Last week we talked about some health issues that older dogs may have. Hearing, sight, and movement. So how do we help our companions who have stood by us for so long and loved us even when we were not very lovable?
We should start by visiting the vet for that senior check up that I mentioned and see if any medical issues can be helped by diet, meds, supplements or maybe holistic help. Fix what you can, help what you can't. But get educated on the differences. That way you can make informed decisions.
Keep them on a good diet. Now is not the time to cut corners by getting a cheaper dog food in order to save some money. They really need the best diet you can afford now. Feeding smaller meals will allow their blood sugar to remain steady. We take Becke's meals and divide it into 3 small meals. She enjoys eating (she is a LAB after all) and looks forward to her small meals. It also helps in digestion and elimination. Also her food dish is raised up making food easier to get to and takes pressure off the shoulders when she leans forward to eat.
|Rugs in the kitchen allow Becke to get to her elavated food dish|
You may love your hard wood floors but your dog may have a hard time walking on them. Area rugs will make the walk from point A to point B easier. For small dogs all you may need are a few bathroom rugs or a hall runner placed just right so that your little angels can move around your house. If you have a bigger dog, you may need those area rugs that are made for an entrance or placed by couches allowing them more room to walk.
|Arera rugs to the dog bed in the family room|
If you can, get some with texture and keep the texture the same in each room that they are in. A rough pile in the kitchen let the dogs know they are still in the kitchen while rugs with a circular pattern will tell them they are in the living room.
If your dog looses their eye sight completely those textured rugs will be perfect for letting the dog know what room they are in. You can also put up Velcro strips along the entrance to a room. Many dogs who loose their eye sight completely will hug the walls as they walk, having those Velcro strips at shoulder height will allow them to know where they are. Change the shapes of the Velcro for each room or get Velcro made of different material (plastic, heavy duty, light weight etc.) Don't forget to mark any stairs that the dog will use at both ends.
If they loose depth perception, lights around the house will help them. Don't forget the hallways. We have night lights in the halls and over the stairs. Keep the water bowls and food bowls well lit as well.
Don't forget those steps and ramps to help them up on the couch or bed. It's a little thing but if they have been sleeping with you all their lives, then now is NOT the time to tell them they are no longer wanted near you. They need your touch.
If you have winter where you live, shovel off those steps and put down sand to give them something to grip onto. Shovel a path for them to go out and do whatever they need to do. Give them another way outside that may be easier for them to handle.
Have dog beds of some kind in every room. They can be either a bed, a blanket, a softer rug. Home made or store bought. The point is that no matter where the dog is, they can lie down and hang out with you. We have dog beds in the living room, my office and the family room since she sleeps with us we don't have one in the bedroom.
|area run leading to the dog bed in my office.|
Touch. Touch your dog every day, spend time with them every day. Break up their day. Dog puzzles are wonderful! Becke has a few where we put treats in the puzzle, close it up and let Becke figure out how to get the treats out. She loves this game! Keep them moving, walk, play ball, run around the house, play hide and seek and give kisses for as long as you can.
When the time comes, you may have to help your best friend to move on in peace. It's a hard, heart-breaking decision to make. It's gonna hurt. You will cry. But your best friend who has given you so much deserves to hear your voice and feel your touch as you tell them just how much they have meant to you and just how much you will miss them and that you will see them again one day. We all pray that our best friends will live a really long time. Enjoy every joy and challenge you have.
Tell me how you care for your best friend.