As dogs age, their bodies begin to change. Many older dogs lose their mobility, sight, and ability to navigate the world. Conditions like arthritis can make walking up and down stairs difficult or impossible. Loss of sight can make navigating your house a challenge.
Make accommodations for your senior pet to help your dog maintain independence and good quality of life. These age-in-place changes are relatively simple and can help your pet continue to live a safe and comfortable life at your house.
1. Cover Slippery Surfaces
Tiles and hardwood floors can be very slippery for dogs who have muscle weakness, arthritis, and other joint problems. Slips and falls can be just as damaging for senior dogs as they can be for senior people.
Cover slippery surfaces with nonslip mats or rugs to prevent your dog from having an accident. Do this in places where your dog regularly spends time. If you don't want to cover your entire house in nonslip surfaces, use baby gates or shut doors to block your dog from rooms where they don't need to spend time.
Another way to ensure your dog stays mobile without slipping is to put your dog in shoes and socks. Not all dogs are receptive to footwear. Give your dog several treats after putting your dog in shoes. Play with your dog and lavish on the praise if they're being cooperative. Make the experience pleasant for your dog to help them adjust.
2. Move the Essentials to Accessible Places
Your dog may lose the ability to access parts of the house where they used to spend a lot of time. Perhaps your dog once slept on your bed but now cannot jump up or get down independently. Give your dog a bed on the floor by your bed to ensure that you can still sleep near one another.
If your dog's food dish is in a location that is now hard to get to (either because of slippery floors or because of a flight of stairs), move the food dish to an area of the house that is more accessible. This ensures that your dog can get to food and water without needing your assistance.
3. Install Ramps
Many dogs who have a hard time navigating stairs can still walk up and down ramps. Pet ramps are available for sale or can be installed on a DIY basis. If you're installing homemade ramps, cover the walking surface with a nonslip material that will prevent your dog from falling. Nonslip tape or treads may be enough if the pitch of the ramp is not very steep.
4. Make Household Navigation Easy for Dogs with Sight Problems
If your pet is losing their sight, they may have a hard time navigating your house. Keep their bed, food dish, and water dish all accessible and in easy reach of one another. To ensure that your dog will feel connected to the family, keep these household essentials in a central location where you and your family often spend time.
Lay mats down on the floor to guide your pet to each location. Secure the mats to the floor to prevent your dog from tripping over the edges of the mats.
Work with Your Pet's Veterinarian
Your pet's veterinarian will be able to help you identify your pet's conditions as they become a problem. Work with your pet's veterinarian to identify age-related issues and solve mobility problems in your home.
At Family Pet Clinic, we're happy to answer your questions and give you information about caring for senior pets. To find out more, contact us today.