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What does a senior dog really, really want?

Posted in Client Service @ Nov 21st 2013 - By Judy Gillespie
Isabel & her cake

What sort of resources & information do you offer your veterinary clients with senior pets?

As you may already know, one of my girls is a senior dog...a very, very senior dog.  An 18 years & 1 month senior dog! I celebrated her 18th birthday by making a cake, putting silly party hats on both my dogs and writing a blog post: Ode to Isabel the 18 year old staffy

I've learned a few tricks along the way about how to make her senior years as comfortable as possible but I'm sure there are many, many more 'tricks of the trade' out there.

This is my plan.....

I'd like to collect as many ideas as possible about caring for senior pets that I can then turn into a resource that you can customise and share with your clients - ideas that you may not have thought to mention, but could make a big difference to their lives

So here is my list of 'Senior Dog Care Tips'

Keep up regular visits to your vet 

There are amazing drugs that can make a big difference to mobility and incontinance - now is not the time to cut back on visits to the vet.

Getting woken up by night time wanderings? (this one's my favourite!)

I was getting up three to five times a night as Isabel would wander around the dark house bumping into walls & getting stuck in corners.  So we bought some cheap night lights and made sure there was enough light for her to see so she could move between her two favourite beds - problem solved and no more getting up in the middle of the night for me.

Raise food & water bowls off the ground for easy access

You can buy fancy bowls that are higher than the usual dog bowl but I just turned a spare food bowl upside down and sat her bowl on top of that.  So I guess it raised her bowl about 8cm off the ground which was enough for her.  If you have a larger dog, I imagine this would need to be taken into account.

Food not so appealing?

Isabel has never been a 'piggy eater' - I know - amazing for a staffy! And as she has gotten older, food seems to be less appealing. So after 18 years of only veterinarian prescribed dry food, I now mix a small can of wet food into her kibble.  I also find she eats it with more interest if add some warm water to make a sort of casserole.  

Gotta keep moving.

Isabel still loves her walks, they're just much, much slower and shorter.  I've found the best time for her is around 4pm in the afternoon.  In the morning she's a little stiff and as we live in a warm climate, by 4pm the sea breeze has usually cooled the day down to a comfortable temperature. And we keep her walks to about a 15 minute very slow stroll.  

Well that's my it's your turn!

What suggestions can you add to the list?  Add them in the comments section below so we can build up a really useful resource to share.....


Carmel @ Nov 22nd 2013 5:50pm
Keep checking those beds! It is amazing how quickly they become uncomfortable or difficult to get in and out of. Check for drafts where the beds are, although the temperatures are warming up being in a cold draft can make anyone stiff getting out of bed.
Jana @ Dec 2nd 2013 12:53pm
Try to limit jumping off and on furniture - lift them up and down instead or use stairs or a ramp. :)
Judy @ Dec 2nd 2013 3:56pm
Thanks Carmel & Jana - both excellent suggestions!
Gillian Shippen @ Dec 2nd 2013 4:40pm
Comfortable but warm coats for winter, cool mats for summer. Ramps to assit with access to higher places - yes I do stock those:o) play games with them, research shows playing games and using intellegent interactive treat toys will help stimulate the mind and keep dementia at bay just as in humans
Judy @ Dec 3rd 2013 10:09am
That's interesting Gillian, thanks. What sort of toys do you suggest as I know Isabel hasn't seemed interested in playing with anything for quite some time?
Gillian Shippen @ Dec 3rd 2013 12:44pm
Judy, I recommend specific interactive toys that give the owner quality time with their pet. so basically they are teaching their pet (and encouraging at the same time) to use a specific toy and helping with problem solving.Things like Kongs are great as far as getting them to feed but in an effort to keep cognitive function, toys that I have listed on my site as intelligent interactive toys are super. The following ranges are superb for this sort of thing Trixie Nina Ottosson Kyjen Dog Games These toys are designed to be used with your involvement, as it is you that will encourage your dog to seek out the tasty treat that you have hidden. Again, the time you spend with your dog in this manner will help to challenge their minds and strengthen your relationship. They are not meant for the animal to be left alone with.

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