Technology has transformed countless areas of our lives, and now it’s changing our pets’ lives, too. There are fabulous pet gadgets you may have never heard of designed to make life with your senior pet that much better.
A major advantage of including technology in your senior pet’s daily life is the ability to automate care, particularly when you can’t be home with your cat or dog. Whether you’re using pet devices to keep track of your pet’s activity or to dispense small amounts of food throughout the day, technology can help ensure everything is taken care of while you’re away.
Many people are unaware of the numerous ways that technology already has altered how we can care for our pets. If you’re interested in improving your senior dog or cat’s life, then now is the time to get techy.
Health and Safety Pet Gadgets
As our pets age, we naturally monitor aspects of their health more closely. One particularly important element of a senior cat or dog’s healthcare program is weight management. Nearly all ailments become worse when a pet is overweight. Because of this, it’s invaluable to be able to monitor how much exercise your pet is getting.
To combat weight problems, try placing an activity tracker on your senior dog. There are special collars, such as the Link AKC activity monitor smart collar, that are made for this. The AKC’s smart collar is designed to ensure an accurate assessment of your dog’s activity, making it easier for you and your veterinarian to determine his ideal caloric intake. Plus, it features a built-in GPS and notifies you on your smartphone if your pooch wanders from home.
If you prefer a tracker that fits on your senior dog’s existing collar, consider an attachable device like the FitBark 2 dog activity attachment, which measures activity and sleep. Tracking your dog’s sleep is important because problems with sleep can occur with canine cognitive dysfunction (aka dog dementia), which becomes more likely with age. For a feline-friendly option, the Whistle 3 dog and cat activity monitor is an attachable device that includes a GPS tracker.
Food and Water Pet Gadgets
Many senior health problems can be managed, at least in part, with a finely tuned diet. For example, a senior cat or dog with kidney disease might benefit from a prescription diet.
But, if you have other pets as well, mealtimes can get tricky. How can you ensure that the right pet eats the right food? Today’s technology can help. The SureFeed microchip pet feeder will open only for the pet who is wearing a designated microchip.
Another frequent struggle around food is portion control. If you’re trying to keep your pet’s weight down, the last thing you want is to give her unrestricted access to food. Fortunately, there are automatic feeders that dispense a designated portion of food on a preset schedule. The Arf Pets automatic pet feeder even allows you to catch your pet’s attention with a recorded mealtime message.
After tackling food concerns, the next pet gadget to consider is one designed to help keep your elderly pets well-hydrated. When senior pets do not drink enough water, it can cause many problems, particularly if they suffer from health issues, like kidney disease, that predispose them to dehydration.
Some pets, particularly cats, can be persuaded to drink more when they have access to an automatic water fountain. Circulating water can seem to be more attractive to pets than stagnant water.
In some cases, hearing the motor might deter a pet from drinking. To avoid this complication, you can try a product with quiet operation, like the Drinkwell 360 pet fountain.
Bathroom Pet Gadgets
Bathroom pet devices came into popularity before many others on this list. Most people have at least heard of a self-cleaning cat litter box. Besides being a great way to avoid one of the less pleasant parts of cat parenthood, self-cleaning boxes also can be helpful for cats who refuse to use a dirty box.
Since most senior cats suffer from at least a degree of arthritis, they need a box that they easily can enter and exit. The PetSafe automatic litter box is ideal for less agile, elderly felines because it features low walls and no lid.
For senior dogs, indoor potty pads can be a lifesaver. As they age, some dogs have difficulty making it outside or waiting until you come home when nature calls. The BrilliantPad automatic potty pad machine includes an automated clean-up process, allowing for a clean pad to be available at all times, which can help eliminate accidents.
Automatic Toys and Exercise Pet Gadgets
Keeping older pets mentally stimulated and physically active is vital for their health and longevity. Encouraging playfulness is a great way to accomplish both goals, and your absence needn’t prevent your pet from playing when the mood strikes.
Electronic toys, such as the iFetch mini automatic ball launcher, can enable your senior dog to initiate entertainment on his own. And most cat find toys that trigger their natural instinct to hunt hard to resist. The SmartyKat feather whirl electronic cat toy or the Petlinks Mystery Motion electronic cat toy both are automatic cat toys that can entice your senior cat to get up and move.
Calming Pet Gadgets
It’s not unusual for senior pets to become more dependent on you as they age, which makes leaving them home alone stressful for everyone involved. Calming pet gadgets can help reduce anxiety and improve those times that must be spent apart.
Another good way to reassure a fearful, older pet is with the power of pheromones. The Adaptil electric dog diffuser fills your pup’s environment with a synthetic version of the same pheromone that mother dogs emit to calm their puppies. For cats, Feliway’s Classic plug-in diffuser emits a synthetic version of a cat’s facial pheromones, which promotes a feeling of contentment. This kind of tool is helpful for everyday use in anxious pets.
Dr. Jennifer Coates was valedictorian of her graduating class at the VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and has practiced in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado in the years since. She is also the author of numerous articles, short stories, and books, including the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms, Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband, children, dog (Apollo), and cat (Minerva).