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Believe it or not, it’s not much different than how you’d go about making an elderly person more comfortable. In this article, we’ll discuss the ailments your older dog is going through now, or headed toward and what we can do to help.
Before we dive in, thanks for being here. If you’ve found this page it’s because you’re looking to make your older dog’s life a little better and that’s what we love to see at Senior Dog Days!
Now let’s get on with exploring what’s going on with our older dogs and the simple things you can do in order to yours more comfortable:
Recognize the Signs of Hearing Loss
If you’re lucky enough to get to spend time with a senior dog, you’ll likely witness your dog’s hearing deteriorate….sometimes rapidly. Hearing loss is something you want to be on the lookout for as many owners incorrectly assume, and become upset, with their older dog because they think the dog is ignoring commands. In actuality: their dog’s hearing is declining.
At the first signs of hearing loss or anywhere in between here are things you can do to help:
Start Incorporating Hand Signs
As smart as dogs are, they probably still don’t get enough credit for their high intelligence. If you haven’t already, you can start incorporating signs with your commands or questions.
For instance, when asking your older dog is she wants to eat, you can tap your lips. Or when asking if she needs to go outside, you can point to the door and to go on walks, you make a circular motion with your hands. Whatever you choose, just remain consistent and your dog will learn to associate the hand signals.
Teaching your dogs signs will be extremely beneficial as hearing loss progresses and will keep her confident and comfortable with communication.
Most old dogs will do surprisingly well if they lose their hearing as long as you have some way to communicate and they pick up on signals rather quickly.
Talk Louder But in the Same Tone
It’s human nature to raise our voice when we think a dog or person cannot hear us speaking. Just be sure your tone remains loving while you talk louder to your dog. Avoid shouting or yelling.
Don’t Startle Them
As your dog’s hearing loss progresses, they simply cannot hear you approach or even when you come home through the front door. From here on out, be sure make your presence known.
Imagine being sound asleep and being woken at night by someone touching you. It’s very startling and you might even react defensively. The same holds true for a dog losing her hearing. Always let them know you’re around before waking them, and make sure the whole family does the same.
Relieve Their Arthritis Pain
When older dogs suffer from arthritis, they definitely need your help. My senior dog has pretty severe arthritis in his spine and hips, but he lives a quality life because we manage it with both over the counter products and some prescriptions.
Be Mindful of House Temperature
In the winter – Keep the home warm in the winter. Older dogs are far more affected by temperature. In the cold months of winter, it is customary to turn down our thermostats when we go do bed or leave for work. But to make your old dog more comfortable, make sure the home is warm even when you’re not home.
If your dog is suffering from arthritis, staying warm is even more important. Cold rooms and floors will definitively make arthritis pain and symptoms more pronounced.
In the summer – Same goes for the summer months. Don’t leave your older dog without air conditioning for the day. If it’s too expensive to run, consider a widow unit with a thermostat. The window units like this (product link) have really become affordable and since they can be shipped to your door, you can spare yourself having to break your back loading and unloading from your car. The portable A/C units are also becoming extremely popular and are really nice for moving around the home; like this Portable A/C (link to product).
Provide a Comfortable Dog Bed Wherever Family Hangs Out
To make an old dog comfortable throughout the entire day, make sure he or she has access to a bed in every room where family will be sitting and relaxing.
My dog has 3 dog beds, and they are all different. For nighttime sleeping (where he sleeps a solid 8-9 hours, he uses his orthopedic dog bed.
But for downstairs, I have a roll up one that I move around (depending on what room we’re in) and this one here that stays in place.
This dog bed here in the living room is the jumbo size Dog Bed by Furhaven (link to product) and my 90 lb. dog loves this bed. He also has a higher quality orthopedic bed in the master bedroom and a roll mat.
Feed Highly Nutritious and Easy to Digest Food and Treats.
Buy your senior dog the most nutritious food you can afford. I’ve switched entirely to a raw diet and homemade treats because my dog’s weight was getting out of control. If you’ve ever considered incorporating some raw, nutritious food into your senior dog’s diet, I wrote a comprehensive article for beginners: Starting an Older Dog on Raw Food for Beginners.
If you’re turned off by raw, consider the occasional home-cooked meals like boiled chicken and carrots or turkey and green beans. YUM!
Keep Up With Grooming
I know. It’s easy to think “oh I don’t want to bother him” but that’s a downward spiral when it comes to grooming, not to mention: mental stimulation and togetherness.
Grooming will become a great source of pleasure for your dog and you’ll spot issues sooner when you keep your dog clean.
Eyes, Ears, Mouth
Eyes: Old dogs sleep a good 12-18 hours per day and that means eye gunk. Be sure to gently remove it daily.
Ears: More sleep means less air circulation in the floppy ears which leads to moist heat, aka, yeasty ears. Check them every few days and clean with the gentle, vet recommended flush as needed. After living 9 years with chronic and stinky ear wax I finally found what I consider to be the best dog ear wash known to man. You can read our ear story here: Ear Relief – 9 Years in the making.
Mouth: Unless your dog is eating the appropriate type of raw bones, their diet is not cleaning their teeth. Even my dog on a raw diet gets plaque build-up that I have to take care of. I’ve switched from brushing to a waterpik, but you can do either. You can read all about why we made the switch to the waterpik here: Waterpik for Dogs (article)
Fur: Whether your dog requires baths or clippings, be sure to keep up with them. A lot of skin issues begin in older dogs and bath time and grooming is how we find the issues early. I’ve found lumps, bites and furuncles at bath time and they all got nipped in the bud.
Keep Your Old Dog’s Nails Trimmed
As dogs get older, you’ll want to do everything in your power to help keep them mobile and pain-free and nail length is of paramount importance.
When nails get too long, they hit the floor with so much pressure that it forces toes up and away from the paws. This can be painful and cause your dog to distribute weight unevenly which impairs mobility.
Nails that can be heard are too long. You can check this article for a thorough read where we cover the fear of cutting the quick –Senior Dog Nail Grooming (link) .
Stay Active and Make Time for Stimulation
Exercise: My dog gets a lot of arthritis help in the way of over the counter and prescription meds. But all of these medications and supplements wouldn’t be nearly has helpful without daily walks.
I know this for certain because if I have to leave my dog for 2 or 3 days with the dog-sitter, I come home to a more noticeable limp in his rear leg. And that’ because he doesn’t get exercise walks. Once we startup the exercise walk again, his limp goes away after a couple of days.
Exercise walks are all about maintaining a pace. It can be slow or fast depending on your dog’s abilities as long as the pace is not interrupted with sniffing or exploring.
Stimulation: If you can’t tell by now, I think old dogs are really fun to be with. Check out my post 10 Fun Things to Do With an Older Dog for some great ideas.
Thanks for visiting Senior Dog Days!