. Many of our employees have commented that one of their favorite parts of the course was learning how to build a pet first aid kit. Many of us now have them in our homes and cars.

We use the online course available at — Anyone can enroll!

Below is a list of the contents of a basic pet first aid kit:

  • At least two slip-leads
  • Bottled water
  • Very tasty dog treats or canned food (hint: most dogs can’t resist canned cat food) with a pull-top
  • A container for water, a plate for food
  • Plastic baggies
  • Safety pin (to poke a hole in Diphenhydramine capsules, or for sliver removal)
  • Emergency blanket
  • (Muzzle-set) You can make a muzzle from a slip-lead if you don’t want to commit to this one!
  • Gauze roll
  • Non-stick gauze pads
  • Gauze or cotton pads (get a big stack, used to control bleeding)
  • Adhesive tape
  • Q-Tips (long handled are better)
  • Tongue depressor(s)
  • Digital thermometer (since nobody reads the old-fashioned ones anymore)
  • Spare battery for your thermometer
  • Bandage scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Syringe (100mL)
  • Pen light
  • Antibiotic Ointment
  • Topical Steroid Cream
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Lubricant, such as petroleum jelly
  • Saline Solution
  • Styptic powder
  • Pepcid (10 mg recommended)
  • Diphenhydramine capsules (for quick action)


Enrichment Activities for Your Dog

Can’t make it to daycare? Here are some enrichment activities to entertain your dogs that go beyond the basics of tug-of-war, fetch, and walks. Activities that offer mental stimulation can calm anxious dogs, curb unwanted behaviors, and improve communication between you and your dog.

1. Bones: Both natural and synthetic bones provide dogs an outlet through chewing, and dogs’ latent prey instincts are activated by the smells and flavors of the treats. Until you know your dogs’ chewing habits, don’t leave them unattended with bones!

2. Stuffed Kongs: If you have the time, pop them in the freezer after you stuff them. Your dogs will stay busy licking, digging & chewing the tasty treats out of the center. Popular stuffers are peanut butter, cheese, broths, and pumpkin. These can also be mixed with favorite treats or food. BEWARE OF XYLITOL — this is a common sweetener in human food products that is toxic to dogs!

3. Food Dispensing Toys: as dogs bump and knock the toy around, kibble falls out. Dogs will work hard to get all the food out. The food also falls out in an unpredictable way, and that added challenge provides more stimulation.

4. Snuffle Mats (nose work): Dogs explore the world with their noses. Introducing them to interesting smells is like teaching them a new language! Certain herbs and spices, the scent of other animals, and of course, food, can all be infused into snuffle mats, toys and bedding. If your dog shows a real interest in using their sniffer, you can take it a step further and play hide and seek with the new smells.

5. Bubbles: Dogs are wowed by the bubbles bobbing in the air, catching them in their mouth, watching, chasing. They are unpredictable (like prey) and that adds a level of mental stimulation that chasing a ball lacks. You can even get scented bubbles!

Dogs love bubbles

6. Laser Pointer or Toys on a String (just like the cats like): Get your dog moving from the comfort of a chair!

7. Sound Enrichment: Certain kinds of music, wind chimes, or specially produced “dog soundtracks” can break up the monotony of a too-familiar environment.

8. Massage: Slow, intentional touch, where you pet or massage your dog in a pattern, carefully holding or massaging specific spots on their bodies, takes thought. Your dog will also be thinking about how you’re handling them, and therefore, this kind of touch becomes an enrichment activity.

9. Casual Walks: Allow dogs some purposeless walks, where they can wander and sniff entirely at their own pace!