10 ESSENTIAL ITEMS FOR OUR SENIOR GREYS
It’s a difficult fact that dogs age relatively quickly. Most Greyhounds are considered seniors at around 7 years old. An older dog’s behavior will give you plenty of hints as to what he needs to be safe, happy and healthy, but sometimes it helps to put it in words. If your senior dog could talk, here are ten things he or she would most likely ask for:
Older dogs may feel the cold more than their younger counterparts, so having sweaters or jammies handy indoors and coats for outdoors is a good idea. You probably have some outerwear already, but just be aware they senior hounds may need warmer duds.
Warming mats: self-heating preferred. Another way to keep your pup warm on a cool night is to have a warming pad on the bed. Self-heating style pads are better than electric because they cannot overheat, even if your pup is no longer as aware as when younger.
2. SUPPORTIVE BED
Older dogs spend up to 18 hours a day sleeping and most of their waking hours lounging, so a high-quality orthopedic bed that gives his body proper support may be the most important product you can provide. Memory foam beds are great for seniors because they offer just enough give to be comfortable on the joints while still providing firm support for the rest of the body. Memory foam also retains its shape and density, making it easier for your dog to get up and down. Some also come with magnets, which you may have heard are used to help relieve pain in human arthritis sufferers. More about arthritis in aging dogs here https://bit.ly/Canine-Arthritis
Nice extras: a big comforter is another option for a relaxation spot is a comforter. They are soft and poufy, yet flexible enough for your houndie to shape into a nest. Also, fleece blankets – comfy and cosy, the more the better! When one or two are in the laundry there’s always another available. Keep one on every bed in the cooler months, and they are perfect for cuddles on the couch.
Waterproof dog bed cover – if your dog has accidents, a waterproof cover may cut down on the number of times you have to wash the bed, and it’s certainly easier to wash.
3. PEE PADS
Housebreaking incidents can happen when a dog approaches his later years. Senior dogs are known to leak a little. If your pooch has also started leaking inside the house, then it’s time to use pee pads so that you don’t have to clean the floor every time it happens. There are disposable ones of course, but also washable ones.
Older dogs often lose confidence in their ability to climb on and off the furniture or in and out of the car. Even if they can make it on their own, it may be too much for their joints. Instead of condemning them to a life on the floor, use ramps or doggy steps so your senior can stay by your side.
For help getting into the car, a ramp is typically what you want, just check the incline isn’t too steep and be sure it’s foldable for easy storage in your vehicle. Steps are most often used for getting onto the couch for example, as a ramp would take up a lot more floor space and be too steep.
In a multi-level home, if there is no way for your dog to avoid stairs, you can buy or build a doggy ramp that will make their movements easier. If this is not practical, another solution is to simply install doggy proof gates and restrict their access to the stairs.
5. ELEVATED FOOD & WATER BOWLS
Raised bowls could help your Greyhound more comfortably access food and water. The elevated food & water bowl are specially designed to help your senior dog maintain the proper posture while eating or drinking. Find pros and cons of elevated bowls here: https://bit.ly/Raised-Pet-Feeders
You don’t have to buy special bowls, however. You could put the bowls on top of a plastic bin or open the dishwasher door and put the bowls on that. Just make sure to always have fresh water available. If your older dog has less of an appetite, maybe you holding the bowl for him could be helpful in encouraging him to eat.
Sometimes our senior Greyhounds seem to have trouble keeping their weight up. Either their bodies no longer are able to take up nutrients from their food or they have less appetite than when they were younger. For some ideas of how to make their food more enticing, see this article: http://bit.ly/DogFoodToppers
6. MOBILITY AIDS
Due to weak joints & lack of proper stability, senior dogs have an increased risk of slipping on the hardwood floor. If the flooring at your home is smooth & slippery then you should consider getting a slip-proof mat for your pooch, especially by their feeding station. Alternatively, you can also use rugs/carpet runners, carpet squares or yoga mats to help your dog avoid slipping on the floor.
Traction socks, like these Power Paws https://bit.ly/Power-Paws, are soft and comfortable, meaning your dog won’t be trying to get them off their feet. They can be worn inside or outside, although they are not quite as sturdy as dog boots for outdoors. Having traction means your hound can more easily start, stand and stop without slipping.
If your Greyhound is having trouble walking, no matter what the surface, a back end sling might be just what you need. Much like arthritic people take the arm of someone more stable, a dog hoist or strap lift provides reassuring support and stability to your arthritic dog. In a pinch, you could DIY a sling by taking a large reusable shopping bag and cut out the sides, using the handles to lift your dog.
If your dog suffers from vision loss, it’s a good idea to ease his anxiety by keeping floors clear of clutter. These little things add up.
More mobility aid ideas here: https://bit.ly/HelpYourSeniorHound
7. ANXIETY SOOTHERS
Senior dogs often have a harder time handling stress. There are many reasons your dog may be experiencing anxiety, including dementia, and also because their hearing and vision may not be what they were when younger. Things that weren’t issues before may become so, new phobias may present or they may simply act more irritated or agitated than usual. Some dogs might become clingier while other dogs might want to be left to themselves more often.
Some dogs are comforted by a body wrap – a snug garment that puts gentle pressure on your hound’s torso, much like swaddling helps calm an infant. Try a small T-shirt, wrap an Ace bandage, or try a Thundershirt. For DIY solutions, search “anxiety wrap” or “compression shirt” on YouTube.
Try Adaptil (formerly called DAP), dog-appeasing pheromones. DAP is a synthetic chemical based on a hormone that’s produced by lactating female dogs. It’s this hormone that helps keep puppies calm, and can help calm your anxious dog. DAP products are available in plug-in diffusers and room sprays for their environment, plus infused collars and topical sprays. All are odorless to humans and other pets. Available at pet stores and online.
Calming dog music: Studies have shown that classical music is soothing to dogs and cats. http://bit.ly/MusictoCalmYourDog
More ideas to help with anxiety here: https://bit.ly/GreyhoundAnxiety
8. SENIOR NUTRITION
Senior dogs don’t necessarily need to eat senior dog food, but when choosing the best diet, please check with your veterinarian to determine your dog’s health status, if there are certain foods he should avoid. Your vet can recommend medications to ease your Greyhound’s discomfort, and also beneficial supplements.
Dietary supplements can be helpful at any stage of life, but they are especially important for senior dogs. As Greyhounds age, it becomes increasingly difficult for the body to maintain healthy levels of essential nutrients with diet alone. Some supplements help prevent or slow the onset of certain diseases, while others provide relief from common aging problems like arthritis, anxiety and dementia.
Older dogs often experience changes in skin, coat and even their nails. Their skin can become dry and their coat coarser. A supplement of coconut or salmon oil with meals can go a long way to solving the problem. But the dog’s skin can also become more thin, so injury may be more likely. It’s important to take extra care when the dog is playing or out on a hiking trail that he isn’t hurt. Meanwhile the dog’s nails can become brittle. Your dog will need more frequent nail trimmings since he isn’t filing down his nails through activities, so it’s important to take extra care with pedicures.
Flexibility in older dogs is often limited and makes self-grooming more difficult. You may need to increase the frequency of brushing to help him to stay clean. Owners who pet and brush their dogs daily are much more likely to discover growths, lesions or tumors lurking on or within the skin as well as suspicious changes to the skin, such as redness, dryness, or an unusually rough texture. It’s a great opportunity to bond with one another too.
10. PREVENTIVE CARE
Along with being more watchful over your senior dog’s well-being, it’s crucial that you keep up with routine preventive care such as parasite prevention, dental care, vaccinations, and nutritional management. As your dog’s immune system weakens, the importance of routine basic care only increases.
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