Helping Our Senior Pets!

It’s difficult watching your companion age, especially when mobility problems start. Mobility problems in older pets is probably one of the most common reasons for owners coming in to have quality of life talks here at the Guelph Animal Hospital.   There are many things, from medications to alternative therapies that we can offer to our senior pets – please contact us for more details! Here is a list of things that you can do at home to help keep your friend moving comfortably.


  1.  Traction: Tile, hardwood and laminate floors are slippery and can make it very difficult for an older dog to get good footing to move around.  Runners (that have a sticky underside), bathmats and yoga mats can give a runway for them to take off.  Be sure it doesn’t slide around and that it is easy to clean.
  2. Nails: when dogs and cats stop some of their regular behaviour and exercise, their nails can grow quite long.  This further causes problems, not allowing them to get good footing.  It can also cause the toes to twist which is uncomfortable.  If you are unable to trim the nails at home, be sure to take them to the groomer or in to the clinic more often for their mani/pedi’s.
  3. Grooming: Older dogs and cats often decrease or stop grooming themselves.  They can then get large matts in their coats that can cause irritation, restrict normal range of motion or cause skin infection.
  4. Water/Food Bowls: Make sure the bowls are in a location where they are easily and comfortably reached.  Big dogs may have trouble bending down and will need their bowls raised.  Cats, who have always eaten up high or on a counter may have trouble jumping and need their bowls brought to floor level.
  5. Stairs: When a pet, especially a senior dog, is having trouble walking, stairs can be very dangerous.  If needed, use a baby gate to block off access and assist them when needed to be sure there are no tumbles.
  6. Litter box: older cats sometimes have trouble climbing into the litter box.  You may need to switch out the box for one that is shallower with a smaller lip so it’s not such a struggle climbing in and out.
  7. Changing the frequency and lengths of outs: Older dogs sometimes can’t hold their bladders as long, or get confused about regular habits.  Increasing the frequency of outs but keeping walks shorter still gets pets moving but doesn’t overdo it in one go.
  8. Harnesses/slings: there are many great products on the market now that help you support a bigger dog without hurting your own back.

Write down and make notes about changes in behaviour you notice and be sure to regularly update your veterinary team.  We can all work together to ensure keep your pet’s comfortable and with you for as long as possible.

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