Senior Dog Care

Note: The Health & Nutrition section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website is intended as a source of information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional care, but as an aid to those seeking health and nutrition information. Always consult with your Veterinarian and other professionals about health related matters and any concerns or questions you may have concerning your dog's diet and nutrition requirements. We do not endorse or recommend any one treatment or diet over another.

  • Top 5 Ways to Improve Life for your Senior Dog by Kim Boatman — Aging is inevitable, but it needn't diminish your dog's quality of life. Here are five ways to make the most out of your pet's senior years.
    (Added 2 May 2012)
  • Elder Dogs Need Exercise by Marcella Durand — Does your senior dog act more like a couch potato than a canine companion? Here are a few senior-specific ways to get your four-legged friend back in play.
    (Added 2 May 2012)
  • Make your Senior Dog Feel at Home by Susan Hoffman — Your senior dog may benefit from minor household modifications. An orthopedic bed here or a ramp there will go a long way toward making your senior dog's life at home pleasant and comfortable. Read more...
    (Added 2 May 2012)
  • Serve This to Keep Your Aging Dog Healthy — Tips on how a healthy diet can help make up for the physical shortfalls of an aging dog.
    (Added 2 May 2012)
  • Prolong Your Senior Dog's Golden Years by Dr. Tracy Dewhirst — For all of us, a large part of the fountain of youth lies in being active — this universal truth applies to dogs as well. When body and mind are challenged with daily exercise and mental stimuli, your aging dog will likely be healthier. To learn more about what you can do to help your dog in his/her senior years, Click Here.
    (Added 24 April 2012)
  • Senior Pet Care

    — In the following pet health care video, brought to you by, Dr. April Miles reviews at what age your pet is considered senior and discusses why regular vet visits are important for your senior dog or cat, what your vet will look for, and what to expect as your pet ages.

    026 Senior Pet Care

    Senior Pet Tips: Simple Things You Can Do To Make Your Senior Pets More Comfortable

    By Christine Mandrake

    — As our beloved companions get older they begin to slow down and many suffer from the same age-related wear and tear as we humans do. Arthritis, gastric upsets, diminished senses, sensitivity to extreme heat and cold are just a few. Below is a list of tips you can use to make your senior pet more comfortable, happy and healthy.

    Feeding the Best Diet

    — Feeding your pet high quality food not only makes them feel better, but can reduce the chances of illness and disease in the future. Raw food, home-cooked meals or premium commercial food will go a long way in keeping your pet happy and healthy. And don't forget to add variety to your pets diet. By rotating what you feed you are insuring that your pet gets a more balanced array of vitamins and minerals. Not to mention, how would you like to eat the same thing day after day year after year. Be careful, however to introduce dietary changes gradually to avoid tummy upset and diarrhea. Begin by adding in 1/4 of the new food to what you currently feed for between 5 to 7 days. The second week feed 1/2 new food to 1/2 the current diet and so on until you have made a complete change. Once your pet gets used to more variety they will more easily tolerated dietary changes.

    Consider Adding Supplements

    — Adding natural vitamins and supplements can also be of great benefit to our pets, especially seniors. My personal "Holy Trinity" is a good Mulit-Vitamin, EFA's (essential fatty acids) and a Plant Enzyme and Probiotic Supplement (such as Animal Essentials). A good multi-vitamin will ensure your pet receives adequate daily amounts of necessary vitamins and minerals. EFA's do more than keep skin and coat healthy. EFAs are the building blocks for prostaglandins, which work to regulate hormones, immune and nervous systems and cardiovascular function. People and pet's bodies cannot make them and so they need to be added to our diet. Enzymes and Probiotics help enhance your pet's health by promoting the proper balance of good intestinal flora and by supporting the digestive systems that aid in the assimilation and utilization of vitamins and nutrients. Enzymes combine with food and water to aid in the breakdown of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

    Even if your dog or cat is not displaying signs of arthritis you can help prevent or slow the onset by starting them on a natural supplement designed to promote joint and cartilage health. Look for supplements that contain ingredients such as glucosamine, chrondroitin, MSM, vitamin C, white willow bark, boswellin, yucca powder, manganese ascorbate, bromelain, selenium (especially in conjunction with vitamin E), vitamins C, A, and E. In addition, Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oils has shown promise in treating arthritis in animals and humans.

    Buy an Orthopedic Pet Bed

    — Beds made out of convoluted foam offer greater support for sore achy joints and muscles. Soft fluffy beds may look and feel appealing to us, but as anyone with back problems will tell you, a nice firm bed is much more comfortable. The same is true with our pets.

    Raise Your Pet's Food and Water Bowls

    — Raise your pet's food and water bowls to provide the height that your dog (or cat) needs for healthy eating and drinking. Raised feeders minimize neck strain and reduce air ingestion making them ideal for senior and large breed pets.

    Be Aware of Diminishing Sight and Hearing

    — Don't drastically rearrange rooms and furniture as your pet has probably learned to navigate his/her environment quite well and sudden changes can lead to fear and confusion. When approaching your older pet make sure they can see or hear you coming. A pet with sight or hearing loss can become very startled by an unexpected touch. Clapping your hands or making some other loud noise can help alert pets of your approach. The vibrations created by walking heavy-footed also work well to alert pets that someone is coming.

    Just Like People, Our Pets Become More Sensitive to Extreme Heat and Cold

    — Provide pets with a warm place to lie and sleep in the winter, away from drafty windows and doors. Consider buying a heated bed or insert to keep them cozy. In the summer, make sure outdoor areas have plenty of shade and cool fresh water available at all times. Indoors, make sure they have a cool spot away from direct sunlight.

    Ramps and Special Harnesses Can Make Life for Seniors Much Easier and Less Painful

    — They can help them climb stairs, get in and out of vehicles, rise from lying down and provide extra support while standing or walking. Cats can greatly benefit from portable stairs that aid them up and down from the bed, couch or other favorite cuddle spot.

    Don't Forget About Exercise

    — Your older pet still needs to get out there and be part of the world; drinking in the fresh air and soaking up some sunshine. It's just as important for them to keep moving as it is for us when we age. Be aware, however that you need to adjust the length and strenuousness of their exercise. Shorter distances and less challenging terrain may be needed. And, definitely be careful in any extreme weather, as older animals cannot tolerate extremes like when they were younger. Also, make sure you always have an ample supply of clean water for you and your pet.

    About the Author: Christine Mandrake is the owner of, a site that is dedicated to providing information and resources about caring for senior pets.

    Old Soul Toys Old Soul Toys

    Specially designed to provide fun for senior pets while addressing the issues of aging, with soft materials for brittle teeth and high-contrast colors for reduced vision. Buddy and Bone have a Slobber-Wick™ covering with polyfill and squeakers; Orbee-Tuff® Ball is pliant, buoyant and nontoxic, with a pleasing extra-minty scent and taste; safely made in USA. Please specify Buddy, Bone or Orbee Ball when ordering. Color: Teal/Silver. Buddy or Bone: M (8" long), L (12" long). Orbee Ball: M (3 1/4" diam.), L (4 1/4" diam.).

    Personalized Mobility Harness Personalized Mobility Harness

    Use this veterinarian-approved harness to aid the mobility of your dog without straining to lift his entire weight. Nylon handles support the rib cage; adjustable straps with quick-release buckles. Durable cotton. Machine washable. Sizes (Chest): M (31"-34"; for dogs 50-80 lbs.), L (34"-37"; for dogs 80-125 lbs.). Please specify up to 12 letters/spaces and allow 4 weeks for delivery. Sorry, Express Delivery not available for Personalized Harness.

    Mobility Harness Mobility Harness

    Use this veterinarian-approved harness to aid the mobility of your dog without straining to lift his entire weight. Made with exceptional quality of luxurious, padded rhino suede, lined with silky faux shearling. Nylon web handles support the rib cage; adjustable straps have quick-release buckles. Machine washable. Sizes (Girth): M (31"-34"; for dogs 50-80 lbs.), L (34"-37"; 80-125 lbs.). Exclusive!

    Walkabout Back Harness Small or Medium Walkabout Back Harness Small or Medium

    Touted by veterinary surgeons as the most effective walking aid for dogs with hip dysplasia, arthritis, spinal trauma, and fatigue. Provides safe, secure, comfortable support for dog's rear end. Neoprene, with secure Velcro® and buckle closures for easy on/off. Machine washable. Sizes: S, M, M/L, L, XL (please see size chart, below right).

    Large Orthopedic Bed with Headrest Large Orthopedic Bed with Headrest

    Our own design, this bed is especially beneficial for pets who suffer from hip problems, arthritis or aging. It provides cushioned support and an insulating barrier from cold, drafty or hard floors. Its extra-thick convoluted foam core conforms to your dog's body shape, weight and warmth. The built-in headrest allows your dog to position his head at a comfortable angle. Cozy quilted poly/cotton and plush faux Sherpa with polyfill. Cover removes for machine washing. Made in USA. Please specify Green, Chocolate or Black. Sizes: S (30" x 40"; for dogs up to 50 lbs.), L (36" x 48"; 50-100 lbs.). Sorry, no Express Delivery.

    42 42" Therapeutic Bolster Bed

    Providing soothing relief for older or arthritic dogs, this bed reduces stress on joints, hips and pressure points with 2"-thick therapeutic memory foam and high-density cushioning foam. Double-thick foam with a contoured surface increases circulation and airflow; a bolster provides comfortable surrounds to stretch out and snuggle into. Sueded microfiber cover features a luxurious Berber fleece top. Cover removes for machine washing. Colors: Chocolate or Sage (please specify). Sizes: 35" (for dogs up to 40 lbs.), 42" (40-60 lbs.), 50" (60-80 lbs.). Sorry, Express Delivery not available on Medium and Large Beds.

    Ortho Bolster Bed Ortho Bolster Bed

    Maximum comfort and orthopedic support for aging or mobility-challenged pets. NASA-certified memory foam offers therapeutic benefits for relief of arthritis, hip dysplasia and other painful joint conditions. Down-soft polyfiberfill bolster surrounds your dog to provide a sense of security. Soft cotton twill cover with contrast piping zips off for machine washing. Made in USA. Colors: Khaki or Chocolate (please specify). Sizes: M (36"), L (46"). Sorry, no Express Delivery. Exclusive!

    doggydocks doggydocks

    These sturdy, yet lightweight, portable ramps quickly attach to any dock, boat platform or swimming pool. The patented flotation system, Snapbag, adjusts the incline, allowing any dog to easily climb out of the water. Laminated plywood ramp is covered with UV-resistant, 100% olefin carpeting. Stainless-steel hardware. Supports dogs up to 150 lbs. Made in USA. Colors: Blue, Red or Tan (please specify). Original ramp is 20" x 72". Fold-up ramp folds to 20" x 36" for easy storage, and can be used as a multipurpose ramp. Please add $20 additional shipping for this item. Sorry, Express Delivery not available.

    Animals Matter Companion Standard Ramp Animals Matter Companion Standard Ramp

    A gently angled ramp with innovative scalloped "steps" makes it easier for pets with aching joints and mobility issues to reach a favorite cuddling spot. High-density foam construction provides stable footing, yet is feather-light for moving from room to room. Upholstery-grade faux-suede cover is an elegant match with any decor, unzips for machine washing. Made in USA. Colors: Camel or Chocolate (please specify). Sizes: Mini (20"L x 21"W x 14"H), Standard (30"L x 21"W x 21"H). Both support up to 250 lbs. Sorry, Express Delivery not available on Standard Ramp. ($10)

    Note: We are always in need of articles for the Health and Nutrition section, submissions are welcome and encouraged. Please feel free to contact us.