Four Tips for Living with Older Dogs

by Serena on June 20, 2013

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With the birth of my new baby we have some great guest posters keeping you entertained here on Puppy Tales. Today we welcome Serena Faber Nelson from the blog Pretty Fluffy.

Watching your dog get older is one of the realities of life with pets. Lots of articles about senior pet living will focus on (important) topics related to medical treatment, health management and senior training.

But today I want to focus on enjoying and enriching the life of your pooch as they head into retirement. It’s in these years that you and your dog have never been closer.

The personal observations I’ve found as a pet owner watching my beloved pooch move into her senior years revolve around bringing ease and contentment to my dog’s life. Here are my top 4 tips for living with an older dog and making that life so much sweeter for you both…

1. Find Time to Bond

As your pet gets older, some of the activities you’ve enjoyed together may not happen as much any more. For example, your faithful running buddy may not be able to run 5K with you anymore. But that doesn’t mean you should go your separate ways. A leisurely walk around the neighbourhood will do the trick.

Look for new ways to spend time with your dog – snuggling on the couch, weekly doggie massages, and gentle indoor games are all ways to bond with your aging pup.

Remember, as dogs get older, they will generally become quieter and less boisterous, meaning it’s up to you to seek your dog out for attention. This is important especially in busy households where children or younger pets may demand more attention due to their exuberance and activity. While it’s true that older dogs need more rest time, don’t forget to ensure you spend adequate time per day bonding and enjoying time with your pooch. Now is the special time to create everlasting memories.

Soda, Serena's DogSoda, Serena’s Dog

2. Embrace Alternative Therapies

Like all of us, as dogs gets older, their health begins to suffer. Nowadays dog owners can be much more proactive in their aging dogs’ health. Alternative treatments such as acupuncture and chiropractic care can alleviate many signs of aging, while eastern herbs and remedies can assist with anything from digestive to joint issues.

By being proactive with your dog’s health care you can ensure they ease into retirement with wellbeing and vitality. As the old adage says: prevention is always better than a cure.

3. Redesign Your Home

As your dog starts to get on in years you’ll notice they’ll start to struggle with certain actions around the home. By watching out for these changes, you can spring into action straight away to keep their home a safe sanctuary.

It only takes a small amount of updates to ensure your house is senior pet friendly. Colourful ottomans, or footstools, provide the perfect stepping stone for dogs unable to leap onto surfaces like they used to. Outdoor ramps can help with steps or getting into the car. Indoor rugs can provide warm and non-slip areas for them to walk on. Doggy doors allow them to go outside to toilet without having to find household members. Extra blankets and orthopedic bedding provides a comfortable senior’s den.

Start monitoring what your aging dog is struggling with within the home and start to make small adjustments for their ease and safety.

Soda and her toy

4. Update the Toy Box

Last but definitely not least, go through your dog’s toybox to ensure all of their toys remain suitable. Just because they’re headed into retirement doesn’t mean they want to play bridge!

Play time is such an important aspect of a dog’s day, and ensuring they have the correct tools is vital. Lots of major brands now make senior friendly versions of their popular toys – such as the senior Kong. Look for toys designed to be friendlier on senior teeth and gums, easier to see with diminishing eyesight, and gentler in action to protect their joints and muscles.

Don’t forget to include cognitive toys – such as canine puzzles and treat balls – to keep your senior dog’s mind working away on a daily basis. By keeping their toys up to date your senior dog will play the day away like a pup.

What tips do you have for living with older pets?

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Written by Serena Faber Nelson of Pretty Fluffy.

About Serena

Serena Faber Nelson, a television producer, writer and fluffy dog owner. Obsessed with home décor, fashion, lifestyle and dogs – she set about creating Pretty Fluffy as a go-to guide for the modern pet owner. Pretty Fluffy features a range of stylish products, celebrity pooches, DIY projects and handy hints, and is a daily stop for smiles and inspiration, giving readers the tools they need to enjoy full and happy lives with their furry friends.

Serena’s greatest loves include fresh peonies, Dirty Dancing (Nobody puts Baby in a corner), Banoffe Pie, spending waaay too much time on Pinterest, and hugging random dogs at the park. She currently lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband, Andy, and her 12 year old Border Collie, Soda.

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  • Emma

    I can relate to this article is so many ways for my beloved Noogie, who will be 14 next month! I’m thankful we live in a single story house at the moment as he struggles with the stairs. He is still very healthy but we’ve had to make a few changes to allow for the arthritis in his back legs. I now lift him and and out of the car (quite a sight since he is 32kg!) and follow a vitamin regime much better than I ever have for myself! These years are so precious. He can’t do a zoomie around the yard anymore but he sure loves a snuggle!

    • Lisa Miller

      Emma, thanks for the lovely comment. I remember when my childhood labs were 15. Sometimes they just liked going for a drive past the park with the windows down and going back home again 🙂 Older dogs are definitely great at snuggling!!

  • Vicki M

    This is a great, very thoughtfully written article – thank you for sharing. I am thankful that my two border collies are still very young and that these are not tips I have to consider for some time yet ….. however, it does takes me back to a few years ago and to caring for my dearly departed Daisy Girl who was just shy of 14 when she was given her angel wings. How I miss her still!

    • Lisa Miller

      Thanks Vicki, Serena did a great job with this article! Yes we never forget our wonderful pets!

  • Sandy O’Connor

    Reading your article, I had tears streaming down my face. My husband and I lost our beloved dog Abby,3 weeks ago, she was 13 years old. Not that old, but she had many health problems, lucky for us her Dad is a Vet. She was on many medications for her ailments, it was hard to get them into her as she was so smart, she would spit them out of the fillet steak I cooked for her. We would carry her up the stairs, lift her on and off the bed and couch. I always say to people with a puppy, “You think you love them now, just wait and see how much you love them when they’re old”. Abby has left a huge whole in our hearts,I miss her every second of every day, I feel blessed to have been her Mum and share her life.

    • Lisa Miller

      Oh Sandy sorry to hear about your loss! Abby sounds like a lovely dog. It is so hard when you lose them as they are such a major part of our lives but it is a blessing to have shared so much wonderful time with them. Enjoy your memories and we send you all our love xx

  • Lovely Article Serena! Pets at home can really make a lot of difference in our lives. They are considered to be a man’s best friend.

    Thanks for sharing this lovely article.

  • Brilliant! Just makes me love my little doggie even more! … Really would not be anywhere near as happy without the little guy around.

  • Jerermy

    Really great Tips for Living with Older Dogs.

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Hi! I'm Kerry & this is my best buddy Keiko. Together we want to help you live the best life with your dog and bring you inspiring 'Puppy Tales'! Read more →

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