Thursday, October 8, 2020

Senior Dog Preparation

We have been trying to write this post for quite sometime now, but things have always gotten in the way. Now that it has been several days since we said goodbye to our beloved Mr. B, we thought that these tips might help others with a geriatric dog.
It seems like it happened overnight. Mr. B was a young pup at the age of 17 and all of a sudden he aged to a 17 year old pooch. Here are some tips for those who have aging pups that we discovered along the way and wish we knew earlier.
Gates
As we have written before, gates are important, but especially to limit an older dog's access to stairs. Going up the stairs was a concern but not as much as the concern of Mr. B going down the stairs. We have had one too many close calls of hearing him crashing at the bottom landing after he slipped down the flight of stairs. Unfortunately, Mr. B still loved to follow us and if we had any gates open he would make the incredible effort to climb up all the stairs to be with us. We chose to live with our gates closed at all times and we would climb over them, just so we wouldn't make the mistake of keeping them open.
Mr. B with Danielle from Soap Distillery
Help 'Em Up Harness
We purchased this harness for Miss M when she was struggling with cancer and chemotherapy and it has been an immense help with her and especially with Mr. B. Unfortunately we have a decent flight of stairs out of our house and we could easily help the dogs down the stairs using the carrying straps on the harness above their back and above their hind legs. Mr. B loved going on walks and this made all of our walks manageable, especially winter walks with the icy sidewalks and mounds of snow. We eventually kept this on him at all times during the day to help him into and out of his bed and to help him walk on our wood floors.
Boots
The skin tag on his rear foot would be bleeding after our walks and it was only after a visit with an emergency vet that we learned that he knuckled his rear paws and that he was steadily losing the function of his rear legs. We also noticed that the nail on his rear paws have gotten really short and near the quick from him knuckling when he walked. After we started incorporating the boots on his rear paws, his skin tag stopped bleeding and his nails grew longer.
Orthopedic Bed
We purchased this bed from Orvis back when Miss M was first diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma and it was the go-to bed for Mr. B. He was no longer interested in the plush beds we had around the house and liked the firmness of this bed. We recommend getting a dog bed specifically made for older dogs to help with their aching joints. Though this specific bed is not available, Orvis has other orthopedic beds and we love Orvis because they have an incredible warranty policy and they quickly addressed an issue we had with a zipper on one of their other beds.
Toddler Sheets and Waterproof Sheets
When Mr. B started having bowel accidents in the house, we just kept taking the dog bed apart and washing the dog bed cover and then this became a once a day to a twice a day occurrence. While we were washing his favorite bed, he would have to lay in any of our other dog beds which were not ideal for him until we were done washing and drying his dog bed cover. Lucky for us, Toddler A had extra sheets from his crib conversion bed that fit perfectly over Mr. B's favorite dog bed. Now we did not have to clean his entire dog bed and we also had a second set of sheets so we didn't have to do laundry every day.
Dog Diaper
Though Mr. B started having fecal incontinence at the end of winter, we were fortunate that it was more apparent during the spring and summer when we were all able to spend time outdoors and clean up was a lot easier. Despite the walks, Mr. B could not have a bowel movement unless his body was completely relaxed, which was either during his naps or asleep at night. To minimize clean up around the house, we used both a disposable human adult size small diaper with a hole cut out for Mr. B's tail and a large dog diaper. The disposable diaper helped prevent any leakage, this was really helpful at night when he would move a lot during his sleep. Clean up usually only consisted of cutting off the disposable diaper and washing just the rear and the tail and some of the dog diaper.
Spare Towels
We were fortunate to collect some towels from our gym before COVID. These towels came in handy cleaning up accidents, using as blankets when Mr. B got cold and when we had to wash Mr. B on a daily basis due to fecal incontinence overnight.
Schedule Change
The hardest thing would probably be the possible schedule change. Fortunately for us, when Toddler A was still a baby, we decided to change our sleeping schedule and become larks, getting up at 5am to start our day. Though Mr. B would stay in bed as we did our morning routine, as he aged, he would need to urinate around 5am and sometimes earlier. We changed our morning routine when we found Mr. B laying on the floor in a puddle of urine from an accident he had before 5am. Our routine became getting up at 4am and sitting in the chair next to his bed until he awoke with a sudden urge to urinate and then taking him to go out for the morning. Since we changed from an owl to a lark a few years back, getting up an hour earlier was not that drastic of a change. We were fortunate that most of our programs for the business were virtual and one of us was home throughout the day to help Mr. B. 
Optional Luxuries
To allow Miss M to visit her adoring fans, we bought a dog stroller that was easier to set up for shorter walks that could easily navigate our city sidewalks. It was very helpful for Mr. B. Since Mr. B loves laying out in the sun, we could take him to the park to sunbathe on the nice cool grass.
A cargo bike has been on our wishlist for years and when we had our own garage, one of our first large purchases was our beloved Nihola 4.0. In the summer, we were able to go all around the city, especially to different street festivals. It was even more helpful when the pooches had trouble walking, but still loved going around the city. Though all the festivals were closed this summer, Mr. B still made great use of his bike going around our neighborhood's beautiful park.
These are some of the things that made our life easier that we wish we knew sooner. If there are any tips you have, we would love to hear them, we know they will help others that are fortunate enough to have a dog or dogs that live to a grand old age.

9 comments:

Ashley L said...

Thank you so much for all of your great tips! My pittie is 12 1/2 and last December he received a pacemaker because of heart block. Needless to say, there’s been a few other things going on since then and I’ll take all the help I can get to keep him around and keep him comfortable. I do have to agree with you on the waterproof toddler sheets. I don’t have children but bought a set a few years ago because it was just easier to clean their dog beds even though they don’t have accidents but I’m sure it will come in handy in the future. I’m so sorry for your incredible loss. He was such a pleasure to get to watch all these years and I hope you know how great of a life he had and gave to all of us.

M said...

My girl just turned 13. I suspect she’ll be like Mr B. She is barely showing her age yet except in energy level but I am getting ready. We have washable pee pads already because we foster cats, but I recently bought her a wagon and we’ve been training her to get used to hitching a ride when outside. It’s so bittersweet, but a privilege to care for them as they age. You are angels for loving on your fur family so much. The world would be a better place if we had millions more of you.

Laura said...

How loving you were to dear Mr. B & Miss M, and this is an inspiring post! Our pit bull will be 12 in November and he has hip dysplasia, and ACL & ligament knee troubles. Therapy and water therapy helped, along with a soft leg brace we got on Amazon. He did well with TPLO surgery on one leg. For our older lab, we put pretty rug runners on our slippery tile kitchen floor, and moved her dog dishes to the dining area on a little rug, to save her walking so far. We’ll always love your two pitties and how they touched our lives in beautiful ways!

Slomack said...

Thank you so much for sharing this...so much of this mimics what I discovered a couple of years ago with my own sixteen year old elderbull. (Gates actually didn't stop her from trying to get to our second floor bedroom....so we slept on a pull out couch on the first floor...for three years...so she could be near us). Your blog has been such a trusted resource for me over the years...particularly as I now am owned by two pitties myself (and, I just realized, that they are Mr. M. and Ms. B. ha!). Thank you for sharing them with us so completely.

Laura said...

One other helpful thing was taking our bed off the frame so it was lower on the floor, since our pup sleeps with us and he could get on and off the mattress easier. Love your suggestion about the orthopedic bed as he does have soft beds to rest in.

Sue said...

Those are all very helpful tips. Our Norma Jean is 14 and was recently diagnosed with leukemia. We have gates all over the place and I get up during the night to take her out, then we both go back to bed. I need to find harness since her back legs ae getting weak. What harness did you use and were you satisfied with it?

Wendy said...

I just love you guys, thank you for this information! I have two senior dogs and some of these tips will help immensely!

JustaGirl said...

Thank you for these helpful tips. We've got a white boxer, almost 9years old, and this post will be great to look back on as he continues to age.

What a joy it has been to watch Miss M & Mr B as ambassadors to the pittie breed. I know, as I have mentioned before, that they changed not only MY mind about pitties but I guarantee that they've probably done that with every person that they met!

Sending you all hugs.

Amy said...

Thank You for sharing these tips. My husband and I said goodbye to our senior Pitbull 1 year ago today and we also went through incontinence with him. We bought several washable pee pads and kept them under him at all times along with diapers. Never thought to use adult diapers and cut a hole for the tail, that is a great idea. Thanks again and so sorry for your loss. Both Ms. M and Mr B lived great lives and it has been a pleasure following along on their journey.

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