If your dog is in her golden years, you may be wondering about senior dog vitamins and supplements, orthopedic beds, supportive harnesses — anything that will keep her stress-free until she crosses over the Rainbow Bridge.
If you don’t know where to get started with your furry friend’s care, I’m here with the facts. I spoke to a registered veterinary technician (aka RVT), Lyn, at my local veterinary hospital, and she gave me the deets on how to keep your pup going comfortably.
Senior Dog Supplements
Pups are just like us – their joints get old and need help, too. “Cosequin is a good joint supplement for senior dogs,” Lyn said. Cosequin has ingredients including glucosamine hydrochloride and sodium chondroitin sulfate (which is also useful for humans!) that work to support mobility by maintaining cartilage and connective tissue. There are other supplements that vets recommend for senior dogs, including Reggie and Wild Earth.
“Orthopedic dog beds help prevent soreness when waking up,” explains Lyn. For dogs who need some extra support in their bones, cartilage, and joints — especially in their hips and elbows — finding a dog bed that eases pain is key.
The Orvis bed uses memory foam to relieve pressure on pain points by using one piece of foam, rather than torn up pieces of foam, to fill the bed. The Buddy Bed has multiple layers, including an egg crate layer for even weight distribution and a layer of cooling gel. And the more affordable FurHaven sofa uses medical-grade orthopedic foam at its base, with faux fur fabric to make snuggling up to sleep extra cozy.
Skin & Fur Repair
If you notice your friend’s fur looking a little…icky, that’s normal. Lyn says “Cod liver oil will help prevent their skin/coat from getting crusty.”
You can buy supplements for senior dogs in both liquid and chewable forms – Nordic Naturals’ cod liver oil is distilled liquid, while PetHonesty has chewable supplements containing flaxseed, small fish oil, vitamin E, and probiotics to relieve any itchy, dry skin. And if Fido fights back, there are also balms to topically apply – Natural Dog Company’s skin balm is filled with chamomile, lavender, cocoa butter, and vitamin E.
Keep Them Active
While it may be tempting to keep your pet inside so as to not exacerbate joint pain, “Try to keep gentle activity common so they don’t stiffen up.” However, “Never push them further than they want to go on a walk or hike,” Lyn emphasizes.
Some senior dogs can get by for short periods of time, but other dogs – especially those with weak elbows and hips – might need a little support. These harnesses can help you give a little lift to ease weight on the joints.
Ramps & Stairs
Falling in line with the joints issue, some older dogs simply can’t jump up onto the bed or couch anymore. And even if they can, you’re asking for an injury with each jump. Even if the couch and bed isn’t a problem, getting dogs in and out of cars as they age can be tricky. Stairs and ramps are a great solution to this problem.
Upset stomachs aren’t just a human thing – they’re common in senior dogs, too. “If diarrhea happens, add a small scoop of pure canned pumpkin to their food. The fiber helps,” Lyn says.
But there are other stomach problems, too, like chronic inflammatory gastritis and inflammatory bowel disease (which occur when there’s an overactive immune response in the lining of the stomach and digestive track). And then there’s upset stomachs, which can cause vomiting.
“Never let a problem like vomiting, diarrhea…refusing to eat, or signs of pain go on for more than a couple days without contacting a vet. Old dogs decline fast when something is wrong with them,” Lyn warns me.
While it’s crucial to talk to your vet about potential treatment plans, there are probiotics geared toward dogs. PetHonesty’s probiotic is pumpkin-based, falling in line with Lyn’s recommendations; Mary Ruth’s probiotic is in liquid form and filled with enzymes and good bacteria that will help gut flora and digestion; and PetLab Co. has their Omega Pro, filled with fatty acids and digestive enzymes.
Brush Their Teeth
Are you brushing your dog’s teeth? Have you ever? Well, now’s the best time to start. “Brushing their teeth is important because they tend to stop wanting to chew on things, and it’s hard to put them under anesthesia for a dental cleaning once they’re old.”
Keep Them Hydrated
If you’ve noticed that their water bowl is still full a day after filling it, don’t panic. “Some old dogs don’t like to drink,” says Lyn. To combat this, “add water to their food to prevent dehydration.” The Oralade water supplement is great for senior dogs who need extra hydration – it ups their water intake by up to 10x more than water and flushes their system with electrolytes. If they seem to back away from their food due to water, you can add other liquids, like bone broth, to entice them.
Just Love Them
Treating your pup’s physical health is important to keep their bodies going, and these senior dog supplements, harnesses, and beds will make them feel comfortable as they grow old. But it’s important to give them emotional support, too. Hugs, pets, treats, and other loving gestures don’t just do wonders for your mental health – they help your friend, too.
Did Lyn help give you insight on how to take care of your senior pup? If you’ve had an older dog, how did you help them? Let us know in the comments!
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