I’ve always been a firm believer of how simple changes to a dog’s home environment can be beneficial to their mobility. When I first visit a dog’s home I find myself looking around their living quarters - not in an interior designer way (I'm sure dogs don't really mind too much about the colour of the walls or curtains) but at their flooring and where the dog might jump down from.
Any changes don't need to be expensive. There are some simple ideas to make your house friendlier for your dog, mobility-wise.
The first thing is your floor. When we moved to AchyPaw HQ many years ago we had lovely ethical bamboo flooring installed. Sam and Sarah, our dogs, didn't care it was environmentally friendly, it made a great race track for them scooting around the house in circles. Bit by bit we added rugs and runners until we went to IKEA and saw some inexpensive practical carpets which we cut and matched to cover most surfaces. It may not look pretty but it works. The dogs now feel they can safely chase to the front door whenever anyone rings that bell without their legs going in different directions. One Mum of a dog I visited not so long ago took to heart my suggestion that adding carpet to their wooden floor would help as, on the following visit, I found she had carpeted throughout covering all the slippy floors and added matching cushions. But it meant that her dog who, on the first visit flew across the hall floor, literally, to greet me, was now able to safely amble up for a sniff. If you don’t want to completely cover your laminate floor, provide ‘islands’ of rugs allowing your dog to move between rooms. In particular, place carpets or rugs by their food and drink stations.
Regarding food and drink, as your dog gets older you might want to consider raising their bowls off the floor slightly. Try this experiment. Get yourself on all fours on the floor and imagine you are your dog eating their food from the bowl. Ouch, it hurts. Your back, your shoulders, your neck all start to ache. Feeding time should be enjoyable not a pain. Again, it doesn’t need to be any fancy bowls. You can use those old copies of Yellow Pages that you don’t need any more to raise their bowls. Cheap as chips but it helps adapt your home environment to help your dog.
Getting in and out of the house can also be tricky. The garden from our back door involved climbing a couple of stairs. With our Sarah starting to get stiff, we decided they needed adaptations too. We looked online for some steps but ended up turning a couple of old decking planks into “Sarah's Steps’. The tops of the steps are sanded or covered with rubber so they are not smooth and slippy. She even has an old car ramp for those days when she is extra lazy or her arthritis is playing up. I went online and found something called ‘half-steps’. They are adaptations to make it easier for elderly folk to get around their house. We’ve now get several of those around the house wherever there was a step so our Sarah can roam the house freely again without hurting her joints.
Memory foam beds for dogs are another great idea. I have lost count of how many new expensive beds we have bought our spoilt pair over the past 10 years as the old one starts to lose it’s ‘memory-ness’. We’ve now found that you can buy offcuts online and put them inside a posh cover. The dogs don’t know any difference. They are just happy being comfy. If you want to know how a bed feels for your dog, try the EastEnders experiment (other TV programmes are available). Sit on their bed for an episode of EastEnders. If you are still comfy by the end, then that is a good bed for your dog. Any spare bit of memory foam left over, or old beds, can always be re-used beside your bed or couch, at the bottom of the stairs or anywhere your dog might land on when jumping.
Look around your house and see what things you have done, probably without thinking about it, to help your dog maintain their quality of life by helping ease their mobility. I’m sure it will be more than you think. But you can always find a few more ways to make your house more dog friendly.