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Taking care of a senior dog can present a lot of challenges for pet owners. Your canine companion is moving more slowly. His coordination and eyesight aren’t what they used to be — and neither are his bones. To help your aging dog get around better, here are some ways you can make your home more accessible.
If Their Sight Is Going
If your dog is starting to lose his eyesight, consider the following:
- Try not to move things from their regular places while he adjusts to this big change. You should also avoid leaving items, such as school backpacks or laundry baskets, where your dog frequently walks.
- Rug paths help here, too. Even if your dog doesn’t have trouble walking on the floor, creating a path out of a different material can help him get around when his sight is fading. Either by using treats or a leash, guide your dog along the paths, showing that one leads to his water dish, one leads outside, one leads to his dog bed, etc.
If your dog has any special needs, like a wheelchair, talk to your vet about how best to accommodate his disability. The more we can do to keep our homes safe and accessible for senior dogs, the more active they will be, which will help them stay healthier longer.
Mobility Aids for Senior Dogs
Keeping Your Old Dog Comfortable
Older dogs benefit from beds and crate pads that are easy on achy muscles and stiff joints. Look for products made of a thick solid piece of polyurethane foam or of memory foam. High-quality, thick foam distributes your dog’s weight evenly and provides firm support.
Memory foam, invented by NASA, actually molds to the dog’s body and adjusts to his weight distribution. Because of its density, memory foam dog beds don’t need to be as thick as polyurethane beds to have the same, or more, support.
A cozy plush cover makes any dog bed more comfortable. Additional features to consider are heating pads and cooling pads to help regulate his temperature and machine-washable materials.
Feeding Your Senior Dog
Many dog food brands offer varieties meant for senior dogs. Nutrition information is right on the packaging. Here are a few things to consider:
Active Mind, Happy Dog
Your golden-ager might not be as physically active as she once was, but that’s no reason to give up toys and games. You may have to adjust for a lower energy level as well as for aging muscles, joints, and jaws by choosing softer tug and chew toys and shorter playtime.
For catch and fetch, soft foam balls are gentle on older jaws and teeth. Choose brightly colored toys that are easier for your dog to track visually and toys that make sounds while they move, which will give your dog aural cues.
Interactive toys and puzzles, especially if filled with her favorite treats, will spark enough interest to keep her brain engaged. Look for puzzle games that have varying degrees of difficulty and use different problem-solving skills. This keeps your elderly dog’s mind sharp and stimulated.