Many people think dogs have to be 12-13 years old to be considered an “old dog”, but some dogs depending on their breed, weight, and other factors can be considered elderly as early as the age of seven.
Great Danes, for instance, usually only live to be about seven or eight. So, a six-year-old Great Dane is considered to be an elderly dog. However, the average mid-size dog is usually “geriatric” between the ages of eight and ten. We have compiled a list of 8 things you can do to make that older lifestyle a little bit easier for your older pup.
1. ADD more bedding around your house
Adding more bedding around your house creates more places for your older dog to lay down. As your dog gets older, they will tend to want to move around a little less often. Creating more rest spots will make it easier for them to take a break when they need it. You should also add some additional blankets underneath for added cushion. Or, you can buy new Tempurpedic Mats to ease those achy joints or Cool Mats, that make the temperature nice and cool.
This makes your dog happy and comfortable, but is also helpful to you. It’s not as easy for older dogs to get up and down off of furniture, and many owners feel a need to constantly help their older dogs. And, since some people don’t allow dogs on the furniture, having that added bedding around the house works out great.
2. LIFT your dog in and out of the car
Start lifting your dog in and out of the cars instead of expecting them to jump. Ramps can sometimes be helpful, but some dogs don’t really like them. If your dog will go up a ramp, and you’re able to buy it, that’s great!
3. FEED your dog some wet food or soften their food
Once your dog reaches the older years, you should add wet food to their diet or soften the food that you feed them. This makes it easier for them to chew. As dogs get older their teeth aren’t as strong, which means:
- Their teeth can break or crack easier.
- If their food is too hard, they may not eat as well because it hurts them if their teeth are more sensitive.
- Adding wet food to their diet will make it easier for your dog to eat.
However, you don’t want to feed them only wet food because that can cause decay a lot faster than having kibble in their diet. Kibble is good at helping scrape off tartar, so you don’t want to cut out this part of their diet entirely if possible.
4. CONSIDER pain medications for your dog
All dogs start experiencing a variety of pains as they grow in age. Adding in pain medications as needed can be a very helpful addition to their quality of life. Some dogs as they get older get a little bit stiff in the joints. This can result from a variety of causes like bad hips or an old injury that flares up. There are a variety of medications that can address these aches and pains as they come up.
As far as pain medications are concerned, Tramadol is really good to ask your vet about. I recommend this medication because it’s easier for your dog’s body to metabolize and it isn’t hard on their gut.
There are other anti-inflammatory drugs like Vetprofen or Rimadyl, these are really more for acute injuries and not great for long-term pain solutions. They do upset the stomach, and can cause ulcers, bleeding and other complications. So, you want to be really careful when considering those types of drugs.
5. USE Area rugs, booties, and paw sprays
Elderly dogs can benefit greatly from area rugs, booties on their feet, or paw sprays that you can add to give your dog some added traction. If you have no carpet in the house, it can be very difficult for your dogs to get up and down off of cold slippery tile, or polished wood floors. Sometimes just adding a few rugs, some booties, or paw sprays can give them the added help they need.
A couple of sprays I recommend to clients are Show Foot™ or PawFriction. PawFriction is specifically designed for geriatric dogs. You just spray it on their feet, and it helps give them a little added traction around the house and makes getting up and down easier.
6. TRY using supplements
Another way we recommend helping your older dog is to consider supplements like fish oil capsules, Glucosamine and Chondroitin. These can be controversial, but they don’t really hurt your dog. Some people are not sure of how much these supplements actually add to their dogs well-being.
We have a lot of customers who believe in them wholeheartedly, and we’re happy to give your dogs those supplements when they’re here. However, when adding anything new to your dog’s diet, you should discuss it with your vet first to make sure they think that’s a good option for your dog.
7. GO get your dog a massage
We like to suggest considering massage therapy and there is a great massage therapist in town that we recommend. The massage therapist in Austin, TX that we use, and really like, is Christina with Skillful Paws. She does great work with dogs, and she also works with horses.
8. PURCHASE soft dental chews
Soft dental chews help clean your dog’s teeth. As they get older, you might not want to sedate your dog for a dental cleaning. Even using these between dental cleanings can do a great deal to keep their teeth clean. There’s a great product that we sell by Cloudstar called Dynamo Dog, which are a little softer than your typical chew. They still get the Tartar off, and it’s a nice treat for your dog.
Those are our recommendations, and hopefully you’ll be able to put some of these to use. At DogBoy’s Dog Ranch we pride ourselves on educating our clients on the importance of making your dog’s later years more comfortable and enjoyable. You and your dog get to enjoy the time you have together that much more. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.
If you’re a senior, or know a senior who’s interested in pet adoption, please check out the National Council for Aging Care’s guide on Pets for Seniors. It details how to adopt a dog who’s matched perfectly for you, and why seniors have so much to benefit from devoted animal companionship. Thank you!
To the west by StormSignal
My Dog by Artur Staszewski
Old English… by David Martyn Hunt
in memoriam by normanack