It’s not uncommon for an old dog to have trouble walking, and those mobility issues can be the result of a number of conditions. If you’ve already been to your vet or specialist, I assume you have a diagnosis and a treatment plan. If you’ve just started noticing your dog having difficulty, or there has been a gradual decline but you’ve assumed it was a natural part of aging, your priority will be to see your vet.
While drugs can do a wonderful job of easing the pain to make walking easier, sometimes they aren’t enough, and that’s where these 7 products can help make a world of difference.
**There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you purchase anything I may make a commission. This does not affect the price for you.**
Dog support harness/dog support sling
A support harness is ideal for a dog that needs assistance because, for whatever reason, he cannot support his entire weight. Great for helping your dog up and down the stairs or ramp, in and out of the car, while on a walk, or even just outside to relieve himself.
It will give him more freedom and the opportunity to get out and about, and it will help you as well. Your dog may be small enough to carry, but let’s be real, even a small dog gets heavy after a while. What if you’re dealing with mobility issues of your own and aren’t able to carry a dog, or your dog is just too big to carry?
I used a sling when my dog Jack was recovering from spinal surgery due to sudden paralysis. His front legs were raring to go, but his back ones weren’t moving. The sling allowed him to go for walks, preventing boredom and depression and keeping him in good shape (aside from the obvious issue!!). I just had to make sure to get the height right – too high and he’s doing the “wheelbarrow” too low and the fronts of his back feet would drag on the ground. Since Jack doesn’t even weigh 10 lbs I was able to use a homemade sling from a cut up thick t shirt.
The video you’re going to see may not be the best quality, but I wanted to show you how it worked for Jack.
Handicapped Pets (this link will take you to the homepage. Click on the dog harnesses tab at the top)
Ramps for dogs
When it’s too difficult to lift a dog and they aren’t able to jump on their own, a doggie ramp is a great solution. Not only are they perfect for getting in and out of cars, they can also be used for boats, getting onto their humans’ bed and furniture.
They are available in styles and sizes galore, some are telescoping so their reach is far, others fold, some turn into steps and I’ve even seen one that rolls. Pay attention to how much traction the ramp you’re considering has, you don’t want your dog slipping if it gets wet. Degree of incline is super important, because your dog may not be able to use it if it’s too short and too steep. A longer more gradual incline is best.
By the way, if you’re thinking of indoor use, be aware of the amount of floor space it will take up and how far out it will reach. You don’t want to create a tripping hazard.
Doesn’t a ramp sound perfect teamed up with a pet stroller? They both fold for easy storage in the car, one helps your dog in and out, the other when you arrive.
The pet stroller is one of the greatest inventions, I only wish I had bought one sooner. We liked to take my dog Red (who sadly gained her wings a few months ago) on day trips with us, and although she was able to walk, it wasn’t easy or safe on crowded streets. She weighed about 9lbs so I was able to carry her for a while, but even 9lbs gets heavy, so I would pass her over to my husband.
Trust me when I tell you the stroller was a much better solution! I bought a basic relatively inexpensive one, but it was fantastic and had everything I could possibly need. We took it on walks to the beach, into stores, on buses and trains.
There are lots of styles and prices depending on what you need and how much you want to spend.
Joint supplements for dogs
Turmeric golden paste – Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, and I know of so many senior dog parents who have seen great results. To learn more, I recommend you join the Turmeric Users Group on Facebeook. Below you will find their recipe, posted with permission. For more details about dosages, increases and interactions please see the group info.
“For adults and older children, start with 1/4 tsp twice daily in, or at least with, food. Most dogs can start with the same amount. Small dogs and cats should start with no more than 1/8 tsp.
1/2 cup (65-70g, or about 2.6 oz dry weight) turmeric powder
1-2 cups (250-500ml) water (use half the total amount to begin with and have the other half ready if needed)
1/3 cup (70ml) unrefined coconut, virgin olive or linseed oil (you can use salmon oil for dogs, if you prefer, but please see the note below)
3 tsp (about 7g) freshly ground black pepper
Combine the turmeric and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to keep the mixture at a simmer, and cook for 7-10 minutes. Stir frequently to keep from sticking, and add more water as needed to keep it to a paste consistency. The exact thickness isn’t important–you can adjust that to your preference.
Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool until the pan is just warm to the touch. Add the oil and pepper and stir thoroughly until they are completely mixed in. Store in a clean jar (you can sterilize it if you like) in the coldest part of the refrigerator. It should keep for about two weeks. If you see any sign of mold, or notice an ‘off’ flavor, discard and make a new batch.
If you know you won’t use all of it within two weeks, you can freeze half for later us.
NOTE: all fish oils become rancid very quickly after being opened. We recommend either freezing the golden paste if you make it with salmon or another fish oil, or adding the oil when you feed the paste. The paste will keep only a few days in the fridge if you make it with fish oil.”
Glucosamine and chondroitin – Another huge help for dogs with mobility issues are glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. The body synthesizes most of its own glucosamine to form, repair and keep existing cartilage healthy. Production slows as dogs get older, which affects the body’s natural ability to repair itself. When you combine wear and tear on the joints (something that happens naturally as our dogs walk, jump and play), with the slower repair time of the body, you start to see the development of arthritis.
Chondroitin is another substance naturally found in cartilage, and when combined with glucosamine is an even more beneficial joint supplement.
This article called “Glucosamine” is a good read
NZ green lipped mussels – Found only in the waters surrounding New Zealand, green lipped mussels are rich in omega fatty acids and minerals. A natural anti-inflammatory because they are an excellent source of glucosamine and chondroitin, they are not only helpful for pets already suffering the effects of arthritis, but can be used as a preventative as well.
Before you give your dog any supplements, please discuss it with your vet.
Traction socks for dogs
Dogs with mobility issues usually have a very hard time on slippery floors, and that means walking and getting up from a sitting or lying down position can be challenging. There is also the danger of them slipping and getting hurt.
Handicapped Pets (click under “pet products” than “boots and paw care”)
Non slip floor mats
I know you don’t want to cover up your beautiful floors but…if your dog refuses to wear traction socks or booties, non-slip floor mats like yoga mats or interlocking rubber ones are the perfect solution.
Wheelchairs for dogs
A wheelchair is not just for dogs that are paralysed, but also those who have extreme weakness and cannot walk on their own. While you’re treating your pup with medication and other therapies, a wheelchair can significantly improve his quality of life by helping him stay mobile. They can be used long term or short term, and some places even offer you the opportunity to rent so you can try before you buy!
Handicapped Pets (click on the dog wheelchairs tab at the top of the page)
Why these products are so important
The obvious answer is of course because we want to do the best we can for our old dogs. The thing is, our dogs need to get out into the world, breath some fresh air and go for a walk. It will not only help them maintain a healthy weight which is important, it will also prevent/relieve boredom and depression.
What products have you found most helpful? Sharing helps others so please leave your comments below.
I have a 15 yr young lab that had a back injury and cant walk long distance. We are about to move across country any ideas on how to entertain her on the 2 day car ride? Thanks so much for any input
I took a 2 day car ride with my dogs as well, so I know what that’s like!! Here are my tips, in no particular order.
Rules regarding restraining dogs in cars vary, so if you aren’t going to keep him in a crate or carrier, be sure to get a doggie seatbelt and clip it to a harness.
I recommend a harness even if he doesn’t normally wear one because new environments, trucks whizzing by rest stops can be scary and it doesn’t take much for them to get out of their collar. Better safe than sorry.
Even if your dog typically is great off leash, I don’t recommend it on your trip
A bed or some blankets on the seat will give him a comfortable place to rest.
If he feels the cold, a sweater in the car would be helpful.
I packed a separate bag just for their stuff. I actually used a picnic hamper which was easy to open and I could see everything that was in there. A knapsack becomes a nightmare because no matter how carefully you pack it, it doesn’t last and you’re swearing while you’re digging around.
My dogs aren’t into toys but if yours is bring a couple of favourites.
Be sure all your dog’s medications (if he’s on any) are in that bag
Bring food and treats, disposable bowls and cutlery. I know it’s bad for the environment but when you’re travelling for 2 days in a car with a dog, I’m all about disposable
Have a few shopping bags in case there’s garbage to throw out
Include paper towels and napkins
Try and stick to his schedule as much as you can – stopping for food breaks, and pee breaks. When it’s meal time stop for longer if possible so he doesn’t get sick in the car
Be sure to take him for walks as well. He’ll need to burn off some of that energy even though he can’t walk long he’ll appreciate the fresh air and chance to move around.
We tried to park in quieter parts of the rest stops
To help him stay relaxed play some dog calming music like “Through a Dog’s Ear” which was my dog’s favourite
Between the breaks, the music, the comfy bed/blankets and them usually sleeping most of the way, you should have a safe and enjoyable trip.
I hope these tips help.