New Ways to Care for Older Dogs

Written by: Kathleen Moore

Dempsey, a 14-year-old blonde Labrador retriever, rests on his special bed.

photo via

We posted a story recently about musician Fiona Apple’s decision to cancel her tour so that she could stay home with her beloved elderly pit bull. Now an article in the Boston Globe points out that many of us can relate as owners of aging doggies. When we take pups in for the first time, even if they’re not puppies, they are at their most vulnerable. There’s nothing like the experience of raising these “furry children,” but when they start to slow down, it can be an emotional experience.

“It’s so hard to live with an elderly dog because it’s like a roller coaster, up and down all the time,” says Dr. Lisa Moses, chief of the Pain Medicine Service at Angell Animal Medical Center. The subject is personal for Moses. She has a 16-year-old pit bull, Dora. “What they used to be able to do, what their life used to be like, it’s really hard to set that aside.”

Indeed, as dogs’ lifespans increase as a result of advances in veterinary care, better food, and heightened owner awareness, the market for products catering to senior canines is burgeoning. Orvis’ Jon Comeau, Product Development Specialist for Pets, explains:

“We see it in the sales figures that come through” … “Ten years ago, we were selling products to keep dogs off the couch. Now we’re selling products to keep them on the couch.”
Beds are big sellers for elderly dogs with creaky joints. “We have several versions of Tempur-Pedic and regular memory-foam beds,” says Comeau, who touts the advantages of rectangular beds for stiff dogs who won’t curl up because of the pain

However you comfort your aging friend, the sad truth is “no product will make an old dog live forever.” Even after they leave us though, I doubt any of us would trade the years of companionship, fun, and laughter for anything. Read the full story here the Do you have advice for those caring for older dogs? Let us know in the comments.

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