Preventing injury in your older dog

Whether it be due to arthritis, brittle bones, or general aging - your older dog is more susceptible to injuries. Here are some simple things you can do to help him stay comfortable and injury-free in his Golden Years.

The Vet: Your Senior Dog's Best Friend.

Of course we know that you're really your dog's best friend, but now that your dog is getting older, it's important that you stay in close contact with your vet. Don't dismiss changes in your dog's body or behaviour, as just being "old age". Report any changes immediately. Medical advice could prevent serious illness or injury in the long run.

Get Slip-free Flooring. Hard floors can be slippery and dangerous to an older dog. It's a good idea to put down a rug, or area rugs, in the areas of your home where your dog spends his time. This will help him stay more sure-footed and confident.

A Ramp Up. Stairs, couches and even the car may now be difficult obstacles to your old friend - and a slip and fall can prove dangerous. Check a local pet store or catalogue for ramps or cubes that can help your pet safely get into your car, up stairs and onto furniture.

A Soft Bed. Soft, warm bedding can help support your dog's bones and joints. Invest in a soft bed with high sides that aren't too rigid - this will help prevent drafts and let your dog easily flop his head over the side to see what's going on.

Grooming. Because of decreased flexibility, some older dogs have a difficult time keeping themselves clean. Mats and tangles can irritate delicate skin. Brush your dog frequently and trim the hair around your dog's rear end.

Avoid Extreme Heat or Cold. Older dogs are more likely to suffer from heat stroke or frostbite. If it's very cold or hot outside, keep your dog inside. Give your dog a gentle massage. Ask your vet or read up on giving your dog a massage. This can help soothe your pal's aching joints, increase circulation and improve your dog's mobility and mood.

Weight Loss. Older dogs move more slowly and burn fewer calories - making them more likely to gain weight which can be hard on their joints and heart. It may be a good idea to switch to food designed for older dogs' special dietary needs. If in doubt, speak with your vet about changing your dog's diet

Keep on Walking. Although your older dog doesn't have the stamina he used to, he still needs exercise to keep his body and mind active. Change his routine to include more outings of shorter distances. This will also give him the opportunity to take more toilet breaks. Try to keep your walks on grass instead of concrete to help protect his joints - and yours too.

Take time to take it easy. Give your old pal extra time to walk, climb stairs or get in and out of the car. Gently support him if it's required.

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