Senior dogs make wonderful companions, whether you’ve raised them from the puppy stage or adopted a geriatric friend from a rescue. But as dogs age, they tend to naturally lose range of motion and may also develop certain conditions that affect their health and ability to move.
At K9 Carts, we believe that every dog should be able to romp, run, and play to his or her heart’s content, regardless of age. That’s why we’ve spent years designing the perfect pet wheelchairs and acting as a valuable resource on pet mobility. We’ve put together some helpful information on mobility in senior dogs, as well as some tips for keeping aging dogs happy, healthy, and active.
The Importance of Mobility
Some people may think that because older dogs can be calmer and less bouncy than their younger counterparts, they need substantially less exercise. That’s not true! Senior dogs still need to be stimulated, engaged, and active. And while they may benefit from shorter walks or softer toys, they’ll always need your time and attention.
Helping your aging dog retain or regain mobility will go a long way in improving her quality of life and overall happiness. Another positive? Stable weight. Obesity is a significant problem in senior dogs who eat too much and don’t move enough, and exercise can work to combat these issues and keep your dog healthy. But loss of mobility can make moving around difficult and even painful for your pup. This is where you come in to save the day—armed with some helpful, actionable tips for putting the pep back in your dog’s step.
How to Encourage Mobility in Older Dogs
Take a Trip to the Vet
First things first: if your older dog seems to be growing less active and having difficulty moving, take him to the vet to evaluate his overall health. Your canine companion may just be slowing down as a result of getting older, but the vet will also be able to tell if there might be an underlying health issue causing him pain and affecting his ability to move. The vet can then give you additional tips or recommend a treatment plan.
Make Your Home Accessible
Would you want to do something if it hurt or made you uncomfortable? Of course not! Take a look around your house to identify any areas that cause your dog trouble, then figure out how to make life easier for him. Do his bad hips or unstable gait cause him to slip on tile or wood flooring? Create a path through the house with runners and area rugs to help him keep his balance. Does he find it too difficult to leap onto your bed or couch to snuggle? Give him a boost with a short stool or small set of movable stairs. These little lifestyle changes can make a world of difference for your dog.
Invest in a Dog Wheelchair
Canines recovering from surgery or suffering from diseases that cause hind limb weakness, like degenerative myelopathy, can benefit from a customized dog wheelchair. At K9 Carts, we design and build rear support and full support wheelchairs so that you can plan for your dog’s unique needs. And not only can a cart restore mobility; it can also support the spine and help to minimize further injury.
Switch to a Senior Diet
Dogs just need to go from puppy food to adult food, and then they’re set for life, right? Not necessarily. Senior dogs may actually need a different diet or specially formulated food that addresses specific health issues. Before making any changes in your dog’s diet, be sure to first touch base with your vet. He or she can recommend a food or dieting method that will keep your aging pup healthy. That could range from lower-calorie kibble to prevent obesity to a diet higher in fiber to protect the health of the GI tract.
Go for a Swim
Senior citizens often do water therapy—easy exercises in a pool—to strengthen their muscles without putting extra strain on their joints. Senior canines can also benefit from a swim. Visit a dog-friendly lake or pool, and be sure to put your dog in a life jacket before she leaps into the water. But make sure to only do what is safe and comfortable for your dog; don’t force her to swim if she doesn’t want to or doesn’t know how!
Combat Mobility Issues in Senior Dogs with K9 Carts
All dogs age, but many of them still seem like puppies at heart—playful, inquisitive, and excited to spend time with you. We’re dedicated to helping them maintain that attitude for years to come. If your older dog is slowing down and having mobility issues, give K9 Carts a call today. We’re happy to answer any questions about our customizable dog wheelchairs and can also help you evaluate your canine companion’s needs.