Greyt Inspirations Life

A little about our life, our business and our pets.

Helping your older dog

I’m very sad today.  My Titans are out of the playoffs.  I guess it shows that you can have a fabulous season and still not reach your ultimate goal.  Just ask the New England Patriots about that.  They had a perfect season last year and still lost in the Super Bowl.



3025742687_1c3dafdc9d_mEnough football.  I consoled myself by giving Blue that nice long bath I’ve been promising him.  He and Pearl have been practically rolling in the mud for a week and he really needed it.  He looks very nice now.  He still needs to be groomed.  That will take some time.  He’s got a lot of hair.  Poor little Pearl is about half his size and she has hardly any hair at all.  She looks like a shorthaired dog, and that is not how an English Setter is supposed to look.  She had long, beautiful hair last year but then the weather got very hot and she shed like crazy.  It’s never really grown back.  I may start giving her fish oil tablets or something to try to help her hair grow again.


I’m trying to get both dogs looking their best because I want to enter them in a couple of shows next month.  Oh, joy!  LOL  Going on the road with two crazy dogs is just like taking a family vacation when I was a kid.  We drive and drive and the dogs (like kids) want everything they see.  They even do the bit about asking, “Are we there yet?”  You hear a whine and a bark from the backseat (where the dogs are safely crated).  Only with Pearl it’s more like “BARK BARK BARK” for 100 miles.  Pearl thinks she should do the driving.  She always wants to be in charge and can’t believe I would crate her or make her stay in the back seat.  But, let me tell you, if you don’t crate Pearl she is in your lap and makes driving VERY dangerous.  The little wiggleworm is all over the car.  More about the shows later.



World's oldest dog?  flickr

World's oldest dog? flickr

I think I’ve mentioned that I have two older dogs — Beau, who’s 10, and Taylor, who’s 12.  I had them both at the vet in December for their check-ups.  I was very happy when they passed with flying colors.  It’s always a great relief to get good news about old dogs because there are so many things that they can start to find wrong with them.  Beau and Taylor each have one bad tooth that needs to come out, but that was the only thing that the vet found.  Taylor, in particular, needs to have his removed fairly soon, so I’m planning for that.  It’s kind of a big deal because they have to do blood work first and then use anesthesia on him — which scares me.  It’s scary anytime they have to use anesthesia on an older dog.  That’s why I’ve been kind of dragging my feet about the whole thing.



But otherwise Taylor is in good shape.  He has lost three pounds since last summer, which concerns me.  He’s not skinny but I hate to see an older dog lose weight.  I’ve started cooking for him some.  He’s still getting his regular dog food but I’ve added a meal for him in the mornings.  Last week I cooked chicken thighs and sweet potatoes into a soft stew for him and gave him some everyday.  This week I cooked the remains of a roast and some potatoes for him and I’ve been giving him some of that everyday.  He’s eating heartily.  His appetite has always been good.  What happens with older dogs is that they start needing food that is more digestible for them.  You can give them great food but if their body can no longer digest it then they aren’t getting the benefits from it.


It’s fine to give older dogs lots of protein.  Dog food gurus used to tell us that you shouldn’t give older dogs as much protein because their kidneys couldn’t handle it.  But now they say that, unless your dog has a kidney problem, then it’s fine to give them food with plenty of good quality protein.


If you have an older dog who is getting picky about food there are some things you can consider doing to help him.  Many older dogs start to have duller senses.  That means that they can no longer smell and taste things the way they used to.  So you can make food more appealing to them by mixing in things that have a stronger smell and taste that they like.  Try adding some canned food to your dog’s dry diet.  Or adding some homecooked food that is very tasty and which smells good.


Don’t forget your older dog’s teeth, either.  If your dog is not eating like he used to eat check his teeth.  Many older dogs start to have some dental problems.  If your dog seems interested in his food or picks at it but doesn’t eat much, that’s often a sign that his teeth won’t let him eat much.  Have the vet take a good look at his teeth and try some softer food, too.


Older dogs may also have eyesight problems when it comes to food bowls.  Just this week I heard somebody with a 12-year-old dog say that her dog was looking at his food bowl strangely and wouldn’t eat from it.  But when she fed him by hand he was fine.  The consensus was that he was having some eyesight issues.  He’s back to normal now but it shows that older dogs go through some changes with all their senses.  Try to look at things from your older dog’s point of view and think about what he might be experiencing.  Often that can lead you to some answers.


Of course, older dogs have many other issues as well.  When I had my dear, sweet Sami and she was getting older, her eyes began bothering her.  She began to have problems seeing at night.  She wouldn’t go outside at night and I couldn’t figure out why.  I finally watched her and figured out that, with her declining eyesight, she couldn’t see the steps on the back deck at night and needed some help to get down into the backyard and back inside again. If I went with her as an escort she was more confident and willingly went out at night.


So, if you have an older dog take time to watch them and see where they’re having problems and what you can do to help them.  I know you love your dogs as I do mine.  This is just one more kindness you can do for them.


January 11, 2009 - Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , ,

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