How to Support Your Dog as They Grow Older

by Hannah Boothe

The fact that our dog is getting older is a truth we don’t always like to face. We laugh at the thought of a “senior dog meal” and choose to ignore the dog’s graying muzzle. Since we’re both still engaged in youthful activities, I ask: “Who’s old?” The truth is that facing the reality of aging is the greatest thing we can do for our dogs and ourselves. We must develop a keen awareness of the smallest shifts in our dog’s behavior and be open to suggestions for how we may both live better. Here are few management and lifestyle adjustments that can make a big difference in your senior dog’s quality of life, allowing you to make the most of his remaining years together.

Support Your Dog as They Grow Older

Improve Your Home’s Accessibility for Dogs with Restricted Mobility

The increasing reluctance of our Papillon, Raven, to enter or traverse our kitchen was one of the earliest indicators of his aging that we failed to notice at first. He had always been delighted to enter it! We ultimately realized that his difficulty was related to the floor. We installed a non-skid carpet runner in the kitchen, and Raven is happy to enter and traverse the space again. You hadn’t considered his age to be old enough for this to cause his anxiety, but it was!

 

Give Your Older Dog Plenty of Opportunities to Run And Play

As your dog ages, utilizing tools such as WiggleLess becomes increasingly vital. The key is moderation. Taking in too much can make existing issues worse, but if you take in too little, it won’t help you build muscle. A dog’s attitude can be improved, anxiety and boredom avoided, and her muscles toned and supple by taking her on daily walks or in the park.

 

When Driving, Always Wear Your Seatbelt

Remember to use a secure seat belt and harness when transporting your dog in the car on the way to the park or hiking trail. Even though many senior dogs are calm and accustomed to car rides, they still need safety restraints on short trips.

 

Upgrade His or Her Current Clothing

Even if your dog has never shown any sensitivity to heat or cold, he may start to experience discomfort as he ages. A fleece blanket and dog booties could come in handy during the colder months (for snow or ice). One option for indoor wear is a Back on Track coat, which serves dual purposes: keeping him warm and reflecting heat back into his sore muscles and joints.

Ensure your dog has access to cold, fresh water and a cool, shady place to rest during the hot summer. When he’s overheated, a simple hosting can be a nice respite; however, there are cooling jackets and beds available that can do a better job (indicated by panting with a very wide tongue). Remember that bathing the dog’s coat won’t do anything to chill him and may actually make him temporarily warmer; instead, focus on the groin area and the rest of his underbelly. For dogs that enjoy the water, such as Labradors, kiddie pools may be a lot of fun.

 

The Older Dog under Your Care Deserves A More Comfortable Bed

Young puppies often do not mind sleeping on the floor (even hardwood floors). However, your aging dog’s joints are more likely to develop stiff as he ages if he often sleeps on such hard surfaces. A thick orthopedic dog bed should be considered. A warm, plush bed can do wonders for a sore body, providing relief from stiffness and pain.

 

Keep an Eye Out For Bumps and Lumps While You Brush Your Dog

You can spot abnormalities sooner if you know what a healthy dog looks like. It’s especially important as your dog ages because tumors tend to multiply at a faster rate than. If a bump can be detected early on, that is ideal. If it does need to be removed, a smaller tumor means less invasive surgery and a quicker recovery time for your dog. A lump could be a normal accumulation of fat, but it also has the potential to be a cancerous tumor.

 

Conclusion

The owner of Barking Dog adds, “Facing the truth of aging is the finest thing we can do for our pets and ourselves.” Here are few ways to improve your senior dog’s quality of life through management and lifestyle changes. If you have a dog, you might want to invest in a fleece blanket and some dog booties for the winter (for snow or ice). The stiffness and soreness that come from an aging dog’s body can be greatly reduced by placing them on a thick orthopedic dog bed. If you have a dog, the next time you brush its fur, keep an eye out for any unusual lumps or bumps.

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