Susan’s Tips for Improving the Quality of Life for Your Older Dog:
1. Teach your dog hand signals for “come,” “sit,” “down,” “wait,” etc. When he/she is older and harder of hearing, this will help relieve possible anxiety that may arise from lack of communication. Limit your demands as your older dog as the dog knows best what position is most comfortable.
2. Older dogs often do best laying on therapeutic beds. These are the one-piece form similar to the tempur-pedic mattress humans use for relief of discomfort. If you’re in a hot climate, consider a cooling dog bed; cold climates – look for heated dog beds.
3. Train your dog to use steps or a ramp while young so the training is already in place when age dictates their use. These can be used for getting onto the bed as well as getting into a vehicle.
4. Take a fresh look at ways to make things more convenient for your dog as he/she gets older and less able to get around. Dogs are stoic and often silently suffer with arthritis or sore joints, etc., long before we know it. Raising the food and water bowl (this is good for any large-chested dog to guard against bloat) may also make it easier for your aging dog to eat or drink. Smaller dogs may need their bowls lowered.
5. Take a look at things from your dog’s point of view; get on all fours and look around. Make adjustments where necessary in order to allow their golden years to be more comfortable.
6. One of the BEST things you can do is to keep your dog healthy and moving is feeding a high quality diet, keeping them well-exercised and at a good weight. Speak to your veterinarian about joint supplements to rebuild cartilage and improve comfort where possible. Obesity exacerbates many issues including arthritis and can make your dog’s final years uncomfortable.