How can I support my senior dog as he ages?
As your senior dog gets older, you'll notice a number of changes in your furry best friend. He may move a little slower and need extra rest and cuddles, but he'll still want playtime and gentler adventures. And no matter how he's feeling, he'll still love you just as much every day. Of course, you'll want to do all you can to support your senior dog as he ages.
The Best Orthopedic Bed for Senior Dogs
One of the first things you can do to help your senior dog is to provide a comfortable place to rest. And an orthopedic bed is a wonderful option. Choose one that uses high-density foam to support your dog's neck, back, hips and joints. The Ortho Bolster Sleeper Pet Bed includes three inches of foam and a cozy bolster around the perimeter for extra snuggly comfort.
The Pillow-Top Orthopedic Lounger has bolsters on the side for added snugness. And if you're looking for an option to use in cooler weather, the Thermo-Ortho Bed has dual orthopedic foam layers and a plug-in, removable bed warmer.
Tip: A dog that's had surgery may benefit from an orthopedic bed too.
Senior dogs experience physical changes
In many ways, your furry friend's aging experience mimics what humans go through. So when you're considering how to help your aging pup, think about how you would help an elderly person. Just like a human's eyesight, smell and hearing can change as they age, senior dogs can experience the same.1
If you notice your dog doesn't come when you call or she seems to bump into things more often, talk to your veterinarian. You may need to make extra accommodations to help her feel more comfortable.
Your senior dog can get hot or cold more easily too.2 Take extra care when going outside, avoiding the hottest parts of the day. Let your home's AC run generously. When it's extra cold, keep outdoor trips shorter.
Senior dogs may exhibit changes in behavior
You may notice behavior changes in your senior pup. She might stop being as social as she used to be, or she might not want to play with other pets. She may be irritable or need to rest more. Although this can be perfectly normal, you'll want to discuss these changes with your veterinarian.
For example, incontinence is an issue many dogs face as they get older. Your veterinarian will need to determine if it's age-related. If so, they may have recommendations, such as more frequent potty outings or doggie diapers. You might also consider getting a bed like the Air Sofa Bed, which has a waterproof bladder that makes it perfect for dogs with incontinence issues, and you can adjust the firmness to meet your pet's needs.
Age can slow senior dogs down
Just as we do as we get older, dogs slow down as they age. To help your older dog, you may need to adjust a few things in your home. Pet stairs may help him reach your couch or bed without jumping. And raising his food and water bowls, so they're easier to reach can also help. Raising the bed may be a good option, too. The Self-Warming Pet Cot is a great bed that elevates your pup off the ground, thus alleviating pressure on his joints. The self-warming sherpa center traps his body heat and reflects it back to him, keeping him warm and cozy without needing any electricity.
Senior dogs still need lots of play and activities
If your aging dog is slowing down, she still needs to stay active.3 An active lifestyle is good for her physical and mental health. You may need to tone down the jumping and running to be easier on her joints, but you can still go for walks outside, take short jaunts through a backyard sprinkler or play "find the treat" scavenger hunts. She'll even enjoy learning new tricks that are age-appropriate. It may take a little creativity, but there are still lots of fun activities you can enjoy as your dog ages.
The golden years sneak up on you faster than you expect. Once your dog is about seven years of age, he's typically already considered a senior.4 It's even earlier if he's a larger breed. You'll want to do everything you can to make these special years as comfy, fun and happy as possible. So make time for gentle play and extra snuggles. Your dog will appreciate all the tender loving care.
1. AAHA. "What Should I Know About My Senior Dog?" AAHA.com, https://www.aaha.org/your-pet/pet-owner-education/ask-aaha/senior-dog-life-stage/.
2. NPR. "Helping Your 'Good Old Dog' Navigate Aging." NPR.org, 23 November 2010, https://www.npr.org/2010/11/23/131516152/helping-your-good-old-dog-navigate-aging.
3. River Landings Animal Clinic. "5 Tips for Caring for a Senior Dog." RiverLandingsAnimalClinic.com, 16 June 2020, http://www.riverlandingsanimalclinic.com/news/2020/6/11/5-tips-for-caring-for-a-senior-dog.
4. AVMA. "Senior Pet Care FAQ." AVMA.org, https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/petcare/senior-pet-care-faq