You may suddenly realize that your dog is lacking in enthusiasm for some of the activities that he used to enjoy. He may no longer be the first one in the car when he gets to go on family outings or even be hesitant to cuddle up to you in bed or on the sofa when you are watching TV.
If your dog is a senior, chances are that he hasn’t really lost interest in the activities he has always enjoyed but is simply having more difficulty conquering heights or maintaining enough energy to keep the fun going. There are several accommodations for older dogs that you can make to improve his quality of life.
Like humans, our canine family members experience a natural decrease in their range of motion, flexibility, and energy as they age. Some breeds are more prone to conditions like hip dysplasia that can make movement even more difficult. These obstacles can occur sooner in larger breed dogs that typically have a shorter lifespan and also have more weight to carry.
If your dog is showing signs of aging, there are some special accommodations that you can make to help make life easier and more enjoyable for the older dog.
Heated Dog Bed
Older dogs often become more sensitive to cold temperatures. They no longer have the capacity to regulate their body temperature efficiently. A heated bed will provide your dog with a cozy spot to sleep whenever he feels a chill.
A good choice is one that has a removable heating component and is orthopedic for added support that arthritic dogs need.
Swimming is a great way for senior dogs to get their exercise and retain flexibility. Once joints get older, their swimming capabilities may become less dependable.
A life vest will help keep your pet in the water while giving you peace of mind.
A Little Lift
Lifts are readily available at most pet supply stores that will help dogs get onto the bed or into the vehicle without the need to jump.
Those made like steps should be secure and covered with non-slip surfaces that will keep your pet secure. Foldable ramps may work better since the dog doesn’t have to master steps to get where he is going.
Adjust His Diet
The nutritional needs of older dogs change as well. Chewing food may become more difficult, they can develop digestive problems, or become overweight due to a decrease in activity. Talk to the vet about the changes in your pet and what changes you may need to make in his diet.
Raised Food And Water Dishes
When he was young, your biggest problem may have been keeping your dog from eating anything and everything no matter where he could find a tasty morsel.
Now that he is older, just leaning down to eat and drink at floor level may be challenging.
To make meal time more comfortable, purchase a raised food and water dish that is right for his height. Either choose one with non-skid feet or place it on a mat that will keep the unit in place and prevent spills from going onto the floor.
Make Your Home Safer
Take a new look at your home and any challenges it may present to your senior dog. Does he have to go up or down the stairs to get to his food or bed? Are stairs presenting too much of a problem for a dog with aching joints? Is a loss of vision making it more difficult to find food and water?
Any change in behavior may be a clue that your dog’s needs are changing and that you may need to make special accommodations to keep him comfortable and happy.
Lighten Up On The Toys
Your dog’s teeth and gums can also become more sensitive, making it difficult for him to fetch the same toys that he loved so much before.
Choose some that are similar but softer to make it more comfortable for him to grasp. Nylabones are a good choice for senior dogs who need to maintain strong teeth without irritating gums.
Make More Frequent Visits To The Vet
Your senior dog will need to see the vet regularly to monitor any changes and stay aware of any new health conditions that develop. Make sure you include dental care for optimal health. Early detection of many conditions can make it easier to keep them under control and prevent them from advancing to something more serious.
Make sure you spend plenty of time with your senior dog and do the things that he enjoys. A few special accommodations can help make the most of all the time you have left with the four-legged member of your family.