Our dogs give us a lot so they deserve a little extra pampering, especially later in life when they become seniors.
Of course we take amazing care of our senior dogs, that goes without saying, but going that extra mile can help perk up an old dog.
So you may be wondering how to pamper your dog – exactly what those little extras are that will take the care of your senior dog to the next level.
UPDATED: October 30, 2020
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How to Pamper Your Senior Dog
You may think you are already pampering your dog but you may find some ideas on this list that you aren’t doing or hadn’t thought of.
These things are great ways to pamper a dog of any age but older dogs will especially appreciate them.
They can help alleviate pain, relieve boredom, and generally perk them up.
Give your dog a massage
Massage is first on my list of ways to spoil your senior dog because, aside from scavenging for food, my old dog loves nothing more than a good massage.
You don’t have to go through any special training – just give him or her a rub!!
The easiest massage position for you and your dog is often lying on your legs on their back or laying on their side on the floor.
No matter what massage position your dog is in, don’t be surprised if they fall asleep or roll their head back in delight.
If your dog has mobility issues, or there is a specific condition massage would be helpful for, it’s best to speak with a certified canine massage therapist to learn proper techniques.
Take your dog to the spa
Whether it’s a special spa just for dogs, or a pampering session at the groomer, this a great way to spoil your dog.
Give your dog a spa experience at home
If your old dog wouldn’t be happy going to an unfamiliar place to be spoiled and pampered by someone else – due to health issues, anxiety, etc. – he can still enjoy a pamper session if you create a spa like atmosphere in the comfort of your own home.
Play some calming music – my favorite is Through a Dog’s Ear classical music – then give your dog a bath with some delicious smelling shampoo, massaging it in with a rubber brush, then dry him off with warmed towels.
Did anyone say great bonding opportunity!!
Sounds a bit too much for him to handle right now? How about a fizzy dog foot soak to soothe and soften your dog’s paws?
Or consider this DIY oatmeal foot bath for dogs.
If you have a sauna, consider giving your dog a little heat therapy session.
You should always check with your vet first but saunas are often safe for dogs with no health issues for a limited duration (and while closely monitored of course!)
Make some homemade dog treats
When given the choice of buying or cooking I choose buying almost every time, and that includes dog treats. Can you relate to my apathy about cooking?
To be honest I feel a bit bad about that because there are thousands of recipes for dog treat – many of them super easy – so there’s really no excuse to not give it a try.
One day I took the plunge and made turkey balls, and boy did my dogs go crazy!! They loved them so much they acted like they hadn’t eaten in days!
The recipe was not only super easy, I was able to make the meatballs as small as I wanted and they were freezable.
You can easily find a dog treat recipe to suit your desired level of effort, and your dog’s tastes, on Pinterest (start here).
Create a backyard playground
We take our old dogs for their daily walks, but wouldn’t it be great if we could do more to stimulate them and keep them entertained?
We don’t always have the time or energy to whisk them off on adventures, and sometimes their health issues make that impossible. What’s the next best thing?
Creating a backyard playground for your dog of course!!
It’s easy to do, doesn’t have to cost much, and any size garden is perfect! Don’t have a garden? A balcony can work too.
The first step is to ensure your garden is securely fenced in, and there’s nothing lying around your dog could hurt himself on.
Buy or build a shelter from the cold, wind and rain – some dogs don’t mind being outside in all types of weather
Have a water feature your dog can drink from or an elevated water bowl will do just fine
Set up an easy to use agility course, taking your dog’s mobility into consideration.
Elevate a broom off the ground using a brick at each end and have your dog walk over it.
A few cones from the dollar store can create an obstacle course and a store-bought kid’s tunnel is a fun thing for your pup to play in.
Entice him with a treat at the other end so he knows how to walk through it!!
A paddling pool is a great way to cool off in the hot weather
How about a sandbox with a toy or two hidden inside? Buy a kid’s one or build your own.
If you don’t have enough space, the bottom of a litterbox should do the trick. Your dog doesn’t have to jump in, he just needs to be able to put his front legs in to dig!
Create a shady area using a big umbrella so your dog can get out of the heat
How about a sprinkler he can run/walk through?
Take your dog to work… in your home office
Anyone who works from home understands the need to be disciplined. It’s too easy to find other things to do that will distract us, and one of those distractions is the dog!!
For those of us whose old dogs are sick, we keep a watchful eye over them as much as possible.
If they’re resting in another room how many times do we break our concentration to jump up and check on them?
Why not set up a cozy doggy space in your home office? Your senior dog will probably feel more relaxed being near you, and you can better focus on your work.
A comfy bed and blanket, a favorite toy or bone and a bowl of water are all you need.
Refresh your dog’s wardrobe with a new collar, leash, or harness
I admit this one may be more for you then your dog who probably already has an extensive collection!!
Still, it’s always fun to buy a new accessory, maybe something for a special occasion?
Who knows, they may realize they’re looking extra smart that day!!
Spring for doggie day care
Whether you’re away from home a lot or you want to treat your dog to an extra bit of fun, doggie day care may be the answer.
Your dog will get the chance to play with other dogs, have a change of scenery, and come home nicely tuckered out.
Some facilities even offer the convenience of a pick-up and drop off service.
If your dog has mobility or other health issues, find out if they have a separate quieter area, or research day cares that specialize in elderly clients.
You may not think your dog is up for it, but if you find a place that sounds like a possibility why not bring him with you to check it out?
The worst case scenario it’s not a good fit and you leave, best case…a few hours of fun!
Go on a picnic with your dog
I’ve taken my dogs for picnics at the beach and they were fun times.
One summer my niece had come to visit for a couple of weeks, and since she doesn’t live anywhere near water, and I live a 5 minute walk away, I thought she would enjoy it.
We each took a dog, I brought the picnic basket, and off we went.
Be sure to bring an umbrella or pop up shelter to provide your pups with some shade, enough water, and something soft to lie on.
He’ll appreciate those homemade treats you made as well!
Indulge in some retail therapy together
I don’t do much shopping for myself, but when I pass a pet supply store I’m right in there checking out what’s new.
The next time you’re in the mood to buy your pup something, step away from your computer/phone/laptop/tablet and take him with you to an actual store.
Had your eye on that swanky new shop in town? Now is the perfect time for a visit.
It’s not just about the purchase, it’s about a fun time for your dog.
Have a drink together
No, I’m not suggesting you give your dog an alcoholic drink! There are dog friendly versions of the relaxing beverages you enjoy though.
While you’re drinking your wine, why not treat your dog to some Dog Pawrignon!
This non-alcoholic, organic treat encourages good health, and a good time,
with wild Alaskan salmon oil for a healthy, shiny coat and youthful joints.
If you’re a beer lover instead, your dog might enjoy some Bowser Dog Beer.
Whip up a home cooked meal
You’re probably already feeding your dog a healthy nutritious diet, but sometimes it’s nice to get a home cooked meal.
I know we talked about how much I hate cooking yet managed to make delicious easy treats, well I can say the same about home cooking.
For several months, I made my dog’s food on the recommendation of my holistic vet.
I would quadrupled the recipe to make a massive batch, then froze it in small portions to last 3 or 4 weeks.
There are a ton of simple meal ideas you can find online, with Pinterest being your best source.
Surely our old dogs are worth an hour or two of prep time every few weeks, and think of the health benefits!
I’m going to state the obvious here but…please check with your vet to make sure all the ingredients are safe for your old dog.
Throw a dog party
Why should humans be the only ones to have parties? Our dogs deserve them too, right?
Invite other pet parents over for a couple of hours of fun with their dogs, and this might motivate you to set up that backyard playground you’ve been thinking about.
Whip up a batch of homemade treats for snack time, and include a few, together with the recipe, in a doggy bag for each guest.
Finally you can use the words “doggy bag” and mean it literally.
When putting together your guest list, make sure your old dog won’t be too overwhelmed.
The first time you throw your pet party maybe do a test run and start with just 1 or 2 other dogs, and make sure they match your pup’s energy level.
Create a gift hamper
Your dog is going to love a gift hamper filled with his absolute favorite things.
Throw in a nice fleece blanket, a tasty bone, a fun toy, some delicious treats, and let him pull them out by himself. That’s all part of the fun!!
Visit dog friends
If the weather is cold and your dog isn’t getting out as much as he should, maybe it’s time to visit a friend and have a play date.
A change of scenery and the chance to socialize will do you both a world of good.
Go on an adventure
Your dog gets his daily dose(s) of exercise, but just like we get bored seeing and doing the same thing day after day, our dogs probably do too.
How about planning something extra special?
My senior dog loves riding the bus. I don’t know why but sometimes he will head straight for the bus stop and just stand there.
When I remember to put money in my pocket and it’s one of “those days” we’ll hop on the bus for a few minutes ride into down.
I stop in at the local fruit and vegetable shop that allows dogs, walk around window shopping then head home.
If your dog loves to swim, and you live by water, stop at the beach during y our walk.
How about a hike or new walking route? Walking in a different area means the chance to explore new sighs and smells.
Make them cozy with a sweater or jacket
As dogs get older, they are less able to handle the cooler weather.
If you live in a colder climate, why not try a sweater and/or coat on your dog?
It could make a big difference in your dog’s willingness to walk because they are more comfortable.
Get down to your dog’s level
After a long day out of the house I’m sure your very comfy couch is calling your name, but wait!
Your old dog probably missed you while you were gone and could use some focused love and attention.
Get down on the floor and giving him or her a big cuddle to show your dog how much they matter to you.
Make the best bed ever
Adding a fleece blanket or heating pad to your pup’s bed can make it even more cozy and comfortable.
Thinking of buying another bed so he doesn’t have to walk too far to get to one? How about an orthopedic dog bed that is gentle on the joints?
For dogs struggling with mobility I like the style with 3 raised sides and a low front. They can lean against the sides and it’s easy to get in and out of.
If your dog is anxious, consider a memory foam donut dog bed that feels like a firm hug?
If you feel like treating him to a super fancy bed there are plenty fit for a king or queen.
Schedule one on one playtime
What better way to pamper your pup then by giving him your undivided attention?
Whether that’s to play, snuggle or a good old-fashioned belly rub, find 10 minutes in your day to spend together with zero distractions.
If your days are quite structured write it in your calendar and honor it like you would any other appointment.
Make a dinner date
How about both of you eating dinner at the same time one evening?
You can turn it into a doggy date by snuggling under a blanket together afterward and watching a movie.
Snuggling and hanging out together will really make your dog feel special.
Schedule a getaway at a dog friendly resort
As more and more dog lovers are looking for holiday destinations they can enjoy with their canine family members, resorts are going all out to offer pet friendly amenities.
Whether it’s a plate of bone shaped cookies on arrival, a dog bed waiting in the room, or pet friendly dishes like grilled salmon or beef tenderloin on the dog menu, your dog will be pampered big time.
Visit a dog bakery
What dog wouldn’t have a blast in a bakery full of treats just for them?
I’ve been to a couple and the treats looked so amazing it was hard to believe they weren’t for humans!
Have dinner out…together
Ever noticed how many dog friendly eateries are popping up? To take that a step further, some even have menus just for the dog!
So whether you’re doing the indulging and your dog is there to watch, or you both get to tuck into a special meal someone else prepared, what could be a better date than going out to dinner with your furry companion?
Recommit to your relationship
We love our senior dogs but it’s normal to become a but frustrated and disconnected when they start to change and become a different dog.
I know because I have been there! Cleaning up after my senior dog after the 3rd accident on the carpet today started to wear on my patience.
However, your old dog still needs you. In fact, they may need your attention and emotional support more, not less.
May I suggest that one of the best ways to pamper your old dog is to recommit to your relationship.
Recommit to giving them the best care that you can; recommit to giving them daily, focused attention; recommit to being understanding and patient; recommit to learning who they are – now and as they change in the future.
The time we have with our dogs passes too quickly, and for those of us who share our lives with senior dogs that time is so much shorter than we would like to admit.