As your pooch ages, extra care keeps her cozy, comfortable, happy and healthy. Senior doggies count on their humans to go the extra mile to accommodate changing needs. Remember to keep your pet extra warm, especially during cold weather and when she's in bed for a nap or the night.
Putting your aging pooch's bed in an appropriate place helps keep it -- and her -- toasty while she relaxes and slumbers. Position the doggy bed away from windows, doors, vents, fans and other sources of drafts. However, it's helpful to slide the bed near a source of warm air, such as a heating duct or even an appliance; make sure your pet's not at risk of getting too hot, though. Don't put the bed in a garage, basement, laundry room or other room without temperature control. It should go without saying that your elderly four-legged friend shouldn't be sleeping outside when the weather is cold.
Hardwood, tiled, linoleum and other uncarpeted floors are cold, hard and generally unpleasant for senior dogs, especially those with joint problems. Sleeping on such surfaces can even exacerbate joint aches and stiffness. If possible, put your pet's bed in a carpeted room; if not, lay enough towels or blankets under her bed to raise it 3 inches from the floor. Stay away from overly thick, plush beds though, as they're tricky for an older dog to get in and out of. Also, keep the bed somewhere your elderly dog can easily get to. If she struggles with stairs, put it on the first floor, and position it somewhere without lots of obstacles in the way.
Various accessories provide your elderly doggy with a snuggly, warm place to sleep. If there's room in the budget, consider an electric dog bed that generates its own heat. Or place an electric blanket or heating pad beneath your pooch's bed. A hot water bottle rolled up in a towel can also keep the bed warm, as can heating disks you warm up in the microwave. Some people place a small space heater near a doggy bed. If you try this, be mindful of the risks; pets can burn themselves on these devices or knock them over, creating a potential fire hazard.
Other Tricks for Warmth
When the cold weather sets in, your elderly pooch will probably appreciate an extra measure or two to keep her warm at night. If your pet is receptive to doggy booties or sweaters, let her sleep in them. Booties are more beneficial, since canines lose most of their body heat through their paw pads, along with their respiratory tracts and ears. Also, while aging dogs tend to eat less, encourage yours to consume some extra calories; your furry friend burns up more calories trying to stay warm in the winter. Try not to let your doggy spend a significant amount of time outside before bed, because it'll take her a while to warm up again. Consider providing an indoor potty for use at night.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Eric Mohrman has been a freelance writer since 2007, focusing on travel, food and lifestyle stories. His creative writing is also widely published. He lives in Orlando, Florida.