In celebration of senior pet month, we are excited to introduce you to another senior dog named Jack. We have enjoyed spotlighting senior dogs this month. Don’t forget to consider a senior dog for adoption. Senior dogs have so much love to give and can make such great companions. Please keep that in mind next time you are looking to adopt a dog.
“Thank you for the opportunity to tell you about a very special dog. Jack recently passed. He was a doberman mix who lived for his walks! A second favorite was food, of any variety. And then came wrapping paper! Even in his older years he would happily shred the colorful paper to bits. Perhaps more than any of this he loved me most. We’re so lucky to have them in our lives for the brief time that we do!” ~Beth
A special thank you to Beth for sharing her memory of Jack with Gracie’s Bark. It’s truly amazing how one dog can change your life forever. We’ve also added Jack into our Pet Memorial’s section. If you’ve suffered the loss of a pet and you would like to create an online pet memorial in memory of your pet’s life, please click here.
In celebration of senior pet month, we are excited to introduce you to Trixie. We wanted to spotlight a senior dog in hopes that you may one day consider adopting a senior dog. Senior dogs and cats are often overlooked by potential adopters at animal shelters and rescues.
This November we are celebrating these special pets with tips and inspiring stories.
“Trixie’s story started at a small mobile home in central Arkansas. A young couple had a border collie and a husky mix. There were 7 puppies that came from that pair. The couple gave the pups away at a local Wal-mart. Trixie wasn’t chosen to go home with anyone. All except one pup had mom’s blue eye. Trixie was the only pup in the litter without at least 1 blue eye. She was the spitting image of her dad. We were told she was a vocal puppy but each time we saw her she was drowsy and sleeping.
We picked her up when she was 3 months old. She had a rough couple of months after we picked her up and almost died. She developed something called Intussusception, which is when the intestines telescopes, or slides into itself. She vomited all her food and water up and got very weak and thin. She had been treated for worms a couple of times. The Vet said she had “huge earthworms” because of the amount and size of the worms that came out. She had gone hunting with her mom and dad a couple of times, sharing the rabbits that they managed to kill and eat. This couple did their best, but rural Arkansas poverty and ignorance are a bad combination. They did care but just didn’t have the means to care for their dogs. On the day I picked her up she got car sick and vomited up horse feed. Not a good start for a growing puppy.
Trixie recovered well from her tummy issue and joined our family. We had a lab and an Aussie mix. Both were about 9 years old. She learned early that they were not used to her puppy antics. They did play with her and interacted with her but with arthritis and age they weren’t ideal playmates. Trixie and I did puppy obedience and then some agility classes. Trixie loved the interactions with the other dogs and people. She loved the long walks and puppy play dates. She had two kids to love her and play with her. She was however the puppy that ended our desire for puppies! She was uncommonly smart and prone to mischief as many pups are. Trixie was an escape artist and was soon seen to jump high enough to see over a 6 foot privacy fence. She was a master at opening a gate to let her big sisters roam the house. This was an issue because our lab would eat out of trash cans, cotton balls being her favorite find. The Aussie had some incontinence issues. So they needed to be confined to our kitchen area.
As the older dogs got to that point in life when things start to go wrong physically, Trixie was about 5 years of age. We lost our lab at age 14 to lung cancer and 9 months later we lost our 14 year Aussie mix to pancreatic disease. Trixie was devastated. She went through a lengthy period of grieving, not eating, not wanting to go for her walks and periods of whining. It was heartbreaking and we felt their loss too. We decided to look for another dog. We found Molly a border collie, she was 16 months old but thought she would be a great companion for Trixie who was still very young at heart and active. They hit it off! We just recently added another dog, Riley, who came from an abuse situation. Trixie has been a calming influence and very helpful in helping him adjust and become a part of our family.
Trixie has slowed down quite a bit with age. She still enjoys her walks but stops in her tracks when she has walked far enough. It is only when we tell her “home’ that she moves in that direction. She sleeps most of the time. She is still very food driven. We watch her waistline these days! She is very vocal so we have no doubt when she needs or wants something. When I was working, she would meet me at the door and tell me all about her day in woofs and moans. She is still pretty full of mischief and great at stirring things up. Up until recently, she howled at the tornado sirens that are tested each Wednesday. Now she just sleeps through them. She does perk up when the treat balls come out. Trixie is an expert at getting all the treats out!
All of our dogs have been rescues; I count her as one too. Her existence would not have been long had she stayed were she was born. We love her so much and don’t look forward to the day when she goes to the Rainbow Bridge, but know our time left with her is a sweet time. She is very healthy so we know they will be good years.
Trixie loves people, dogs and even her grumpy Maine Coon cat, Khaki, who is 15 yrs old.”
A special thank you to Trixie’s mom for sharing her unique story with Gracie’s Bark. It’s truly amazing how one dog can change your life forever.
Senior pets require increased attention such as more frequent visits to the veterinarian, possible changes in diet and in some cases alterations to their home environment. Below are 5 tips for keeping your senior dog healthy and happy during their golden years.
Diet and Nutrition
Good pet nutrition is important at every age. Feeding your pet the proper nutrition in their senior years is crucial to helping them fight signs of aging and keeping them active and playful. Senior pets often need foods that are more digestible, have different calorie levels and ingredients, and have anti-aging nutrients.
Like humans, it’s not unusual for your dog to put on a few extra pounds over the years. This extra weight can have serious implications on your dog’s overall health as they age. Over weight and obese dogs are vulnerable to a variety of health issues such as joint problems, heart and respiratory disease, diabetes, cancer, liver disease, skin problems, and heat intolerance just to name a few. It’s important to consult with your veterinarian on what your specific dog breed’s weight should be, especially if you have a mix breed.
Senior dogs’ immune systems are not as healthy as those of younger animals; as a result, they cannot fight off disease or heal as fast as younger pets.
It’s important to help your dog get enough exercise on a regular and consistent basis. You will be surprised at how beneficial it is for your dog to go for a daily walk to maintain, not only their mobility, but their keen sense of smell and that daily walk also boosts their spirits.
Older dogs may need changes to their lifestyle, such as sleeping areas to avoid stairs and drafts, more time indoors, and ramps for getting in and out of vehicles. We’ve had firsthand experience with Gracie needing a ramp for our Jeep and extra support when jumping on and off our bed.
So when does a dog become “old”? The general rule is cats and small dogs are considered geriatric around the age of 7. Large breed dogs are considered geriatric around the age of 6. Gracie just turned 6 this past September and we are already experiencing some joint issues. Since we made a promise to her to keep her healthy and happy as she ages, she goes to the chiropractor for regular adjustments. We have seen a significant improvement in her shoulder and we will continue to help her maintain a healthy lifestyle.
What considerations or modifications have you had to make for your senior dog?