America's love for their canine friends is an ever growing trend. In fact, recent statistics provided by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) show that dog ownership among American households comprises the largest segment of pet owners with 54.4 million households having a canine member. If you are among this growing group of dog lovers, you already know that sharing your home with a beloved canine offers your family many benefits, including years of companionship, protection and just plain fun. As your pet ages, however, you may notice some changes in their physical condition and overall health that cause them to experience discomfort or mobility issues. While proper nutrition, exercise, and veterinary care can you help you make your buddy more comfortable, you may also want to make some changes in your home that will help, as well.
Improve entry options
One of the first mobility issues many dog owners note in their aging pets is some reluctance or obvious discomfort when climbing stairs to get into the home, up onto decks or porches or to different levels of the home. Adding a ramp to some or all of these areas can help your pet continue to access their favorite spots with less discomfort. These ramps can be temporary, such as securing a wide board at one side of the stairs that has been covered with a slip resistant material. A more permanent option is to add an attractive ramp that has been professionally designed and installed to complement your home.
Add a washing station
Another problem that older dogs have, especially large ones, is jumping into or out of tubs when it is time for a bath. Homes that have walk-in shower stalls can be temporarily modified for bathing large dogs simply by adding a handheld shower head with a hose long enough to allow you to comfortably wash your dog at floor level. If your home does not have a walk-in shower, it may be possible to add a simple tiled area in a corner of your laundry room, basement or any area that can be connected to both the home's water supply and sewer system.
Offer radiant heat
Like humans, many older dogs develop arthritis and other joint and mobility issues that respond well to applications of gentle heat. Therefore, offering them a warm place to lay can be an effective therapy for them, much like the comfort you might derive from using a heating pad. To provide this warmth on a temporary basis, pet owners can purchase a heat mat designed specifically for dogs and place it in the dog's favorite sleeping area. For a more permanent and aesthetically pleasing solution, however, homeowners should consider installing radiant heat flooring in one or more areas of the home where their pet enjoys laying, such as sunrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens or entryways. Companies like Custom Comfort may be able to help meet your needs in this area.