How To Care For A Geriatric Dog? [7 Tips]

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Just like us, dogs age too. Large dogs can live to be as old as 16 while small dogs can live to be closer to 18 or more.

It’s inevitable that your once hyper and youthful puppy will one day be a geriatric, senior doggo.

So how will you take care of them when they get older? This article will go over some helpful tips and advice on how to improve the life of your aging canine companion.

By Allison Salonko.

Allison is a Veterinary Technician in the state of Indiana. She graduated from International Business College and Vet Tech Institute of Indianapolis with a degree in Animal Science and Technology in 2011.

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#1. Keep them active!

Activity keeps our joints, muscles and bones moving, which in turn makes us stronger and healthier.

The same goes for dogs!

When they are aging it is important to make sure they continue to receive exercise and play time everyday.

Otherwise, they start to lose muscle in their limbs, which causes frailty and weakness and can lead to them having pain and difficulty walking.

You don’t have to go outside and run with your geriatric dog.

Just a short walk or two a day can really help improve their joint health.

If the weather isn’t permitting, you can always hide different treats or their favorite toys around the house for exercise and some mental stimulation.

#2. Routine Blood Work and Preventative Care

Sometimes our dogs slow down because there is an underlying medical condition that is causing them to have decreased energy.

It is important that you have yearly blood work run at the veterinarian to screen for changes in organ function such as the liver, kidneys and heart.

Any decrease in the functionality of the organs can cause weakness, lethargy and change in routine and behavior.

Regular vet visits and routine tests will help to stay on top of any changes that are happening to your aging friend.

#3. Find a super comfy bed for them to use

Orthopedic beds are extremely important for your geriatric dog’s aging bones and joints.

I mean, who doesn’t want a nice, soft bed to sleep on?

While they may be a little pricey, splurging on an orthopedic dog bed is well worth the money when you realize how much they enjoy it and benefit from a good night’s sleep.

Older dogs that are suffering from joint pain and arthritis will benefit greatly from a memory foam, orthopedic bed.

Maybe even finding a bed that is elevated off of the ground by a few inches would be great for our large and giant breeds.

Not only is it better for them to have more height for stepping up comfortably, but it will also allow for air ventilation and temperature control.

geriatric dogs still enjoy attention pats walks

#4. Make little changes to the house and their routine

As your dog gets older, they will eventually start to lose their hearing, vision and perhaps mental clarity.

When this starts to happen, it will be easy for your dog to become confused, lost or startled even in a familiar environment, so making very few changes to the home and their routine is best.

Not only will it reduce the likelihood of anxiety from too many changes, but it will also allow for them to feel confident and comfortable in their home.

All too often, I hear about how the owners bought a new couch and had to change the layout of the living room, so now their old dog is confused and keeps bumping into furniture.

This will cause your dog to become frustrated and anxious, potentially leading to depression or stress.

#5. Try using ramps, steps or a dog sling

There are several tools and furniture items out there that have been designed specifically to help geriatric dogs and their owners.

As your dog ages, you may have to add a few things to the home in order to make getting onto bed or the couch easier, or even just getting inside from the potty.

Steps and ramps are a convenient addition to many homes with aging dogs, they make climbing onto and off of furniture easier and safer!

Dog slings are also quite helpful, especially when you have a large or giant breed dog.

When they have difficulty getting up off of the floor, using a dog sling can really lift them easily while also saving your back!

#6. Rugs, rugs, rugs

This really applies to homes that have hardwood or areas with slippery floors like tile or linoleum.

As dogs get older and lose muscle mass and their joints become stiffer, it can be difficult for them to get off of the slippery, hard floor.

Carpets do make it easier for most of our canines to hoist themselves up, so this is why I recommend having several rugs if carpet isn’t an option.

Sometimes it may be necessary to make a path of rugs for your aging doggo to walk on throughout the house.

They will really appreciate the added grip that they get from the rugs compared to the tricky to walk on hardwood.

There are anti-slip stickers available that can be applied to your dog’s paws to give them more traction.

#7. Diet and Daily Supplements

Diet is one of the first things that we should look at when our dog reaches senior age.

It is crucial that your dog is eating a well balanced meal that provides an appropriate amount of nutritional value.

Senior dog food diets made by manufacturers like Purina, Royal Canin and Hills Science Diet actually include an additional amount of glucosamine and chondroitin and fiber.

It is always recommended that you feed your dog food by a reputable company and do not use homemade diets unless you have done as much research as possible.

Providing your dog with a joint supplement that includes glucosamine and chondroitin will also go a long way in making them feel more youthful.

These supplements create more lubrication in your dog’s joints, making them feel less painful while also slowly down the progression of joint disease and arthritis.

How To Keep Your Aging Dog Happy Longer?

Aging isn’t something that we can prevent, only accept, so why not try and find ways to make the inevitable process of your dog growing older a little less painful for everyone.

Keep up on your dog’s routine veterinary appointments, daily exercise and joint supplements and you will certainly see results!


Photos by Sabine; Sharon.