Getting Older

I want to share with you today the impact of aging on Jake and Truly. It’s a natural development for all of us, and as with humans there are so many things we can do to support our dogs as they get older.

Jake is now 13 and Truly 10. Jake has arthritis and Truly has wobbly back legs. I don’t have a definitive clinical label for Truly’s condition. Our Vet suggested what could be causing the symptoms, but as none of the potential conditions are curable and she’s not in pain, I decided not to go ahead with tests. I worry anaesthetic is risky, especially for an older dog.

From the reading I’ve done based on Truly’s symptoms, I think it looks most likely to be Degenerative Myelopathy. No doubt inherited from her GSD side (her other half being Husky). I’m already careful with Jake and Truly’s diets, making sure they have a balanced and healthy menu, and that they maintain their Vet recommended weight. Truly was overweight at her last weigh in, but between us (with some help from vegetables and extra garden games) she’s back on track now.

In order to help her wobbly legs, I’ve increased her range of supplements, I’ve changed our walks and Truly has walking boots for her back feet when we go out. One of the earliest signs things weren’t quite right was when I noticed the nails on her back feet wearing unevenly. This was because she wasn’t quite picking her feet up when she walked. As she has deteriorated in the two years since, the boots protect her nails and her toes from dragging on the tarmac.

I also have to anticipate when Truly might need to go to the loo as she doesn’t always know. Sometimes the exertion of getting up out of her bed means she slightly loses control. At these times I’m straight in with a distraction, a poo bag, antibac wipes, and enzyme spray.  If she notices I can tell how confused she is, as if asking herself how it got there. I also never ever tell her off, just as with puppy training, I say nothing and simply guide her outside to the garden. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen often and the mitigation is to make sure I keep their walks and feeding to the same routine. One of the saving graces of a raw diet is that their poo is compact and doesn’t smell. Yes it’s still poo, but not so bad considering the alternatives!

I already have a pair of wheels for Jake. Before he started on his current arthritis meds, he avoided putting weight on his affected leg and would only walk on three legs. After finding a brand with good reviews,  we headed off to Worcester to get him fitted for some wheels! He’s used them only once as he walks normally now, but we have them just in case. Consequently, I know where to go if Truly can be helped, but at the moment she’s doing well and I need to keep her exercising under her own steam as long as possible.

Another factor of an aging dog is sleep. I haven’t calculated the amount of sleep they have, but they sleep all night, and in between walks, food and some play, they sleep all day too! As I mentioned on my Dog Bed blog previously, I highly recommend memory foam to support their aging joints.

If you recognise any of the above symptoms in your dog, I thoroughly recommend a conversation with your Vet.

Picnics

As we head for the next stage of freedom from lockdown, my plan is to take Jake and Truly to meet their friends (and mine) at our favourite place for a picnic. They may not be able to walk the route we originally did, or run around with the other dogs, but they still love to sniff around and chill with their own picnic pals too.

Until next time

Jen

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