Make Your Garden Friendly for Senior Pets

No matter the size of your garden, it’s an area for the whole family to enjoy, and that includes the family dog. By adding a few dog-friendly features to create special canine areas, you can make it more enjoyable for your dog, especially if he is a senior, to be outside and spend quality time with you.

Here Comes The Sun

Like elderly people, older dogs are more likely to be uncomfortable in extreme heat and humidity. Age aside, it’s important to remember that unlike humans, they do not have sweat glands all over their bodies; their sweat glands are only in areas not covered by fur such as their noses and paw pads. Further, certain brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds such as Pugs, Pekingese, Bulldogs, and Boxers are more prone to suffering heatstroke because they aren’t able to pant as efficiently as dogs with longer muzzles.

Special shady places in the garden allow pets to lie down and stay out of direct sun. Consider adding shade features such as pergolas or trees especially for them. You can also find special pop-up pet tents in different sizes. Look for one that folds flat when not in use.

A dog lying on the ground will feel the heat, chill, or dampness of the surface. Providing him with a special outdoor elevated steel-framed cot covered with a waterproof fabric will solve this problem. Cots such as the K and H Manufacturing Pet Cot Canopy address both the ground contact and the sun problems. A memory foam mattress with a waterproof covering will be much appreciated by an older dog too.

Water On Tap

It’s equally important to ensure that your dog has access to water at all times.  The paw-operated All for Paw’s Chill Out Garden Water Fountain turns a garden hosepipe into an instant drinking fountain. With a little training, even a senior dog will master where to step on the rubber pedal to let the water flow. It doesn’t take much paw-power to operate.

Drinking water quickly becomes lukewarm in ordinary stainless steel bowls. So it’s worth investing in a container such as a Frostybowlz, which has a gel core that is frozen before being placed inside the bowl. It keeps water cool for 14 hours. There are also outdoor pet drinking fountains that eliminate the need to top up daily.

Flowerbeds And Pathways

Elderly dogs are often sight-impaired. And because dogs rely so heavily on their noses, it’s important to remove all thorny bushes and plants from your garden to prevent them getting too close and hurting themselves. This is particularly important along garden pathways. Also, be wary of any toxic plants. You can find a comprehensive list of safe plants and shrubs on the ASPCA’s website www.ASPCA.org

For pathways, materials such as cedar chips or wooden planks may be more paw-friendly than hot concrete and flagstones.

Sharing Outdoor Space

When it comes to landscaping your outdoor area, it important to note that dogs don’t understand property lines and flat spaces; they need verticality to designate boundaries and areas. The best way to do this is with shrubs or fencing. To share the space amicably with your pooch, observe how he uses the garden, in particular where he likes to pee. Then using a fence or shrubbery, create a specific toilet area for him. This will definitely help to preserve the lawn.

A pheromone-treated garden stake that attracts dogs is a useful training device in helping your dog learn that he has a designated toilet. Male dogs of course will appreciate a permanent marking post in their toilet area. You can use anything from driftwood to an attractive fire hydrant garden statue. To keep your doggie toilet hygienic, odor-free, and low maintenance, cover the ground with an easy to clean material such as cedar chips or artificial grass, which is easy to hose down.

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT