- Dr. K.C. Gates
Senior pets: helping old dogs age gracefully
Life really does come full circle when living with a senior pet. We are currently living with our 14-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer, Scout, along with 6 and 7 year old Vizslas, and of course our three two-legged children. Over the last few years we have dealt with Scout’s progressive aging issues - lumps, arthritis, weakness, urinary incontinence (secondary to his kidney failure), and behavioral changes.
To say Scout is aging gracefully would be the overstatement of the year. He’s old… and he looks old with his sweet old white eyebrows and muzzle. Though we have been preparing to say goodbye for years now, he just keeps plugging away. He has more good days than bad, and still feels well enough to do his “buckin’ bronco” gallop through the house in the morning.
Through these years, we found a few tools that helped our old man age as gracefully as possible.
First off, always take your dog to the vet at the first sign of urine leakage. There are a number of medical issues that could be contributing that can be ruled out by simple blood and urine tests (Cushing’s disease, urinary tract infection, chronic kidney disease, to name a few). Second, we bought waterproof mattress covers years ago when our kids were in our bed many nights. These also come in handy for old dogs in kidney failure! There are many great waterproof dog beds and dog bed covers that are easy to switch out and wash after accidents.Third, we took out all of our area rugs. Not exactly a perfect solution, but our laminate floors were much easier to clean than the area rugs where Scout kept having accidents.
Over the years we have given Scout many things for osteoarthritis - it started with joint supplements (we loved Dasuquin Advanced), which are shown to slow the progression of joint disease. We also gave anti-inflammatory drugs as needed, until he developed chronic kidney disease later in life. Then we had to be more cautious about his medications and bloodwork monitoring. As his arthritis has progressed, we have found acupuncture, chiropractic, and laser therapy have provided amazing benefits and more “pep in his step”.
Mobility: slip and slide
Along with arthritis often comes weakness and wobbliness, especially when it is affecting the spine. Our Scouty first started to drag his hind feet on occasion when he reached about 12 years old. This toe-dragging and weakness progressed until he suffered a couple falls during his attempts to turn or jump up from a slick floor. Initially we used area rugs and non-slip rug mats in the areas he frequented. But eventually we had to get rid of our area rugs due to the peeing issues, so we resorted to other tools to keep him from slipping. Fortunately there are a few creative solutions available to help.
These are small rubber band-like contraptions that fit on your dog’s toenails. Most dogs hardly notice they’re on, and they provide instant traction on slippery floors.
These look and feel like a balloon, and slip over your dog’s paw. Initially our pups would kick their feet high with each step, but they adjusted really well and left them alone once on. Again - instant traction!
These are a sticky pad that adheres right onto the pads of your dog’s feet. They provide a non-slip surface wherever your dog is walking, and can stay on several weeks.
It’s hard to accept our pets becoming seniors. Their lives are too short in comparison to ours. There are many things we can do to help them age gracefully and pain-free. Call us today to discuss how to keep your senior pet happy and comfortable for as long as possible.