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.
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.
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.

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