Pad Your Dog's Comfort Zone
Just like humans, older dogs aren't as sure-footed as they used to be and might become arthritic as they age. Adapt the indoors for their less agile senior feet.
- Short nails improve your dog's grip on bare floors.
- Nonskid pads under rugs will help prevent falls.
- Steep stairs can lead to bone-breaking accidents. Block them off to canine traffic.
- Elevated food and water bowls make it easier for your dog to eat.
- An insulated, cushioned bed makes it more comfortable for your dog to sleep by pampering its stiff joints and hips.
- A portable, adjustable dog ramp lets your dog climb on and off furniture with ease. The ramp also makes it easier for your dog to get in and out of a car or truck.
Editor's Tip: Getting older doesn't have to mean that your dog needs to slow down or avoid climbing stairs and going on walks. Sometimes the slowness is due to joint pain, which can be managed. Talk to your vet if you suspect canine arthritis.
Maintain a Regular Routine
Mealtimes, rests, walks, and play at the usual times comfort your dog as it ages. But adjust these routines to suit your pooch.
- Chances are your dog doesn't need as much food as when it was younger and more energetic. Overfeeding can shorten your dog's life by making it obese and causing related health problems. Extra weight also puts more stress on arthritic joints. Talk to your vet if you need guidance on how much to feed your pooch.
- Give your older dog regular exercise, but possibly scale it back or choose a low-impact version to suit its abilities. Keep up the daily walks, for example, but make them shorter and/or slower.
- Try to avoid disruptions in your dog's daily schedule. A strange environment might disorient your pooch and cause stress. So consider how travel impacts your senior dog before including it in your road trip plans.
Keep Your Canine Cool
Senior dogs don't tolerate extreme temperatures very well. Here are some tips for keeping them comfy during hot weather.
- Let your dog chill out indoors during heat waves.
- Never leave your elderly dog outside unsupervised on hot days.
- Provide plenty of water to keep your dog hydrated. A few ice cubes keep water colder longer.
- When playing, coax your senior dog to take a cooldown break in a shady spot.
- Schedule outdoor exercise and play for cooler hours of the day: before sunrise or after sunset.
- Encourage big gulps of water and siestas after sun-drenched outings.
- Increase the number of shady dog oases in your yard for warm-weather lounging.
- If your dog's activity dwindles as summer heat builds, it will eat less than in colder seasons. Adjust kibble portions to suit its appetite.
- If your dog loses weight or you notice other indications of illness, be sure to call your vet.
Editor's Tip: In cold weather, set up your dog's bed in toasty places away from drafts.
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