Phew, this website is a labor of love and largely a one-woman show so unless indicated, all articles written by J.Tsukamoto
Having an old-Shiba, full of experience, love, and memories is a tremendous blessing.
This oldie, but goodie has been with you through the thick of it all - in awesome times, and in not so awesome times.
We owe it to this Shiba to do whatever we can to ensure the happiest, healthiest, and most importantly, safest golden years possible.
The following is a summary of 10 of the most important things you can do (or buy) to make senior Shibas the happiest and safest they can be.
Senior Shiba MUST HAVE # 1 - Walkable Flooring
One of the most important things that many Shiba Inus owners miss is the fact that their senior Shibas can’t walk as well on hard flooring as they once used to.
Because senior Shibas have reduced muscle strength as well as decreased coordination and eyesight - walking on hard slippery floors is both difficult and dangerous.
Shibas with arthritis or osteoporosis are at high risk for further injury from slipping and falling on hard, unforgiving surfaces.
Plus, many Shibas may avoid walking on hard surfaces as much as possible thereby reducing the amount of exercise they get in a day.
Fortunately, depending on the size of your home, remedying this issue is not that difficult or expensive to do.
Depending on your budget, you can either purchase carpet runners and various sized carpets placed in the main areas where walking is necessary - or go the full monty and carpet the entire area where your Shiba resides.
In general, it’s usually a better solution to just choose carpeting for “walkable” areas over wall-to-wall carpeting - because anybody that owns dogs knows how hard it is to keep carpets clean in the long term.
Plus aging dogs will inevitably have more potty accidents that necessitate frequent cleaning.
Admittedly, having various carpets strewn about your living space is not aesthetically ideal - but the safety and comfort it affords your golden girl or guy is so much more important.
Senior Shiba MUST HAVE # 2 - A Comfortable Orthopedic Bed
Our top pick for orthopedic dog beds from Amazon - Shibas love the side borders!
Since your senior Shiba will be spending a lot more time snoozing, it’s important to have a comfortable, supportive bed that will ensure good rest as well as joint / bone support.
Orthopedic beds provide senior Shibas with extra support for dogs with arthritis, mobility issues, and painful, creaky joints.
In the world of dog beds - the range in quality can be drastic - from horrendous beds to beds luxurious enough for humans to nap on.
It’s important to understand your Shiba’s preferences before purchasing a bed. Many Shibas like beds that have sides to them so they can bury their heads in. It probably provides a better sense of security and privacy compared to flat beds.
Female Shibas tend to be a bit pickier on bedding options so keep that in mind.
When considering beds, look for beds that have removable covers for easy laundering.
Shiba Inus are double-coated so choosing a bed that doesn’t get too hot is important. Some beds have “cooling gel” technology that would benefit Shibas - especially in hotter locations.
Avoid plastic covers as that’ll make the bed too hot.
Your Shiba Inu probably would not want to sleep in the same bed in the same place for the whole day so consider getting multiple beds to place in areas your Shiba frequents during the day.
If your Shiba has incontinence issues, you can also lay a waterproof baby crib sheet over the dog bed cover for even more potty protection and comfort.
Senior Shiba MUST HAVE # 3 - Elevated Food and Water Bowls
This elevated food bowl from Amazon can be used from puppy to adulthood.
Elevated food and water bowls allow your senior Shiba to have easier access to their “likely” favorite activity - eating.
They won’t have to strain their neck muscles as much while stooping down to eat or drink.
Instead of purchasing an elevated bowl or elevated food system, you can also use a small stool that you may have around the house.
Just be sure that the bowls don’t slide off during use. You can use things like velcro or shelf liner to help keep bowls securely in place.
Senior Shiba MUST HAVE # 4 - Safety / Containment Barriers
Heavy duty X-pen can be used in multiple configurations
Barriers like baby gates, X-pens are essential to keep your senior Shiba safe.
X-pens are particularly useful when caring for an incontinent Shiba. The pen can be used to contain your Shiba in one smaller area during the night so that potty mishaps can be avoided.
What’s great about x-pens is that you can adjust the eight panels to various positions to accommodate any type of space.
And if you want your Shiba to have even more of an expanded area, simply get more X-pens to join together.
Senior Shiba MUST HAVE # 5 - Couch / Bed
Wood ramps are sturdier and a better investment over plastic models
Shiba Inus are used to a life of comfort and that means they’ll need safer access to couches and beds.
There’s a variety of options available including ramps, steps, cushions, etc.
Ramps and cushions tend to be safer and easier for older dogs to get up and off from.
Cushions can be used if your Shiba still can hop a bit while ramps are necessary for Shibas with less mobility.
You can even use cushions that you may have around the house provided they are suitably sized and have enough firmness to support your Shiba’s size.
When choosing ramps or stairs, it’s better to go with the best quality you can afford.
Cheaper, plastic type equipment are unstable and not worth the lower price in the long run.
Instead choose heavier duty materials like wood and other materials that offer stability and heft
Senior Shiba MUST HAVE # 6 - Potty Supplies
Perfect for senior containment areas, provides potty protection plus walkable, comfy surface
Just as with humans, caring for aging dogs is a lot like caring for young babies. The most common issue is dealing with incontinence.
Fortunately, there’s many choices to address the issue with relative ease.
For Shiba Inus that can still go on their own but have trouble making it very far, potty pads are available in reusable and one-use options.
And yes, you can use human potty pads, washable and one-time use as well.
If you have the space and right environment, you can even make a small grass potty area. (Keep in mind, pee eventually kills real grass).
For Shibas with less mobility, doggy diapers are just the thing to help with potty - especially for nighttime use.
Doggy diapers are available in washable and one-time use.
For daily use, washable diapers are a better economic option while one-time use diapers can be handy when you are away from home (traveling, road trips, vet visits, etc)
And don't forget to stock up on paper towels, and baby wipes which are always handy for potty duty.
Senior Shiba MUST HAVE # 7 - Mental Stimulation
Just because your Shiba Inu is an oldie, that doesn’t mean they should be left with nothing to do or challenge them.
As long as your Shiba still has a good appetite, dog interactive toys that utilize treats as incentives are a great way to keep your elder Shiba’s mind engaged and healthy.
There’s a wide variety of interactive dog games and puzzles to choose from so try to pick the options that you think your Shiba will enjoy the most.
If your Shiba Inu loves challenges, you can aim for harder puzzles while less motivated pups will need simpler games.
Does your Shiba react positively to sound? Then look for games that are “noisy” and or “squeaky”.
Dog Puzzle Games are great for mental stimulation and fun for older (and younger) Shibes!
Senior Shiba MUST HAVE # 8 - Doggie Strollers, Rollers, and Backpacks!
Just because your Shiba is less mobile than before, that’s no reason to stop bringing your pup to all the places you used to go.
A dog stroller is the perfect solution for solving the issue. Another added benefit is that you’ll be amazed at how many stores / etc don’t mind dogs in dog strollers.
There’s quite a variety of dog stroller styles and options to choose from. Some are made for casual strolling while others are designed to handle running on gravel or uneven terrain.
Larger dog strollers offer the most comfort for your Senior Shiba
The most important features to look for include:
Another option for more active Shiba Inu owners is a backpack that you can carry your Shiba on during hikes and / or walks in tight areas where a stroller may be impractical.
Just keep in mind that Shibas are not the smallest of dogs and you need to be in pretty good shape to lug them around for long distances.
More importantly, backpack should only be used if your Shiba does not suffer from arthritis or issues that would make it uncomfortable and / or potentially dangerous to the Shiba.
K-9 Sports Sack works perfect for Shibas!
Smaller than a typical doggy stroller, a dog roller is almost like a large, carry-on suitcase.
The pros are its smaller size and the fact that you can use it as a car seat.
The cons are that it’s harder to push around and maneuver. Also it’s not as comfy for your Shiba as a stroller being so low to the ground. Less views for the Shiba as well.
Dog slings are used to either rehabilitate dogs with injuries to their legs or for dogs that are losing their ability to walk and get up.
We want our Shibas to retain as much mobility as they can later in life.
Unfortunately, time doesn’t help with this cause and as your Shiba gets further along in age, mobility will slowly fail.
Dog slings help by aiding your Shiba to get up and around while continuing to use their body muscles.
Doggy Slings are helpful for Shibas that have trouble getting up / walking
Because the saying “use it or lose it” applies to dogs just as it applies to humans.
Hopefully, with continued regular use of dog slings, your Shiba may be able to gain some strength back in their muscles for improved mobility.
It’s important to stay on top of getting your elder Shiba Inu to move when possible - provided they are comfortable and not experiencing pain.
Senior Shiba MUST HAVE # 9 - Medication / Supplements
In addition to bringing in your senior Shiba to twice yearly wellness checks at your vet, it’s also important to always have prescribed medication available for your pup.
Older Shibas suffer from a variety of ailments that require medication so make sure to consult with your vet on which medications should always be on hand.
Some common ailments senior Shibas suffer from include:
- Pain - requiring pain medication
- Fear / anxiety - requiring anxiety medication
- Arthritis / osteoporosis - requiring supplementation / treatments
- Nausea - requiring nausea medication
The use of supplementation may or not be helpful depending on your Shiba and the type / quality of supplements you use.
Most supplements don’t have strong clinical / scientific support and should be used only when you feel the benefits might be worth the cost and risk. (Most supplementation does have some degree of risks and side effects).
Common supplements older dogs use include glucosamine, fish oil, CBD oil, and probiotics.
Senior Shiba MUST HAVE # 10 - “Advanced” Mobility Equipment
Some elderly Shiba Inus will require more help with mobility in the form of doggy wheelchairs, braces and / or carry slings.
Fortunately, Shiba Inus are not too heavy or large, which would make it difficult for some Shiba Inu owners to manage.
Now finding a dog wheelchair is not going to be a walk in the park but thankfully, more and more options are becoming available every year.
The two most important considerations for finding the right wheelchair for your Shiba is sizing and where mobility assistance is required.
For example some dogs need only front or rear leg assistance - whereas other dogs may require full assistance.
When looking to purchase your first doggy wheelchair, try to search for local businesses in your area first.
That way, you’ll be able to learn what size and options would best benefit your Shiba.
Here's a great place to check out doggy wheelchairs online, K9 Carts.
Hopefully, you've learned that there's a lot of tools to help with the care of your special senior Shiba.
Just remember that the most important thing you can do for your Shiba is give them unconditional love and patience in this later chapter of their life.
Everyone knows that Shibas can be aloof and "un"cuddly but secretly they really do adore you to pieces.
More information on caring for your senior Shiba Inu:
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