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Caring for a Senior Dog

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An old english sheep dog sitting on its owners lap.
As your dog gets older, it may require some special attention. This guide is about caring for a senior dog.
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By 23 found this helpful
May 22, 2009

Over the years, we have been blessed with many dogs that have achieved old age. As they did, their vision was often compromised because of cataracts or macular degeneration. When outside during daylight hours, we often observed them following the fence to guide themselves around the perimeter of the yard. However at night, the same task seemed more difficult for them and they often became confused.

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We decided to place solar garden lights as markers to help guide them out to their potty area and back in again. Single solar lights followed the outline of the fence to the area they frequented to do their business. We then placed double lights (side-by-side in sets of two) to mark the path that would return them back to the house to come in. They quickly found their way at night by following the lighted paths!

The solar garden lights helped relieve their anxiety about navigating the fenced yard at night. The lights are found at most stores that sell garden equipment and push easily into the ground on a stake. They sure made a difference for our older sight impaired dogs!

By Sheltie Mom from Eastern Shore of MD

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By 13 found this helpful
January 28, 2011

I have an elderly cat and dog that love warm spots to snuggle in. I had a couple of recycled stuffed bears that my grandchildren had outgrown (the kind with the zippered compartment for a battery box and removed the battery box and most of the stuffing in the body). I sewed a couple of bags filled with rice that would fit through the zippered opening.

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Now, I put the rice bags in the microwave and heat them for a couple of minutes, then zip them into the zippered compartment of the bears. I place them in my dog and cat's pet beds and they love snuggling with their warm, furry "Lovie".

By slee15 from AL

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By 5 found this helpful
May 23, 2011

If you have smooth floor surfaces in your home, (no wax, laminates, glazed tile, hardwood) and an aging dog, please consider whether they would appreciate carpet runners to create safe pathways for them to get from place to place. Weakness, arthritis, and other infirmities that are a natural part of the aging process can make traveling across smooth floors uncomfortable or even frightening for dogs. This also goes for dogs with knee problems, hip dysplasia, and other joint issues or weaknesses.

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Carpet runners with a rubberized backing are best, as they won't slip. Try one, and see how your dog reacts. Chances are, he or she will love it!

By Jill from PA

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By 4 found this helpful
January 5, 2012

Aging dogs need some special considerations to keep them happy and comfortable. These are just a few tips that I have found helped improve the quality of life for my aging pets.

A small aging dog in a basket.

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Questions

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By 0 found this helpful
October 6, 2015

We have a Jack Russell Terrier who is 15. He has become increasingly temperamental. For several years he has not liked to be touched and recently he tried to bite my husband when he tried to put him on a leash. Consequently, we have not been able to walk him. He goes out into the front yard, which is fine. However, it is becoming very distressing because we cannot touch him at all anymore. At this point, I do not believe training would help. We simply want to be able to make the rest of his life as comfortable as possible. We would appreciate any advice.

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Answer Was this helpful? Yes
October 6, 20150 found this helpful

Have you taken your dog to your vet to address the problem? This new behavior has a reason-medical, emotional, etc., and the best step would have been for a vet to evaluate your poor dog early on, provide appropriate medical treatment, and advise you on what to expect in the future. There could be many reasons why he does not like to be touched-arthritis in joints and back, body aches from an unknown condition, skin and internal allergies, bone problems, etc.

Please take your dog to your vet to address the problem now to help make his (and your!) older years much more comfortable with less pain and stress.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 8, 20150 found this helpful

I have seen this many times, sadly. Your dog has arthritis. There are wonderful drugs for this now. Take your dog to the Vet. You will be amazed.

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October 12, 20150 found this helpful

I have a senior dog who has arthritis in her hips and is on medication for it and what a difference it makes as she's able to move around more and do things that otherwise hinders her abilities. If your dog shows signs of laying around more and the gait has slowed down considerably and the walking is more like a hobble, then it's for certain as old as it is, a visit to the vet for medication is necessary. In a week or two you should see a change in your dog's behavior and it will let you pet/touch it again.

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October 19, 20150 found this helpful

This is a sign of pain. Dogs normally have no way of telling you they're in pain except by saying, "Hands off! That hurts!"

Your dog is a senior and probably has arthritis.

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By 0 found this helpful
February 21, 2008

I am about to inherit my late mother's elderly (15 year old) Old English Sheepdog. Does anybody have any good advice?

Myrtle from Manchester, UK

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
February 21, 20080 found this helpful

I love OES, can't believe yours is 15 ! Wow !! Mom must have taken really good care of her.

Contact her vet and ask if she's due for any tests, vax, etc. Ask for a referral to a groomer (you'll want to keep her in a comfortable teddy bear clip)

Ask the vet if your OES should be on glucosamine-chrondroitin supplements for bones and joints.

You might experience a "funky" transition period the first week. Here is a good webpage to refer to:

http://www.hawa  out_rehoming.htm

Treasure the days you'll have this dog, Old English Sheepdogs are truly special.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
By guest (Guest Post)
August 19, 20080 found this helpful

I endorse your other comment response - 15 is a great age for a truly wonderful breed. I have just had to have my faithful companion of 14 and a half years put to sleep and it was heartbreaking. Tips - well, make sure she's warm and be patient, helping her if necessary. My old girl loved old slippers and would hang on to a tatty piece of slipper for months. Never miss an opportunity to cuddle her and understand, as they are fiercely loyal, she will be missing your mum as much as you are - but she can't talk about it. Enjoy this remarkable breed.

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By guest (Guest Post)
August 19, 20080 found this helpful

Years ago an OES was my graduation present from high school. If you don't already know, do not cut the hair around their eyes. Their eyes are very sensitive to light. Also, I always had mine sheared about at the end of spring. Mine always looked like a giant poodle with his hair off! Very loving and clumsy. Hope you enjoy your new pet!

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By 0 found this helpful
January 25, 2010

I am looking for tips for caring for a 17 year old dog?

By Kimberly from San Cemente, CA

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
January 26, 20100 found this helpful

No vaccines. It will kill him or her. Good diet--as much raw as possible. Make half wilted (fried in a little coconut oil) fresh cut up kale one of the meals of the day. First or second time if u think the dog may not eat it, sprinkle tad of parmeson. That tip is even from a nutritionist. Warm, soft bed. Exercise a must but not to a point of being sore. Borax carpets for fleas. NO chemicals please. Lots of love and gentleness. No stress. See my former posts if dog has cataracts. No surgery but cataracts can be removed simply. Old dogs are the best of the best. Tried and true.

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January 27, 20100 found this helpful

Hello, what kind of dog? I can start by saying take him or her to the vet for a full check-up, cure what ails him or her and give all the love you have in your heart to this wonderful animal that is very old, make them feel young and play alot, massage when they are sleeping, always let them know you are there. Deby

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By 0 found this helpful
April 28, 2016

I live with my mother and her 16 year old Maltese, Kasha. In my opinion (and my sister's) Kasha is in a bad place and my mom is in denial. Kasha whimpers when she drinks and eats; she suffers from anxiety and cries, whines, and whimpers incessantly whenever my mother leaves the house, or even when Mom is home but upstairs while Kasha is downstairs. She cannot or will not climb stairs any longer, another issue I believe.

Last, and not least, she refuses to go outside to pee or poop and therefore does both inside, including peeing on my mother's bed, next to where Mom sleeps. Kasha was never truly house trained, but she used to go outside most of the time, but now it is nearly an everyday occurrence to have her urinate and/or defecate in some room inside the house.

There is also the fact that her eyes get "crusted over" and she may or may not see 100 per cent. Given all of the above I honestly feel she does not have a good life and perhaps it is her time to go to "her better place". When I say this to Mom, however, she claims it is because the dog annoys me and I just want to be rid of her. This is not true! While I think most people would be somewhat "annoyed" if forced to live with dog pee and poop as well as with a dog who can literally whine for 10 hours or more straight, my nerves are not the reason. I believe it might be time to say goodbye, rather, my heart aches for her suffering and I sincerely believe it is cruel for her to continue the way she is. I have had to 'put down' three beloved pets (a dog and two cats) in the space of one year due to illness and age in all three and I know the pain and feelings of loss, and that it is not easy. I feel for Mom and Kasha. Any thoughts on this situation? Thanks.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
May 5, 20160 found this helpful

The constant whimpering and refusal to climb stairs suggests arthritis. You can get the vet to prescribe a pain drug or anti-inflammatory drug, assuming they agree this is the case. Also, can your mom simply carry the dog upstairs? A Maltese will easily fit into a baby sling.

Also, it is possible the dog has developed age-related incontinence issues and can no longer control her peeing and pooping. Can you or your mom afford doggie diapers? Also try taking the dog out several times per day.

Dogs do not need to see 100 percent or at all. As long as they are in a familiar place they can tell everything by smell. Use a warm water washcloth to gently wash the eyes daily.

I agree, it is time that the incontinent dog experiencing pain and anxiety issues cross that "rainbow bridge." Your mother will never agree. Yes, she is in denial. She's had the dog many years and is emotionally dependent on the dog. This is what your mom wants, not what the dog needs. But I doubt you'll ever be able to convince her of that. I'd suggest mitigating the dog's problems as much as possible so you both will be happier.

Maltese typically live 12-15 years, so you probably don't have too much longer to watch the dog suffer. In the meantime try to make the dog as comfortable as possible.

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March 13, 20150 found this helpful

My 17 yr old Yorkie has started scratching her bed every time she goes in it and whining whilst scratching. She has torn 2 beds by doing this and has never done it before. She has been doing it about 2 months now. She has also started pooing a lot, about 8 bits a day. Her backbone seems to be more protruding and she has flaky skin, but otherwise is happy, eating and drinking normally, and on the same food.

By Michelle

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
March 13, 20150 found this helpful

Your dog may have a medical problem but may be hiding it to some degree as most animals are wont to do. Please take her to your vet to check on all problems you have listed. She is an old (!) dog and deserves a healthy life, as do all animals.

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January 7, 20150 found this helpful

I have had my dog for 13 years and he started having fits around 6 months ago. He has had two this week, my vet thinks he has a lesion on his brain and has forgotten all the behavouirs he has learnt. He is weeing and pooing in the house all the time now no mater how long I let him out for he still does it in the house it's massive amounts as well. He is sleeping lots and is moaning all the time. I feel so sorry for him, but when do you say enough is enough?

By Jo Val

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
January 9, 20150 found this helpful

I think now is when you say it. Think about it. Your dog is moaning all the time-that means pain. You are always having to clean up poo and pee, so you are getting tired, the smell is getting bad, and can't replace things like rugs because it is still happening.

If he has a lesion on his brain it is likely not going to get any better.

I suggest you have a heart-to-heart with your vet. Ask what are the chances of this honestly getting much better.

Sorry this is happening.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

April 1, 20150 found this helpful

I have a 21 year old Dachshund that I've had since she was 6 weeks old. She has lost most of her teeth, but still gets around really good. She stopped eating dog food a few months ago and so I started feeding her healthy people food. The last few days she refuses to eat anything, but she will lick the food. I took her to the vet, the vet says she will eat when she gets hungry, but that is not happening! Does anyone know of a good liquid diet, because she will drink, she just won't chew. She's down to 4 pounds and I'm very worried. I feel helpless? :(

By Kristi M

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
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