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From The Vet: 5 Simple Hacks To Make Life Easier For Senior Dogs

| Published on September 30, 2015

What better way to show your love than to make every day just a little easier for your loved one? As your dog ages, there are predictable changes that happen commonly, and fortunately there are things that you can do to make daily life less difficult for your dog if you know how.

#1 – Making Floors Safer

Senior dogs lose flexibility and balance as part of brain and nerve aging and sometimes, navigating on today’s popular slick hardwood and tile floors can be tough. There are specially designed booties just for this job. They come in a variety of sizes and multiple brands. Depending on your dog’s size and temperament, you should make sure that there is a return policy in case you (or your dog) are not happy. Rubber mats for gym and playroom floors can be placed under bowls and along hallways where slipping is a risk if the booties are not preferred.

#2 – Making Mealtime Easier

Sometimes eating can be challenging because the dog is focused on the food and not the things around him or her. Elevated bowls can be helpful for those with neck stiffness or cervical osteoarthritis and can be easier for dogs to see if their vision has been impaired by cataracts.  It is very helpful to place an inexpensive yoga mat under the bowls for traction while dining. Senior dogs, especially those with neck pain, should not be walked on a collar if possible. A harness is a better choice.

#3 – Making Movement Easier

Getting up and lying down can be the most difficult because of the way muscle fibers age. Once older dogs get moving, many of them are much better. It is helpful to have comfortable bedding that is easy to rise from and lie down on. If your dog has trouble with steps and there is no way to avoid them, consider a sling for him/her. You can fashion a homemade sling with beach towel placed under the belly and held in one hand over the back, but in male dogs, this is an awkward situation for urination. There are mobility harnesses designed to help with this problem.

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#4 – Adjust for Aging Senses

The senses will age also and one of the first deficits seems to be vision in low lighting. Senior dog owners can remedy this issue by placing numerous night lights at the dog’s level all through the home. Avoid changing furniture arrangement if you live with a senior dog because of the vision loss associated with age. Hearing is also commonly affected as tiny structures of the inner ear become more brittle with time. Try communicating at different pitches. Use a shrill whistle to summon or clap your hands. Some people can stomp their feet and the vibration signals the dog to come.


#5 – Keep Body and Mind Moving

Even more important than gadgets to help daily life is maintaining use of mind and body. Make sure that your dog gets regular low impact exercise as long as he/she is able (and even if you have to carry her most of the way or sling him). Puzzle toys and interactive devices are great at keeping the mind engaged. Prioritize time together to interact and play or just cuddle. Studies show that interaction with other beings helps improve well-being and enhance quality of life. If you can be proactive about the things that are usually associated with aging, you can help a lot and allow your dog a maximum quality of life.


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