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What I have learned recently is that there is a HUGE difference between a small breed senior dog and a large breed senior dog. Seems obvious, and yet when faced with senior dog problems, having one that weighs 125lb makes everything just a little bit harder.
I have done some things around my house and found many products and items that help me and Molly in these days where she isn't as strong as she used to be and her hips are slowly giving out.
Swim/Exercise: One of the best things I have found and done for Molly is to take her swimming. I WISH I had my own pool, but I don't and so I have found a local business called The Water Bark that offers swimming therapy for this exact purpose. To get dogs moving better with aquatic exercise. It is so much easier on her joints and is indoors so we can go during any weather. Plus, she absolutely loves it!
I strongly encourage elderly dogs to get aquatic exercise, but I realize that is not always possible. Any kind of movement that doesn't cause pain or further damage will help your senior dog stay healthier longer. Remember to not overdo it! I had a neighbor walk her senior dog every morning but held a towel underneath her stomach to help relieve some pressure on her joints. Made me happy to see a mommy taking such good care of her baby.
Special Outings: Molly isn't able to go to the dog park much anymore. She is an old cranky woman and doesn't love all the other dogs in her face. But she still gets bored at home all day and wants to be social so I take her on special outings.
Those would include:
Car rides: just letting her get some fresh air, see new things, smell new smells, she loved it!
Get ice cream: sometimes I would just go through the Sonic drive thru and get her an ice cream cone just for fun, or the local sno cone stand during the summer.
Chick-fil-a: If the weather is nice, I will take her to Chick-fil-a or any other outdoor food place and order food and let her watch the people. It doesn't require any exercise on her part, she gets attention, sees new things and usually gets some chicken too :)
Memory Foam Dog Bed: Since Molly's biggest problem is her joints I wanted to make sure when she lays down or sleeps at night she is the most comfortable she can be. She used to sleep on my bed, but then the steps to get on my bed became too much for her so I needed to move her to the floor. But I didn't just want a fluff filled dog bed, I wanted a quality, comfortable bed for my baby and found the Orvis Memory Foam Bolster Bed and I love it, and she loves it.
Car Dog Ramp: Molly has been using a ramp to the car for years, even before her serious hip issues because it is hard to get a 125 pound body up into the back of a car! I can't even remember when I purchased this ramp but it has lasted a long time and holds all of her weight very well when she uses it.
It has a rough (but not physically harmful) surface so that her paws can grip it and she will not slip off, even if it is raining while loading her into the car.
Now, Molly will not get in or out of a car without her ramp. She just waits for me to get it for her :)
Dog Ramp to Back Door: I just purchased my first home last year and while looking, I would check off houses that had too big of a step from the back door to the porch or backyard. Or any houses that had stairs that led from the backyard to the backdoor because Molly couldn't use them!
The house I finally purchased is perfect. It has a porch with a step off into the backyard. On good days, Molly can use the step off.
But just in case, my dad built a ramp out of pallets and it connects to my porch so she can easily get down off the porch when needed.
I do not have the plans my dad used, but I have found something similar here if you want to do this yourself!
Medication: This may sound obvious, but you would be surprised at the number of senior pet parents I have talked to who think that their dog is just "getting old" and probably needs to be "put down" sometime soon. NO!!! OMG please talk to your vet because it may be arthritis which is so common and easy to treat!
Molly has a mix of arthritis plus hip problems/pain so she is on a joint/arthritis medication as well as taking pain pills every single day.
Just like senior PEOPLE senior dogs need medication when they get older.
You will be shocked how much this will help a wobbly dog. I can drastically tell the difference between Molly's abilities when she hasn't had her medicine for the day vs. when she has.
CBD oil is another option, however Molly HATES the smell of it, so she won't take it, even mixed in her food or treats.
Back Harness: I have one of these, but I don't use it. That isn't because it's not helpful, because it is. I actually used it when my other dog had ACL surgery last year. But for Molly, I usually just scoop down and lift her back half myself because she is impatient and CAN do it herself, but appreciates a helping hand as well.
Again, because of her size, trying to slide this thing under and around her is more work than it's worth right now since she isn't that immobile yet, we have it for when that day comes too. This is called the Ginger Lead Harness.
I also just found this Help Em Up Harness and it looks amazing. Something they wear all the time so they are ready to be picked up when needed. I don't know if Molly would like it, but worth a shot!
Making Life Easier: I try, overall, to make life better and easier for her. For instance, she is built like a polar bear so she is easily hot. So I keep my house very cool (I also like the house cold, so it works for both of us), but this allows her to be comfortable on her beds that provide support for her joints instead of laying on the hard tile trying to get cool.
Another thing I have done is putting rugs in my house to help with traction problems. I like tile flooring because it is easier to clean, but I like rugs to provide some comfort as well. My favorite rug is from Ruggable.com because it is WASHABLE!
Thanks for all the helpful tips!!