When I took Kinsey for a check-up last January one of the techs suggested she have blood work done annually because, at six and a half, she’s nearly a senior. What?! My dog is not a senior. Couldn’t be true! I will admit Quincy, my ten pound Chihuahua Terrier mix, at 12, is a senior. But, Kinsey? Not yet!
Over the last few months I’ve been keeping a close eye on Kinsey, checking to see if, perhaps, the tech was correct. I haven’t noticed she’s slowing down. In fact, she still has enough energy to chase rabbits into cacti. But, as I sit on the patio and watch my sweet Quincy eat the seeds that fall from my bird feeder, I know that as my dogs age I’ll need to make adjustments.
Buy a Good Bed
Kinsey got a Big Barker Premium Bed for Christmas, and she loves it. It’s made from a thick piece of memory foam and covered with a soft suede like material. I know that as Kinsey ages, this will become the perfect bed to sooth her aches and pains. It’s thick, low to the ground and she can stretch out on it. Plus, with a 10 year guarantee, I know she will use it for years to come.
Provide Support Around the House
Quincy has a hard time jumping onto my bed. To help her, I placed an ottoman beside it. However, as she’s gotten older even the ottoman is too high for her to jump onto, so I’m considering these stairs.
For additional support around the house, she also has a small dog bed on the floor in the den so that she can rest comfortably while I watch television.
Talk to Your Vet
In January my sister’s dog Lucy stopped putting weight on her front leg. When it didn’t improve after ten days, my sister took her to the vet. Lucy was diagnosed with bone cancer, and given nine months to live. While this was terribly hard news, my sister wanted to make sure Lucy felt well throughout her illness. So, Lucy is on medication to regulate her pain, and back to using her front let again. While she does tire out more quickly, she still loves short walks and barking at the neighbor dogs. If you notice a change in behavior, work with your vet to help your dog feel well, whatever the diagnosis.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Nikko, an 11 year old Golden Retriever on our search dog team, plumped up as he got older. Just like with people, when dogs are overweight it’s harder for them to move and they don’t feel as well. So, Nikko went on a diet and exercise plan. As the weight dropped off Nikko, his energy and activity level increased. He felt better, and it showed!
I take the dogs on off lead hikes once or twice a day. It’s easy for me because I enjoy it. But, I also need to help my dogs maintain their strength and flexibility. I try to set aside ten minutes three days a week to build strength and flexibility. Simple things like teaching your dog “beg” or the figure eight, will help her stay strong and flexible, decreasing risk of injury as she ages.
There are so many wonderful things about old dogs! They sleep more, dig fewer holes and make exceptional sick buddies. So, do what you can to make their twilight years enjoyable. Old dogs are the best dogs! 🙂
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