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Need Help With Pet Care? Try These Services

When mobility is an issue, these options can make a big difference


Maria Jones doesn’t have to travel far from her assisted living center in the Pinellas County, Fla., area, when her cat, Roxy, needs veterinary care. She just settles the kitty into a quiet room there, where veterinarian Dr. Hillary Hart, joins them, veterinary cart in tow.

After taking time to befriend the cat — “many (animals) don’t realize I’m a veterinarian the first time I come,” Hart says — she does a thorough exam. Hart is the owner of Vet With Hart, her veterinarian practice that serves Pinellas County, which is near Tampa Bay.

Hart says: “I listen to her heart and lungs, check her ears, teeth and eyes, palpate her lymph nodes and organs, take a fecal sample…” and the list goes on. The mobile check-up includes everything a pet needs, plus the bonus of highly individualized attention.

For older adults, home-based pet services can enable pet ownership to continue as long as possible.

Hart’s veterinary practice is completely house-call based. She says her services are comparable to a trip to a clinic, plus her fee for the house call. If she determines a pet requires more extensive care, such as imaging or hospitalization, she’ll help the owner secure transportation. “I’ve driven them or have found a volunteer to do so,” she says.

Home-based services of all kinds are available to pet owners, and can be a lifeline for animal-loving people with mobility or transportation issues. Whether it’s making sure your Dachshund gets his daily exercise or freshening your cat’s litter box, there are plenty of services ready and waiting to lend a hand.

Stocking Up Without Leaving Home

Pet-specific retailers, such as Chewy.com or PetSmart.com (also a pet store chain), offer most major brands of food and supplies for a wide range of pets, including birds, horses and reptiles. Many major pet food stores also offer ship-to-home options, as do most general mail-order outlets.

If your pet has allergies, is a fussy eater or has specific dietary needs, you may want to feed something a step above commercial dog or cat food. But planning, purchasing and cooking a stockpile of nutritionally-balanced dog or cat meals takes significant time and effort.

Many pet-savvy entrepreneurs have made a business of it. They cook fresh, human-grade pet meals to deliver directly to you — and can leave the food in climate-controlled packaging at your doorstep, if needed.

Because of their limited delivery range, many of these businesses are region-centric, so they’re best found at your local farmers market. But there are a few larger businesses with a wider shipping range, including The Farmers Dog and Nom Nom Now.

From flea and tick preventatives to joint supplements to pharmaceuticals, every pet needs medication from time to time. Online and mail-order veterinary pharmacies, such as PetCareRx.com and 1800PetMeds.com, make it easy. Many boast an immediate turnaround, free shipping and the option to set up a regular shipping schedule. For prescription medications, your vet needs to fax a prescription first.

Keeping It Clean

Crouching over a bathtub washing an unwilling pooch or cat can be difficult, and tough on the back. Wouldn’t it be great if a fairy godmother appeared at your home, waved a magical wand and whoosh!, your pet was clean and brushed, without ever running your water or having a snippet of fur hit the floor? With mobile pet groomers, it’s almost that easy.

“(Just) supply us with a dirty dog or cat to pamper,” says Karin Schoenfeld, groomer and owner of Soapy Dogs, a mobile pet groomer in South Denver. “Our trailers are totally self-contained with our own water and electricity, and are air conditioned and heated. (We provide) all grooming supplies and equipment needed.”

There are mobile grooming businesses now in many cities, with services ranging from a simple nail trim to the full treatment — that usually includes the nail trim, ear and eye cleaning, bathing, blow dry, brushing and fur trimming.

Time and cost vary based on the pet and breed, but Schoenfeld says her average price for full grooming is $105. “A Labrador retriever might be $85; a shih tzu $105; (and a) Golden retriever $115 to $130,” she explains. Your furry friend is kept comfortable in the van while it remains parked outside your residence.

Keeping clean also extends to the household, and with pets, there’s the issue of waste disposal. Today, you can find dog waste pick-up businesses in most cities. They tend to be regional, such as Green Scoopers in Massachusetts or First Coast Scoopers in Florida.

Another one is Scoop Masters, which picks up pet waste at homes or for multifamily living associations in and around Santa Clarita, Calif. Scoop Masters owner Timothy Stone says many of his regular clients are older adults, for whom he often provides a discount. He also gets requests from people who are off their feet temporarily due to an illness or injury.

“Many continue with the service after they recover,” he says. “Once a week (yard cleanup) is standard, or twice a week for multiple dogs. We also provide a cat litter box service.” Clean-up for a single dog once per week runs about $49 per month, he says.

Other Pet Care Services

Other sources of home-based pet care include:

  • Dog walkers and cat visitors: One easy way to find these is through smartphone apps like Wag or Rover, which connect you with someone available in your area. You can find these via Apple’s app store or the Google Play store for android phones.
  • Transport to day care and boarding facilities: Many doggie day care centers and boarding businesses offer pick-up and delivery services.
  • Trainers: Pet trainers typically will come to a your home, where they’ll offer basic training or help solving behavioral issues.
  • Pet taxi services: They will drive your pet to the vet, groomer, boarding facility and even wedding ceremonies. One such business is The Pet Gal, which provides service in several Texas cities.

There’s no question that pets are good for their owners, credited with everything from increasing their owners’ fitness to instilling a sense of purpose to encouraging human socialization. For older adults, taking advantage of home-based pet services can be a source of welcomed support, enabling pet ownership to continue as long as possible.

Debbie Swanson
By Debbie Swanson
Debbie Swanson (www.swansonwriting.com) is a freelance writer living north of Boston. She often writes about pet care, senior living and family topics.

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