Ageing gracefully: Senior dog care tips for pet parents

Aging—like first love, heartache, grief, and loss—is a part of life. And it's a blessing; the longer we get to be with our fur babies, the better! ❤️

But we still need to talk about the realities of caring for older dogs.

Senior dog care comes with new challenges.

It calls for patience, understanding, and readiness to adapt to your aging dog's changing needs.

It's something pet parents must prepare for.

So, even if the mere thought of Fido's sunset years turns you into a blubbering mess of denial *sniffle*, keep reading for the eight things pet parents need to know about elderly dogs.

My dog is getting old: What do I need to know?

Here's what to expect when your pup grows old.

Dogs age at different rates

Generally speaking, most puppers are "seniors" at around eight years. But if you read our article on dog years, you know the math isn't that simple. It varies by breed, whereby large breeds age faster and typically have shorter life spans.

Elderly dogs still need exercise

Sure, their activity level decreases, they tire out more quickly, and older dogs sleep more. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean elderly dogs should be couch potatoes!

Regular movement helps keep excess weight off and, crucially, prevents muscle loss and weakness.

The trick is to find your new normal.

That may involve switching up your routine to focus on low-impact activities like walking around the block or swimming versus running at the dog park. You may also have to adjust the length and frequency of activities to accommodate your senior's well-being and comfort.

They may need mobility aids

Neurological issues, atrophied muscles, and the aches and pains of arthritis mean your dog may need help getting around.

(Trust us, Fido wants to stick by your side even if it hurts! 🥺)

Fortunately, there are doggie wheelchairs, functional pet shoes (for added traction), harnesses and lifts, splints, scooters, ramps and more that can make that happen.

Your home may need modification

Consider these low-cost yet high-impact changes for a canine-friendly home:

  • Purchase several Grubby Paw Doormats with super-grip, non-slip backing for slippery areas around the house.
  • Switch to elevated food and water bowls for comfort.
  • Use children's lights at night. (Your aging pup may have poor vision.)
  • Install doggy stairs/ramps and a dog gate by the stairs to prevent accidents.
  • Make bedtime extra rejuvenating with an orthopaedic bed that provides physical support in all the right places.
  •  Because older dogs are sensitive to changes in temperature, give your BFF the luxury of a buttery-soft blanket to keep him warm on chilly nights.

Nothing beats a good night's rest, especially for aging pups who need all the R&R they can get!

Elderly dogs don't like change

Fido may be less adventurous in his senior years, preferring the "beaten path" over the road less travelled. Or he may be stuck to you like glue and more anxious when left alone. These behavioural changes in older dogs are often due to declining senses—they make your buddy more dependent on you.

  • If your pup has vision problems, avoid rearranging furniture to assist with navigation.
  • If your pup is hard of hearing, alert Fido to your presence with lights or stamping on the floor as you approach.
  • As much as possible, stick to a familiar routine. It's reassuring.

Expect senior dog incontinence

Bladder control issues are frequent occurrences in senior dogs. It can vary from the occasional post-nap leak (or deposit of poop) to a complete loss of control.

Elimination problems mean you may need to take shorter but more frequent walks. You might have to purchase doggy diapers or more puppy pads/patches for the home. You'll also always want to have our best-selling enzymatic cleaners, like our Multipurpose Clean + Disinfect Pack and Eco Carpet Shampoo handy.

You'll need to spend more time on grooming

Your senior may struggle to groom himself with all the new-found aches and pains. Some areas may even be unreachable!

Help your buddy by grooming regularly, using a soft-bristled brush to prevent skin injuries. (Doggy skin becomes thinner with age, making it prone to lesions.)

Want to go all out pampering your loyal friend? The Grubby Paw Grooming Mitt is effective and safe for sensitive skin. It also massages your pupper, making those quiet bonding moments even more special!

Vet checkups are essential

Early detection of age-related conditions can lengthen your pup's life—or make it more comfortable with the right supplements, nutrition, and medication.

Elderly dogs should see the vet twice yearly for vaccines, labs, dental screening/cleaning, and any other imaging or tests your vet may recommend.

Like Mum and Dad, Gran and Gramps, our canine sweethearts need more care, understanding, and attention with age. As dog lovers, we're more than willing to give it! 🥰


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