Senior Pooch Challenge 2: The Ups and Downs of Stair Climbing for Senior Dogs

As your dog gets older it may very well be that the first time feeling their age right along with them  is when they're climbing stairs.

Avoiding stairs, moving more slowly up or down, and  dropping their belly's closer to the stairs from not having the strength to push their weight up at odd angles are some of the indications you might have.

Through my research and experience I've learned that there are a couple of contributing factors:

1. Joint wear, arthritis, and hip dyslplasia - Let's face it, some of our senior pooches, best jumping and climbing days are behind them because of  the common wear and tear of a lifetime of such activities. Depending upon breed and other genetic factors your dog may develop arthritis and/or hip dysplasia.

2. Muscle atrophy - Part of the aging process is that dogs lose some of their muscle mass as they get older. A change in weight is a good indication of this.

First and foremost, I can't stress enough how important enough it is to take your senior dog to the vet more than the prerequisite once per year. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian. They have the knowledge and tools that can assess the seriousness of the situation. There are other reasons why a dog may suddenly have trouble getting up and down the stairs, and you want to make sure that you're taking the right steps to address the issue.

Besides the suggestions and possibly medications that your veterinarian may offer, you may also be able to alleviate the symptoms with some of the following:

1. Regular exercise - Maybe not the super long walks or jumping that your dog was used to in the past, but moderate exercise, including some work on gradual slopes so that your dogs muscles are continuing to be stimulated.

2. Supplements - I've always had good luck with glucosamine for my older dogs. Check with your vet on dosages and if it this could help.

3. Extra support - When my last senior dog started have trouble getting around, I picked up a rear support leash, from the folks at . There are plenty of other great suppliers of such aids to keep your senior pooch comfortable. I partnered up with them shortly after starting since they have a great variety of products for pets of all shapes, sizes, and conditions, and based upon my experience with them, their support is excellent. There's a link on the home page with one of their specials.

If you can't avoid stairs all together and cannot carry your older pal up and down the stairs some of these other options may make things a little bit easier on the both of you.

Photo Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution License by cbb4104
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