Some of the best days I’ve ever had with dogs have been with my senior dogs. They reach a point in life where they are chill, wise and enjoy just spending the afternoon watching TV with you on the sofa. The advancement in pet nutrition and medicine has helped increase the life of our pets. So it’s common to see senior dogs live well into their teens.
But just like people, senior dogs need some help to stay comfortable and healthy at home. If you have a senior dog in your home, here are some things you can do to make life easier and safer for them.
Cover hardwood floors
As dogs get older, they can become less steady on their feet. So think about making them a covered walkway on your hardwood floods. A path of rugs or yoga mats make them feel more confident walking on the slippery surface.
Many senior dogs get thinner and have less muscle mass. So finding them a comfortable and supportive bed is important. They need the extra cushioning.
If you have a short step up area in your home or an SUV, a ramp can help your dog get up and down safely. Stairs get harder for dogs due to lack of mobility and failing eyesight. A wide ramp installed correctly can help them feel secure as they move around your home.
Elevated Dog Bowls
Some older dogs have a hard time lowering their neck to eat and drink. An elevated bowl can make it more comfortable. The proper elevation for a large dog is 6” below their chest, and 3” for a smaller dog.
Gate Unsafe Areas
Anticipate areas in your home that are not safe for your senior dog and install gates. Baby gates work great for most dogs. Stairs and backyard pools are two areas that are especially dangerous for elderly dogs.
Make sure their sleeping situation is correct
It’s not a good idea to change where an older dogs sleeps, but the area should be comfortable and warm. If they sleep in a crate, add a thicker crate pad. If they have their own bed, buy an orthopedic bed. If they sleep on your bed, make sure they can get on and off safely. Also check for drafts and cold spots, older dogs tend to sleep colder than when they were young.
Install night lights
Hearing and sight are the two senses that dogs start to lose first. So make sure that if they need to go out at night or need a drink, there is light to help them find where they are going. My dog Baxter lost most of his sight due to cataracts and cornea damage. But he did well because I was careful not to rearrange things and provided light for him at night. Including outdoors.
Middle of the night outdoor visits
Most dogs as they age also need to urinate more frequently. If your dog is crated at night or sleeps confined, think about adding a middle of the night potty break. My dogs all sleep in my bed, so when they have to go, they wake me by getting up. But if they are confined, you might sleep though their discomfort. Pay attention to how often they are going during the day and realize, they also will need to go that frequently at night too.
It only takes a few changes to your senior dog’s environment to make sure they are comfortable and safe at home…. and spending more happy days with you.
Article Written by Diane Hansell, Re-Published with permission by Pet Pantry in Harbor Springs