Senior Dog Care
Seasons of Change
I love the changing of the seasons and even though we live in the very temperate state of CA, there is a certain smell and taste in the senses when fall arrives. Pumpkins pop out on porches and ghoulish delights hang from the oak trees. A full harvest array greets customers browsing shops from Santa Barbara to LA. It is a time of packing away the summer fun and welcoming in the winter chill. For everything there is a season.
And so it is with our furry friends, when the aging process begins; a pup that used to bounce off every piece of furniture now rests his weary bones in his love-worn bed, unable to move around much anymore. Our babies grow old, showing signs of discomfort from tip to tail and although we knew we would most likely outlive them, it’s never easy to watch them lose mobility, sight, or hearing, as they enter their senior years. The reality of these changes is unavoidable but there are things you can do, when it’s about senior dog care, to make this inevitable transition easier on them and your family.
Be sensitive to their senior experience and be aware of what needs to change in order to better support their needs. Do you need to re-think things around the house? Should you look into different medications or support aids? Do you need to provide senior dog care when you aren’t around during the day? Start figuring out which needs you can meet in your pup’s life in advance, in order to pave the way for a smoother journey.
Decreased Daily Activity: Even though their bodies may not be as agile, it’s important to keep their minds alert and their muscles as active as possible. I’ve heard from fellow dog owners that a fun trick is scattering food around the house. Let them go on a slow and steady kibble search around the kitchen, instead of making them hover over a food bowl. Any slow muscle movement helps keep arthritis at bay, so even assisting them with paw circles in the air will increase blood flow and help them stay limber.
Needing Comfort: Where does your pup spend most of his time now? If it’s in the cozy kitchen or near a sunny window, perhaps he’s feeling the chill down deep in his bones. Re-think his bedding. Maybe it’s time to invest in a warm micro-suede cave bed or a blanket he can snuggle up in and bird-watch from indoors. Think about what feels good for you and 9 times out of 10 it will be welcomed by them too. Egg crate bedding, fleece or faux fur will give them a sense of safety and warmth, so make the most out of their space, since they are most likely spending more time there now.
Moving Around: It’s hard on your furry friend when she can no longer leap into your lap, or sit side-by-side on the couch during movie night. Be aware of how they are affected by this new way of being in the world and realize some of their seeming unhappiness may be simple frustration. Find ways to include them by adding a ramp up to their favorite spot or invest in a dog back brace or body wrap to assist them in getting from one place to another. Make it fun for them when possible and enjoy the challenge of finding new ways to maneuver obstacles together.
Tummy Trouble: One sign of old age is a change of eating habits or lack of appetite altogether. Be sure to work with your Vet to find a diet and exercise plan that works for your aging pup. Being at the right weight will increase longevity and decrease overall health risks. Find supplements and foods they enjoy and that will provide them with a balance of vitamins and nutrients to support their changing bodies.
Above all else, enjoy this “sunset” season with your best friend and give them constant reminders of what an important part of your family they are. Find new ways to include them in your activities, especially during the holidays, when we can so easily become distracted and forget our poor old dog needs a bit of extra TLC. Compassionate, caring, senior dog care is essential!
LOVE AND RESPECT ANIMALS!