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10 Ways To Make Your Aging Dog More Comfortable

Updated on September 13, 2012

As dogs age, physical changes create arthritis, muscle pain, or the flare up of old injuries that have caused structural deformities. You notice your dog’s step is a little slower and they may sleep a little longer. As eyesight decreases and becomes blurred, your dog may become irritable, nervous or fearful of new experiences. Understanding your pet’s new needs as they age can make your dog more comfortable in their golden years. Help your dog age gracefully in 10 simple and loving ways.

1. Well-Trimmed Nails

Dogs with long nails may struggle with walking on stiffened joints and bones. Short nails will help balance their weight and shift pressure off painful areas during movement. Long nails can cause a dog to slide on slippery surfaces and further injure a damaged joint.

2. Dogs Love Massage

You can relieve muscle spasms and tension with a simple manipulation of your dog’s muscle tissues with gentle pressure. Carefully work the areas around the front leg and back hip joints with long and short strokes. Never massage over swollen joints or painful areas indicated by your pet.


3. Weight Control

Maintaining a healthy weight for your older dog can be a challenge. Their metabolism has slowed, and they don’t expend playful energy like a puppy. However, a slimmer dog will experience ease of movement, less pressure on painful joints, and provide more energy.

4. A Comfortable Bed

Affording your dog a soft bed is a truly caring act to provide comfort. A flexible bed can cushion your pet’s joints and provide a restful and pain-free sleep. Your dog should be able to stretch out comfortably and get in and out ease.

5. No Pressure

Allow more time for your older pet to move or follow your commands. Tender joints and fatigued muscles take longer to adjust and respond to movement. Your older dog will appreciate your time and patience.

6. Eye Health

As your dog ages, the eye lenses tend to harden and develop bluish-grey cloudiness over the eyeball. Usually the changes don’t affect their long distance vision, but can cause nearsightedness. Take the time to identify objects for your pet and place food and water bowls on contrasting surfaces. If your dog’s eyes become reddened and have an increased discharge, see your veterinarian.


7. Hearing Changes

If your dog doesn't come when you call, hearing loss may be the reason. Even with deafness, your pet may hear foot stomping, hand clapping, or respond to a dog whistle. Use hand signals and speak to your pet face to face. Never “sneak up” on your older dog with hearing loss to avoid startling him.

8. Cover Slippery Surfaces

Place rugs on slippery surfaces for your old friend. Older muscles and joints need a non-slick surface to move without pain and avoid further injury. Dogs that don’t come to you when you call may be reluctant to walk across a surface that increases their joint and muscle pain.

9. Exercise

Moderate exercise is important to maintain muscle mass and joint health.Your pet needs physical activity, but only as much as they can tolerate. Don’t push them to exercise more than they can accomplish. Older dogs may need to break up their walk routine with shorter walks more frequently throughout the day.

10. Reduce Stimulation

Older dogs may not tolerate a high level of noise and activity around them. Young children and family gatherings can be distressing to an older pet that cannot move out of the way quickly, or recognize objects in their path. On the other hand, your old friend may want to participate in the party and play regardless of sore and stiffened joints. Consider your pet’s best interests and limit her involvement in over activity.


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    • profile image

      Gailerush@gmail 3 months ago

      Things seem to frighten my dog. She is 11 years old. Her habits have changed. She has always slept at the foot of our bed & now she jumps down & prefers the floor, sometimes little out of the corners or door ways that we have to walk around her. Many changes. I have had her since she was born & she has always been very close to me doesn't let me out of her site. That hasn't changed except at bed time. She can still be very lively. She has become hard of hearing. I love her dearly like my child. I have deap fear of losing her.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Ronna, sometimes we just forget our best friends are getting older and need a little extra TLC. Thanks for the support!

    • Ronna Pennington profile image

      Ronna Pennington 4 years ago from Arkansas

      Voted up, interesting, and useful! Now, I'm going to share it with a family member who is facing this issue. Thanks for the info!

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Peter, I just read your hub on toxic foods to dogs, well written and very useful. Great hubs and see you soon!

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 5 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Dear ehealer,

      Thank you for a well written and compassionate article on easing the life of an older dog. They deserve all the help we can give them. Voted up and interesting.

      Kind regards Peter

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hi tips, thanks for your comments and give your old friend a big and a hug from me. Thanks!

    • tipstoretireearly profile image

      tipstoretireearly 5 years ago from New York

      Very helpful tips for making life easier for our best friends. Just about every one of these 10 tips applies to our 12 1/2 year old collie. Thx.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thank you Kelley, I am so sorry about your dogs. Mine is going to be 20 years in Jan and is just a little old lady! Your boys must be so excited!

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Thanks for this fantastic hub! I had two dogs die 2 years ago, both were 12 years old and we haven't got a dog since. We are just starting to think about looking for a puppy for our boys. This is a useful hub! Thanks for writing it! Voted up! Kelley

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thank you Rhett, I am so sorry your dog is in pain. Dobermans are notorious for leg problems, my Roxie had that years ago. She could hardly walk. I know how you feel. Take care and see ya soon.

    • Rhett Wilder profile image

      Rhett Wilder 5 years ago from Field Of Clover

      My poor girl is currently showing signs of her age. She is only 8 years old, but as a doberman, she suffers terribly with her legs. Thank you for sharing this information. Brilliant Hub from a great writer. Keep up the great work.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thank Sunset sky, I know what you mean. My dog is 18 years old and doesn't want to go outside anymore, it's a real chore to get her to go for a walk. She used to love rides in the Van, and now turns her snout up at the thought. She loves massages too. She is basically a little old lady now. Thanks for your support.

    • SunsetSky profile image

      SunsetSky 5 years ago from USA

      These are some great tips. I am starting to see some of these in my dog. He no longer likes to walk on tile and he LOVES hip massages.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Nanderson, it's always nice to see you! Thanks for the vote, and I will see you soon. Dogs at 3 years old are at the best time in my opinion. They've calmed down from puppyness, and they've learned to be cool on trips.

    • nanderson500 profile image

      nanderson500 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      My dog is only 3, but these are good tips for older dogs! I have some experience with older dogs with my parents' dogs. Voted up.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hello Lotus, thank you and I am so glad you liked it. I like to write something "light and humorous" once in a while. See you soon!

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      This is so helpful and I'm sure hundreds of thousands of old doggies are smiling! Love the photos too. Cheers! Rated up and useful.