Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pooches: On Growing Older

We know a lot of people are surprised when we tell them our pups are Elderbulls.
We were surprised too.
Not celebrating the pups' birthdays, we don't really have anything to mark the passage of time, and for the past 5 years we would tell people the pups were 4 and 5...until we actually did the math ourselves.
We know there are so many benefits to having older pups, and we know when we need to adopt again we will definitely go older.
We are learning a lot as our pups age, and we would love to hear about other peoples' experiences. Here are some things we've been learning:

Visit Your Vet Often
We believe in doing a lot of preventative care to avoid other issues later. While we used to just take our pups in when we noticed problems, we know take the pooches to the vet twice a year for a Senior Blood Panel to help us catch and monitor any problems that might develop. Through these visits we caught an early kidney issue which we've been regulating through a change in diet.
We are also really careful about watching their lumps and bumps. Miss M had a scare which actually did test as a cancer. Luckily since we caught it early we were able to remove it.
We just noticed Mr. B had something that we thought was a blister from his seat belt; it turned out to be a mast cell tumor. We were able to remove it, along with a couple of other bumps, with strong chances that it didn't spread already.

Walk Around:
We walk a lot.
At least a couple of miles a day (except during the Polar Vortex).
At first I wasn't sure if it was actually doing more harm than good, but our vet told us it was good to continue our low-impact exercising.
We have a friend who had his pit bulls live to be 16 to 17, and he was always out walking them even more than us.
So we keep walking.

Prepare for Shrinking:
The one thing we didn't expect was for our pups to shrink. As they get older, they begin losing muscle tone especially in their face.
The just seem smaller.
Some friends have told us it becomes harder for older pups to keep weight on.

One thing we have noticed, is that Mr. B is more reluctant to jump into our car himself, and E has been having to lift him to carry him into the car.
Does anyone have experience or advice about ramps or lifting harnesses?
And any other tips for as your pups grow older?

Our favorite.
And this one.
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Laura said...

Our 14 year old lab mutt, Sadie, has trouble walking on our tile kitchen floor. We have put down a runner rug, along with matching door mats,so now she can move easily on this surface. Her food and water are on a carpeted area nearby. She also has a ramp to get on and off the deck in the backyard. So glad to hear that dear Mr. B and Miss M are doing well and aging gracefully!

Anonymous said...

I just took Melvin for an 'older gentlemen proactive what should we be doing for him' vet appt. We go to the vet for him so often for his allergies (monthly) that I realized we had not talked yet about the fact that he will be nine in March! The shrinkage factor is so true, it's almost the first thing you notice. There has come a time when all my bigger dogs have been unable to jump into the back of the SUV. My next go to plan is to let them jump into the back seat, via the floor of the back seat. The next phase of that is them putting their front paws up on the floor of the back seat and being lifted. Eventually, the lifting their whole body does become necessary. I think just as important is getting them out in a low impact way also. We tried ramps, not one of my dogs would ever use it. I did have sucess with Max using a large step stool that I made from a wooden shipping box and some carpet strips. Love this post!

Anonymous said...

We installed a dog door for our aging lady. She was wanting to go outside more and more often so now she has the option of going out whenever she likes. Also, we started her on joint supplements which seem to have made a big difference. I also regularly massage her muscles if I think they becoming sore and am thinking of investing in a heated mat. We do have to lift her into the car now, but she only weighs 50 lbs so it's no big deal.

Laura and Hans said...

Here's a link for a harness that helps in lifting dogs that have problems. People on boats have recommended this as a way to get their aging dogs or dogs with hip problems on and off their boats safely. It might be something to look into. http://helpemup.com

Maggie said...

All of a sudden (to me, anyway) Emmett is an old man! He was having a hard time keeping weight on, and it turned out he was having a minor thyroid issue. During his senior exam, she pinpointed the problem, and we have him on a daily med for that now. The twice/year checkups are so important as they age, that's for sure. I've also been reading a lot about keeping them mentally active, so I've added a puzzle or training session to our daily activities for him. As for the harness, Ruffwear makes an awesome one that doubles as a walking harness with a handle on the back. We've loved it so far, and it's really holding up!

Anonymous said...

It makes me so sad to see my pups growing old, the gray fur mixing in with the black and chocolate. But, my pups visit the vet twice a year for check ups and then anytime in between when something else comes up, ex. Boomer's mast cell tumor scare and Dottie's odd seizure activity.

One thing I've noticed that seems to help them stay young is the addition of fish oil and glucosamine for their joints, high quality food and treats and daily exercise either through walks or play time.

Dottie has a spine issues and arthritis and we thought we would look into ramps but she doesn't seem interested so we lift her on and off our bed, the car and other places we don't want her jumping from.

domesticgoddesse said...

Cooper will be 7 in May but I'll still be asking about this aging-pup thing at our next vet visit. He's still full of spunk but I do worry about him jumping off the bed and out of the car. He loves going on long walks so we'll definitely keep it up (come on, spring!).

Two Pitties in the City said...

From Facebook: Kelly Ross My little boy is turning 10 soon and he's doing great, knock on wood...good idea abt getting a senior blood panel done, I will definitely do that in the coming weeks. He gets 4-5 miles of walking a day and is always so happy to go:). I need him to live forever️
10 hours ago · Like

Jessica Roubitchek We used the Help 'Em Up harness for years with my old man. It may be too much harness for just getting in the car but check it out. It's a great product. Also managed kidney disease with him. Feel free to PM any time if you have Q's.
10 hours ago · Like

Tracy Richardson Firgens You guys seem to be doing everything right, those are some lucky doggies. You are right about shrinking. Dogs and cats will lose muscle mass as organs begin to fail. This can take quite along time, or can be very fast, but blood work will tell you what's really going on. One thing that our holistic vet did was put our dog on Standard Process Supplements to help support organs that were needing a little help. It did wonders!
10 hours ago · Like

Barb Drosey Jen Ford, maybe you could share your experience with the ramp and your elder bulldog.
9 hours ago · Like

Jean Richardson My girl, Cam was 14 on Sunday. I am lucky that she weighs only 20 pounds now.
9 hours ago · Like

Regina Hart Thanks for sharing your elderbully wisdom. My dear Otto is approaching twelve, so I can relate.
9 hours ago · Like

Diana Kampa Thanks for sharing! Good tips to keep in mind... even though Dazz is only 3, her elder years will be here before we know it.
8 hours ago · Like

Grace Delcano I also have an Otto about to turn 12! I had a ramp to help him climb into the car. Lay it flat and let them get used to walking on it. I've since bought a different vehicle with a very low entry height so he can just step in. He has arthritis, and I didn't want to put him on NSAIDs for the rest of his life. We've been managing it with massage and laser therapy. He's been doing really well! Elderbullies are the best!

Dolores said...

My dog Bandit just turned 15, and you'd never guess it. I attribute his great shape mostly to great mutt genes (border collie mixed with samoyed we think), but I'm positive that doggie daycare has been keeping him young. He's definitely slower and grayer than he used to be, and a bit more old-man-cranky & groany at times. He still jumps up into the car, but I do have to "spot" his booty up there to be safe since I've got an SUV and it's a pretty good height. When the time comes, we'll probably get a harness with "handles" to help him up more.

jet said...

My dogs are getting fatter! Perhaps they aren't truly old yet? I think we are going to start having mobility problems with Bender and we can't walk him as far as previously... or really let him do much off leash, he also has some lumps that have been fine needle biopsied but we are watching closely.

Two French Bulldogs said...

I'm getting grey hairs

OG said...

And brush their teeth! Petey had a lump on his gum but it turned out okay. I was beside myself though

A Wonderful Dogs Life said...

We have a black plastic ramp with non skid surface that fold in half for getting in and out of vehicles and we also use it as a ramp into the house when a doggie has had surgery and is not suppose to go up steps.

As us doggies age we've noticed we get colder easier and have more soft blankies laying about and electric heaters if needed.

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