Signs Your Senior Dog is Slowing Down and 6 Ways to Help Their Mobility at Home and Naturally

Written by: Sarah Seward-Langdon

Reviewed by: Amanda Nascimento, DVM, MSc, Ph.D

Published on: 07/05/2022

Dogs are a lifelong commitment. We’re with them through the cutest puppy stages to the “terrible twos” to the calmer teenage years, and sadly, when they begin to slow down as well. Dogs (like humans) are prone to deteriorating health and strength as they age, and require more assistance. However, just because you start seeing the signs of aging in your dog, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the line. There are still many things you can do to help improve your senior dog’s mobility and overall quality of life.

If dogs could talk, they’d probably be a little more vocal about the aches, pain, and limitations they’re experiencing. However, our furry little friends can’t speak, so it’s up to us to look for physical signs and figure out how to best assist them. Unfortunately, people often choose to put down their dogs once they witness mobility problems [1]. While reminiscing about how bouncy and energetic your dog once was, it is important to realize that senior dogs can have fulfilling, long lives if you’re willing to do the work. And sometimes even small changes can make major differences in your pet’s life. Let’s review the mobility problems elderly dogs can face and look at natural or at-home support that will help prolong your dog’s life while making sure they’re comfortable in their old(er) age!

Signs Your Senior Dog is Slowing Down

  • Walking more slowly or with a limp
  • Struggling to switch positions
  • Clumsier or slipping when moving around
  • Shifting weight between paws
  • Exhibiting pain, stiffness, or hesitation while doing previously normal activities
  • Trouble or hesitation climbing or jumping [1]

Learn more about how Smart Earth Camelina Products can help your pet, especially in diminishing symptoms of mobility problems.

Common Reasons for Mobility Problems

Now we’ve covered what to look for when monitoring your older dog for mobility issues, but what could be causing them to slow down? Yes, all dogs slow down with age, but it can be more than JUST age…

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a condition where the ball and socket of the dog’s hip do not fit or develop properly, causing rubbing or grinding that leads to discomfort and continuous deteriorationeventually all function in the joint is lost. This is a genetic problem that most often occurs in larger adult or older dogs, although small dogs can still be victim to it as well. Dogs that suffer from hip dysplasia can also develop other issues such as osteoarthritis [2].

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, also known as Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD), is a progressive disease where joints become more and more unhealthy due to deterioration of cartilage. Cartilage is the cushion that allows joints to move properly; however, in dogs with osteoarthritis the lacking cartilage causes pain, inflammation, decreased range of motion, and bone spurs. This disease is usually more common in larger breed and senior dogs and often found in the limbs or lower spine, although it can target any area of the body [3].

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

Intervertebral Disc Disease, also described as a ruptured, slipped, bulging or herniated disk, is a condition that can affect your dog’s spinal cord suddenly (acutely) or over a period of time (chronic). This disease, impacting smaller breeds more often, is probably less well-known because it goes undetected in many cases even with yearly wellness checks. IVDD occurs when discs in your dog’s vertebrae harden, can no longer provide proper cushioning, and eventually compress the spinal cord causing damage to a dog’s nerve impulses (ex. Controlling their bladder). Sometimes there are very little signs until the disc is hardened or ruptures [4][5].

5 Ways to Improve Your Senior Dog’s Mobility and Overall Quality of Life

1. Dietary Changes

An elderly dog with weight issues is an elderly dog that is also more prone to joint pain and mobility issues. Ensuring your dog stays a healthy weight through proper nutrition is of the utmost importance [5]. What most people do not realize is that senior dogs require a different set of nutritional requirements thanks to a slowing metabolism or decreased immune functions. Some examples of how and why a diet can change when your dog reaches its later years include:

  • Higher quality protein levels required because seniors may have less need for energy from their diet, as well as less of an ability to digest and absorb nutrients
  • Decline in need for fat because fat is calorie dense and your senior dog will likely need less energy from calories [6]

However, always talk to your vet before making any changes in your senior dog’s diet. Some elderly dogs also have other health conditions such as renal disease, heart condition, and diabetes, which means they will have special or more complicated dietary needs.


2. Natural Supplements

A strong component of a good diet is adding supplements. This is especially important for older dogs who need more support through their diet. Here is a quick overview of some of the best supplements to consider for your senior dog to help improve their mobility, and potentially mitigate the effects of aging:

Glucosamine and chondroitin

These are two compounds that occur naturally in cartilage. If your dog is suffering from osteoarthritis, using a joint supplement may help your senior dog get back within normal range of mobility, or very close to it [6]. Glucosamine and chondroitin are naturally found in shellfish shells (like shrimp, lobster, and crab), animal bones, and bone marrow. All you need to do is give a dog a bone [7]!

Turmeric

While there haven’t been official studies done on turmeric and dogs, many holistic vets and pet nutritionists recommend using turmeric for dogs who suffer from pain and inflammation. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. As elderly dogs are more likely to suffer from serious diseases (ex. Cancer), sore joints sometimes due to osteoarthritis, or even declining heart health, turmeric could be a helpful supplement to include into their diet [11].

Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids 

EPA, DHA, and ALA are all types of omega 3 fatty acids that are fantastic for senior dogs that are experiencing arthritis or cognitive issues. Adding omega-3 to a diet, may help alleviate inflammation of the joints (as well as provide a plethora of other health benefits), possibly also improving limps. EPA and DHA are typically sourced from fish oil, shellfish, or green-lipped mussels, while ALA can be found from plant sources like camelina oil [6]

Camelina Oil for Equine

✅ Single ingredient, 100% pure Camelina Oil.
✅ Non-GMO
✅ Ideal balance of Omega-3 compared to other products, like soybean oil.
✅ Canadian produced and operated.

Camelina Oil for Canine

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

✅ Single ingredient, 100% pure Camelina Oil.
✅ Non-GMO
✅ Ideal balance of Omega-3 compared to other products, like soybean oil.
✅ Canadian produced and operated.

3. Proper Exercise Routine

Another key to keeping your dog healthy and happy, including the right weight, is to ensure you make small changes in their exercise routine. Gone are the days your young pup can go for hours hiking or chasing balls; strenuous exercise should be avoided. Instead, it is important that you exercise your dog regularly, at a moderate pace, specifically avoiding exercise during the hottest hours of the day. Consider more walks but make them shorter and swimming, since it can help older dogs maintain good muscle mass and tone while being easy on their joints [5]!

4. Additions to the House

Just like humans, older dogs may need a little more help getting around the house. Have you ever thought of adding ramps? This is just one of the many small changes you could add around the house to make it easier for you and your fur baby to get around. Examples include:

  • Rugs or Anti-Skid Mats – Great if your place has lots of slippery tiles or hardwood floors [8].
  • Pet Step and Ramps – Does your pet love getting on and off the sofa? Add steps or ramps for extra relief on their joints!
  • Stair Treads – Added grip for your older pet trying to navigate the staircase.
  • Dog Gates - If your furry friend has more serious mobility issues, it’s a good idea to block the stairs and any other dangerous areas with a dog gate to avoid risk of falls and injury.
  • Rug Paths - If your dog’s vision has begun to fade, it may help if you create a path out of different material to help him/her get around [10].

 

5. Mobility Aids

There are a plethora of reasons why your dog may be experiencing mobility loss. Never fear though, since you have the power to make sure Pluto can still experience the great outdoors if he’s feeling a little slower these days. Here are some great ideas: mobility slings (material with handles that go under your dog’s abdomen or chest), non-slip booties, or even strollers. All of these tools can help your dog continue to experience walks—even if there are some slight changes [9]!

Finding the right balance

Every four-legged companion is different, and so is your lifestyle. This means that finding the right solution for both your dog and overall lifestyle is important! As you can see you have many options you can explore when trying to improve your senior dog’s quality of life, specifically their ability to get around (and this is just the tip of the iceberg). Continue to do research and support your dog the best you can; don’t be discouraged because you’re already doing more than what some people would!

Camelina Oil for Equine

✅ Single ingredient, 100% pure Camelina Oil.
✅ Non-GMO
✅ Ideal balance of Omega-3 compared to other products, like soybean oil.
✅ Canadian produced and operated.

Camelina Oil for Canine

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

✅ Single ingredient, 100% pure Camelina Oil.
✅ Non-GMO
✅ Ideal balance of Omega-3 compared to other products, like soybean oil.
✅ Canadian produced and operated.


Follow us!

About Sarah

"Sarah is a marketing specialist with a passion for anything creative! Her openness to working across industries and job opportunities has allowed her to gain enormous amounts of experience in graphic design, video production, and written content creation. Animals have a special place in her heart as she grew up with cats and now owns her own Alaskan Malamute. She has spent the last couple of years in Vancouver working with different companies within the pet industry and gained valuable knowledge about the ins and outs of the (alternative) pet food industry, supplementation, and various training methods. When she’s not digitally creating content for pet lovers to consume, she’s out eating great food, dancing at drop-in classes, or exploring the beautiful Canadian scenery with her fur-child Miso."