Creature Comforts

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Taking care of a senior dog can present a lot of challenges for pet owners. Your canine companion is moving more slowly. His coordination and eyesight aren’t what they used to be — and neither are his bones. To help your aging dog get around better, here are some ways you can make your home more accessible.

High Places

One of the first things you’ll notice as your dog gets older is that he’ll have trouble jumping or climbing onto things that used to be a breeze for him. Couches, beds, chairs, car seats, etc., can cause a lot of problems.

Pet stairs or ramps are great for getting a dog up and down safely. You may need to coax your dog to use them in the beginning, but with a little bit of training, he’ll get used to the equipment. It’s imperative to buy the correct size for your canine companion. If a large breed tries to use stairs made for a small breed, it can cause injury. As for dog beds that sit off the ground or have high sides, they can be replaced with flat, memory foam beds that are soft on joints and easy to enter and exit.


If you have slick stairs, such as wood or marble, put some type of grip strip down to help your senior dog. However, if your canine companion has serious mobility issues, it’s best to block the stairs with a baby gate to avoid any risk of him falling. In some cases, installing a ramp might be necessary, if staying downstairs is not an option.


Some senior dogs have a really hard time walking on hardwood floors. Dog boots with traction on the bottom can help combat slippery surfaces. You can also lay down rugs with no-slip pads underneath, giving your dog a designated walkway.

If His Sight Is Going

If your dog is starting to lose his eyesight, consider the following:

  • Try not to move things from their regular places while he adjusts to this big change. You should also avoid leaving items, such as school backpacks or laundry baskets, where your dog frequently walks.
  • Rug paths help here, too. Even if your dog doesn’t have trouble walking on the floor, creating a path out of a different material can help him get around when his sight is fading. Either by using treats or a leash, guide your dog along the paths, showing that one leads to his water dish, one leads outside, one leads to his dog bed, etc.

If your dog has any special needs, like a wheelchair, talk to your vet about how best to accommodate his disability. The more we can do to keep our homes safe and accessible for senior dogs, the more active they will be, which will help them stay healthier longer.

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