This article has been republished for exclusive use by The Grey Muzzle Organization with the permission of original author, Devin Morrissey.
From treats to toys, we spend a lifetime spoiling our pups. When they’re happy, we’re happy. As they age, the same treats and toys might not be the best thing for them. There are a lot of ways to spoil an aging dog, from treats to keep them healthier to accessories to aid their declining mobility.
Your dog’s bed is the best place to start. Aging dogs are likely to experience arthritis, joint pain, muscle loss and a variety of aches from old injuries. An orthopedic dog bed typically offers more cushion than a regular bed, which is ideal for cradling and supporting older bodies. If your dog is thin, an orthopedic bed can pull double duty by supporting non-padded body frames. A lot of orthopedic beds are made out of memory foam, and if you want to get really fancy you can even get them heated.
When your dog has spent his lifetime going on outdoor adventures with you, it’s hard to leave them at home. They might not be able to run and hike the same way and may get worn out faster. Luckily, hiking is good for mobility – even in senior dogs. Combat fatigue or joint pain by taking shorter treks or doing trails that loop instead of long hikes out and back. Avoid the heat of the day, and make sure to bring plenty of water for the both of you. Go prepared with a method of carrying your dog back should it become necessary. Bring a dog harness, backpack carrier, pooch pouch, or a hoodie with a kangaroo pouch. Once you get to the point where hiking isn’t an option anymore, take your dog on car rides or to different parks to keep their love for adventure engaged.
You like getting massages — your pup probably will, too. Make grooming days less about trimming claws and more about the kind of pampering that helps them feel like a pup again. Massages can help work through specific pains your dog might be experiencing, increase circulation and even help keep your dog limber for adventuring. If you’re taking your dog to the groomers, make sure they accommodate him by giving him a padded surface to rest on. Groomers can also help dogs who might not be able to tend to certain areas of their bodies anymore due to declining flexibility, so have them keep an eye out for rough spots of skin, matted fur or other trouble areas. If your dog’s skin gets more sensitive with age, give the groomer a head’s up so they can use a softer brush.
Aging might make your best pal’s day-to-day life a little less comfortable, but you can combat that with a handful of little treats and changes that keep him sleeping next to you in bed, or indulging in treats. Stairs or ramps can help your dog get to his favorite spots to lounge. Treats formulated specifically for joint, eye or bladder health. For dogs who have trouble bending over or back pain, a raised water and food bowl brings their food and water up to their mouth level and makes eating and drinking more comfortable. Puzzle toys or interactive toys can help keep them engaged.
Having a senior dog is no different from having any other dog — their needs might be a little different, but every dog is different anyway. Your knowledge of their likes and habits will help you tailor their care and treats to keep them happier, healthier and leading a full life for years to come.