Keeping Senior Dogs Happy and Healthy

August 12, 2011  

We are celebrating seniors dogs in August and asked our Facebook fans, ’What’s your best piece of advice for living with senior dogs? Share your favorite way to keep them happy and healthy.’

Lots of love, patience, soft, fluffy beds, vitamins, moderate exercise….and yeah, did we mention LOVE!
Everyone agreed that nothing was too much in return for all the unconditional love our dogs give us all their lives. Thanks everyone for sharing!

(Photos of Melissa Lipani)

Enjoy every moment, spend lots of time with them just sitting in the sun, and take lots of photos.

~ Janice Jaskowiak

Keep them cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold. Give them a soft place to lie and lots of extra love.

~ Melissa Valentine Walls

Remember that they are as fast as they used to be and need more patience. Also love them a lot!

~ Stacie Wells

Don’t make assumptions, but look at the dog in front of you. When I adopted a senior dog, my first dog in 25 years, the facility told me he’d “probably want to live out his golden years on the couch.” Five years later, this dog can still beat me down a flight of stairs!

~ Barbara Saunders

Get marrow bones from the meat counter and freeze them. This is a great way to clean their teeth and the marrow is great for their coats and hearts.

~ Arika Brown

Take it slow if you need to, and give plenty of back rubs. ~ Laura Cooke

Make lots of pads from old worn-out comforters (or ones chewed up by young fosters) and leave them around the house in places where the old dog might like to lie. This is important for padding those old bones and for making it easier to clean up accidents. Keep them slim by feeding them a variety of interesting vegetables. I do this for all of my dogs and it seems to be one reason why my dogs are living so long.

~ Ellen Weinstock

Lots of love and patience. Also, glucosamine and vitamin E supplements. Put them in hot dogs and the dogs love it!

~ Elisabeth Jones Bergt

Feed them the best, quality food you can, which is true at any age, but it really is especially true with seniors, and give them WHATEVER they want or need.

~ Crissy Wilson Tadlock

If you bring them to a groomer, make sure they get breaks and are handled with great tenderness. Put yourself in their paws and try to make sure they can see and hear, have the right temp, have soft bedding for old joints. Maybe they need their water bowls raised or help down steps. Make sure other dogs don’t harass them. Old dogs warm the heart.

~ Mickey Short

Orvis has some great orthopedic beds. Lots of short walks outside, since they need more frequent bathroom breaks. We adopted one last year that only lived eight months, but he is my favorite of all of the dogs we’ve had. Sweet as anything, stayed at my side all the time.

~ Jill Teske Wilson

Remember to not get angry at them for having accidents in the house. They can’t hold it for as long as they used to!

~ Amy Dykeman

Spoil ‘em rotten!! I even let him have my chair sometimes when I get up and he snatches it. Sometimes we share the chair too. I always get the senior blood tests done at the vet too. Better to be safe than sorry.

~ Chris Winicky

Give them lots of love. When taking them to the vet, ask if any procedure is really needed. We have a 14-year-old Golden with tumors and our vet said that to do any surgeries would cause her pain and discomfort. He recommended that we focus on making what time she has left as happy as possible. That was two years ago and she still doesn’t show any signs of discomfort! If she starts showing signs of pain, we will have our vet look again. Long story short – don’t push them in their golden years, let them live as long as they can, as long as they are happy.

~ Joe Kozlosky

Take the time to doing some nose-to-nose communing each day. You never know when that day will come when they tell you it’s time for them to go. You don’t want to look back and say “I wish we….”

~ Sandy O’Dell

Don’t surrender them to the shelter, just because they are older.

~ Joanna Schultz

Kuranda beds. I have outside dogs and the beds make a huge difference. Also heating pads (made for animals) for the cold days and nights.

~ Norene Smith

Just let them do what they want. ~ Emily Sieger

I spoiled mine and gave her what she wanted. Always had fresh water and the food that she likes. She had arthritis, so the best thing I did for her was a full body massage a couple of times a day! I miss her a lot!

~ Mollie Suddeth

A morning walk in the fresh air and sunshine is great what ever age, but maybe as they get older walks should become a little a little less brisk and not quite as long. Also plenty of fresh water, high quality dog food, soft bed and blanket and doggy breath mints!

~ Joan Snow

My 17-year-old dog Otis, was a 55-pound mixed breed (maybe lab-basset). As he got older he couldn’t hold it like he used to, but he always managed to make it as close to the door as possible. I bought a two dollar shower liner and put it down by the door and he started to use that slowly. That way, he still had some dignity, since he knew it was wrong to go in the house. Eventually it got to the point that I picked him up and carried him out, since the arthritis was killing him. I am guilty for keeping him around longer than he should have been. Know when it’s time and don’t keep them going because you’re in denial. It still hurts three years later. I was selfish and did not listen to anybody. I hope now that someone will listen to my story.

~ Sherry Thomas

Remember, older dogs need exercise too!! Keeping them on a regular exercise will help ward of arthritis and if it has already set in, it will help from making it worse most times.

~ Buckey Todd Brown

Don’t take them for granted! Give them just as much love as you did when they were pups! One day they won’t be around anymore and you’ll regret every moment you missed with them because you were “too busy.”

~ Sarah Godard

Our Elderbull, 10-year-old Chilly, whom we adopted a year ago in 2010 after she spent the previous two years in and out of our local animal shelter where we volunteered, has BAD arthritis. Because of this, she could no longer play her favorite game-fetch…until we taught her to swim and fetch in water. She loves to swim, it’s a great exercise and at the same time gentle on her arthritic hips. She’s happy as she gets to play her favorite game, healthy and fit! She’s in such great shape that she works as our super collar model. Additionally we give her glucosamine supplement. We also take her on hikes, walking in nature with her pack is good for her body, mind and soul!

~ Sirius Republic

Remember that they still love to do things with you, even if they have to do them a little slower than they used to. And go for regular vet check-ups.

~ Michelle Price Gnodle

As our dogs matured, I always took time to massage their backs and hips. I made sure they could still access their favorite chairs and beds with the aide of steps. I did whatever was needed to make sure their quality of life was the best possible. How could we do less for all their years of love?

~ Nia Di

I have doubled up on the floor beds/pads to make sure they are plenty cushy for him. He still walks everyday and plays with the pup with supervision by us – we stop the rough stuff when he starts to look tired. The day we have to say goodbye will never be far enough away…

~ Barbara A Coryn

Love and patience. For all furry family members, but especially seniors, we must always weigh the stress factor when planning outings or even gatherings at our home. Sometimes they need us to move them to a warmer/cooler location in the house depending on weather. Remember to sit with them and just BE.

~ EnduraPet

Glucosamine for their aching joints! ~ Lisa Moy

Make sure they have enough water, their nails are clipped short and they are cool enough.

~ Linnie Swor Heaverlo

We have a ramp to get into the car for Rocky after he had his knee and back surgeries. We also have a sling for after his surgeries. He’s on Metacam for his arthritis, and Omega, our other dog, gets Adequan shots to help prevent her arthritis from worsening. And they both get fish oil. Those things all help. We also have a variety of beds so they can stay comfy without having to jump up on the furniture if they don’t feel up to it.

~ Micaela Myers

Keep your eyes open for any changes in their appetite, behavior, etc. and discuss any changes you see with your vet. A lot of signs of illness can disguise themselves as “normal signs of aging.”

~ Esther Gassen

Our dog had always been allowed to sleep on the beds (I had a sheet or blanket to catch hair) but, several years ago he couldn’t jump up and would just sit, staring longingly at the bed. We had an old ottoman that we pushed to the bedside. He was able to use the ottoman to get on and off the bed.

~ Irene Brodie

As a final refuge foster home for Old Dog Haven, we like to keep them active, even if it only means a slow walk – whatever they are capable doing. We have an almost 12 year old lab mix who is learning “bite work” with a bite suit as his younger GSD brothers are trained already. Although he can’t really get it quite like the GSDs, he really enjoys “running” after my other half and grabbing the suit while growling. He has a blast! The other oldsters go on walks, visits to the pet store, playing fetch outside. It keeps them happy!

~ Tracy Newkirk

Keep them at a good weight — not too much poundage for those old bones. Good slow walks and cuddles.

~ Mara Velez

Our 11-year-old Lab cannot hear as well, so we wave food under her nose to wake her up so we don’t scare her. I love every day with her.

~ Laura Cloose

Keep them lean, give them low impact exercise, and build them stairs if they need them.

~ Karen Allies

Be patient, loving, helpful and accommodating – just like you would with an elder human. Understand their needs and provide for them. LOVE them with every breath that you and they have left and don’t let them die ALONE or in the hands of strangers. They have loved you all this time, love them back and respect them!

Our dog benefited from arthritis injections and dental care. ~ Kay Heckathorn
~ Rebecca Calcote

Sweaters. Lots and lots of sweaters.

~ Susan Fariss

Always maintain your sense of humor, love them for who they are today, and have gratitude for their companionship.

~ Monica Ferguson

All they need is love, love, love and someone who is willing to make sure they get the necessary vet care when needed. They can sleep a lot; still love walks, car rides, a quiet place to call home and lots of love and attention. You may be making up for an earlier life that gave them none of the above.

~ JoAnne Rando-Moon

When my Sydney died at age 15 last year, all I could think about was how she was old and in pain. But her life was a good one and I needed to remember that. She got the best care she could have possibly gotten, a great and loving home. Also, depending on the age and comfort level of your senior, you might want to consider getting a new puppy before the senior passes. We did this with Sydney and she totally helped us raise Luci, our boxer mix. Now, we can see what Sydney passed to Luci, as Luci helps us raise Leni, a 9-month-old Lab mix!

~ Stephanie N. Rotondo

When our older dog started getting stiff in her joints, we began adding Nupro Silver to her food (it has glucosamine and other helpful supplements), beds in every room, and changed her collar to a soft harness to take some pressure off her neck. We also asked our vet to give her fewer vaccinations and found an acupuncturist to use in the future.

~ Jessica Dolce

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3 Responses to “Keeping Senior Dogs Happy and Healthy”
  1. RonnieShumate says:

    What is important is keeping my senior boy healthy. Lots of walks to keep those muscles moving, slower walks, food, stairs for climbing on the bed, and lots of love. My other dog has beds in every-room, including the balcony. She is always on one of them & has her woobies (stuffed animals) on all. On cold days/nights she loves to be under a warm blanket.

  2. StubbyDog says:

    @RonnieShumate Thanks Ronnie, good advice. And what is it about pit bulls that they love being under the cover? 🙂


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