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Younger Children and Senior Pets

As a veterinarian I frequently hear that “my old dog or my old cat” doesn’t like the kids. A lot of the time these people are considering rehoming or euthanizing their long term family member because they are anxious about the things that happen at home. This blog is going to draw from my own experiences. As the mom of two very busy kids (6 year old boy and 3 year old girl) and a very full farm yard/house of pets that includes 3 border collies and 2 cats! Our oldest border collie is 16 ½ years old, she is the leader of our pack and was already a senior when our first human baby was welcomed into the house.

As pets age they tend to change in their behaviours as well there physical abilities, this is no different than people. So why is it that lots of people feel that old pets and young children don’t mix?
Many pets have less tolerance for rambunctious kids who run and scream around the house, some of this is related to the cat or dog not being able to move out of the way as fast because they may be painful or arthritic. Also we may see pets that are deaf or blind that can’t tell that the kids are barreling down the hall and thus can’t avoid a potentially painful situation. When a pet can’t avoid a painful or scary situation they will react as a pet of any age may by trying to protect themselves which in most situations comes in the form of a bite and or scratch. Just think about how you feel when you are scared or something hurts you, your natural reaction is to either run or fight! An animal this reaction is much more prominent in people because they don’t have the same cognitive reasoning ability that we do.

So what do we do about these situations? First let’s see what we can do for your pet! Can we make the arthritic dog or cat less painful so that they can move easier (thus allowing them to avoid a situation that they don’t like)
For example, a small child pulling a cat’s tail, a young cat may still lash out or it can very easily move away from the child, where as an older cat may not be able to get away and will like scratch or bite the child.
Whose fault is this the cat or the child? Yes this has happened in my house except that cat wasn’t that old. After a while he would get tired of my little boy (who was one at the time) chasing him and I think for months my little boy walked around with a bite mark on his forehead. I couldn’t hold it against the cat but I would get after my son and explain to him that he is scaring the poor thing. Another example is my oldest Border Collie who is now deaf and very slow moving and unable to get out of the kids way. The kids fighting and chasing each other around sometimes run into the dog and even perhaps fall on her. When this happens she may bite because she is only trying to protect herself not because she is mean or misbehaved… she just hurts.

My kids have been taught that they are to respect the pets and that if they are bothering the animals either intentionally or unintentionally that they are going to get in trouble. We have also made them well aware that our pets are part of the family and that it is our job to help look after them and keep them safe just like mommy and daddy do for them. They know that if the “Fly” our old dog is having trouble going up the stairs to get an adult to help here, same thing if she falls on the slippery hardwood floors in the house and can’t get up that they are to find someone to help her.

Kids and older pets can live well together, our family is an excellent example of that but it does require work and patience! We need to teach the kids to respect the space of a pet and to learn that they are part of the family and to be treated like any other member of our family would be.

Written by Morinville Veterinary Clinic



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Last updated: July 23, 2020

Dear Clients,

Thank you for choosing Morinville Veterinary Clinic for your pets' veterinary needs. As we continue to adjust to the "new normal," we have implemented new protocols to keep you and our team safe.

It is still preferred that you stay in your vehicle while we bring your pet in for their appointment. However, as of Monday, July 21, 2020, we will be allowing one client to accompany their pet during their visit.

Along with wearing a face mask and using hand sanitizer, any client wishing to be present during an exam will need to record your name, phone number and email address for contact tracing purposes, in compliance with Alberta Health requirements.

Should you choose to come in with your pet, we kindly ask that you comply with the following protocols:

  • Our doors will remain locked. Please call us at 780.939.3133 upon your arrival.
  • Physical distance with staff and other clients while inside the building.
  • Face coverings must be worn to enter the clinic.
  • Use hand washing station upon entry.
  • Continue the use of credit cards as the preferred payment method.
  • Continue with curbside pickup of food and medication (unless you have used our online store and are having your order delivered directly to your home). To place an order through our online store, visit our website and click on "Online Store".
  • If you wish to wait in your vehicle during the appointment, when you arrive, please remain outside the hospital and use your cell phone to call us. We will take a history of your pet's health and discuss any concerns. A staff member will then meet you outside to bring your pet into the hospital for an examination. The Veterinarian will call you to discuss the recommended treatment plan. After your appointment, a staff member will return your pet to you outside, and take care of any needed medications and payment.

    If you wish to connect with a veterinarian via message, phone or video, visit our website and follow the "Online Consultation" link.


    Have you welcomed a new furry family member to your home? We’d love to meet them! Visit our Must Know New Pet Owner Information page for useful resources and helpful recommendations for new pet owners.


    We are OPEN with the following hours:

    - Monday to Friday: 8:00 am - 9:00 pm
    - Saturday: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
    - Sunday: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

    Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

    - Your dedicated team at Morinville Veterinary Clinic