This article was featured in The K9 Reporter as “Making Life Easier for Your Senior Dog.” Here additional resources are included that were omitted due to lack of space. You’ll find lots of tips for easing your senior dog’s life.
Are you noticing changes in your senior dog? Is the muzzle getting whiter? Does she walk slower now? Does he have a hard time getting into the car or walking the stairs? I remember when Boomer, my wheaten terrier, started slowly aging. He lived a great life of over 14 years and taught me a lot of living with an older dog.
Here are some of the tips I learned from Boomer and my client’s older dogs.
Comfortable Places to Rest
Dogs, no matter their age, want to be with the family. Is their bed in the bedroom or in another room? They want to be where the family and activity is happening. Consider a second comfortable bed in family room, kitchen, or living room. Be sure the bed is easy to access and not in a draft. As they get older, a lower-sided bed is easier to get into and relax.
If you dog likes to be warm, consider getting a “heated dog pad.” These pads are set to a dog’s body temperature. Boomer loved to sit in the unheated porch during the Minnesota winters and watch his world go by. He was warm and comfortable as he snoozed on his heated pad.
On really cold nights (below zero), Boomer liked to sleep on our bed with a light, small blanket over him. The blanket was very small and just barely covered his trunk. It came off easily when he got up and moved.
Does your dog sit on the furniture? To make it easier for them to get up on the furniture (well, some of them get up when you are gone), a foot stool or ramp helps them get up with dignity. Then they don’t need to ask you for help.
We had a wooden box by our bed, so Boomer could easily climb up when he wasn’t able to jump on to the bed. Maybe you would like a ramp that can be used in the house or for entry/exit of your car.
Walking Made Easier
Does your dog have problems with slippery, hardwood floors? Consider using scatter rugs with no slip backing so they can walk around easily.
If scatter rugs don’t fit your life style, I highly recommend PawZ Dog Boots. The boots look like bright colored balloons made of natural rubber and are reusable. The boots stay on, give traction on slippery floors, and keep feet dry! PawZ had a video of the senior dog trying to stand and walk without PawZ booties and wearing PawZ Boots! With the boots, he gets up and walks!
If a dog is having problems walking with her paws slipping, check the length of her nails. If her nails are too long, she may slip. By trimming her nails, the problem may be solved!
Sometimes stairs and standing up are hard for the senior dog. An easy solution is a sling under his belly. You can use a towel folded the long way or a scarf to gently lift their weight as they try to stand or walk up steps. Walk very close to their side as you support their weight. “Dog slings” are available in stores and online.
Another way to help your senior dog with sure footing and confidence is Tellington TTouch® Training techniques. With the help of a TTouch® practitioner or using the available books and YouTube videos, you can spend a few minutes every day doing several of the TTouches to help your dog with stiff joints, hip dysplasia, and more. Also the TTouch Body Wrap can help your dog become more aware of her body.
Also, Healing Touch for Animals® (HTA), energy work using chakras and similar to Reiki, can help a dog be grounded and energetically balanced. After a single HTA session, I had several clients’ dogs get up and walk on their own. Maggie, a 14 ½ year old Lab, who could barely get up and walk on her own, went on longer walks and walked easier for several weeks after a session. We continued the HTA sessions for her until she crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
Often senior dogs become frightened by sounds that never bothered them before. Maybe their hearing is getting worse and their other senses are picking up the changing weather, street noise, and other sounds. The TTouch Body Wrap or the Thundershirt™ help dogs with scary sounds. Both items help calm a dog. Be sure to use these items at different times including sunny days so your dog doesn’t connect them with thunderstorms and fireworks.
Overall General Comfort
Any dog and especially senior dogs respond well to Bach® Flowers. The gentle flower essences help balance the emotions of the dog and you. Often I find the person and the dog need the same Bach flower essences. The flower essences are very gentle and subtle in the calmness they bring to the dog and you. Rescue® Remedy is great for sudden emergencies like an approaching thunderstorm, fireworks, or injuries. Walnut helps ease the stress of change for both of you as you support his needs. For the incontinent dog, Crab Apple helps restore the dignity of the dog. Bach Flowers can help you and your dog have a happier life together.
Celebrate Your Senior Dog
Now is a great time to really enjoy your dog as you both experience a wonderful life. Do you have questions or issues you can’t figure out? You may want an animal communicator to ask your dog how he is feeling, is she in pain, what does he need from you, etc. The dogs are very honest and tell you what they need. I found animal communication very helpful when I was concerned about Boomer. He told me about what he needed from me and how to help him live his best life. It made our lives easier.
May you and your dog(s) have many wonderful years of love and joy! Remember Animal Bridges can help you with your senior dog.