Greyt Inspirations Life

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

Old Dogs and Mobility

g_seniorpet_imageYou’ve all heard me mention by old guy, Taylor.  Taylor’s my special boy.  He was the first-born of my very much beloved girl Sami.  He’ll be 13-years-old next month and he’s been doing great.  Never a health problem of any kind.  We’ve been blessed.  But he is slowing down.  This week, for the first time, he had one of those episodes where he couldn’t get up when he tried to stand.  I was right there with him but even when I tried to help him get up he kept sliding back down.  We finally got him on his feet again but it was scary.

Older dogs can start to have their rear legs get weaker on them.  Sometimes the problem is spondylosis.  Or it can be osteoarthritis.  Or it may be degenerative myelopathy. It may simply be that an older dog is losing muscle tone in his rear legs because he doesn’t get as much exercise as he once did.  An older dog may be very healthy, overall, but lack of mobility can cause him to suffer the indignities of old age because he can’t get around very well.  He may need help going outside, for instance.  He may fall in the house.  He may be unsteady when he walks, so he walks less and less which can cause his muscles to lose even more muscle tone.

There are some things you can do to help your older dog combat this weakness.  It helps to have a good diagnosis.  Depending on your dog’s breed or size, you should start getting elder dog check-ups when he’s 7-9 years old.  This will include a thorough blood panel and your vet will be looking for signs that your dog is developing any problems common to older dogs.  If your dog begins to show signs of slowing down or having problems walking you should ask your vet to try to find out why.  If you get a good diagnosis you’ll be able to give your older dog the treatment he needs.

If your older dog is slowing down and your vet doesn’t find anything in particular wrong with him there are still some things you can do to help your dog.  Many people recommend giving older dogs glucosamine-chondroitin tablets to help their joints.  MSM is also recommended.  Products containing shark cartilage are also said to help older dogs with joint problems.  Fish oil, such as salmon oil, and vitamin C, such as Ester C, are also said to help dogs with joint problems.

You should make sure that you keep your dog at a good weight.  If your dog is overweight he’ll be putting unnecessary stress on his joints and causing himself more pain.  Feed a good, balanced diet.  Avoid products that could aggravate arthritis or joint problems.  In humans milk, eggs, pork and fish aggravate arthritis.  Tomatoes are also known to make arthritis pain worse.  You should also make sure that your dog gets some regular exercise, even if it is only a shambling slow walk every day.  If your dog enjoys exercise and is able to do more, then you should try to do more with him.  The more exercise he is able to do, the better for his muscles.

You can also help your older dog keep his footing in the house by putting down extra throw rugs and area rugs, especially if you have hardwood floors.  Anything that helps him get more traction on the floor is good.

There are also some products that have been recommended for elderly dogs.  I don’t often recommend products but these have been used by friends of mine and I will be trying some of them myself for Taylor so I’m going to mention them.  People have suggested Young At Heart, Joint Strong and Dog Gone Pain to me.  They’re all a little expensive but if they do what they say then they’re worth it.

GripTrex_340I know a couple of people who have used dog boots for their older dogs.  These boots have done a great job of allowing their dogs to get better traction and footing with their rear paws so they could walk more steadily — and even run around!  They recommended these boots.  

Finally, one of my close friends swears by acupuncture.  She’s been taking her girls to an acupuncturist for years and her dogs have remained mobile and active well into old age.  In fact, she just lost her dear girl, Violet, at age 15 this week.  My heart goes out to her.  Violet was the grandmother of my dogs Billie and Colin (Blue).

If your older dog is experiencing any of the problems discussed here he may also be having some pain.  You should talk to your vet about what you may need to do for your dog’s joint-related pain.  There are NSAIDS for dogs if your dog is having significant pain or your vet may advise you to give your dog an occasional buffered aspirin for dogs, depending upon the amount of pain that your dog may be dealing with.  As with all of the things we’ve been discussing here, you will have to pay close attention to your dog to see how he’s feeling and whether he’s improving or worsening.

Our old dogs are so very special.  All of us want to keep them with us as long as possible.  By following some of the suggestions here we can help our older dogs live longer and more comfortably.


July 10, 2009 - Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , , ,

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