When is a dog considered a senior

When is a Dog Considered a Senior

When is a dog considered a senior

When is a dog considered a senior? Is it determined by the flip of a page on a calendar? One day your dog is an adult the next he’s old!

Is it when you start to see grey hairs around the muzzle?

Would it happen after a diagnosis of an illness typically associated with an old dog?

How about by the condition of the teeth?

When you see cataracts in your dog’s eyes?

We all age gradually

Aging is a process, so it is impossible to say at exactly what moment any living being is considered old.

When is a dog considered a senior

 

Senior does not mean almost dead

I hate to be so blunt about the wording, but I do feel when we hear the words “old” or “senior” dog there is an immediate picture of them lying around on a bed all day, suffering from numerous diseases, shuffling along barely able to walk.

Surely you know how many pups considered old because of a number act younger than many dogs half their age, and are in as good condition!!

The smaller they are, the older they are when called “senior”

Generally speaking the smaller the breed the longer they tend to live, so the older the age they are when called “senior.”

I found this chart on a website called vetwest.com.au

Tiny (<10kg) dogs are considered seniors once over the age of 8

Small (10-25kg) dogs are considered seniors once over the age of 7

Medium (25-40kg) dogs are considered seniors once over the age of 6

Large (>40kg) dogs are considered seniors once over the age of 5

 

I think this is as good a guide as any to help us figure out where our dogs fit in.

Signs of aging in dogs

Some of the signs you may see include –

  • Greying around the muzzle
  • Mobility issues
  • Peeing more
  • Drinking more
  • Sleeping more
  • Lower energy levels
  • Not as interested in playing
  • Changes in appetite
  • Confusion
  • Startled when you approach
  • Anxious
  • Bumping into things
  • Bad breath
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Lumps and bumps
  • Weight gain
  • Weight loss

If you do notice any changes in your dog’s behaviour, even if you feel they’re minor, don’t assume they are part of the natural aging process and ignore them. Often these changes are a sign of something deeper going on, so a trip to the vet sooner rather than later is advised. It’s better to hear your vet say everything is fine, then wait too long and hear there’s nothing to be done.

At what age is a dog considered old

How to take great care of your older dog

Yes there are illnesses and issues more common to older dogs than younger ones, but that doesn’t mean your dog won’t be healthy and active for years to come.

There are plenty of things you can do, starting right now, that will be hugely beneficial to your pup and they include –

  • Feeding him a good quality diet
  • Taking him for twice yearly check ups even if you don’t notice anything obviously wrong
  • Walking your dog within his abilities
  • Playing games with him and challenging him with puzzle toys for mental stimulation
  • Joint supplements and probiotics are just a couple of additives you may want to discuss with your vet
  • Joint my FB group Senior Dog Care Club for a ton of support, advice and great tips

Is age really just a number?

While it’s true aging does tend to bring with it a greater risk of illness and disease, putting that “old” label on our dogs doesn’t always do them any favours. Too many pet parents wrap them in cotton (not literally!) and believe they are happiest sleeping all day. The sad truth is it’s more than likely they are sleeping all day because no one is taking them out for their much needed walks.

Help your dog get the most out of every day by keeping him or her active (within their abilities), giving him extra love and attention, feeding him a good quality diet and enjoying your bond every day.

After all, you’re blessed to be sharing your life with a senior dog and caring for one is absolutely good for the soul.

 

 

How to keep your senior dog safe on Halloween

How to Keep Your Senior Dog Safe on Halloween

How to keep your senior dog safe on Halloween

October 31st is just around the corner and you know what that means! Ghosts and goblins, witches and werewolves. Okay, not sure about the werewolves but you get the picture.

Costumes to be bought or created, bowls to be filled with candy, lit candles and pumpkins all around, not to mention chaos and pandemonium. Before you get lost in all that, let’s talk senior dog safety for a moment.

While there are plenty of senior dogs as healthy and ready for action as they were in their more youthful days, there are also many who are experiencing health issues and anxiety. If your dog falls into the “issues” category, as mine always do, keep in mind it can take them longer to recover from a big change in routine or stressors. These tips will help ensure a fun time for everyone this Halloween!

How to keep your senior dog safe on Halloween

Candies, chocolates and don’t forget the wrappers

Chocolate can be deadly, many candies contain Xylitol (a sweetener toxic to animals) and together with wrappers they are all choking hazards. Have everyone in your house at least try and keep an eye on the floor, and if they see anything to pick it up right away.

Leave the candy outside

If you don’t think your dog can cope with the constant doorbell ringing and kids screaming “trick or treat” there is a solution. How about putting a sign by the gate asking people not to approach the door because your dog isn’t well, and leave a table outside with bowls of candy so everyone can help themselves.

Party time

The music, the noise, the people – all of that can be overwhelming for your golden oldie. Setting up a comfy corner in another room where no one will bother him is probably a good idea, and don’t forget to check on him periodically. Alternatively perhaps he can spend a few hours at the home of a trusted friend or family member.

If he will be walking amongst you, please warn everyone they are not to give your dog any food because of the risk of stomach upset or even, heaven forbid, pancreatitis if the food is fatty. If you can’t guarantee your “no feeding the dog” policy will hold, it is safer to “dis-invite” him to the party.

safety tips for pets on Halloween

Watch out for fire

Lit pumpkins or candles in the house are an accident waiting to happen. Any dog can easily knock them, get burned or cause a fire. If your dog has vision problems, is totally blind or even wandering due to dementia for example, the chances of something bad happening are even greater.  

Keep the pumpkins outside and use candles with fake flames or make sure they are out of reach.

Don’t get mad at the dog

If your dog acts up or is being uncharacteristically naughty, don’t take your frustration out on him because none of this is his fault. He’s worried or anxious and simply reacting to what’s going on.

Provide a safe hiding place

I mentioned this briefly in the section about parties above, but it does bear repeating. Bell ringing, door opening and closing, scary costumes, screaming kids. All this chaos can be stressful, so keep your dog safe and calm by confining him in a quiet part of the house until trick or treat time is over. Make sure he has a comfortable bed, water and a favourite toy.

Relaxation aids

Providing your pup with relaxation aids can make a big difference in how he handles the night. Here are a few for you to check out –

Halloween dog safety

Don’t force your dog to put up with unwanted attention

If you’ll be having company, don’t force your dog to be in the middle of all that and tolerate being petted and hugged. Of course he’s beyond handsome and you want everyone to see how absolutely fabulous your dog is, but too much attention can be overwhelming. If he doesn’t like or want it let him go and be.

Keep your dog occupied

How about preparing a stuffed Kong to keep him busy? Maybe a family member or someone else close to you will volunteer to keep your dog company…and distracted.

ID

If you haven’t gotten around to this (which I hope isn’t true!!), now is the time to microchip your dog and get him a collar and ID tag. If he has all that check the contact details are up to date. With the door opening and closing so many times, there is a real risk your dog can slip out without been seen. Should that happen, heaven forbid, you want to do what you can to increase the likelihood of him being found and returned quickly.

Walk your dog before dark

In order to make sure your dog doesn’t miss one of his outings, you might want to consider moving up his evening walk to just before dark. He’ll be able to enjoy it in a calm fashion, and won’t be spooked by spooks!

Halloween safety tips for dogs

Bring your dog inside

Even if your dog loves to spend evenings in the backyard, Halloween night should be an exception. Vicious pranksters have been known to tease, injure, steal, and even kill pets on that night. 

Aim high/keep out of reach

Halloween lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach. Cords can be chewed causing an electrical shock, burns or fire, and decorations knocked over or swallowed. Pumpkins, corn, glow sticks and the like should also be kept away, as blockages or choking can occur if large pieces are swallowed.

Know your numbers

I recommend always having important phone numbers like poison hotline, 24 hour emergency hospital and of course your vet, in an easy to reach place that everyone knows about. If your dog does eat something she shouldn’t have, or you even suspect she has, knowing who to call can be the difference between a happy outcome or a sad ending.  

Playing dress up

I don’t wear a costume but I do like to dress the dogs up. Red was such a good natured dog she was always tolerant but never really impressed by any of it!

If you want to get your dog in costume, here are some things to think about –

  • Don’t just dress him up and leave him/her unattended
  • It should be loose enough so it’s comfortable, but not so loose he can get tangled up in it
  • No beading, bells or dangly items that can be chewed off and cause a choking hazard
  • Make sure it doesn’t restrict breathing or the ability to bark
  • Take it off if he’s miserable

 

If you still want your dog to get into the holiday spirit and a costume isn’t the way to go, a Halloween themed collar or bandana will work just as well.

One more thing – how will your dog react to you being in costume?

 

So there you have it, my Halloween dog safety tips. What do you do to make sure it’s a fun and safe night for everyone? Sharing helps others so let us know in the comments section below.

 

Dog safety tips for Halloween

 

**I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.**

 

 

**There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you purchase anything I make a few pennies…literally. That money helps me help homeless animals through donations and fostering, as well as keeping this blog running. **

How to help relieve dog dementia symptoms

How to Help Relieve Dog Dementia Symptoms

How to help relieve dog dementia symptoms

The love of my life, Red, lived with dementia for 2 ½ years and I was always looking for ways to help relieve her dog dementia symptoms.

I’ve written a lot about my experiences and struggles with canine cognitive dysfunction. I say “my” because dementia doesn’t just affect your dog, it affects everyone living in the house and in your circle.   

A tough thing to reconcile

Red’s dementia diagnosis, made by me BTW, was such a shock, but the biggest shock came when my vet said there was only one treatment available. I like options and hearing there were none was a bit scary, okay frightening, especially because there was obviously no guarantee this “one” thing would work. The treatment I am referring to is Selgian, the prescription medication available here in the UK and Anipryl, available in Canada and the United States. I’m afraid I can’t speak for other countries.

The next biggest shock came when I started my Facebook group for senior dog parents, Senior Dog Care Club. There were so many stories from members who spoke about the apathy of their vets when it came to helping them care for their “golden oldies”, not to mention being told there was nothing to be done for dementia. The number of animals who must be suffering needlessly is too much to bear.  

I know from my own experiences many vets won’t recommend a medication if they don’t feel it works for enough animals, or the evidence is anecdotal. While I intellectually understand that attitude, I disagree with it because what if it would have worked for my pet and I didn’t know about it?

How to help relieve dog dementia symptoms

Don’t worry, there are options!

Thankfully there are many alternatives and natural treatments available, so you do have options

Disclaimer

Because of the climate we live in, and I don’t mean weather, I have to write this. First of all, I have no personal association with this company. I am also in no way suggesting you take matters into your own hands, throw caution to the wind and try every snake oil treatment you might have read about. What I am suggesting is to find yourself a vet who is compassionate and caring towards senior animals, do your research, join a group, read about others experiences and make a list of what makes sense to you. Then have a conversation with your wonderful vet and talk about what you’d like to try. A holistic vet is also a great option to consider.

Now to the good stuff!

Have you heard of Senilife? I’ve read many stories reporting great results, including from members of my group, so I felt it was important to delve into this product a bit more deeply.

Can Senilife help relieve dog dementia symptoms

What is Senilife?

Here is a short description taken from the company website. “Senilife is a supplement containing a unique blend of antioxidants — phosphatidylserine, pyridoxine, ginko biloba extract, resveratrol and d-alpha-tocopherol — which work together to help reduce brain-aging behaviors in as little as 7 days.”

Let’s take a look at what each of the 5 components are and how they combine to help with aging brain issues. Explanations for each component are in quotes and also taken from the website.

Phosphatidylserine – “Improves nerve-cell communication and helps this process continue working effectively.”

Pyridoxine – A naturally occurring form of Vitamin B6 it is “essential for normal brain development, function and heath.”

Gingko Biloba Extract – “Improves cerebral blood flow, increase glucose metabolism, and has a strong antioxidant effect.”

Resveratrol – “Antioxidant which protects neurons from toxic substances which can cause cell death.”

D-alpha-tocopherol – “Natural form of Vitamin E with strong antioxidant action and proven effectiveness on cognitive decline.”

 

I came across this article, “Improvement of short-term memory performance in aged beagles by a nutraceutical supplement containing phosphatidylserine, Ginkgo biloba, vitamin E, and pyridoxine.”  Okay I know the title is heavy, but you might find it of interest. 

Will Senilife help?

I know the heartbreak of watching a much loved pup live with dementia, and wanting a guarantee that XYZ will work. I wish I can say this will, but the truth is I have no idea.

What I do know is, just because it didn’t work for one dog doesn’t mean you will have the same outcome. What I also know is how happy I am products like Senilife exist.

There are so many positive results, in my opinion it’s worth a try, but please speak to your vet about it to make sure the ingredients won’t conflict with other medications your dog may be taking.

Will Senilife help relieve dog dementia symptoms

Can Senilife be used as a preventative?

The makers of Senilife believe you should start giving it to your dog as soon as he or she reaches “senior” status, but what age is that? Opinions vary, especially with all the mixed breeds out there, so this is the guide provided by the company.

  • Dogs up to 21 lbs –  8 years
  • Dogs 22-49 lbs – 7 years
  • Dogs over 50 lbs – 6 years

Will it guarantee your dog won’t get dementia? I don’t think anyone is in a position to make that claim, but it may postpone it, slow down its progression and lessen the symptoms.

Is it easy to administer?

It comes in a capsule which can be given whole in food or a treat, or emptied into/onto the same. Many dogs are too smart for their own good and refuse to eat anything that has “foreign” matter in it. No matter how you try and disguise it he’s not falling for it! I know because I live with one now!

If your dog knows when you’re trying to slip him something, this post has lots of helpful ideas to outsmart him. 

What senior dog parents are saying about Senilife

There were so many positive reviews and this product came recommended by our veterinarian so I gave it a try. By Day 8 I started to notice small improvements and by Day 21 I had my old (not senile!) dog back! Our biggest issue with canine cognitive disorder was the sundowners. Every night brought anxiety, pacing and panting. Now our old lab can peacefully sleep through the night again.

After researching the things I was observing, I quickly realized that maybe she did have doggy dementia. I started her on this supplement, not having high expectations. I can say she is a new dog. She is back to sleeping through the night, very energetic and playful during the day, knows which way the door opens and much more. Her cognitive function has improved drastically, she’s well-rested and always ready to play with her toys. We are still on our first bottle of Senilife, but this is definitely worth a shot if your dog is experiencing a cognitive decline.

I have a 16 year old cairn terrier who has been declining for the past year, and I decided to give this a try. Prior to starting on the Senilife, he had lost all signs of friskiness and enthusiasm for food and his movements were very slow. He frequently exhibited signs of dementia (confusion, not knowing where he was, etc.) After a couple of weeks on the Senilife, he started bouncing around periodically and seemed to regain some of his previously vibrant personality. Don’t get me wrong–he is still 16 and sedentary 90% of the time, but he just seems happier and more comfortable in his skin. He even runs in the backyard occasionally, which I hadn’t seen him do in at least a year. So I believe this has returned a noticeable degree of quality of life, and i couldn’t be happier. He recently had a complete blood workup (after 6 weeks on Senilife) and his bloodwork was great, so i don’t think it’s having any invisible negative effects. If your dog is going through similar life changes, it’s worth a try.

BUY IT !!!! This has literally saved my older dog with dementia!!! I cannot promise results but it has helped our older dog so much it is almost a miracle! Our rescue collie was dx’ed with dementia and our Vet AND a more holistic friend both recommended this so I thought it most likely works. After almost 2.5-3 weeks our baby has quit walking into walls, staring at nothing, and the panting and pacing (all night long!) has almost completely stopped! I was this close to sending him to the Rainbow bridge and am beyond thankful this is working for now. Quality of life is always first and foremost and I strongly recommend trying this but giving it time to work before other things, but always check with your vet first! It has not stopped the incontinence but that is another issue. Love this stuff!!! Make sure to order the proper weight size!

Great tip to help relieve dog dementia symptoms

Where are the negative comments?

Of course there are negative comments, it’s to be expected, and they were from people who didn’t see any results, and that too is to be expected.

Senilife, yay or nay?

As long as my vet felt the ingredients were safe for my dog, I would absolutely give it a try. Imagine if this was “the” product that made a difference in your dog’s life! So what’s it going to be – yay or nay?

 

 

Sharing helps others so please leave a comment below, or on my Facebook page.

**I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.**

 

**There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you purchase anything I make a few pennies…literally. That money helps me help homeless animals through donations and fostering, as well as keeping this blog running. **

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to find the best pet friendly hotel for your senior dog

How to Find the Best Pet Friendly Hotel For Your Senior Dog

 

How to find the best pet friendly hotel for your senior dog

You’re planning a holiday and bringing your senior dog along for the fun. You want to find the best pet friendly hotel, but aren’t quite sure where to start.  You first have to determine what “best” means to you, since we all have different criteria by which we judge. I would say it’s what meets the needs of you and your family…furry family member included!

How do you know if a hotel is pet friendly?

If you use a booking site like booking.com for instance (I have no affiliation it’s just one I use), once you type in the destination, dates and number of people, you will find a menu on the left where you can filter by various criteria. Tick the box for “pet friendly” and start there. Once you’ve narrowed down the list to hotels you’re interested in, check out the questions I’ve recommended below. The answers will be available in the description or on the hotel’s own website. I still recommend you check with the hotel in case the information presented is a bit outdated.  

How “friendly” is friendly?

Just because a hotel advertises themselves as “pet friendly” doesn’t mean they’re loving the fact they have animals walking around…the 4 legged kind I mean! Of course they want to make money and they’re appealing to the pet lovers who don’t want to leave their furry companions behind, but how much will they welcome you? How much does that matter to you?

How to find the best pet friendly hotel for your senior dog

Some questions to ask

    • Is there an extra charge and if so how much? Is that per dog? Per day?
    • Is a deposit required in addition to the charge? If yes is it refundable?
    • Is there a maximum weight or size allowed?
    • Is more than one dog permitted?
    • Are they allowed on the furniture?
    • Is there a cleaning charge if dog hair is found?
    • Are there areas of the hotel that are off limits?
    • Does the room contain a fridge to store pet food?
    • Can dogs be left in the room? Do they have to be crated?
    • Is there a quiet, grassy area nearby to walk the dog?
    • Would they have a list of nearby vets, emergency hospitals, dog walkers or doggy day care facilities?

Hotel requirements

While rules will vary from place to place (i.e. size of pet, how many per room, extra charges…), here are some pretty standard requirements. Having said that, don’t assume they apply to the hotels you’re considering so be sure and ask before you commit.

  • Not aggressive
  • Proof of current vaccinations
  • Clean
  • No fleas
  • Owners must clean up after their pets
  • Be on a leash when on hotel property
  • Stick to designated areas
  • Aren’t usually allowed in common areas or pool area
  • Cannot be left unattended in the room

What some hotels will do to make your pet happy

Some hotels treat your dog like a highly valued guest, which makes everyone feel special. Here are some of the offerings –

  • Toys
  • Food
  • Treats
  • Beds
  • Bowls
  • Blankets
  • Poop bags
  • Brush
  • Welcome gift baskets
  • Off leash play areas
  • Dedicated pet concierge
  • Dog tag with contact details of the hotel
  • Pet sitting and dog walking services
  • Special doggy menu
  • Personalised spring water
  • Allow them in the dining room with you
  • “Do Not Disturb Pet Sleeping” sign
  • Dedicated dog lounge
  • Dog beer
  • Breakfast sausage
  • Walking maps of dog friendly routes
  • Some hotels even send out a pet preference form prior to arrival asking about size, breed, special requests…

It’s up to you to decide how much pampering your dog needs, and how much you’re willing to pay for it. 

How to find the best pet friendly hotel

Things to think about and plan

What floor would you like your room? Being on ground level makes it easier to take the dog out, especially if he’s having incontinence issues for example, or is restless due to dementia and doesn’t sleep well. However the first floor can be noisy, so ask to be as far from the lobby, reception and lounge as possible. Find out if there is a usable exit near your room so you don’t have to walk through the lobby late at night in your pjs!! 

Even if you’re staying in a hotel that provides for all your dog’s needs, you’re more than likely still going to need some supplies they won’t have, so check the list below to make sure you’ve got everything covered. For example, a run around a muddy park or a swim in the lake means a filthy dog walking through a hotel lobby. At least if you have cleaning wipes or a towel you can wipe him down and dry him off before he adds paw prints to the design of the lobby floor.

Research vets, emergency hospitals and perhaps a doggy day care at your destination. Even if the hotel does offer that service you never know – the list may be lost, it’s not kept current… Be prepared and find it out for yourself. 

Things to bring

I don’t know about you, but I love lists!! Even if it’s for something I do all the time, I feel comforted knowing the list contains everything I need so I don’t have to remember everything. That becomes even more important when travelling with a senior dog, especially if medication, pee pads, diapers and the like are part of the package! I also never assume I can get INSERT NAME HERE at my destination…I pack assuming I can’t!

If you’ll be staying in a hotel that pampers your dog even more than they pamper you, there may not be much you need to bring other then his pet passport and medical records. Use the checklist below to be sure!  

The way I create my list is really quite simple. I write down every medication my dog takes, and then go through her daily schedule and add each item to the list, keeping it handy whenever something else pops into mind.

  • Leash, harness, collar and ID tag with destination phone number
  • Food and water bowls, consider collapsible to save space
  • Spoons for the food
  • Enough food to last longer than your trip, unless you are sure the brand is available where you’re going. If it’s a prescription diet I wouldn’t take the chance of finding a vet willing to prescribe it to you
  • Treats, especially if he can’t just eat any type
  • Medication, again enough to last longer than your trip
  • Supplements
  • Favourite toys/treat dispensing toys
  • Bed/blanket
  • Pee pads/diapers
  • Cleaning wipes/towels
  • Pet passport if you have one
  • Medical records
  • Lists of local vets and 24 hour emergency hospitals including phone numbers, address and even directions

How to choose the best pet friendly hotel for your senior dog

My experience

I have only stayed in a hotel with my dogs once because all the travel we do is between home/family. It was when we drove to Spain from the UK, and knew we would be staying overnight on the way. The best thing I did was pack the dogs’ supplies separately from our own stuff. The food, water, snacks, medication, drinks, plates, bowls and plastic spoons in one bag, blankets, paperwork and pee pads for the hotel room floor in another bag. It made it much easier and efficient to care for the dogs once we stopped for the night. Because our driver wanted the freedom to drive as many hours as he could before having to stop, we weren’t able to research hotels in advance, something I’m typically extremely fussy about! 

The hotel he found allowed dogs in the room, but presumably due to its location it catered mostly to road traffic so there was nothing fancy about it. There was barely an area to walk the dogs, certainly no grass just dirt and bark chips but it was just for a few hours before we hit the road again so we weren’t fussy. It was not a place I would recommend or choose if we were going on vacation.

Please be responsible

I know you will be but I’m notorious for stating the obvious. By respecting the rules and being responsible we can encourage hotels and other establishments to re-think their “no pets” policy, and start welcoming our four legged family members.  

How to find the best pet friendly hotel for your senior dog – conclusion

Have you stayed in a hotel with your senior dog before? What kind of amenities and services did you find important, or would like to have had? What tips do you have for making a hotel stay with a senior dog as comfortable as possible? Sharing helps others so please leave your comments below.

 

**I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.**

 

 

**There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you purchase anything I make a few pennies…literally. That money helps me help homeless animals through donations and fostering, as well as keeping this blog running. **

 

 

 

The best way to give your dog medication

The Best Way to Give Your Dog Medication

The best way to give your dog medication

Some dogs are absolute stars when it comes to taking their medication. They’re easy going, don’t mind that you’re trying to disguise a pill in a lump of cheese or put drops of some foreign substance on their food. Maybe your dog is so chill he’ll eat a tablet right out of the palm of your hand!!

This article is for all of you who DON’T have that kind of dog!!

My sweet girl Red was one of those easy going dogs who couldn’t care less what you hid in her food, as long as she got to eat. I used to call her a vacuum cleaner because she would wolf down anything you put in front of her so quickly, she would literally inhale it.

I was lucky because she was on a few different medications as well as eye drops 3 or 4 times a day, so being easy going made it all a breeze. That is until her health issues started catching up to her and meal time became a nightmare. For those of you with dogs who won’t eat, please read this very helpful article “What to do if Your Old Dog Won’t Eat”  and “How to get an Old Dog to Eat” 

I’m sure many of you can relate to the stress and anxiety that comes with not being able to give a dog medication. I admit there were some days when it was impossible to give Red all the meds she needed, and I had to learn to not beat myself up, to forgive myself and accept I was doing my absolute best.

Okay let’s get started with the advice you’ve come here looking for.

The best way to give your dog medication

Is your dog’s medication available in a different form?

If pill giving has become a nightmare and your dog is not getting his medication more often than he is, have a chat with your vet to see if it’s available in a liquid. It can be squirted onto his food, a treat or even directly into his mouth. More on how to do that later. What about an injectable? Your vet can administer it and perhaps even you can! More on how to do that later on as well.

Helpful tips

I’ve included my own tricks and tips as well as those from members of my Facebook group, Senior Dog Care Club . Hopefully you will find something here you haven’t tried before that will work.

A couple of points to keep in mind

  • The “one” thing you finally find that works may not work forever, so having a list of “possibles” is a lifesaver.
  • I know how frustrating it is, believe me I do I’ve been there, but try not to show it to your dog by yelling or getting annoyed, as challenging as that can be at times. You’re doing great!

HOW TO GET YOUR DOG TO TAKE PILLS

A fellow pet blogger shared this tip from her cousin’s vet, and I think it’s brilliant! Place a can of your dog’s food in the fridge to harden and chill, of a consistency you can scoop and roll into balls. Scoop out 4 tablespoons of the food, roll into little meatballs and put the pill into one of them. Start by giving your dog a meatball without the pill, then quickly give him a second one without the pill. Make it seem like fun and praise him like crazy. As soon as he swallows the second give him the third one with the pill in it, then the fourth. You can also make “real” meatballs, just be sure your dog doesn’t have any restrictions on the ground beef.

I had a very clever and suspicious dog who seemed to know when there was a pill hidden in something, even when he didn’t see it happen. No matter what I tried he would refuse everything, until I discovered Pill Pockets and they worked like a charm every single time.

We took a cue from our vet who administered the first pill he needed the other day. She buttered up the pill so it was slippery, then opened his mouth very wide and stuck it far back in his throat and closed his mouth. The combination of being so far back and slippery, he couldn’t do anything but swallow it. We have since used the technique successfully.

Turkey meatballs work every time.

Peanut butter/almond butter.

Monkey is on a handful of meds … I hide them in a little ‘meatball’ of canned cat food and let him nibble at it. Yesterday he didn’t fall for that trick, so I tossed all his AM meds into the blender, mixed them into his breakfast, and he ate it that way. Trying to pill him the conventional way just upsets him, and stressing him out like that just isn’t worth it. 💕

What is the best way to give your dog medication

Not feeding them for a while before giving them the meds so they get a bit hungry, and gobble the pill down with some food they really like.

Mold liverwurst around it- my dog loves this!

Hold mouth open….shove pill to the back of the throat 🙂

Tomlyn Pill Masker

I freeze my girl’s pills in a little bit of ice cream and then pop them out as needed, give them to her and they go right down.

Wrap in deli sliced cheese.

Make a little ball of liverwurst with pill in center.

If my dog won’t take it with peanut butter I just push it to the back of the throat. It triggers the involuntary swallow reflex and goes down automatically.

I do peanut butter now but used to put the pills in an ice cube tray and cover with melted coconut oil, then put it in fridge till firm. I had to store those coconut cubes in the fridge during the summer (I stopped using the oil after a pancreatitis scare, I had to decrease the fat in her diet)

In a frankfurter 🌭 not a whole one haha just a small piece. Nellie takes her medication no problem, only thing is the others sit and wait for their piece and they don’t have any medication

We use low sodium deli ham. Thank goodness she loves it since she is on several pills a day.

Cold cuts.

liverwurst; “meat play dough” (boil chicken, then puree it with flour and water until it forms a play dough consistency – fewer ingredients than store bought, more widely accepted palatability in my experience, can pinch off as much/little as you need, low fat, etc.); or pilling.

I have been known to resort to whipped cream to hide pills, though obviously not on a regular basis!

I used banana this morning.

How to give a dog liquid medicine

Fold up in pieces of American cheese…. works every time.

Nothing seemed to work for us. He would just eat the treat and spit out the pill. Then we started cutting up little pieces of bread, slathering them with mayo and wrapping the pill in there. I have no idea why that works. Sometimes watermelon works, too.

Depending on the pill we crush into yogurt.

When my dog wouldn’t eat I went to Petsmart and picked any food and treat. Well, it is the Bill Jac little soft treats that saved my life. I cut them in half and she eats all her meds with them.

Bill Jac pumpkin treats for pills or small bits of whatever meat we had for supper.

Wrapped in cheese or hidden in Vienna sausage seems to do the trick. In the past I used marshmallows, but she caught on to that one after a while.

Peanut butter. They come running for pills.

Dairylea cheese triangles. Just hoping no one ever tells him that they’re not meant to have a crunchy middle!

Cream cheese or liverwurst.

As long as it is in any kind of food. No matter.

Tuck it into a piece of Vienna sausage.

Great tips for giving your dog medication

Open up the mouth and shove it in there! Fastest, best way! Then a treat! ❤️🐾

Max takes his cough medicine straight from a bowl and his tablets in any food I give him (he’s a lab he eats anything)

A piece of banana makes a good pill pocket.

Peanut butter or hot dog.

Kong squirty bacon and cheese flavour. Wrapped in a piece of ham or in the middle of a ball of raw mince …

I just open her mouth and push them in towards the back of her throat and massage her throat to help her swallow and then give her a treat.

A spoonful of cat food with pill tucked inside. Works every time for our 2 old timers.  🙂

With a little piece of cooked chicken or tiny piece of cheese. My dog is really smart so hard to trick him.

Bread crust rolled around a pill.

I crush pills with a spoon, then use a hand blender to make a really nice chicken shake, put it all in the shake, blend it some more, and they will eat it xx

Dave’s canned chicken & rice works for us.

Right now the magic for Winnie is frozen yogurt.

I’ve even used canned beef-a Roni!!!! Sour cream and ice cream always worked too! Grab something out of the pantry to make it look like a treat! They are so damn smart! When you’re excited they’re excited too!!! ❤️🐾

I put their pills in pork liver sausage.

You can buy a “piller” at your vet’s office, pet supply stores and Amazon. It looks like a long, plastic tube with a plunger on one end and a rubber cylinder on the other, and is designed to hold different sizes of pills. Once you place the medicine in the holding end of the piller and draw back the plunger, open your dog’s mouth just wide enough to get the pill all the way over her tongue to the back of her throat. When the pill is in the right spot, push down on the plunger, quickly pull out the piller — making sure you’ve left the medication behind — and gently hold her muzzle shut. Point her nose to the ceiling and rub her throat to encourage her to swallow the pill.  

HOW TO GIVE YOUR DOG LIQUID MEDICINE

If you have trouble giving your dog pills, the same medication may be available in a liquid form, just ask your vet.

The easiest way to give your dog liquid medicine is by using the dropper to put it onto a favourite treat, or his food. If you’re going the route of the latter option, squeeze it onto a drop of food to begin with. Putting it all over his entire meal  then finding out he won’t eat it is not only a waste, it won’t do him any good as he won’t be getting the full dosage he requires.

If your dog catches on to the “foreign matter” on his food or treats, you’ll want to squeeze the liquid directly into your dog’s mouth. The video below will show you how easy it is to do.

Here are a couple of tips that will help in case he’s not being as cooperative as he should be.

Your dog may prefer cold medication to warm or room temperature, so a few minutes in the fridge should do the trick, just check with your vet to make sure it’s okay to refrigerate.

Add the liquid to stock made from boiling bones or even soup. Be sure the liquid is cooled off enough for him to drink and doesn’t contain unsafe ingredients. Sorry for stating the obvious!!

If your dog is not cooperating, you’ll need to create some positive associations so he learns that great things happen when he sees the syringe. Start by showing him the syringe whether you hold it out for him or place it on the floor for him to explore. Give him a treat when he’s sniffing around it and seems calm.

Once he’s comfortable seeing the syringe, or more accurately ignores it when you take it out, why not put some peanut butter or squirty cheese on the tip of it and let him lick it off. Practice in short sessions several times a day until he’s fine with it, then you can try his medication.

HOW TO GIVE YOUR DOG A SHOT

While there are many ways to give your dog a pill, a shot is a shot although there are ways to make it less stressful, and maybe even okay. Have your vet, nurse or vet tech show you how it’s done, and ask for their best tips and tricks to make it as quick and painless as possible…for everyone!

Be sure to practice, practice, practice on things other than your dog, in order to build up your confidence and perfect your technique. A stuffed toy or piece of fruit are great substitutes.

Tips

Here are various things people do in order to give their dog an injection. Not every one will work for your dog, so as with most things it can be a case of trial and error.

Give your dog his shot after a walk or play time when he’s tired and less likely to react.

Feed your dog a super delicious treat before, during and after.

Do it right before he’s about to have his meal.

Hide the needle so the dog can’t see it, then “stick him” quickly.

Desensitise him to the sight of the needle so he doesn’t fear it by letting him see it, sniff it then giving him a favourite treat or toy, creating only positive associations.

Lie down on the couch or floor with your dog, pet him with one hand and inject him with the other.

Bring the needle on your walk and give your dog a shot while he’s out and distracted.

Don’t make a big deal out of it, just do it and move on.

Insulin is kept in the fridge and it seems when cold it can sting, so warming up the loaded syringe, under your arm for example, might help.

Rather than always giving the shot in the same spot on your dog’s body, change the location where it is administered. Have your vet show you other suitable areas.  

Insulin needles are quite small so your dog should hardly feel a thing. If it seems to hurt, or the needles don’t look small, check with your vet to make sure you were given the correct size, or if you could possibly go smaller.

Use a VetPen for greater ease and accuracy.

An auto injector can make giving shots easier. 

EYE MEDICATION

I know it can seem a bit scary giving your dog eye medication, especially if he’s not too fond of you coming at his eyes with a bottle in your hand! It’s perfectly normal to be concerned, okay even freaked out, but you will get the hang of it.

Naturally I suggest you have your vet demonstrate how it’s done. Ask as many questions as you need to understand the best technique when it comes to holding him and administering the drops or ointment. Practice while you’re there so you feel comfortable doing it. Over time you may find a different technique that works better for you and your dog.

My dog Jack needs eye ointment twice a day for life. He was mistreated in his previous home so you can imagine how coming at him with something in my hand would freak him out a bit. It took some practice to find the routine that works best for us, and here’s what it is.

Because Jack has a schedule he knows what happens when, and I also tell him what’s happening before I do anything. In this case I say “Jack let’s do your eyes.” I’ve said it so many times he knows that means going to my husband who picks him up, puts him on his lap facing me. He puts a muzzle on from behind his head, and I put the eye ointment in very quickly. After I’m done Jack gets 2 or 3 small treats and he’s happy. It helps that he is extremely food motivated, so he’s willing to sit still for the few seconds it takes.

The key for us is speed. Everything has to be ready in advance, and no fuffing about. I don’t get it perfect every time, on occasion it ends up on the fur above his eye rather than directly in it, but if it happens it happens. I don’t try again because I don’t want to freak him out.

EAR MEDICATION

If your dog needs a “one off” application of ear meds, it’s easy enough for your vet to do it in the office. However that is very rarely the case so this is something you’re going to have to learn to do at home. Have your vet show you, then practice at the office to make sure you’re getting the hang of it. You’ll want to be clear on how far into the ear you have to go, or not go.

If he’s a bit snappy you may need to use a muzzle, or perhaps his favourite food will be enough to keep him still. Having someone else present to distract him may also work.

SUBCUTANEOUS/SUB-CUT FLUIDS

Many years ago I had a cat with kidney issues who needed fluids on a regular basis. Since it wasn’t convenient or cost effective to keep bringing her to the vet, I had no choice but to learn how to do it myself. I am extremely squeamish so it was not easy for me to take that step.  

My cat was pretty much okay with it, so I was able to manage on my own, although that would not have been the case if it had been any of the other felines in the family!!

I found the best place to give Mini fluids was the kitchen. There was plenty of room for a blanket or cat bed on the counter, and the IV bag would hang off a cabinet doorknob. It was simply a matter of pinching some skin on the back of her neck and inserting the needle. The first few times were a bit gross to tell you the truth, but I got used to it.

I had the vet show me how to set it up and insert the needle, but I found I needed some extra help and a little moral support once I got home and had to tackle it on my own. My cousin had quite a bit of experience giving fluids so he kindly came over and helped.

Make sure your vet, nurse or vet tech guides you before you leave there, and if you have any questions or are feeling unsure, call and ask for help.

Follow the technique they show you, but over time and with experience you may find a way that works better for you and your dog.

What did you think?

So there you have it, my guide to the best ways to administer all sorts of medications to your dog.

What tips do you have to give your dog his meds? Sharing helps others so write them in the comments section below.

 

 

**I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.**

**There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you purchase anything I make a few pennies…literally. That money helps me help homeless animals through donations and fostering, as well as keeping this blog running. **

 

 

 

 

The greatest challenges of caring for a senior dog

The Greatest Challenges of Caring for a Senior Dog

The greatest challenges of caring for a senior dog

I loved my senior dog Red more than anything, and when she died I fell apart. I would be lying if I said it was always easy caring for her, and I’m honest when I say at times I wished it was over.

I know these are sentiments shared by many senior dog parents, particularly those of us who were and are dealing with serious health issues.

We love them, they’re part of our hearts and souls, and we’re blessed to have them another day. Many of us give up a lot to keep them comfortable and safe. You’ll hear a lot of people say they don’t go on vacations, would rather stay home with their dog than socialise with friends, and spend money on their senior dog’s care rather than on themselves or that they don’t really have.

I feel it’s important to write a post about the challenges of caring for a senior dog for one main reason, and that is so no one feels alone, like they’re the only one that has these challenges and finds it a struggle. That is also one of the reasons why I created my Facebook group Senior Dog Care Club.

Let me clarify – I am not suggesting every senior dog is difficult to care for, no way. This is specifically about those who are ill.

The Greatest Challenges of Caring For a Senior Dog

My biggest challenges caring for Red

In the last few months of her life, when chronic pancreatitis and kidney issues were making it tough for her to eat, and tougher for me to know what to feed her I found those times extremely challenging.

If I want to go further back the really tough times started 2 ½ years before she died when I realised she had dementia. The lead up to that – constant pacing, peeing on the floor, never settling even after hours of wandering. Trips to the vet and tests showed no explanation, and my vet never mentioned the “D” word until one day it popped into my head and I knew.

Times were so tough I would have to leave the house and let her wander. She was safe but I was losing patience and that was not fair to her, because none of this was her fault. It was the feelings of frustration, having no idea how to help her because I had no idea what was wrong with her. I would go for a long walk to the beach, or leave my husband in charge and go shopping for a couple of hours. Those breaks made me a better caregiver.

I would call this next point a stressor rather than a challenge but…my vet is amazing and I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. Red was a very complicated case, one of the most he had ever dealt with, but he is so excellent he did a great job helping me. The stressor? He didn’t work every day, he would take vacation or go back to his home country and lecture at the university. I was petrified every time she didn’t feel well in case he wasn’t there to help. Yes there are a couple of other vets at his practice, but none of them could help me with Red if it was anything more complicated than an IV, or perhaps prescribing diarrhea medication. I didn’t trust them with more than that.

There are a couple of other practices in my small town but I wouldn’t take her there even if her life depended on it. So yes, that was a huge stressor for me, worried that we would need him and he would not be around. Thankfully he was there to help me when it was time for her to get her wings, and I was so grateful for that.

what are some of the greatest challenges of caring for a senior dog

 

What are some of the challenges facing others who care for old dogs?

The incredible members of my Facebook group very graciously shared their challenges for this article as a way to help others, so thank you everyone!!

Here they are

Caring for two at once that have major, serious illnesses (seizures, heart disease, kidney disease, stroke), keeping all the medications, foods, vet appointments straight, cleaning up after them and hoping I’m giving them good qualities of life. But knowing the time I have with them is not long is probably the worst. If I could have them forever, I would gladly take all the work involved; and that’s something I have to keep reminding myself.

Right now, in these early stages, it’s everyone getting a good nights sleep. One of us sleeps in the living room with Buck every night. His worse time is between 12 and 5. This is in spite of the meds he takes. During the day, he’s pretty much his normal self but in a slower mode. His tail still wags and his eyes still sparkle.

I think my biggest challenge is remembering that this is uncharted territory for him too. We’re both having to learn and adapt as we go. Also, trying to make sure I see the forest for the trees.

Incontinence and keeping her skin healthy around her back end. Getting to know the correct level of exercise needed to help arthritis but not exhausting the heart.

Besides facing the reality ‘that day’ is getting closer…. CCD is a sad emotional roller coaster.

For me like many others it’s the anxiety I feel every day, never knowing if I’m doing enough, wondering when she will go or need to go. I can’t even face the fact that one day she will not be with me. Wilma is very unsettled around 4pm and can pace and whine for 2 – 3 hours, I never know why but it’s the same most days. She’s great in the mornings and sleeps soundly through the night.

There are so many things but mostly am I doing right by them and doing everything I can. I research and research in case there is something new to try. One has dementia and the other has cancer. Some days are exhausting for sure but I just love them both so much.

the biggest challenges of caring for a senior dog

Getting them to finish their dinner

Getting them to keep their dinner in💟

Having accidents on herself & her not even knowing she did. Struggling to walk due to arthritis. Not wanting to take her medication. And knowing our time grows shorter every day with new struggles. Seems to be good one day and then completely different the next day.

Seems like ever since my boy got older he thinks rules don’t apply to him anymore. Like when we sit on the couch with any kind of food he will get up next to our face & stare. He never did that til about 6 months ago. We tell him to get down & he just goes to the other side of the couch. Lol stinker

Guinness does that with his CCD, it’s like his brain short circuits because the focus is on “what’s that!?” and disregards boundaries/tasks. He does it on our walks outside too, so if a leaf blows you can bet he’s not going to do his business. Ha!

Deciding on when is the right time for them to go to the rainbow bridge…. hoping it happens while he’s sleeping … no pain , just an old man ❤️

Not worrying too much about how much longer I will have them💕

I sometimes get impatient with my girl Hanna, she has incontinence and have to let her out often! Also worried that she’s in pain, but I don’t think she is yet!

Being patient .. it’s like it was when I was my mother’s care giver .. you do not get angry at them you get angry about the situation.. and you have to learn to accept that some days are harder then others.

Figuring out what mixture of treats and food will convince her to eat her breakfast. (2) Feeling new and growing bumps every time I give her rubs even though every one tested has been nothing more than a simple lipoma (3) knowing that she’s 10 and she won’t be here forever (4) every new white fleck on her face equates to another day older.

the greatest challenges facing senior dog caregivers

Sleep! I have had several senior dogs before, but none of them had CCD. Thanks to this group and the CCD one, we are doing much better overall, but the thing that is still the hardest for me to manage, is the lack of sleep. With all the herbal support we are getting, on our good nights, about 5 hours, if we are lucky sometimes 6 hours. On our bad nights we get from 30 minutes to a couple hours of sleep. This started back in October last year. With all the things I have learned here, things have improved. But since you asked, the hardest thing for me to manage is the lack of sleep.

Lack of sleep and worrying about making the final decision

Heavy panting middle of the night, waking up to take her out 2am, missing the days where she could run across fields, trying to get her to walk just a little bit longer, watching the deterioration, always rushing home from work and worrying about her, crying when I think of life without her one day… but there is the joy of how loving and sweet and devoted she is, and how blessed we are to have her so long.

Every time those tears come when you think of not having her, make it a point to make one memory with her and take a photo of it. Get her pawprint in plaster, sit with her on the grass, even just looking into her face and telling her how much you love her.

The niggling thought in the back of my mind as we enjoy the sun, love and joy of a perfect day of how many such days we may have left. The wonderful days win – I would do it a million times over always together no matter what now and forever after.

Just knowing that I am doing all I can to give him a good quality of life.

Patience

your greatest challenges caring for a senior dog

Biggest challenge is when they start failing physically but still have a lot of life left. I wish I had known of the things that make things easier! Belly bands to help with incontinence and lift straps and harness with handles. A nice doggy stroller is a must!! Just like with people, you don’t stop living because of some physical problems. There are so many things out there now and many people don’t know about them..

Knowing where it ends. I let no moment pass. No treat withheld. I lost the sister of my sibling pair 2 months ago. I regret nothing. Not the vet bills. Not the missed work. But the end….that was hard. I’m a nurse, who once was a paramedic. I’m no stranger to death. I knew what was coming and I had to be strong anyway. That’s the hardest. The end.

Never knowing if I’m providing the help they really need, instead of what I think they need.

Dealing with the slowing down and changes associated with her aging. And trying to figure out the best solutions for these problems as they arise. She has arthritis and trying to determine when we have walked enough, when she might be in pain, and how to best care for her.

Definitely eating, general nourishment and taking medication he may be on. Just when I think I found a consistent food he likes, he stops eating it!

I don’t even know where to begin. My baby boy has bone cancer which the vet said is aggressive and gave him a few months to a year. He’s big and I live on the second floor and what will I do when he can’t do the stairs but he is otherwise ok?? I have cried so much and each day is a challenge. I say this is my new norm. This is my life. It’s mentally and physically exhausting at times and I feel guilty saying that. Finding this group has been the best thing for me. I will need support of others who can identify with me. 🐾💙

Getting my senior not to climb out of the ”chair “she has to eat in because of her Mega Esophagus.

Especially with my CCD guy who is unknowingly annoying at times – and sadness as I watch him decline – and hoping we have more time😢😢❤️🐾 feeling Helpless too. I can’t “fix” him😢😢

Seeing my mostly healthy dog struggle with some physical stuff without an answer to really help. Also preparing my kids that our dog won’t be here forever – she was here before them 😢

Long hair between paw pads on timber or smooth floor, failing eyesight at night on stair an inability to run and play like used to with her younger sister🙏❤

Reading all these posts makes me so grateful to be part of this group. I know it will make the next few years with Hope better for both of us. Thank you again for adding me.

biggest challenges facing caregivers of senior dogs

My 15 year old toy poodle Rocky becoming blind almost a year ago. Seeing him bumping into things and going around in circles a lot, stepping on his own poop when I’m not home and coming out positive for heartworms and not afford to get treatment. He has dental problems that needs teeth to be extracted. Everyone says I’m selfish that he’s “suffering” to just put him to sleep

Wondering if her panting means she is in pain.. Worrying worrying

My beautiful 17 yr. old Gigi is mostly blind past few months. Hearing still good but wanders around now bumping into walls, furniture, etc….softly, but still bumping. Can’t leave her alone on my bed…she walks right off. So sad but we cope & support her with love.

Just accepting that my babe is elderly and right now feeling like we are on borrowed time

Dealing with her dementia…it really hurts to see her not hardly ever herself anymore.

I’m having difficulty accepting her mortality. She’s like a kid to me and shouldn’t die before I do.

Getting good pictures. 😂

Hardest part for us is that Miss Gretel doesn’t like to be cuddled anymore as she “never” stops walking these days …… I would love to cuddle up in bed with her :'( :'(

Keeping my worries to myself so Shadow doesn’t feel them. But, she’s been doing great mobility-wise since the stem cell infusion, which has given her back her youthful spunk and sassiness. My other big challenge is not so much with her as it is with hubby, who has some dementia and can’t always understand that Shadow’s super-sensitive GI tract cannot handle all the “people food” he sneaks to her when I’m not there to stop him.

$$$

Not knowing if I am doing the right thing and/or if I am giving her what she needs.

My 18 1/2 year old is starting to dribble/wet at night. I have him on a pee pad. I got diapers i didn’t like them. Now i got belly bands i like them but they get wet on the sides. Kotex with them??

Could you relate to some of what was said?

It’s tough reading what so many people are going through, yet I am happy there is a community for everyone to share their experiences, ask for and offer support, and discuss treatments and options that have helped.

Are you experiencing something similar? Why not share your story in the comment section below.

 

 

**I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.**

 

 

 

 

What to do if your old dog won't eat

What to do if Your Old Dog Won’t Eat

What to do if your old dog won't eat

I know from experience what it’s like to feel so desperate when your old dog won’t eat, you’re willing to do and try anything!

Red, the love of my life, sadly got her wings on May 18 of this year (2018). I adopted her when she was around 8 so we think she passed at around 17 years of age. She was obese when we adopted her, bless her, so trying to get her to eat was never a problem. I always said she was like a vacuum cleaner because there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t inhale. When I say inhale I mean that literally, which is why she could never eat dry food because she wouldn’t chew just swallow.

The last few months of her life getting her to eat became a real challenge. I believe having been on various medications for so long played a part in her developing a fragile system, then kidney issues and chronic pancreatitis made it even more difficult. Those two health challenges significantly shortened the list of what she was allowed to eat, so when she wasn’t feeling well I was always a nervous wreck because I didn’t have a lot of tools in my tool box to work with.

What made it even more difficult was – some of the foods that are okay for kidney issues are not okay for pancreatitis and vice versa. When the only thing she would eat was chicken I had to give it to her, knowing full well it wouldn’t have been good for her kidneys. What could I do, she was basically screwed either way, so my vet and I decided at that point it was just important she ate.

What to do if Your Old Dog Won't Eat

Why isn’t your dog eating?

I read a lot about people who have dogs that won’t eat and they’re constantly looking for things to try… as they should be doing. However, the first thing you have to do is figure out why your dog isn’t eating, or eating as well as he or she used to.

See your vet immediately

If you don’t yet know the reason, the best advice I can offer is to see your vet. My second best piece of advice is to NOT accept a diagnosis of “your dog is old.” Old age does not mean your dog stops eating. Perhaps it has made him a bit fussier, or his meals are too big to eat all at once and you should feed him 3, 4 or even 5 small meals a day, but not wanting to eat? I don’t buy it.

There are lots of reasons why your dog may be less interested in eating and I’ve already mentioned the two Red was dealing with – pancreatitis and kidney disease, both of which can cause nausea. A third thing that came into play was dementia, which made it hard for her to find or know what to do with her food, even though her face was in the bowl. Sometimes as hungry as they may be, they just can’t seem to eat.

I have a diagnosis now what?

Of course that will depend on the diagnosis and whether or not there is a treatment to cure or manage the condition. Perhaps your dog will still be fussy and not as interested, what then?

What can I do if my old dog won't eat

Your dog has to eat

That’s a given because let’s be frank, bad things happen when your dog is starving.

My list of Red friendly food

  • Boiled chicken breast (freeze the water in ice cube trays and defrost to pour over food)
  • Boiled broccoli
  • Boiled squash
  • Whole grain rice
  • Quinoa
  • Raw or cooked carrot
  • Raw apple
  • Cod
  • Skyr
  • Low fat cottage cheese
  • Cut her canned Prescription k/d into pieces and baked them

 

What I do when my old dog won't eat anything

How I got her to eat

A few years ago I started elevating her bowls which I found was more comfortable for her. You could buy raised feeders or get creative on your own. Red was very little so putting her water bowl on an overturned casserole dish on the floor gave her enough height, but not too much so she had to reach. I held her food bowl for her, again because the height was more convenient.

I discovered warming up her food in the microwave for a few seconds helped a lot, it seems the smells made it more appetizing.

There were many times in the last few months where I had to hand feed her, more because of the dementia. Heartbreaking to watch so if your dog is suffering from dementia I urge you to put her on a treatment plan.  

Helpful and even brilliant tips for getting your old dog to eat

I did write about this topic in a previous article called “How to Get an Old Dog to Eat” , and in that post is a very lengthy list of possible food choices.  

Since it was published I have started a FB group called Senior Dog Care Club, filled with incredible members who have some fabulous advice. They very kindly offered to share their tips and tricks for when their old dog won’t eat, and now I’m sharing them with you. The more things we have to try, the better we can care for our senior pups.

Important note!!

Be sure to check with your vet before adding something you aren’t sure of, because what one dog is allowed the other may not be. For example, Red wasn’t allowed coconut oil because of her pancreatitis, or peanut butter because the salt content wasn’t good for her heart.

The List

Add coconut oil

Cheese topping or scrambled eggs mixed in

Cooked oatmeal

Peanut butter

Buy a semi-soft food that is firm enough that you have to slice it up. The amount needed per day is measured out on the package. I slice it all up for the day and feed her throughout the day. Never too much at one time so she absorbs the food better and no risk of getting sick. I have to sit next to her, open up her mouth put in the food and she eats it up. At the end of the day i make her a fresh burger and she will take most of it but this is just gravy on top, she already has the nutrition she needs, the burger keeps her happy but she needs the dog food also. She will eat cheese so I get some high quality Cheddar and give her a couple of those a day too, very high in calories and she likes it

Bacon grease, bone broth, canned liver mixed with dry food, meat scraps.

Scrambled eggs with cheese

Tuna

Good quality tinned cat food/ sardines/ sprinkle a little grated cheese over dinner, also heating it up increases the scent and gets their noses sniffing

Homemade chicken and rice

Freeze dried meal toppers

Cbd oil

Entyce from the vet

I take frozen veggies, mine likes carrots. Cook them then purée it in a blender. Use a little water to thin it out. I put about two tablespoons on her food daily.

Diced ham and rice, warmed up in the microwave… added to their food in small amounts.

Don’t hover over them, constantly cajoling them and bribing them with “goodies”. IOW: Give them their personal space

I admit – this can be a struggle! Depending on the type of food, warming it up can help. Sometimes I need to hand-feed. Other times, as I am hand-feeding, I will gently push the food towards their mouth and let it brush against their lips. That will cause them to lick their lips and usually/eventually interest them in eating. Other times, if it is food that is in a plate or bowl, I will add a few tiny pieces of a favorite human food to their meal. Right now a few tiny crumbs/pieces of pizza crust does the trick. Sometimes, they might just eat the crust from their bowl, but 90% of the time, they end up eating everything (both their food and the pizza crust).

I’ve had success with chicken, hamburger and ground turkey. Canned cat food; something smelly. Sometimes I had to pull out the big guns: steak. Warming it up helps.

Things that have worked for my dog – feed pieces of dog food by hand, call it treats/ Put dog food on a plate, leave unattended on kitchen table

One thing she has never turned down is a baked potato with butter. When desperate carbs can be a great friend.

I have found rolling her food in my hands and giving her a bit at a time helps. She likes when I drop it in piles on the floor for her. Sometimes she prefers to stand and eat from the bowl. I have to gauge her mood a bit. Definitely try rolling the kibble in your hands though. It can really help.

Boiled chicken tenderloins and cut it up, add some noodles, water or bone broth, add a bit of dry dog food, mix well serve warm and moist. You could try lean ground beef. My Lily eat this every day. If she’s having tummy issues I just give her the chicken with the noodles sometimes I’ll add peas and carrots and always moisten and warm food.

Dr Becker’s Bites Appetite Flakes

Cheese. Cheese always works

Feeding them some of their food in the park. A change of scenery might help.

Unflavored and unsweetened yogurt. Cottage cheese sometimes. Plate instead of regular dog dish sometimes helps. Mozzarella. Unseasoned smoked meat and broth made from the bones. Strong scent can make a difference. Cook or pretend to cook food that goes in a meal. Pretend to eat what you want them to eat. Allow them to not eat some meals. Try a different schedule. Walk before meal and allow them to fully wake before trying to feed.

Sprinkle a little of a fav treat (like turkey) on top of and throughout the food. Diversify. Rotate the type of meals each day.

Organic ground turkey that I mix with an organic golden paste recipe and mixed organic veggies cooked and put in blender (broccoli cauliflower and carrots). She has been scarfing it down and has picked up in energy!

Ground turkey burgers 5grams twice a day, wet at night,  hand feed kibble measure out if she won’t. I put it in bowl warm water soup kibble yummy but she is fussy had to stop after twelve years of eating everything. WE did hard but she’s ok just try sometimes just eating with or at the same time so not alone as much

Making a big deal eating out of matching bowls

Rotisserie chicken or chicken soup

I’ll add mashed up sweet potatoes, pumpkin and broccoli. Our Eskies love their broccoli. They’ll eat it soft, and also like to eat the stalk cold like a bone!

I put my baby’s dry food in a blender. I turned into dust. I add a little wet dog food. Not a lot because she strains when she poops

Mix a little pumpkin or sweet potatoes in with food and anything else safe. Rotate rotate so they don’t get bored

Baby food

Cottage cheese

What do you do when your dog won't eat

So there you have it…lot’s of things that have helped other senior dog parents when their old dog won’t eat.

What have you tried that worked? Sharing helps others so please leave your comment below.

Check out my Facebook page, Caring For a Senior Dog for stories, quotes and interesting articles about senior dogs. 

 

**I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.**

 

 

**There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you purchase anything I make a few pennies…literally. That money helps me help homeless animals through donations and fostering, as well as keeping this blog running. **

 

 

 

the love of my life my senior dog Red

Life After Red

the love of my life my senior dog Red

You never know how you’re going to grieve, or what you’ll find the hardest to cope with, until that time when you say goodbye.

I knew Red’s time with me was drawing to a close, and I used to think about what life would be like without her.

Having spent almost every moment of the past 9 years with her (except for when I was on vacation), I couldn’t imagine a life that didn’t include her. She was around 8 when I brought her home, and being blind she did require some extra care. Of course as she got older and her health issues started she became my entire focus, and every day revolved around her.

I also have another dog named Jack, so between his long walks, feeding both (Red multiple times a day), making sure she ate on those days she wasn’t interested, and keeping her comfortable as she snuggled next to me on the couch, my writing was done in the quiet moments in between.

Naturally I knew I would be heartbroken and devastated. I knew I wouldn’t be sorry to see the pee pads off the floor, and I assumed I would be churning out articles like a machine with all the free hours (yes hours!!) I would have.

And then she died…. broken heart

I am heartbroken and devastated, and as predicted I’m thrilled to not see pee pads covering every square inch of my carpet, but the rest of it is a surprise.

I’m lost.

Every day consisted of a routine 100% dedicated to Red’s care, and now I have all the time in the world and I don’t know how to fill it. It’s been almost 2 weeks so I’m slowly starting to write again, and popping into my FB group to my senior dog Red eating a chew stickcomment, lend support, welcome new members, but it’s a struggle.

I’ve lost my muse and the inspiration behind my articles. I feel like a phony, writing about senior dogs and their care when I don’t have one anymore. The experiences are still there, my desire to help is still strong but the passion has faded. I’m sure when I welcome my next old dog into my home it will return, but for now I’m just going through the motions.

The kindness of strangers

The support and genuine outpouring of emotion from fellow bloggers and group members has been overwhelming, and I don’t seem to have the perfect words to express my gratitude. Take note – this is all from people I’ve never met.

Where is the kindness from people I know?

Life After RedRemember when I said you don’t know how you’ll handle things until they happen? I’m experiencing rage, something I never could have predicted. Don’t worry not the dangerous kind where I’ll do something stupid, but a slow simmering disgust and bitterness at every single person I know who has not bothered to say “I’m sorry.”

 

It makes me feel like Red didn’t matter. Boy did she matter.

What’s interesting is, most aren’t people I call friends so I’m surprised I care so much. Having said that they certainly are at the very least acquaintances, people I’ve known for years who I chat with when I see, which is almost daily. So yes I absolutely expect it. Not a word!

I don’t care if they’re uncomfortable, I care even less if their “reason” is because they don’t want to upset me. I lost Red, I couldn’t be more upset. A simple “I’m sorry” is all it takes…but nothing.

Of course death is a very uncomfortable subject and no one knows what to say, but I can’t imagine chatting with someone I know who suffered a loss and pretending nothing happened. I’d feel like crap.   

I’m as uncomfortable as the next, but the first thing I say is “I’m so sorry” and then I say “I know there’s nothing I can say that will help.” It breaks the ice, it eliminates the awkwardness, and most of all I’ve offered some comfort to someone who is grieving.

My two so called friends who I met because they’re neighbours…the silence from them is deafening. Yes they offered condolences when I saw them, but that was it. Yes they both know I like to be alone, but how about a text? my senior dog Red out for a strollNo awkward encounters, just a kind gesture. I intellectually know I matter to them, but that’s nowhere near enough for me to ever have anything to do with them again. They know how much I loved Red, but if that isn’t enough they certainly saw my support for them when they had surgeries. I’m afraid them telling me I can talk to them when I’m ready isn’t enough, not by a long shot.

Do you know two of the people I’m talking about are nurses, one a health care worker? Isn’t their behaviour even more outrageous!

My vet’s office was no better

My vet is amazing, and I know for a fact Red would not have been with me all these years without him. I also know they dropped the ball. I don’t know if Red’s ashes arrived yesterday when I called to find out where she was, or were sitting there a day or two. Ashes come in you call, that’s it.

You send a condolence card within a day or two, and take a minute to make it sound heartfelt.

My previous vet would send a handwritten card, signed by him, the next day. You can’t imagine how much that always meant.

The card I received from this practice would have been okay (barely) for someone they’ve only seen a handful of times…but us! I couldn’t even count the amount of time we spent there and how well they knew both of us, yet not a message from the vet or anything remotely personal.

my senior dog Red and I in El TorcalWhen I picked up Red’s ashes yesterday I brought the card along. I spoke to one of the staff (Helen) who knows me a long time (as they all do) and calmly expressed my opinion about the lack of effort or anything heartfelt. She told me it was their “standard” response, but she also agreed we deserved better. I told her not to bother asking them to send me another because it would have no meaning.

Let me back up a bit.

When I first walked in yesterday Helen gave me such a warm and genuine hug. She loved Red, as they all did, but wasn’t there when it happened, so it was the first time she had seen me. That hug showed me compassion and that Red and I mattered. She told me she had wanted to call the next day, but the staff told her not to because I was too upset.  

I know they were trying to be considerate of my feelings, I just wish they had realised how much her gesture would have meant.  

Am I being too hard on people?

I suppose some may think I am but I don’t care, I will not make excuses for anyone in this situation. Even if the attitude is “she was just a dog” it’s about the person grieving, me in this case and what I need, not about them and how uncomfortable they are.

Is it possible to know what will make someone feel better in this situation? I would say the answer is no, but that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate knowing you cared enough to offer some form of comfort. How about a card slipped through the mailbox? Some flowers left on a doorstep? A text letting them know you’re thinking about them?   

A lesson to be learned

I now know the greatest lesson Red was here to teach us is compassion.

Not just by people seeing the worth of a senior dog, how much joy she brought me, or the way I cared for her. I my senior dog Red in Spainnow clearly see it will be to teach people to reach out to anyone who is grieving. I don’t suggest knocking on peoples’ doors, goodness knows I wouldn’t answer, but offer your condolences. It won’t take away their pain, but I can assure you they won’t be any more upset by it then they already are. What it will do is show them who they lost mattered in this world, and so do they.

My final words

No amount of comfort can mend my heart, but boy do the messages of support make me feel like Red and I matter.

I can’t imagine ever looking at any of those people with anything other than the disgust I currently feel and I’m okay with that, although it makes me sad to be in that position.

Thank you Red for teaching all of us a very important and painful lesson about compassion.

You did good in this world!

Must have senior dog supplies

Must Have Senior Dog Supplies

Must have senior dog supplies

I see so many lists for new puppy items, but not so many for senior dog supplies!! What’s up with that…senior dogs also need stuff!!

If you’ve shared your life with your dog since he was a puppy, I’m sure there’s no shortage of supplies, but have you adapted them to his changing needs? If you’ve just adopted an old dog, congratulations you’re amazing by the way, then you’re definitely going to need to do some shopping.

I put together this list based on my experience living with seniors, and figuring out ways to keep them as comfortable as possible. Oh did I forget to mention active as well?

This list is as extensive as possible, but don’t worry…it doesn’t mean you have to get everything!!

Must have senior dog supplies

COMFORT

senior dog supplies you must haveOlder dogs may feel the cold more than their younger counterparts, so having outerwear handy is a good idea. As Red got older and we moved to a colder climate, she wore a sweater indoors and out a good part of the year. Whether yours will need one will depend a lot on the temperature and how much hair he has!!

Warming mats: self-heating or electric – Another way to keep your pup warm on a cool night is to have a warming pad on the bed. Available in a self-heating style or plug in, the choice is up to you but do be careful of cords.  Call me paranoid but I prefer self-heating, and I used to keep one on Red’s bed all year round.  

Orthopedic bed – If your dog is experiencing joint pain, an orthopedic bed may provide the comfort he’s looking for. Some also come with magnets, which you may have heard are used to help relieve pain in human arthritis sufferers.

Bed with raised sides and low front – Another style your dog may like is one that has 3 sides raised so he can lean against them like a pillow, and an open front to walk right onto the bed. No leg lifting needed!!

a comforter is a great senior dog supply

A big comforter – Another option for a relaxation spot is a single or double comforter. I don’t know about you but my senior dog always liked variety so if she wasn’t in the mood for one style, there was always another to try. This turned out to be her favourite the last few years because it was so poufy, yet flexible enough for her to shape into the style she wanted.

Fleece blankets – comfy and cosy, I never have too many! When one or two were in the laundry I always had another I could grab. I kept one on every bed in the cooler months, and they were perfect for cuddles on the couch.

Waterproof dog bed cover – if your dog has accidents, a waterproof cover may cut down on the number of times you have to wash the bed, and it’s certainly easier to wash.

Raised food and water bowls – I found as Red got older I wanted to raise her water bowl so she could get to it a lot more easily, and I do believe it made her more comfortable. I did the same with her food bowl but I held it for her so she could find the food more easily. She was blind, and it was particularly helpful when she wasn’t as interested in eating as she had been.

more must have senior dog suppliesCooling mat/bandana/shirt/jacket for the hot weather – This is a must if you live in a hot climate. I have the bandana for Jack who doesn’t do well in the heat and it makes a big difference. My neighbour bought a cooling jacket for her senior Shepherd and she couldn’t get over the incredible results. She was able to go back to taking her walks in the warmer weather.

Nanny cam – A nanny cam is a great tool for keeping an eye on your senior dog when you’re out. Perfect if you’re curious about what he gets up to, or he’s not well and you want to check up on him.  

Pee pads – I always say I wish I had bought stock in the company, I could not live without this product. Whether I line the carriers with them when travelling, or cover my entire floor, they are a “must have” if your dog is having accidents. They are available as disposable or washable.

Doggie diapers – A very popular item for dogs with incontinence, diapers come in disposable or washable versions. Many pup parents put a sanitary pad in for better results.

Carpet stain and odour remover – A necessity for cleaning up accidents, and believe me they somehow find a way to pee in between the pee pads!! As with any product, not all are created equal so you may have to try more than one to find what works best for your carpet. If you prefer natural products there are plenty on the market, or you can make your own.  

MOBILITY AND SAFETY

Ramps and pet steps – They serve the same purpose as a mobility aid, but the one you choose will depend on the need. For help getting into the car, a ramp is typically what you want, just check the incline isn’t too steep and be sure it’s foldable for easy storage in your vehicle. Steps are most often used for getting onto the couch for example, as a ramp would take up a lot more floor space and be too steep.

a pet stroller is a must have senior dog supplyDog stroller – My all time favourite invention, and a product I can’t say enough great things about…so rather than repeating myself I will let my previous articles do the talking.

Non slip socks/booties – If your dog is having mobility issues, is less steady on his feet and seems to be slipping on your hardwood or tile floors, non-slip socks or booties may be the answer.

Carpet squares or yoga mats – If your dog won’t let you near him with a pair of booties, as mine never did, a perfect solution is covering your slippery floor with some carpet squares or yoga mats.

Wheelchair – Whether your dog has lost the use of his legs, or is having trouble standing and walking on his own, a wheelchair can drastically improve your dog’s quality of life.

Sling or harness – An option in many mobility cases, I used one when my dog was recovering from spinal surgery due to paralysis. I couldn’t have taken him for walks without one!

Toe grips – Another mobility aid in your arsenal, made of rubber they slide over your dog’s nails and add traction on slippery surfaces.

product for a senior dog supplies list

Foam padding for table and chair legs/doors – If you have a blind dog, or one suffering from dementia who’s confused and bumps into things, some foam padding is perfect for table and chair legs. As you can see in the picture, I put them at head height on the door as well. You can likely find the foam at a DIY store or maybe even cut a pool noodle lengthwise and use that.

Adjustable pen – If you worry about your dog’s safety when you’re out, an adjustable pen will give him some space to roam, but limits it. They come in various sizes so you can create as big or small a space as you like.

Bike basket or trailer – There were many times when I would take my senior dog Red with me on my bike, and she would sit so nicely in my basket. I’ve also seen many other cyclists who have a trailer for their dogs and they’ve loved it! What a great way to do something you love, and include your older dogs too!!

NUTRTION AND SUPPLEMENTS

Diet – I always say senior dog nutrition (actually pet nutrition in general) is an absolute minefield, filled with conflicting information from “experts” and pet parents who are convinced their recommendations are the best. Senior dogs don’t necessary need to eat senior dog food, but when choosing the best diet I would start with a check up to determine your dog’s health status, if there are certain foods he should stay away from…

List of foods for when your dog won’t eat – It’s not uncommon for there to be some challenges getting a senior dog to eat when they’re not feeling well, or suffering from health issues. I know from my own experience how frustrating and worrying it can be. Do yourself a favour and have a list of possible foods that are safe for your dog, in the event he loses interest in his current diet. It will save you a lot of last minute scrambling. For my dog’s condition I know that boiled chicken, rice, Skyr, white fish such as cod and no fat cottage cheese were some of the options.  

Mobility – In addition (or instead of in some cases) to the medications your vet may have prescribed for your dog’s joint pain, natural supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin, New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels and turmeric golden paste are known to be extremely helpful.

Anxiety – There are many reasons your dog may be experiencing anxiety, including dementia, so here are few things that can help –

  • Thundershirt
  • a Thundershirt should be on the list of senior dog suppliesAdaptil plug in/spray/collar
  • CBD oil
  • Valerian
  • Skullcap and Valerian
  • Calming dog music
  • Lavender essential oil (it can be diffused by lighting a tea light than adding a few drops to the melted wax then relighting the wick to diffuse the scent)

 

**Before changing diets or adding supplements, I highly recommend you speak with your vet first.**

PHYSICAL EXERCISE AND MENTAL STIMULATION

Sling or harness for extra support – I mentioned this in the mobility section but it’s worth mentioning again. If your dog is having trouble walking, please don’t just leave him on his bed to sleep his life away. In addition to any pain medication, supplements or physical therapy you may be doing, having a sling or harness will give him extra support so he can get out there and get some exercise which, believe it or not, does help joint pain.

Exercise indoors – There are times when your dog may not be feeling up to enough of a walk, or the weather is so miserable it’s not going to happen. Finding exercises to do indoors is the perfect solution. They include –

  • Rolling a ball down the hallway
  • Playing hide and seek
  • Create a bit of an agility course even if you don’t have much room. A broom can be slightly elevated so he has to lift his leg to walk over it – a couple of pillows spaced widely on the floor he has to walk around.


Snuffle mat – Perfect to keep dogs entertained and a chance to expend some energy and even challenge them mentally. Typically made of rubber with a lot of fleece strips attached, treats are hidden amongst the strips and your dog then has to find them.

Puzzle or treat dispensing toy – Another great tool for mental stimulation, find a toy that’s challenging so he has to figure out how to get the tasty treat inside. Too hard and he’ll lose interest, but many can be adjusted to various degrees of difficulty.

GROOMING

Shampoo and grooming wipes – There are plenty of reasons why your dog may not enjoy the groomer as much as he used to, or finds it difficult to stand for any length of time. Giving him a bath at home means shorter visits!! Grooming wipes are also handy for a quick clean.

Brush – Brushing your dog is a wonderful opportunity to bond and just hang out together…and most dogs love it!! Some senior dogs develop lumps, bumps and growths so a soft bristled brush may be best.  

Dental care – Brushing our dogs’ teeth is as important as brushing our own and there are a lot of products to help.

finger toothbrush on senior dog supplies listToothbrush – There are many styles of toothbrush including long handled, electric and one to fit on your finger.

Toothpaste – Toothpaste comes in a variety of flavours and textures, you’re bound to find one your dog likes.

Dental wipes – If your dog won’t let you near him with a brush, perhaps a wipe will be acceptable?

Dental chews – If you can’t get near your dog’s mouth to brush his teeth, how about a dental chew?

Water additive – Whether all else fails and it’s your only option, or another dental care tool, pour some in your dog’s water and he will get some benefit.

 

You may be wondering what’s so special about this list, you have almost everything on it!! A senior dog is still a dog, and the majority of the supplies you have for a puppy will be the same for a senior, with a few differences.

Having said that, a first time dog parent, or someone who has never raised a senior dog before will find this list very handy.

 

Tell me, do you have anything for your senior dog that’s not on this list? Sharing helps others so please leave a comment below or come chat on my Facebook page.

I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.

 

 

*There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you purchase anything I make a few pennies…literally. That money helps me help homeless animals through donations and fostering, as well as keeping this blog running.

 

 

Red in her stroller in Spain

Saying Goodbye to My Sweet Girl Red

Red enjoying the sun in Spain

One week ago today, on May 18, 2018 at just after 11:00am UK time, I said goodbye to my sweet girl Red.

This is not easy for me to write, especially because I never discuss my feelings, but it’s spilling out of me and I can’t stop it.

What inspired me? While there have been some lovely condolences expressed by my incredible Facebook group members, one I saw this morning really hit me and the words started flowing.

Saying Goodbye to my Sweet Girl Red

Her name is Paula Busch (Paula I hope you don’t mind me mentioning you), and even though she has said goodbye to her much loved dog Ramsey she still stays in the group to help. There was something about the way she asked how I was doing that opened the floodgates…so rather than just replying “fine thank you” I realised this post needed to be written, and for people to know the impact Red had on my life and others.

How am I doing? Not well. I’m heartbroken, I hear Red coming down the hallway and pushing against the hallway door to come and see me. I find myself just about to tell my husband to not bang the door because Red is sleeping, and I’m still surprised when I don’t see her bed on the floor next to mine.

I’m having a very hard time checking in with the group at the moment, but I’m forcing myself to offer a bit of advice when I can. You’ve all done such a great job of keeping things going the past week, I’m so grateful, but I also feel responsible for things as well.

I managed to write a couple of articles, but that’s only because they were mostly written and just needed “tweaking” but I’ve lost my enthusiasm for my much loved website.

I’ve lost my muse and feel like a phony both with my website and my group. Yes the years of experience I have caring for senior dogs is with me, but I feel like “who am I” when I don’t share my life with an old dog at the moment. Jack isn’t at the “senior” category yet!

Sightseeing with her dad and brother

In the past when I was living in Florida and lost one of my “oldies” I would go back to the shelter where I volunteered and bring home another one. Although I’m no longer there, sadly there is no shortage of old dogs that need homes, yet I can’t offer mine just yet.

I loved Red more than words can ever express, yet I would be lying and deceiving you by saying it was all a bed of roses and nothing but a love fest. For most of the 9 years we spent together it was, but when I realised she had dementia 2 ½ years ago, that’s when the really challenging and stressful times began. When her dementia progressed and her selegeline was no longer helping like it had been (that was about a year ago), the stress was pretty much constant.

She was blind when I adopted her, obese with a heart murmur, and over the years she developed many health issues but they were all managed thanks to my wonderful vet Lubo. It was the dementia, and more recently the chronic pancreatitis that make things extremely difficult at times.

I had no problem making her the centre of my universe, and having my life revolve around her. I adopt old dogs and with that comes the responsibility, and of course the joy of caring for them…whatever that means.

The financial strain was enormous as well. She was on a lot of medication, and some of it was crazy expensive even buying online.

The worry she might have another seizure, the panic she would need emergency care in the middle of the night with no hospital near me and no car to travel, and the dread when she needed a vet and mine was not working that day absolutely took its toll.

I still feel the same worry and stress, I guess they’re residual!

Snoozing with her foster puppy

I have been able to take the pee pads off the floor and now I walk into my home and I see just carpet…a high price to pay. I admit I’d rather see pee pads than a stain on my carpet, but they were always messy and made me feel disorganised.

I knew the day was coming when I would have to say goodbye, and I was sure it would end up being a quality of life decision because of dementia. The type of decision I’ve only had to make once before and haunted me for months. Did I wait too long? Should I have waited a bit longer? Every day in the last few months I would think about it. Red was never in pain and I always knew as much as she had my heart, I would never allow her to linger because I didn’t want it broken.

I prayed for a bad test result one day, because then I knew my decision would be “easier” to make. There it is, black and white, nothing else to be done and then last Thursday I got that bad test result. I was shocked, devastated and relieved knowing it was pretty much made for me. I could have said goodbye that day but I would have felt like I rushed something, and that kind of decision can tear you up inside and haunt you if you aren’t sure.

When I took her home and she didn’t eat I made the call for the next day. Did she eat later? Of course she did. Did she eat that Friday morning? Of course she did. I brought her to the vet anyway and we had a conversation.

I could have waited a few days but why? I couldn’t reverse the test result, she was still so skinny and barely eating, how would postponing my heartbreak help her?

First place in the dog show

I have devoted the last 9 years of my life to caring for and loving her. Did she stop me from taking vacations? Not when my pet sitter was around. Did we take lots of day trips together? Absolutely. Was she a very well traveled dog? You bet. She came from Florida, flew for a couple of short visits with me to Toronto, and made quite a few trips between our places in Florida and England. Did she bring me incredible joy? No question about it, and now I am paying for it with incredible sadness.

It is because of her I started my website, and because of my experiences with her and those who came before her, I created my group as a way to help others who may not have the support and access to information they need.

In the aftermath

I’m lost. I always thought when I didn’t have Red to care for, all the extra hours would be spent writing even more articles and helping even more. Sadly I now have all those extra hours, but I struggle to have the strength to fill them. I wander aimlessly, turn the tv on during the day (something I never, ever, ever do until the evening) and get through the day.

I’m hurt. I understand it’s probably a generational thing, public displays of emotion, every thought bared on social media, and condolences offered. Okay but don’t I deserve more from a family member who did nothing more than respond to my notice with a sad emoji?

enjoying a walk in the park

My 2 “friends” who like to tell me how important I am and that we’re like the 3 musketeers have disgusted me. One of them replied to that same notice on FB with a “so sorry babe you were a great mum” but how about a private message? She knows I turn inwards in grief, but how about a text to tell me she’s thinking of me or here for me? She’s my neighbour so I see her around, and she knows I don’t want to talk about but how about some flowers?

When she had surgery or broke her nose in a fall recently, how many times did I check on her?

My other “friend” was away for 10 days, but news travels fast where I live so I assume she knows, certainly the first friend I mentioned would have told her. Let’s say she didn’t know – she’s been home 4 days and no text to say hello. If she did know it’s even more upsetting. When her mother died did I not express my condolences to her right away? When she had surgery recently was I not checking on her every day, asking her husband how she was doing? Did I not prepare a basket for her so she wouldn’t be bored during the day?

I have been called self-absorbed and I agree to a certain extent that is true. I’m not always the most thoughtful person, but I certainly have been to them.

Nothing can excuse what they’ve done, or haven’t done, and although I may be friendly when I see them, our coffee mornings and get togethers are over since I can never ever see them in the same light. As comfortable as a topic this is for all of us, there is no excuse for not even sending a simple “so sorry thinking of you” text.

Snoozing with her foster puppy

My plan

I’m slowly starting to get back to my website and my writing, and I will do my best to spend more time in the group.

Today has been a really bad day, I’ve been crying most of the morning, even during my acupuncture session!! It’s expected of course, but Red’s ashes will be back with me soon enough and I will take hers and Saffy’s and put them in a memorial urn necklace I have, to carry them with me always.

I will adopt another senior dog, quite possibly from Serbia. My husband and I would like to go away January and February (if we can figure out what to do with Jack) so ideally it wouldn’t be until March. Having said that there’s no way I can wait that long to care for someone else that needs me. We’re going away in 2 weeks for a few days and perhaps I’ll foster some kittens that need to be bottle fed.

I wasn’t blessed with this level of compassion and not always have an outlet in which to express it.

I have no idea if this made sense or not but I wanted this to be straight from the heart as the words flowed.

 

I love you Red more than words can ever express. My heart is broken, I know in time it will mend, but I will never forget you and the joy you brought to my life, and by extension the good you did in this world.