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Mobility Problems in Geriatric Dogs: Your Questions Answered

My senior dog can’t climb the stairs anymore. How can I help them?

Harness to help dog up stairs

Dogs of all ages can feel unsafe on the stairs, but in older dogs, that feeling can be amplified by the loss of strength, muscle atrophy, and balance issues. Your senior dog will need assistance to climb up and down the stairs safely. Get a lifting harness with a handle that you can use to support and guide your dog on the stairs. Walk beside them and hold onto the handle to give your dog a boost on the stairs and to stop them from slipping.

Descending the stairs can be even trickier for an older pet. If you notice your dog picking up speed as they go the stairs, it’s a sign they may not have complete control over themselves. This is a tell-tale sign that your dog should not be going down the stairs without your help.

My dog can’t jump into the car on its own. Is there a safe way to lift them?

BuddyUp front harness for dogs with weak front legs

As dogs get older, their back legs lose strength, and painful joints can make it challenging to jump into a car. And if you have a large dog, you can easily injure yourself by picking them up off the ground. Senior dogs who can walk without assistance can use special dog stairs or ramps to get in and out of the car.

However, an older dog with more advanced mobility issues may need your help and support to get into the car. A lifting harness that supports your dog’s chest and back legs will allow you to safely lift your dog into the car without straining your back. The Buddy Up front harness provides optimal support throughout your dog’s upper body, including the chest, torso, and below the rib cage. When worn with the matching rear harness, you will have two handles, one at the shoulder blade and another at your pet’s hind end, for balanced support.

Walking across the hardwood floor causes my dog to slip. What should I do?

Dog boots for inside the house

Slipping on hardwood or tile floors is a common issue in senior dogs. Paw care is the first step. Your pet’s nails should always be kept trim and cut regularly. Overly long nails can impact your dog’s ability to properly place their paws on the ground. Also, check your dog’s paw pads regularly. The hair that grows between your dog’s pads needs to be groomed regularly. Long hair can get in the way of your dog being able to grip the floor.

Dog boots can be worn inside the house to give your pet extra traction. Look for a boot with a rubber sole with a tread on it to help your dog walk on slippery floors. Your dog may not need to wear boots on all four paws. Some older dogs will only wear boots on their back feet. This makes it easier for them to gain the traction they need to stand up and walk without help.

Long walks around the neighborhood tire my older dog out. How can I help them walk?

Pet parent walking with Older dog in her wheelchair by Walkin' Pets

Dogs need exercise, and when a formerly active dog is unable to go on a daily walk it can impact its mental and physical health. Over time an inactive dog can become depressed, may sleep more often, gain weight, and lose muscle mass.

A senior dog that tires out before the end of its walk may be experiencing joint issues and leg weakness. All of which can make it difficult for a dog to exercise.

A dog wheelchair may be the answer to getting your dog back on its feet and enjoying long walks again. A rear cart supports a dog right under its back legs and supports them from underneath. This allows your dog to walk easily on all four legs. Canine carts have many benefits. The wheelchair’s support relieves pressure on a dog’s hind end, which can make it easier for the older dog to stay active for longer. Just because a dog starts to use a wheelchair, doesn’t mean it will rely on it full time. Many geriatric dogs will use a wheelchair only when exercising and may not need to rely on the cart all the time.

My geriatric dog is slowing down. Is this a natural part of aging?

Slowing down can be a natural part of a dog getting older. But more likely, it’s a sign that a pet’s health and mobility needs have changed. If you see behavioral changes in your dog, such as:

  • Sleeping more
  • Playing Less
  • Loss of interest in being active

Take note and contact your veterinarian. These changes in demeanor and activity levels can mean that there could be an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.

How can you help an older dog to stand up?

pup French Bull Dog getting up his front stairs with a dog rear support leash assisted by his pet parent

Struggling to stand up or push up off the ground is incredibly common and often the very first sign that an older dog is experiencing mobility loss. Luckily, there are simple mobility devices available to help assist your dog to stand.

The Up-n-Go Rear Support Leash is a simple lifting device that features two padded loops attached to a handle. While your dog is lying on the ground, slip one loop up each of your dog’s back legs and gently lift up on the handle to help your dog to stand. Once your dog is steady on its feet, you can remove the support leash. If your dog still needs assistance, you can continue to support your dog and help them outside.

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