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Cherishing Every Moment: Caring for Elderly Dogs in Their Twilight Years - a note from our Founder in celebration of Smith’s** 14th birthday.


There comes a poignant moment in every dog lover’s life when their once sprightly companion starts to slow down. The greying muzzle, the softened gaze, and the gentle demeanour of an elderly dog speak volumes of a life well-lived. These twilight years are a precious time, offering a chance to give back the unwavering love and loyalty they've shown us. Here’s how we can honour our aging friends and make their golden years as comfortable and joyous as possible.



Embracing the Changes

The first step in caring for an elderly dog is accepting the changes they’re going through. Just like humans, dogs experience a range of age-related issues such as arthritis, diminished hearing, and vision loss. It can be heart-wrenching to see your vibrant companion struggle with these challenges. However, our empathy and understanding can make all the difference.


Health and Comfort

Regular vet visits become more critical than ever as your dog ages. These check-ups can catch potential health issues early, manage chronic conditions, and adjust medications. Besides professional care, ensuring a comfortable living environment is essential. Orthopaedic dog beds can alleviate joint pain, while non-slip rugs can help them move around more easily, and soft dog boots with sole grip are a godsend for wearing on wooden and tile floors, this can really save the hip and joints and help them when getting up from laying down, and give them confidence when walking. Keep their food and water within easy reach and we highly recommend raising their bowls to reduce strain on their neck and back, it is a must. If something does not seem right visit your vet immediately, don’t leave things, as the earlier the vets can get a prognosis the greater the chance that the issue will be resolved without further complications and expense.



Gentle Exercise

Exercise is still important for senior dogs, but it needs to be tailored to their abilities. Gentle walks, swimming, and low-impact play can keep them active without overexerting them. Pay close attention to their cues—if they seem tired or in pain or begin panting, it’s time to rest. Shorter, more frequent walks might be more beneficial than longer ones but it is important to keep up the routine they are accustom to. If they have regular morning and late afternoon walks, then don’t change it, just reduce the length and remember to stop and smell the roses, sometimes sitting and watching the world go by can provide a welcome change and stimulation.


Mental Stimulation

Just because your dog’s body is aging doesn’t mean their mind is. Mental stimulation is crucial for maintaining cognitive function. Puzzle toys, gentle and short training sessions, and new experiences (we highly recommend having different and varied routes for your walks) can keep their brain engaged. Remember, the goal is to challenge them without causing frustration.


Diet and Nutrition

Dietary needs change with age. Older dogs may require food with specific formulations to support their health, including the change in their gut and what they can tolerate. Senior dog foods often contain fewer calories, more fibre, and additional supplements like glucosamine for joint health. Always consult your vet for the best dietary choices including vitamins and supplements, and be mindful of any weight gain or loss, which can be a sign of underlying health issues.


Grooming and Skin Care

As dogs age, their skin becomes more sensitive and their coat can become thinner and drier. Regular grooming is essential not just for cleanliness, but for overall health. Gentle brushing helps stimulate the skin and distribute natural oils, keeping their coat healthy. Opt for soft brushes that won't irritate their delicate skin.

Bathing should be done with mild, moisturising shampoos designed for sensitive skin, such as smith&burton Soothing Range of Shampoo and Conditioner which has natural calming properties. Keep the bath quick and efficient especially for large breeds with arthritis and joint issues, and for those dogs that find standing for long periods difficult. At smith&burton we highly recommend our Dermal Relief 2-in-1 Conditioning Shampoo for older dogs for this reason, as the built in conditioner cuts bathing time in half, as well as being 100% natural it has an abundance of natural antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Always ensure they are thoroughly dried, especially in colder months, to prevent chills.

Check their skin regularly for signs of irritation, infections, or lumps. Older dogs are more prone to skin issues, so early detection is key. Keeping their nails trimmed is also important, as overgrown nails can cause discomfort and affect their gait. Check paw pads regularly as after years of walking the skin of the paws can become thin and more prone to cracks and dryness through years of wear and tear. We recommend using smith&burton Heal & Protect Soothe Balm before and after walks to help protect the paws, and to moisturise and smooth the paw pads, or at night before they go to sleep.


Often older dogs do not need the regular washing like they did in their more youthful and active years when rolling in grass, running around, especially in dirt and mud, and playing with other dogs, which all leads to a more dirty and smelly dog. Whilst their skin goes through the Keratinization cycle every 21 days, provided you are still brushing them regularly this will help or we highly recommend using smith&burton Purifying Cleansing Wipes to freshen the coat, clean the paws and we especially recommend them to take with you on a walk for those accidents that can happen in older dogs, such as a quick bum wipe. A great, quick bath solution is our smith&burton Waterless Foam Shampoos range with no water required and completely natural this has been a game-changer. A quick spritz with smith&burton Soothing Cologne provides extracts to help conditioner the coat as well as leaving an enchanting, soft fragrance that leaves your dog with a calming, comforting and lavish feeling.


Shower Them with Love

One of the most profound ways to care for your elderly dog is through love and companionship. They may not be able to romp in the park like they used to, but they still cherish your company. Spend quality time together—cuddle on the couch, gently groom them, or simply sit beside them and talk. Your presence is a tremendous comfort, especially as they are prone to anxiety in their very later years. Just because they are old don’t forget the love you showered them with as a pup and give them the same. 


Patience and Compassion

Aging can bring about behavioural changes such as increased anxiety or irritability. These are often linked to discomfort or cognitive decline. Patience and compassion are your best tools. Maintain a calm environment, avoid startling them, and give them time to adjust to new situations. If they struggle getting up from laying down, or getting in or out of a car, do all you can to help them, this will also save their joints such as their hips and ankles as often very elderly dogs are well past the possibility of joint surgery and even recovering from fractures.


Creating Lasting Memories

Every day with your senior dog is a gift. Capture these moments with photos and videos. Celebrate small victories and cherish the quiet times. These memories will be a source of comfort when the inevitable day comes to say goodbye.


Final Reflections

The twilight years of a dog’s life are a time of deep connection and mutual respect. Caring for an elderly dog is both a privilege and a responsibility, demanding love, patience, and a willingness to adapt. In return, you receive the incomparable joy of giving back to a friend who has given you everything. As you walk this path together, remember that your love and care make their final years truly golden. 

Sonya Berrigan, Founder, smith&burton.


We invite you to explore our premium grooming products at 

Shop the products we recommend for elderly and senior dogs here:  Soothing Shampoo, Soothing Conditioner, Dermal Relief 2-in-1 Conditioning Shampoo,  Heal & Protect Soothe Balm, Waterless Foam Shampoos, Purifying Cleansing Wipes, Soothing Cologne


**Smith is large, 40kg, 14 year old Retradoodle - Golden Retriever (Mum) x Standard Poodle (Dad), his specialist veterinary team remind us that Smith is a very old dog, 88-93 in human years, who is well past the typical age expected of a dog of his breed, size and structure, and ageing alignments. Smith now has respiratory disease, thyroid issues, arthritis, very weak hind hips and IBD however he lives a very happy and fulfilled life every day. We have never hesitated to see a vet for any issues, mainly thanks to having full health insurance, which has more than paid for itself from the age of 11 years onwards. It also means we have a very concise health record and certainly know what Smith has and doesn’t have! This really helps with his specialist vets as they are able to solve any new issues or changes very quickly. It is about the quality of life and when this changes we will know it is time. However Smith loves to walk twice a day every day – he demands it! Gone are the days of walks with off lead runs, mixed with training, Smith is allowed to take the lead and go whichever way he wants to go. Smith eats well and loves his favourite daily treats, he still plays tug, fetch and catch with his soft toys most nights, albeit it is very short now. Smith still loves getting dirty, swimming, and driving in the car to his walks - Smith never goes on the same walk within a three week period which keeps his mind stimulated with new smells and sights. He loves to have a ‘pit-stop’ for his cold water we carry on every walk, a quick treat and to sit under a tree for a while to rest up and watch the world go by. And every day, without fail, Smith will have cuddles and hear the words “You are the best boy in the world, I love you Smithy!”