Your dog has earned a comfortable retirement, so we've put together a few tips on how to make it golden.
Just like wine, dogs get better with age. And your furry vintage has always been loyal (well, as long as there wasn't bacon involved!). He's stuck by your side through thick and thin, a trustworthy pal who's always offered you a shoulder to cry on. Now that he's getting older, he may not be as fast or spry as he used to be—in fact, you may not even realize where the time as gone.
Depending on the breed of your dog, his senior years can start anywhere from seven to 10 years of age. When he hits the golden oldies, you'll notice that the fur on his muzzle has started to turn gray and that he’s just as happy to take a nap on the couch instead of joining you for a game of fetch. No matter when this time of his life occurs, you need to be prepared that it will happen, and you want to make your dog’s time as a senior is as comfortable as possible.
Because senior dogs have different needs, you'll need to make a few changes around the house to ensure that life much more comfortable for your senior dog.
Elevated Dog Bowls
For larger dogs in particular, bending over to eat or drink can put a strain on joints. Make meal time more comfortable by serving your dog's dinner in elevated dog bowls, as they can relieve stain off of your dog’s neck and back.
Orthopedic Dog Beds
Perfect for dogs who suffer from arthritis, orthopedic beds help to cushion joints and bones. These beds often come with a heating feature, which includes a bed warmer or a heated blanket (be careful of the settings). Your dog will get a much deserved therapeutic thanks to the combination of supportive bed and heat.
Cover Hardwood Floors
They may look chic and be easier to clean, but they can be hard for a senior dog to walk on. No, we're not saying that you have to lay new carpet in every room in your home—you just need to minimize slips and falls. You can put down large area rugs to making walking around your home easier or use no-skid carpets or foam floor mats (these are the ones that look like puzzle pieces you put out for your kids to play on). The great thing about the foam mats are that they're easy to assemble and take apart.
When you get older, climbing up stairs or getting into the car isn't as easy as it used to be. Your senior dog will need some extra help getting up and down the stairs, into the car, and up onto furniture. Ramps come in handy for extra mobility. Make your own or buy one—they come in a variety of sizes and prices, but can be well worth the price (especially if you have a larger dog you can’t lift on your own).
Indoor Potty Station
While we're on the subject of mobility, going in and out of the house for bathroom breaks can be a problem. As well, some senior dogs suffer from incontinence, which means more frequent accidents in the house. This issue is easily solved with an indoor potty station. You can use newspapers and potty pads, but there are more sophisticated systems on the market that are easy to clean, don't smell and are mobile.
Some dogs as they get older can't regulate their body temperature (short-coated breeds, smaller dogs, Greyhounds and Whippets in particular). Don't turn up the thermostat—just put your dog in a sweater. The wool will give him some much-needed warmth, and can always be removed in the warmer months of the year.
Your older dog may lose his sight or hearing. To make navigating around the home hassle and injury free, keep rooms clear of any obstacles and clutter. As well, always keep his water and food bowl in the same place so he knows where to find it.
Amy Tokic is the Editor of Petguide.com, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.