Holiday Spaces for Older Dogs and Their Guardians

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Editor's Note: This is a guest post on the Grey Matters Blog and not written by anyone affiliated with Grey Muzzle. We allow guest contributors from time to time in order to provide our supporters with a wide range of topics pertaining to senior dogs.

The holidays are for spending time with family and relaxing in your warm and cozy house. Whether you’ve rescued a senior dog or have had your senior dog all of his life, creating a special holiday space for your dog can make for the perfect gift. As your dog ages, his needs can change, too. Climbing stairs may become more difficult, and if he has arthritis, he may feel more comfortable in a warmer space in the house.

You can take your dog’s changing needs into account and create an ideal space for him. With some home modifications, you and your dog will be able to enjoy the holidays together in a safe, comfortable way.

Remove Clutter

If your older dog is experiencing vision changes, balance difficulties, or mobility limitations, navigating a cluttered home will become more difficult. Take this as a chance to declutter your home and try to create a clean space for your whole family.

Decluttering your home isn’t an easy task, so approach this as a longer-term mission. You may want to invest in some storage solutions, like closet organizers and under-the-bed organizers, to maximize the space in your home. Approach decluttering your home by moving through just one room at a time, since this can make the task less overwhelming.

Deciding which items to get rid of can be a challenge, but try to be honest with yourself. Think about how often you actually use each item, and whether it’s enhancing your life or just taking up space. Place some items that you might want to get rid of into a box and leave it to sit for three months. Chances are if you haven’t touched any of those items in the box by the end of the three months, you don’t need them that much. Consider donating the items you no longer want to local nonprofits so that you know they’ll go to good use. Once you’ve decluttered, you can organize your furniture and possessions in a way that creates open and positive energy in your house.

Make Some Home Improvements

As you remove clutter, take a look at the walking areas in your home. Look for potential safety issues, like loose floorboards, electrical cords that extend out into the room, rugs with edges that are curling up, and flooring that is slippery or slick. Fixing these issues won’t just help to keep your dog safe, but can also increase your safety in your home, too.

As your dog gets older, he may benefit from flooring that offers improved traction to keep him from slipping. You can increase the traction of the floor for your dog in many ways. Sometimes just laying rugs across hardwood floors will make a difference. If your dog needs more traction, then yoga mats can help as well.

As you make these changes to your home, you might decide to change up your decor, too. Staining over a painted piece of wood furniture can transform its look, enhancing your interior decor scheme. If you do decide to stain furniture or make other renovations, keep your dog in a separate room where he won’t be exposed to the fumes or potential renovation dangers.

Give Your Dog a Comfortable Space

Create for your dog a comfortable space in an easily accessible area of your home. An alcove under a stairwell might be ideal, though your dog may prefer to be close to the fireplace or heating vent.

Give your dog everything he needs to be comfortable, starting with a quality dog bed. If your senior dog is developing arthritis, then it’s best to choose a dog bed specifically for arthritic dogs. Your dog may also appreciate a cozy blanket and having his food and water dishes nearby. If your dog does have difficulty walking, then run the yoga mats or rugs right up to his space so he can easily move around. 

Budget for Vet Bills, Too

As you plan out any renovations or space modifications you’d like to make to your home, be sure to leave money in your budget for vet bills. While a typical annual exam can run about $260, emergency vet visits can be far more expensive and may cost thousands of dollars, and are far more likely to happen in your dog’s senior age. Plus, if your pet has an emergency, you won’t necessarily have time to save up money to pay for necessary treatment or surgery.

Most vets and pet hospitals will require a down payment before providing emergency treatment, so it’s best to set up a savings account for your pet now. If you don’t have money in savings, you may need to look into other options, like taking out a personal loan or crowdfunding to pay for your pet’s vet bill.

Owning a pet is often about planning for the future, and by creating a great holiday space for your dog, you can plan for his needs as he ages. A well-thought-out space will help to keep your older dog more comfortable and keep him safe this holiday season and beyond. Those benefits mean it’s well worth the time and expense you’ll invest in creating the perfect space for your four-legged friend.

About the Contributor:
Devin roams the Pacific Northwest, bringing his dog, Scrummy, whenever possible. He is a strong believer that nothing can compare to a dog's unconditional love.

You can follow him and Scrummy on Twitter.