CARING FOR AN OLDER DOG
Many of the issues older humans face are the same issues that older dogs have too. Issues much as constipation, arthritis, eyesight problems, incontinence, hearing and memory loss etc. Here are some handy ways of dealing with these issues
Diet: When it comes to your best mate’s diet, we suggest you feed quality brands. These brands will not have a one size fits all approach to their food; instead, they have especially formulated their food to suit all different stages of a dog’s life. What a pup or active adult dog requires is not the same as what a senior dog requires. One noticeable difference in the diet will be the reduction of meat required as meat is harder for an older body to process instead more vegetables are required. If you are following your own homemade meals please seek veterinary advice as to the ingredients and quantities you are feeding.
Comfort: A good warm coat and bed are essential to help keep muscles warm and help with mobility. Fair Dinkum Dog Coats are perfect for keeping joints warm and agile. We believe that an Oilskin coat (also known as waxed cotton) is the only way to go when it comes to an older dog. Oilskin is extremely waterproof but pliable allowing full range of movement. Many coats are padded using hobby fill, these coats can be too puffy and interfere with the full range of movement.
When choosing a bed please consider that older dogs, like older people, become less confident when it comes to their balance. Whereat one time a nice padded/cushioned bed would have been appreciated, your best mate may find a flat more solidly padded bed much easier to access and provide more stability underfoot.
Arthritis: There’s nothing worse than seeing your best mate uncomfortable and in pain with joint pain or arthritis but no fear there are joint supplement’s available from any pet shop of stockfeed store that can help with this. There are many different types of joint supplements out there it’s a matter of finding what works best for your best friend. If and when these supplements no longer take the edge off the joint pain then it is time to visit your vet who may offer ongoing injections to get on top of the arthritic pain.
Avoiding jumping up into vehicles and climbing stairs is also a great idea as it lessens the strain on the joints, a dog ramp can be money well spent.
Vision and hearing impairments: If your old timer becomes vision or hearing impaired it is best to keep them on a lead when walking for obvious safety reasons. Sometimes corrective surgery or a simple treatment can assist some dogs so it is always worth consulting with a vet.
It is always handy if you have taught your dog hand signals as a pup as it will save you yelling in this latter stage of life.
To avoid giving your best mate a fright whilst vision or hearing impaired you may need to approach them cautiously.
- For vision impaired: use your voice to alert them of your presence.
- Hearing impaired: make sure they have seen you first.
- Both vision and hearing impaired: allow them to smell you first.
Dementia: Memory loss is also a potential challenge. Yes, just like us, dogs do get dementia. Lots of understanding and love will be needed. It may require a review of what is a safe environment and additional fencing may be required.
Heat Stress: Just as older dogs find the cold painful to their joints, they can also overheat quickly. We suggest you inspect your best mate’s yard and make sure there is plenty of shelter, shade, fresh water and soft places to lie. On extremely hot days we bring our old girl inside. A vet once told me that, although Missy is a long-haired Border Collie, I must never hose her down and leave her outside. Apparently when we cool them too quickly their brain tells their body to heat their system resulting in the OPPOSITE of that we are trying to achieve. Instead he suggested that I keep her well-groomed, do all the above, and allow her inside on hot days. It is important to share this story as unfortunately I have heard of dogs dying due to their owner’s kind intentions to lower their body temperature using the hose or iced water.
Incontinence: Many dogs become incontinent in their old age. This unfortunately means a lot of work for us as owners. When my previous dog Gypsy became incontinent in her old age, we were constantly using old towels to protect her bedding and giving her a daily wash. It was a lot of work but her comfort was our priority. There are nappies for dogs that can be purchased and it’s a matter of what works best for you. You will also get to understand their needs. For example, we found that by getting Gypsy out of bed early in the morning we could often avoid a mess in her bed. Regardless, I advise you to bulk buy gloves and disinfectant when on special.
We at Fair Dinkum Dogs hope that this advice has been helpful and wish you all the best with supporting your best mate through this last stage of their life. We are so very fortunate to have them in our lives and it’s an honour to be there for them at the end.