Old dogs have different needs to younger dogs, just as I have more interest in adverts for comfy slippers than a new pair of sneakers these days.
And while my old dog Rossi (RIP) also had a penchant for a nice pair of slippers (usually mine, and not for wearing...) his arthritis and hip replacement led me to seek out a number of accessories and products to make his life more comfortable. Having just recommended one of those to a neighbor with an ageing hound, I thought I'd see what else could help turn back the dog years for your elderly pooch.
To help improve mobility
First up, something I recommended today and continue to recommend to anyone with an old dog with stiff limbs, and especially those with arthritis.
These magic chewable tablets are made from three key ingredients: ActiveEase Green Lipped Mussel - a concentrated source of Omega-3 to help soothe stiff joints; Glucosamine - supports joint structure by helping rebuild the protective cartilage; and Hyaluronic Acid - which cushions and lubricates the joint. They also contain Manganese, which helps support collagen formation in the cartilage, ligaments and tendons, and Vitamin C and E, boosting joint mobility.
They say to give at least two months to see results, but most pet owners start seeing improvements within a few weeks. I would say, in my case, by the two month mark I was ready to put my hand on my heart to evangelically recommend YuMove as the difference in Rossi's mobility was stark. He could get up out of his bed much quicker and even started cantering again on his walk, and would get playful in ways he hadn't done for at least a year.
Because of their preventative effects, I now give them to young Rumble too, as he has hip dysplasia and will also suffer a little when he's older. He gets one in the morning and another in the evening, mixed in with his food, although he'll happily eat them out of my hand. The Glucosamine will help to keep his hip joints in good fettle while he's so active. I consider these as the ultimate canine health supplement, regardless of your dog's condition.
Check out the over 8,000 5 star ratings here.
PETFUSION ULTIMATE DOG BED
To ensure their comfort
An old dog with lumps, bumps and stiff joints needs a super comfy bed. But with over 400 beds to choose from on Amazon alone, your choice will be down to many factors, like material, size, construction, style. But I'm choosing an orthopedic bed closest to the one we have, and 92% of the 9,000+ ratings for the PetFusion Ultimate Memory Foam Bed are 4 and 5 stars.
I'd always bought pretty cheap beds in the past, but once my old Collie was on his last legs and his comfort was my number one focus, I chose the best bed for him regardless of cost.
The biggest, Jumbo, version of this bed has inner dimensions of 42" x 33" (50" x 40" total size). And believe me that is a big bed and will suit the largest of dogs, but it's also the one I went with for a normal sized Border Collie. Old dog loved it and spent most of his time in it asleep, and new dog loves it and keeps all his toys at one end while he's either rolling about on his back, showing off the space, or resting with his head on the pillow-like bolsters.
Quality memory foam means sore hips are always cosseted and complete washability means every part can be removed and washed. The main cover is waterproof, for rain-soaked young dogs or incontinent old dogs, but the foam cover is also waterproof, so you have double protection of the foam itself.
They are expensive, but I was replacing cheap beds every year, and so I think this is a worthy investment, especially for old dogs. And I can personally testify to how comfy and roomy it is as I admit to curling up in it with Rumble, in the first week after adopting him, and falling asleep!
Find your Ultimate Dog Bed here.
PET GEAR FULL LENGTH RAMP
To help get them into the car
I've tried to find the best value ramp for getting a dog into a car, based on my late dog's mobility in his final few years. I used to just lift him and didn't get the chance to buy a ramp before I lost him. But I wouldn't choose Amazon's best seller, the PetSafe Happy Ride Folding Pet Ramp, as good as it sounds. It looks too short to provide a shallow enough angle for a dog with bad hips. It will depend on the tailgate height, but I would have needed something longer and less steep. Plus I thought $50 was a fair price ceiling and didn't want to spend more, especially after the Jumbo bed!
So the Pet Gear Full Length Ramp ticks the boxes and folds down to a third of its full length for storage. It's covered with a grippy, sandpaper-like covering for traction and features rubber feet to prevent slipping. There are better looking ramps available and some with more features, but they tend to take up more room and are all a lot more expensive. On balance between doing the job of a ramp for an old dog and being reasonably priced, this is the fairest option I can find and one of the cheapest.
WINTER DOG COATS
To help keep old joints warm
When choosing a dog coat in the past, I'd only be looking for waterproof qualities, as its job was to make drying my pup easier when we got home. But for an old dog, warmth is key in keeping those joints happy, and in particular making sure the length covers the dog's bony hips. There are nearly 700 options under Cold Weather Coats on Amazon, but once I've eliminated the short ones, the next criteria is ensuring it can be put on and taken off with ease - meaning no awkward leg holes. Most need securing at the back and elastic straps are best as you can stretch them down to the floor and slip their feet in without having to lift and bend their legs too much. This eliminates a lot of options and points towards blanket style coats with simple belly straps.
So, after much reading and scrolling, I've picked three options that meet my old dog criteria:
PROPLUMS WINTER JACKET
In the sub-$20 category, this gets a paws up for being long and covering the whole body. Many helpful Amazon customers have uploaded pictures of their dogs highlighting this fact. It also gets points in the fitting category as it has a chest/belly strap design, which only requires lifting one front paw to get it on and it stays secure without leg straps too, so no lifting those arthritic back legs.
It has a waterproof Nylon outer and soft, warm Polyester inner layer. A small hole on the back allows you to attach a lead to a harness too.
SLOWTON POLAR FLEECE WINTER COAT
Also under $20, this unique design is more vest than coat, but covers right to the rear and features a polar fleece scarf design up front for keeping your dog's neck warm. This can be zipped up and adjusted with a toggle for a snug neck, or just rolled down as a polo neck. It's windproof and waterproof and quick drying too. And although it has rear leg straps, they're long enough to be able to stretch down to the floor to get it on. All the fastening and adjustment makes this a pretty snug and secure coat. One other feature to set it apart is the use of poppers instead of Velcro on the belly strap, so perfect for long-haired dogs.
ZACK & ZOEY NOR'EASTER DOG BLANKET COAT
This final choice is hugely popular, getting 4.5 out of 5 stars from over 3,000 ratings and meets my criteria, being simple to put on and full-length covering. Waterproofing is highly rated by reviewers and it can be reversed so the warm plaid-printed fleece can be on the outside, although I'm not sure why you'd want the waterproof fabric on the inside. Velcro belly and chest fastener is sturdy and well-made. It has reflective trim for night walks, but is just over $30 so it's the most expensive here, but not exactly a bank-breaking cost for a warm, dry coat for your stiff, old pupper.