Just like humans, dogs are dealt new challenges as they age. One of the most difficult aspects of aging for dogs is handling the accompanying stress. Even if your furry friend has always been happy and mellow, it’s common for dogs to become more anxious with age.
According to Senior Tailwaggers, dogs start to show more persistent signs of stress as they enter their senior years. This anxious behavior can sometimes be a direct result of any physical (i.e., hearing and vision loss) or psychological (i.e., memory loss) problems they are experiencing. When dogs suffer a functional decline, they may become clingy or overdependent on their owners because they are less confident in their own abilities. They may also tremble, bark at odd times and for no reason or chatter their teeth. All these signs are alarming for pet-parents who want their dogs calm and safe.
Stress in senior dogs can often be attributed to the normal aging process. Something that may not have bothered them in the past could now upset them. The older a dog is, the more they appreciate a steady schedule and habits — this routine can drive greater security and comfort to the dog.
Figuring out how to navigate this heightened stress can be a difficult task for both you and your senior dog. Here is a short story to share about the changes one family has noticed in their dog as she has gotten older:
My family dog, Amber, has always been a little bit of an anxious pup. From loud noises to strangers, it seems like everything can trigger her. We had never thought her reactions to stressful situations were extreme — knowing that many dogs are scared of thunderstorms or bark at new people before warming up to them — up until recently.
As a senior dog, Amber has had a tougher time dealing with separation, showing signs of stress and anxiousness when her family leaves the house.
Now ten years old, even the slightest disruption to her routine will make her stressed. Separation, even if brief, has become especially triggering for her in recent years. My mom, who Amber is particularly attached to, went away on a weekend trip last year and Amber became an anxious mess. She refused to eat her food or come to bed and sat by the front door almost the whole first night. The next day, she immediately went back to the same spot and scratched at the window so much that she hurt her paw.
Adjusting to new people or places has also become more difficult for Amber. Earlier this spring, she accompanied me to a picnic with a friend at a nearby park. She whimpered and wouldn’t sit still, going as far as to chase after a dog at one point. And, when she met my friend, she tried to nip at him because she was just so nervous.
These bouts of anxiousness aren’t only hard on Amber — they are difficult on all our family members too. We hate to see Amber stressed out to the point where she isn’t acting like her usual sassy, loving self. It also makes us nervous about how she reacts to other people and to other dogs or pets she may meet.
Though our furry family members face more challenges as they enter their golden years, they can still be the same playful, loving companions. If your senior dog starts showing signs of stress, consider the following tips to help keep them safe, happy and calm:
- Maintain a consistent routine and environment so your dog knows what to expect in a day and feels secure. As they age, change and lose their faculties, this alarms many dogs, and they can rely on, and enjoy, simple routines to keep steady-on during the changes.
- Stay as patient as possible with your dog even if he or she is acting out. Dogs can pick up on our own frustration or anger and that can make them more anxious.
- Schedule regular playtime to keep your dog engaged. Grey Muzzle has lots of fun playtime ideas for you and your senior dog. If your dog can’t be active, make a short walk fun and allow them to sniff, which requires little effort but is enjoyable and keeps them engaged in the outdoors.
- Try Kradle! Kradle Calming CBD is an excellent solution to help your senior dog remain calm during some of the jolting changes associated with old age. Our products calm your dog naturally from the inside out without diminishing their personality — so your pooch will still be the same old companion that you've come to know and love, minus the anxious outbursts. We offer three different delivery methods — Chews, Toppers and Melts — so you can find a calming solution that best fits your dog's routine and needs. All three Kradle products feature a rich chicken flavor that dogs love, but if your dog has gotten pickier with age, you can also opt for a beef liver flavor with our easy-to-use, soft Chews. If you're not sure where to start or what solution may be right for you and your furry friend, take our Anxious Dog Quiz for a custom recommendation. Click here to view our products and start shopping.
How do you help your senior dog manage stress? Let us know in the comments below!