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Making it Easier for Older Dogs to Get Around

old large dog laying on blue couch

There are ways you can make life easier and more comfortable for older dogs that have arthritic joints, hip problems, or other complications that make it difficult to get from here to there.

Around the house

Older dogs sometimes have a difficult time getting good traction on linoleum, tile, or hardwood floors. You can help alleviate this problem by putting carpeting or rubber mats in the areas where your dog spends the most time. If this isn't possible, you can also get special booties with rubber soles that you can have your dog wear around the house.

If your house has a lot of stairs, consider building an easy-to-climb ramp for your dog. You can either make it yourself using plywood covered with carpet, or you can purchase a pre-made ramp from specialty pet stores.

To help your dog get up on a bed or onto a favorite chair, try using a carpeted step. You can also buy pre-made steps just for senior dogs.

Outdoor mobility aids

If you're taking your dog out for a walk, there are special leashes you can buy that are made especially for dogs with hip problems. What makes them unique is that, instead of securing the leash to a collar around the neck, they use a harness that lifts up the dog's rear end when needed, such as when you want to help your dog climb stairs or go up a hill. Using a harness for his front end, instead of a neck lead, is also helpful.

Is going for a walk too difficult for your dog? If so, you can order a special cart just for dogs with mobility problems. Or you can simply use a child's wagon. Be sure to cushion it with padding so it's more comfortable for your senior dog as you pull him around the neighborhood.
 

  • When Should You Switch Your Senior Dog to Soft Food?

    smiling lab sitting in front of brick wall


    As your dog ages, you’ll likely notice changes in your best pal’s energy levels, routine and even muzzle. Older pets may require adjustments to help them get around, exercise and live their best life as a senior. One important aspect of caring for a dog entering their golden years is diet.

    When it comes to diet, every dog has unique, individual needs, regardless of age. So, there's no one easy answer to the question of soft food versus hard food. Both types of food can provide your dog with the nutrition they need — as long as you feed your dog a high-quality dog food that’s nutritionally balanced and complete.

    two dogs eating from two bowls

    Signs Your Senior Dog May Benefit from Wet Food

    If your dog has very specific health concerns, such as aging joints or weight issues, consult with your vet for more information about what type of food best addresses your dog's needs. That being said, there are a few reasons why you may consider switching your senior dog to soft food.
     

    fluffy brown dog yawning showing teeth

    Teeth Sensitivity

    As your dog gets older, their teeth may become more sensitive, which can make chewing kibble more difficult and even uncomfortable. Switching to a soft food can help to alleviate your pet’s oral discomfort when eating.

    However, if your dog is experiencing serious pain at mealtime from a condition like tooth decay or gingivitis, switching to soft food won't remedy the problem. Make sure you talk to your vet about oral care and dental treatment.

    Digestion Aid

    Digestion begins in the mouth with saliva, so if your dog has a tendency to scarf down meals, they may not be adequately chewing the food or adding enough saliva to it. Soft food can aid with digestion because it's more easily chewed.

    Hydration Help

    It’s no surprise that wet food has a higher moisture content when compared to dry kibble. If your senior pup is prone to urinary-tract issues or simply needs a little help staying hydrated, canned dog food may be a good choice.

    girl kissing older dog on the head

    Slower Metabolism

    Aging dogs tend to have a slower metabolic rate compared to their younger years, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Many nutritionally balanced wet dog foods offer high protein content with fewer carbs than dry food, which can benefit older dogs with slower metabolism. Always talk to your vet if you have concerns about your pup’s weight.

    Picky Eaters

    While wet food may be less than appetizing to humans, the opposite is true for dogs! If your aging best friend has started turning their snout up to dry food, wet food tends to be more appealing to picky eaters. Mixing wet food and kibble offers your pup a variety of flavors and textures; try adding wet food as a topper on dry food for a real treat!

    Whether you choose dry food, soft food  or a mix of both, ask your vet before making any transition. And when it's time to switch your dog's food, remember to do it slowly — even if it's the same brand and flavor — to help prevent stomach upset and allow your dog time to adjust.

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