If you are lucky enough to have had a dog in it's senior years, you know that there can be challenges for both of you. I have been there and I am dedicated to making it easier for you give your best pal the best life possible.
Instability will likely play a role in your senior dog's life. Your dog may struggle with strength and balance. In this post, I share some wisdom on how you can make things easier and safer for your companion.
Instability and weakness usually happens gradually over time. Often times cognitive decline is happening while their physical body is changing. Dogs also tend to be naturally stoic. It can be hard to notice their decline and they may not realize that their own abilities are becoming limited. You are probably going to have to take away some of their freedom to keep them safe. Just know it is the most loving thing you can do.
I know the gamut of emotions that flow when you think of taking things away from your aging dog. I also know the horrifying feeling of waiting one day too long before senior dog proofing the house. I can tell you first-hand it is not worth the risk.
What to do.
If your dog has free run of the furniture, stop.
If your pet doesn't have an orthopedic safe surface to rest on, get one. Place it in an area that is safe for them.
I recommend the Sydney Sleep Mattress because it was designed for it's natural and orthopedic benefits and then re-designed as my boy, Jackson, was aging. The size, density, and low profile features were perfected during the time Jackson started having signs of instability through to the point where he was unable to ambulate without someone close by.
Hardwood floors, and/or rugs can become a dangerous obstacle course. Dogs lose the strength that keeps their legs from separating and ending up like Bambi splayed out on the ice. You will notice it when they are lying on their belly but, upright on elbows. You can see Jackson's elbows in the picture.
When this happens any surface that is slippery becomes precarious. Injuries can happen. Older dogs have a tough time coming back from injuries. As their guardians, we have to do what we can to prevent them.
What to do.
When Jackson's strength was declining I had the luxury of already owning a stockpile of yoga mats for my RachelFit business.
After Jackson had an incident when I wasn't home, I had to think quick on my feet. I covered my house in yoga mats. Jackson's demeanor changed immediately when he had the freedom of navigating the whole house without fear of falling.
Most people don't have a stockpile of yoga mats, but, I have good news. Dr. Buzby's Toe Grips are amazing. They do what they say they do and they are easy to work with. I am not an affiliate. I just believe in this product so much. Check them out here. They changed Jackson's life.
I don't think much needs to be said about stairs. Injuries that occur from accidents involving stairs can be devastating and they can be prevented.
What to do.
If your dog has shown any signs of slowing down, assume they are experiencing a decline in strength and stability. Do what you can to prevent access. If you have doors you can close to keep them away from stairs, do so. If you don't have doors invest in some baby gates.
The bottom line.
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." - Benjamin Franklin
It's all about prevention. I wrote a blog about creating boundaries early on. Experience has taught me how early training can alleviate a lot of stress and eliminate much of the need for "senior dog proofing" your home as they age. If boundaries are already set before their abilities decline, it will be one less stressful change they have to go through as they age.
Senior dogs hold a very special place in my heart. They need special care. I am here to support you if you need it. Please reach out.