Just Adopted A Very Old Dog ...

Talk about diets, exercise, and disease.
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Just Adopted A Very Old Dog ...

Postby dingo » Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:33 am

... and would like to know how to properly care for her.

This dog is 15-17 years old and we adopted her from Dogs Deserve Better. They spent a lot of money getting her ready for adoption and I am in awe of them for caring so much about an old dog.

The DDB vet removed several teeth and a benign cyst on her rear end. Her heart, her hearing and her lungs are excellent the vet says. But she does have a bronchial type cough (maybe five times a day) which did not concern the vet. It is believed to be some soft tissue damage done to her throat sometime in her long past. I was advised to buy her a good quality harness which I did so as to keep any pressure off her throat.
She has some arthritis which is to be expected. She does have an ACL injury but the rescue obviously couldn't afford the surgery and the vet evidently wasn't too keen on doing that surgery at her age anyhow.

I took her to my vet in Canada for a Lyme Disease booster as directed by the rescue and my vet confirmed the other vet's findings.

O.K., that's the background stuff. My concern now is to be able to understand just how much exercise this dog needs. In the few weeks she has been with us I have observed a dramatic rise and fall in her demeanor and ability to move around. First week she was bounding off the deck before I could catch her. Her legs would buckle as she hit the ground but she would dust herself off and trot off.

Then when all the snow melted here and the rains came she was miserable and just took to her bed. I had to basically carry her outside to go pee. Her eyes were dull and the word listless seemed to apply. Am I right in assuming that the moisture in the air was impacting her arthritis?

This week the weather has been dry and even reached 80 degrees. On Sunday I walked her down to our creek and she was walking quite well.
On Monday I just walked her for potty breaks three times around our property (we're on acres) and she seemed really spry. On Tuesday we went to Canada for lunch and took her with us. She nearly pulled the leash out of my hand she was bouncing along so hard as we walked out on a long jetty! Her eyes were bright and she was like a much younger dog.
Today we put her and our Annie in the garage/barn for the morning as my husband wanted to use some chemicals to wash our basement walls down and he wasn't sure if there would be fumes that would seep into the rest of the house.
When I took the dogs to the barn I considered putting Annie on her lead line in there because I didn't want her deciding to play with Princess and body slamming her (Annie's preferred method of play when let loose in a large space.) I didn't tether her in the end because it seemed cruel to Annie.

My husband goes over to check the dogs after two hours and discovers the two of them playing a really fast and furious game of tag! :headbang: He couldn't believe his eyes.
I went over to see for myself and that game had finished but the old girl was keen to chase me around the barn when I called to her.

So, I'm thinking that the more exercise she gets the less stiff she is. We adopted this dog thinking she would just want a bed to lie in for the next year or so but this is clearly not the case.

Seems the last couple of weeks we have been coddling her way too much. I could really use some expert advice as to how to make this dog's last years on this earth as good as they can be. Are there any good books out there on caring for elderly dogs?

I have her on a diet of Wellness Complete plus canned mixed in (she has very few teeth left.) She is a good weight the vet says and has an excellent appetite.

Sorry this is so long but I really am committed to making life as good as it can get for this sweet old dog. She's a pit bull/Aussie cattle dog mix.

Here's her adoption photo from Petfinder. This is the photo the rescue people took the day they rescued her.

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Postby Murfins » Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:34 am

:bowdown: :headbang: :bowdown: :headbang: :bowdown: :headbang:

I cannot say enough how truly awesome it is that you have given this beautiful old girl a real home! THANK YOU! I adore seniors and I wish there were more people out there like you. :thumbsup:

Is Annie on a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement? I would have her on one for sure to help with her joints as well as salmon oil which helps with inflammation.

I would think at her age, with her joint health, that being on a regular pain medication would also greatly help her - you'll have to talk to your vet about that though.

It is important for seniors to stay active but you want to do multiple smaller bouts instead of a single large walk a day. I would also try helping her stretch (hey, the recent Bark magazine was about senior dogs and there is some great articles that you would likely find helpful, including a small article on doggy-style yoga stretches).

Off that top of my too early morning head, that's all that comes to mind at this moment. Oh, PLEASE post photos as soon as you can. :))

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Postby ilikelily » Thu Apr 30, 2009 8:26 am

I am in awe of you for adopting such a beautiful senior! :bowdown:

Murfins pretty much took the words right out of my mouth, even mentioning the recent Bark issue! :headbang:

With the arthritis and the ACL injury keep her lean. The less stress on her joints the better. You may want to help her up and down any stairs, and no big jumps (help her into the vehicle, up onto the bed...)

We adopted this dog thinking she would just want a bed to lie in for the next year or so but this is clearly not the case.

roflmao That is exactly, word for word, what we said when we decided to foster our senior dog Max! roflmao It was absolutely not the case for us either! It is so funny how we expect these seniors to be so frail, but they show us just how full of life they still are. :) Good luck with your your new addition, she sounds wonderful.

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Postby NewOrleansSaint » Thu Apr 30, 2009 8:41 am

Sorry I have no advice as I have never experienced life with a senior dog.

I just wanted to say how amazing I think it is that you opened up your home to this lucky dog! :bowdown:


Postby msvette2u » Thu Apr 30, 2009 9:09 am

Congrats-it's awesome you got her :)

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Postby patty » Thu Apr 30, 2009 10:06 am

Annie is a vision :inlove: Thank you for giving her a wonderful home in her senior years, it makes me cry happy tears :)

I know you will give her the best care possible.

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Postby julie64 » Thu Apr 30, 2009 1:06 pm

Murfins gave some excellent advice. Congrats on your new girl, she is beautiful :inlove: :inlove:

I am hoping we get to see more pics her. :)

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Postby starrlamia » Thu Apr 30, 2009 1:37 pm

I can never get enough pics of her, such a doll!

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Postby porchcricket13 » Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:15 pm

First of all, I give you a lot of credit for adopting a senior, to me it would be too hard. I know with the arthritis and the ACL injury she is bound to have good and bad days, pain medications will help, but if she over does it one day, she will be very painful the day after...the best advice is to let her do what she is comfortable doing, and love her every day! Congrats on your new addition :)

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Postby Poohs Dad » Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:45 pm

We had a dog that would have just past 14(probably did, but we only had him for 13+). Also with debilitating arthritis. Rasputin responded well to Adequan shots on a monthly basis for the last yr he was with us. It made a huge difference in how he was able to get around. He went form being carried (or he would jump) down the steps to being able to traverse them by himself, albeit slowly. Without it Razzy would have left us alot sooner. :(

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Postby airwalk » Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:52 pm

Wow Congrat's to you for sharing your home with a Senior..they are by far my favorites.

Murfins gave you excellent information. I just lost my two Seniors this last summer Cinder (Doberman) was 12 and Charlie (lab X) was 17.

They, like senior people, will have good days and bad you just need to roll with where they are today.

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Postby suzi » Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:10 pm

Awwww,,,,GREAT for you! GREAT for Annie!!!

She reminds me so much of my first PB Rosebud,,,(RIP Sweet Girl,,she was 19),,,down to the grey on her face,,,looks like a Minnie Mouse stencil...Rosie was blind and deaf her last two years of life,,,but her eyes were still "the windows to her soul",,,she let me know when it was time to play,,,rest,,,,etc....when she would feel the front door open,,,she would make the dash,,,,or simply waddle through the open door,,,it was all about how she was feeling.

Love her up,,,let her enjoy her old age from day to day...Some days will be better than others....Also don't forget she is new to her environment,,,she may get the blues from time to time at first..

If she seems arthritic or diagnosed as such,,,maybe think about medication,,,,some of what is out there isn't the best for a younger dog, but at her age it won't hurt. It's all about the quality of life.

Bless your heart!

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Postby jtalt7 » Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:12 pm

Joint supplement with MSM
Omega 3
Sounds like she could use an NSAID
keep her lean
and they have great bronchial dilators that are great for old dog coughs

Seniors are awesome. I have two smothering me currently.

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Postby dingo » Thu Apr 30, 2009 5:36 pm

Sorry for the rambling initial post and I sure do appreciate all your great replies. :) Actually Annie is the name of our first dog (the dog in my avatar) and our new old dog has brought her totally dorky original name with her; it's Princess. :)) I figured that she is waaay too old to suffer a name change at this late stage.

Actually, after having a total spazz bucket of a dog like Annie in our lives for the last six years it is really easy having a senior dog in our home. (Annie does have her CGCC but she is still a spazz.) Princess is calm and focused and makes a lot of eye contact which is really helpful as we all get to know each other.

One thing really notable about her is that her fur is super soft and shiny which I have to believe is pretty impressive at her age and considering the background she came from. She's had a difficult life with two different owners but that's a story for the General section I guess.

Is Benedryl a bronchial dilator? Benedryl is what our vet recommended when Princess's cough gets bad.

I was wondering about massage techniques specifically for dogs and will do some research into that and I'll get a copy of that edition of Bark mentioned above.

You guys are fantastic!

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Postby lushpuppie » Thu Apr 30, 2009 6:22 pm

What a pretty girl. You are awesome for giving her a forever home. :thumbsup:

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