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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Caring for Becke - Part Two

According to pet med.md Our Becke is 82 years old in human years. WOW she has lived a long time. In those years she has become a Therapy dog, a R.E.A.D.ing dog, a Service dog, a Freestyle dog, an Agility dog, and a big sister.  She loves to travel and meet people and none of that has changed. But some things have changed.

There are sometimes subtle changes in a senior dog that we don't pick up because they adjusted so well to their circumstances. Changes like movement. They may just be slower or they may have problems moving due to arthris or other "old age" conditions. Have a good "senior" check up from your vet who can check on things like liver and kidneys functions. Have the vet check their spine for compression and look at those hips and shoulders for things like dysplasia. If you find those problems, then follow your vets advice to help them whether that is meds, surgery, diet changes, supplements, or acupuncture to help them feel better. It costs more to do the blood work, but having your beloved senior is SO worth it!!   Becke is doing well in many areas but she is on a special Glucosamine supplement to help her joints as well as lots of fish oil to lubricate things. She does have some mild arthritis. Remember too, they may have changes in things that they used before. Becke hasn't been able to use any flea and tick spot on treatments since she was 10 years old.  Her skin is just to sensitive now.  She does, however, have some other issues related to age.

Adjust their activity level accordingly.  They may not tell you it hurts to do the things they once did, here are some examples from Becke.

In agility she jumps at 8 inches now and no longer wants to do the dog walk, A-Frame or See-Saw. So we "play" at agility and do jumps, weaves, and tunnels. She still likes to move, but she is slower.

We also practice her recalls and I use a combination of voice and hand signals. She is slow but steady and I love watching her move! Remember moving is the key- here's a video of her recall.

Our walks are shorter right now because it's so bloody cold out there for me so when we walk outside, we walk short distances rather than one long walk.  The plan is to keep her moving. As we humans age, we know all too well that getting going is the hard part, so it's better to move often and not allow ourselves to get stiff. We do the same thing with Becke. She walks, even if it's up and down the hall.

Another issue with age can be eye sight. Some dogs go completly blind long before owners know it because the dog has adjusted so well.  They may have pretty good eyesight but they can't judge distance or depth as well as they once did. You may notice that the dog doesn't jump up on the couch anymore. It may not be that they have arthritis but that they can't figure out the height of the couch anymore.  Make sure the room is well lit to help them determine the distance and height they need to get up there. Stairs/ramps to the couch may be helpful as well, same for the bed if the dog sleeps with you.

Becke has a hard time figuring out how high the bed is. With us standing in a well lit spot in the bedroom next to the bed, she can gauge the height of the bed by where it hits us on our body.  With August out of the way, she can jump up and get on the bed. Getting down requires the big lights on and one of us standing by the bed so she can gauge how far down, down is.

Leave the furniture where it is. Nothing is harder on a dog loosing their eyesight, or depth perception than having the furniture moving around!  If you do move it, make sure that the lights stay on nice and bright to allow time for the dog to relearn the set up. 

The car is a problem for Becke. We have an SUV so ramps to the back seat don't fit right and ramps to the back of the car has angled so high that she will not try so Hubby picks her up and gets her into the car. She can get out on her own if we hold on to her harness.

Tomorrow we'll talk about some other issues older dogs have.


  1. These are all wonderful tidbits of information and I'm learning a lot. Our doxie was born with a blocked tear duct and, over time, her vision in her right eye has become increasingly worse. We have to put drops in it daily to keep it moist, but the doc. has talked several times about removing it. It doesn't seem to cause her any discomfort so I just can't put her through that type of surgery at her age.

    1. Thank you for the comment. I'm sorry about your doxie but so glad that you are under the care of a vet. I'm with you on surgery, if it's not a problem for her, leave it alone and continue with the drops. I'm glad that my tips are helping you.

  2. Thank you for this information. Our dog will be 11 in the next month or so. I notice she moves a little slower and has to work a little to jump on the bed now. Our vet has her on a glucosamine supplement too. I'm glad you're sharing this information because it helps me to know what to watch for.

    1. Cathy,
      I'm glad this information is helpful to you. It's so hard to watch our "babies" get old.

  3. I got choked up reading this because I've known Becke since she was in her prime, and because your post reminded me of my own sweet dog's signs of aging. It was difficult for me to accept that the exuberant dog I'd raised from puppyhood was a senior dog experiencing health problems.

    Like you, I made more frequent walks with my old girl covering less distance. Also had her on a glucosamine and chondroiten supplement during most of her glory years. I believe that helped keep her limber into old age.

    When my old girl showed signs of pain, electro-acupuncture, traditional meds, and Chinese herbals helped keep her comfortable.

    Fortunately, with both traditional and holistic veterinary medicines there are more options today for us to better care for our faithful old companions.

    I'm also sure that August's youthful energy and antics keep Becke amused and engaged. And her happiness keeps her healthier too.

  4. Koda is about 51 years old, but he's had a hard life with his cancer and now diabetes so I wonder if he'll have a shorter life than average. I do see signs of him slowing down and he probably does have a bit of arthritis. But he still likes to play and scamper, so like you, we do encourage that physical activity that he wants to do and walks!

    Great advice shared here Lynn!


  5. Sweet video. It is hard when they age and especially when they are a large dog. She is so lucky to have you.


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