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Thread: raising older dogs

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    #1

    raising older dogs

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    My current 2 dogs are the first dogs I have owned in my adult lifetime. I literally knew nothing when we got them as pups. I totally became one of those people who invested in them like a crazy person, researching and obsessing. I feel like I have learned a lot about raising puppies and adult dogs. The adult dog stage seemingly lasts sooooooo long that you almost forget that they will someday grow old! That's where I'm at. My dogs just entered into that sort of middle aged stage. You know, like that 7 to 8 age range. I have no personal experience in raising senior dogs. I'm a little apprehensive! As of right now they seem just as they were at 2. The only thing that gives away their age is their graying little faces. To be clear, for those that maybe don't know me or whatever, I have owned these dogs since they were babies.

    I keep hoping that things will just remain the same up until they die, with maybe just them slowing down a bit in their last year or 2 of life. How realistic is that though? I mean, I know that does happen. But is it more likely that they will develop some sort of illness rather than die uneventfully? I keep wondering what is in their future in the next 5 years or so (shit... that sounds so scary that that's likely all they'll have left ). Of course I think about the big things like cancer. Or seizures. And then I think about "smaller" things like vision problems or arthritis, or it progressing into near immobility or blindness. Right now they are still wrestling and bouncing around with ease.

    Of course I worry they will develop something like that even before they hit double digits and live even less than I thought... I know that could happen at any age, but it seems to go up with age. But I'm not trying to worry about that so much, but just prepare myself. Basically, I am looking for peoples' experiences in raising older dogs (in your adult lifetime). How long did your dog live? Did they develop any serious problems? Or did they just slow down a bit and die uneventfully of old age? Also, did they have any issues with arthritis? I'm trying to be proactive about that one, but I'm wondering how common it really is. Just really looking for advice on what to look out for or anything else you could share, since I've never been in this stage with dogs before. So far they've been fairly healthy dogs. Can't believe my babies have grown up so fast!!! Dogs lifetimes are way too short
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    #2
    My grandparents had a dog that died a while back and he was 15. He started peeing on the floor if he was left alone for more than a few hours but he kind of always did that because he was badly trained. It definitely got more frequent the older he got though. And his sight and hearing got much worse. He didn't die of a disease or have to be put down or anything, he was walking to the doggy door outside and fell in the pool. My grandpa got him out right away but he died a few hours later.

    Other than that though he was basically the same. He didn't play anymore, but he was never really much of a playful dog after the puppy stage. His personality was the same until he died. No arthritis or anything but he was only like 20 pounds or so so I'm not sure if that's really prevalent in small dogs anyway.
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    It's hard to tell. I had a lab, she was almost 16 and one day just fell over and died. Perfect health up until then, aside from slowing down from old age, etc.
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    My parent's old beagle was great for his 11 years. He acted the same (slowed down slightly), until one day he had a heart attack .

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    #5
    I believe all of our dogs had a problem and we ended up putting them to sleep. 1 with neurological issues (losing back leg function, etc), another with seizures, another had pretty normal "old dog issues" but enough of them and severe enough that it would have been cruel to keep letting her suffer.

    That said, I think it is especially important to have regular vet checks at an older age so you can treat things before they become a major debilitating problem.
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    #6
    All the dogs I've lost we have brought to the vet to be euth'd when their health got to the point where there was no quality of life, only how much longer they would be around. Growing up every dog we had was a Bassett hound. They were all between 10-12 years when they died.

    My Cuji monster is getting up there in age, he's a dachshund and he is 10 but I am so used to Bassett life spans that every little thing scares the crap out of me. He sneezes OMFG HE'S GOT DOG SWINEFLU/SARS/EBOLA!!! He has the same attitude as he's always had, just a bit less tolerant about others shenanigans as he ages.
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    #7
    My Border Collies died when they were 15-16. Both ended up with brain tumors, but two different types. My first one also developed hip dysplasia at around 7 years old. Both slowed down as they got older. Think about older people you know - many times they slow down and have difficulty with walking long distance, walking up and down stairs, etc. The same things happen to older dogs even if they do not have a medical condition that is life threatening. Just like people, their body goes through the aging process. They may develop cataracts or other problems with their sight. Their hearing can also be effected. They may spend more time sleeping.

    My advice would be to keep them current on their vaccines. (Although I seem to remember that you run titer tests rather than vaccines.) They way they are protected - seniors can have more difficulty recovering from a problem. The same goes for keeping them protected against things like heart worm. (We are seeing more dogs with heart worms in my rescue group.) And taking them to the vet more often as they age. Since their lifespan is so short, one year between vet visits is a long time relative to that lifespan. So, I feel that when they get older it is important for them to be visiting the vet on a more frequent basis in order to catch things early. And trust that fur mom instinct when you think something is wrong with your dog.
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    #8
    Quote Originally Posted by dekeoboe View Post
    My Border Collies died when they were 15-16. Both ended up with brain tumors, but two different types. My first one also developed hip dysplasia at around 7 years old. Both slowed down as they got older. Think about older people you know - many times they slow down and have difficulty with walking long distance, walking up and down stairs, etc. The same things happen to older dogs even if they do not have a medical condition that is life threatening. Just like people, their body goes through the aging process. They may develop cataracts or other problems with their sight. Their hearing can also be effected. They may spend more time sleeping.

    My advice would be to keep them current on their vaccines. (Although I seem to remember that you run titer tests rather than vaccines.) They way they are protected - seniors can have more difficulty recovering from a problem. The same goes for keeping them protected against things like heart worm. (We are seeing more dogs with heart worms in my rescue group.) And taking them to the vet more often as they age. Since their lifespan is so short, one year between vet visits is a long time relative to that lifespan. So, I feel that when they get older it is important for them to be visiting the vet on a more frequent basis in order to catch things early. And trust that fur mom instinct when you think something is wrong with your dog.
    yeah I've heard that, that you should take them every 6 months to a vet once they get older. Right now technically they only go once a year for their check ups, though we've been to the vet a couple times more than that for other issues that cropped up regarding ears and skin lately (and only since they've gotten older in the last couple years... HMMMM). But what would need to occur every 6 months? Just feeling their bodies for growths? A complete blood panel thing? (whatever it's called ) Vet has only done that to rule out other things when the pups came in for other reasons, never at their annuals.
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    #9
    Yes, blood work is one thing, so you can monitor the changes. Not saying you need one done every six months, but it is good to have a baseline done as they are getting older so you have something to compare it to in the future. Also, listening to their lungs for any changes. Older dogs can also develop heart conditions, so you want to check to see if they have developed a heart murmur. And just generally looking over the condition of their skin, fur, eyes and teeth. Dogs are good at hiding problems and sometimes the vet can find things that you never noticed.
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    #10
    Quote Originally Posted by dekeoboe View Post
    Yes, blood work is one thing, so you can monitor the changes. Not saying you need one done every six months, but it is good to have a baseline done as they are getting older so you have something to compare it to in the future. Also, listening to their lungs for any changes. Older dogs can also develop heart conditions, so you want to check to see if they have developed a heart murmur. And just generally looking over the condition of their skin, fur, eyes and teeth. Dogs are good at hiding problems and sometimes the vet can find things that you never noticed.
    1 year for you is 7-10 for them. Senior dogs- Breed depending is 7-12 yrs of age. Those dogs should have exams and full blood work once a year at least. For geriatric dogs - over 13. Every 6 months for exams and full bloodwork. It does get expensive, but I whole heartedly believe that I would have lost my dogs WAY earlier and their quality of life would not have been as good had I not done these things. Exams are even more important then vaccines in my opinion. My vet has found multiple things on my dogs as they older that could have turned into major major things.. Dogs and cats are masters at disguise. Im a Vet Tech, have been for 22 years. and I had NO idea my dog had a urinary tract infection.. didnt know when her liver enzymes started to go up.. didnt know she had pancreatitis (although that was really weird and rare not to see signs) Dogs and cats hide illness and disease until they are so sick that they can no longer hide it. At that point.. there is sometimes nothing that can be done. My Golden Retriever will be 18 in November. I really believe that her health and age are attributed to very strict guidelines of exams and frequent bloodwork.

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