A great article in USA Today on how to Help your dog navigate his golden years?
Help negotiate the golden years
Talk to your vet about how you can make simple changes around your home that will help your aging dog stay safer and feel more comfortable.
When dogs can’t see or hear as well as they used to, they may bark or seem lost. They’re so good at adapting that we often don’t notice their vision and hearing changes, Shojai says. “As long as you don’t rearrange the furniture, a blind dog may fool you and still be able to get around without you noticing too much.”
Vision changes. Vision loss can decrease your pet’s ability to function in the house, Gardner says. “You have to protect them.”
Add night lights around the house to help pets with low vision see at night, suggests Gardner. Place battery-operated tea lights on stairs and near the food bowl and water dish. If you have a pool, pond
or other water feature, make sure the area is protected.
Hearing changes. Old dogs with hearing loss may be startled when you come near or reach out to pet them. Make sure your dog can see or feel you coming and approach with caution, Gardner advises. If the dog also has arthritis or another painful condition, startling them may scare or hurt them enough to make them snap, even if they’ve never bitten anyone, she says.
Mobility and fragility. Many dogs, especially larger breeds, struggle with mobility issues, Gardner says. You’ll see them circle several times before they lie down and struggle to get up, Gardner says. There can be many causes (arthritis,vertebral disease, muscle wasting) but older dogs need pain management and practical modifications to their environments to keep them steadier and safer, she adds.
Add barriers and baby gates to make sure dogs are protected from unsafe areas where they may have trouble. Hardwood, tile and other bare floors are like an ice rink to an old dog, says Gardner. For outdoor steps, decks, tile and concrete, she suggests trying non-slip sealers and paints to give dogs better traction.
We’ve learned that geriatric humans who enter hospice care sooner rather than later live longer and better, Gardner says. There aren’t studies yet to prove the same is true in dogs, but Gardner believes “if we can get these guys when they start getting achy, when they start losing their mind a little bit, and help them early enough, we will be able to … hopefully extend quantity, not just quality (of life).”
“Make it possible for your dog to continue doing the normal things that he loved to do always,” Shojai says. Obedience trials and trick training actually help delay the onset of some brain changes, Shojai adds.