Today’s guest blogger is Brandon Butler, a dog lover and vet tech. Welcome back,  Brandon. In keeping with February’s emphasis on love he’s sharing tips on how to show love to an older pet.

All animals have a story and not all of them are happy. But if you have chosen to open up your home to an elderly dog or cat, you can give them a happy ending.

In all my years as a pet owner, I have found caring for aging animals particularly rewarding. They are not puppies, however, and require a little bit of TLC beyond an afternoon walk in the park.

Here are a few things to keep in mind before you open your home and heart to a pup (or kitten) past his prime:

Dogs and cats get cold, too.

“Both cats and dogs have slightly higher resting body temperatures than humans, so when it is colder outside make sure they have a blanket in their bed and an area to sleep in the sunlight during the day. Also be sure to dress your dog in booties and a sweater when taking them outside to potty, because extreme changes in temperature increase risk of illness.” That quote, taken from the Redfin website, sums it up quite nicely.

There is such a thing as dog flu – and it can be deadly to an older pet.

Older animals are more susceptible to illness, injuries, and infection. With the intensity of the current flu season, I’d like to point out that canine influenza is real and has many of the same symptoms as those currently floating around human hospitals. Sneezing, fatigue, and fever are all common. If you notice any of these symptoms in your elderly pet, call his or her veterinarian immediately. And it doesn’t matter what time of year it is, according to USA Today, dog flu isn’t seasonal.

You may have to get creative at dinnertime.

Like older humans (most of us anyway), an elderly pet may have a little less luster for life when it’s blustery and cold or hot and muggy out. PetMD suggest literally playing with your dog’s food to encourage them to eat and exercise. You can also help a food-motivated mutt stay mentally stimulated by packing his food in a treat dispenser that offers a tasty reward when he’s solved a puzzle.

Senior pets make great bedfellows.

Because older dogs are less destructive and usually less active, there are a great option if you like to sleep with your pet. Healthy Pets’ Dr. Becker notes that senior animals probably won’t chew your favorite shoes or “shred the handmade quilt your grandma gave you.”

And because they won’t run and play as often, older dogs are great at snuggling which, according to science, can actually help you reduce stress and anxiety.

While many people prefer to adopt a young puppy, there’s really no reason not to fall head over heels for an older dog. Despite popular belief, you can teach an old dog new tricks.

And though your years together may be few, the quality of those years will leave a lasting impact on your entire family.