Tips on Caring for an Older Dog

Updated on July 31, 2017
My old dog
My old dog

How to Look After your Elderly Dog

As a dog ages, just like humans, their needs change. If you live in a busy household, you might not have noticed your pet slow down a bit. There are a few simple things that you can do to make your dog more comfortable as he or she ages. Little tweaks to the daily routine will make a lot of difference. Taking these steps will hopefully cut down on trips to the vet and make sure your pet's later years are pleasant for everyone.

Exercising an Older Dog

A regular routine is just as important to old dogs as it is to young dogs, so a daily walk should take place as it always has. Even an older dog likes to get out and sniff the lampposts. As your pet ages adjust the length of the walk so it is still enjoyable for them and doesn't leave them in any pain. The pace should be nice and slow and be prepared to stop and rest. Try to go at the same time of day each time so your dog knows what is coming. If they have to get in and out of your car, lift them so they don't jump and hurt themselves and try not to take them on long journeys if it isn't necessary.

Walks Should be Slow and Short

Raise your Dog's Food and Water Bowls

Adjust the height of bowls so you dog is not stooping to eat and drink.
Adjust the height of bowls so you dog is not stooping to eat and drink.

Feeding an Elderly Dog

If you buy ready-made dog food, most brands have a Senior range on offer. These have vitamins and minerals added that specifically care for elderly animals, and they are usually lighter on calories and fat too. Dogs tend to sleep more and move around less as they age, so they need fewer calories. Putting on excess weight will hinder your dog's movements so make sure overeating doesn't occur.

Feed your dog smaller portions but give them more meals as they grow old. The digestive system slows down in later years so offering smaller meals two or three times a day will help. We used to only give my dog one meal a day when she was young, but then she started to vomit after eating the large dinner when she got to 10 years old. Splitting the same quantity over three meals a day put a stop to this and made her more comfortable.

For medium and larger dogs, raise the food and water dish off the floor so they don't stoop to feed. Bending down puts stress on their shoulders and elbows, and it makes digesting food more difficult, so either place regular bowls on a sturdy box or purchase specially designed raised dog bowls.

If you notice your dog slipping and sliding on a kitchen floor, try a large mat or even put the food bowls outside where it may be more stable. The pads on dogs’ feet lose their grip and you may see your pet having trouble at meal times, so help them by offering food where they don't slide around.

Help for Dog's Stiff Joints

My dog started limping when she got up and seemed to be a little depressed. She is 12 years old now but I wanted to research about supplements that would help. My dog didn't seem to be in pain but was obviously a little uncomfortable. I discovered that Green Lipped Mussel powder received great reviews for helping cure stiff joints in dogs, cats and humans. I bought the capsules and started by breaking them open and sprinkling the powder on her meals twice a day. After about a week we all noticed an improvement. She was able to move better and her eyes looked clearer. I continue to give her one capsule a day on her breakfast as part of her routine and she doesn't limp at all. I have since recommended green lipped mussel to friends with older pets and everyone of them has seem a degree of improvement. This supplement is not expensive and I have not heard of any side effects.

Consider Where your old Dog Sleeps

Older dogs spend much of their day sleeping so providing a really comfy place to rest is important. There are dog beds with thick foam that stop joints from aching and keeps body warmth in. Furry covers that can be removed for washing are a good idea. Make sure the bed is placed away from draughts coming under doors or from above. Give them a quiet corner in a room or hallway where they won't be constantly knocked or moved, especially if you have little children running around.

Dog beds with walls help keep the animal warm, and there are even some pod-like beds which look like igloos which are really cosy for colder climates. I treated our dog to a natural sheepskin in a chocolate colour (to hide the dirt!) which I picked up in a sale. It really keeps her warm and she absolutely loves it to lie on. For our beloved family pet it was really worth the money.


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    • profile image

      Donna Gates 12 months ago

      We have 2 older dogs with age problems and it was nice to read this article.

    • Susan Hambidge profile image

      Susan Hambidge 14 months ago from Hertfordshire, England

      Thank you Flourish, I found the change in feeding (more meals but small portions) was something I hadn't even thought about until my dog reached that age.

    • Susan Hambidge profile image

      Susan Hambidge 14 months ago from Hertfordshire, England

      Thank you Sam, glad you enjoyed this article.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 14 months ago from USA

      Your baby is obviously well cared for in her old age. This was helpful because I help care for my grandmother's animals which include two old dogs (12 and 14) yet I am not a dog owner so I don't know much about how to help them. This had some helpful tips I could use.

    • Sam Shepards profile image

      Sam Shepards 14 months ago from Europe

      Great article! Our older dogs do indeed need the care they deserve. They don't ask for much, so it's our job to see their needs!