Old age is not a disease

Keep them moving. Maybe they used to play fetch for an hour every day, or spend the day bouncing off the walls, furniture and yard.  Modify their exercise routine to shorter but frequent walks, 3 x 10 minutes is better than 1 x 30 minutes.  Aim for low impact games and exercise that mentally stimulate them, rather than trying to get them to drop from exhaustion. 

Keep their weight down. Ageing joints have enough work to do without adding extra weight to carry around.  Being a good weight helps them reduce the workload through their body.

Keep their things in familiar places.  This can be as simple as keeping their favourite toys near their bed, and not changing the location of their bed or water bowl.  Like older humans, they can lose aspects of their memory, so keep access simple!  They will thank you for it.

Learn a new trick.  Keep their minds active and engaged, even when their memory is getting foggier.  This can be as easy as “on your bed”, “where’s a toy”, even practising old tricks they’ve known forever keeps their brain working AND gives you the chance to praise them for getting it right.

Home modifications. Invest in ramps and steps to the places they’re allowed to go.  This will make getting around easier for them.  Get non slip mats.  This means they don’t need to worriedly control their bodies as they go around corners and their legs won’t slip out from under them.

Elevate their food and water bowls.  And alternatively, if you have a short dog, are their dishes low and easy access, or do they need to stretch and reach awkwardly to eat and drink? Many older dogs have developed neck issues, so ensure they can easily access their food and water without feeling discomfort in their necks.

Remove hazards.  Taping over extension cords or putting them behind furniture gets rid of one trip hazard.  Covering over sharp edges or hard corners is one way to reduce injuries.  Is there something your dog always runs into or hurts themself on?  One of my clients has now taped foam on the head height corners of the coffee table!

Try an indoor toilet.  No longer being able to hold their urine over night is a common issue with ageing.  Consider a kitty litter tray with sand or grass, puppy pads, or one of the indoor toilets with artificial grass over a tray.

Try a different toy. Puzzle toys, chew toys and tug of war are great for senior dogs.  These toys engage their minds without wear and tear on their joints.

Bodywork therapies.  Finding a gentle, non invasive, drug free way to manage pain was life changing for us.  Now I’m helping others do it too!  I remind their body how to work properly, and realign it so it remembers how to move correctly.  These bodywork therapies let my dog run, jump, use stairs, roll on his back, and lift his leg to pee again.  He can do dog things again! 

Some signs of ageing can require attention by a vet.  Once a vet has been seen, contact me for treatment.

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Donna Monaghan

Canine Mobility Specialist

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