Elderly Dogs - A Thread for Sharing Ideas on Caring for Our Aging Best Friends

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    Jan 13, 2013 2:55 AM GMT
    I've noticed there are a lot of guys here who have dogs, so I thought it might be a good idea to have a thread where we can share ideas about how to keep them healthy and happy as they age. They have such short lives anyway, I think it's best to do all we can to make sure they live as long as possible, while still being happy and healthy.

    Some topics I thought we might could discuss:

    • Diet
    • Supplements
    • Medications
    • Exercise
    • Alternative Therapies
    • Holistic Medicine
    • Euthanasia

    Let keep the photos relevant. We have plenty of threads to show off our little buddies, but I'd like this particular thread to be educational, and not just about cute doggie photos.

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    Jan 13, 2013 3:03 AM GMT
    Speaking of euthanasia.. When/how do you decide you don't want to spend $x amount of money to save your pet, and just put him down instead. I hear pet surgeries/procedures can be crazy expensive. Is pet insurance worth getting?
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    Jan 13, 2013 3:10 AM GMT
    xrichx saidSpeaking of euthanasia.. When/how do you decide you don't want to spend $x amount of money to save your pet, and just put him down instead. I hear pet surgeries/procedures can be crazy expensive. Is pet insurance worth getting?


    I personally could never kill my dog over money, so I just can't relate to your question. I would only take my dog's life if he were in constant pain and I had tried everything possible to help him.
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    Jan 13, 2013 3:14 AM GMT
    Yay I love this thread icon_biggrin.gif

    My dog had some problems with his right leg sometime mid last year. We took him to the vet and they gave some Glutamine but didn't really give a reason as to what was wrong. She recommended to have surgery but it was over 6k and there was really no explanation given. Long story short, it healed by itself after a few weeks and he is back to being his hyper self (like jumping off my dads HIGH bed - I have to try and stop him from jumping so high cause I don't want him to hurt himself again but he loves being adventurous). Longest, most stressful two weeks of mine and of course his life. I had to carry him everywhere very gently as if I touched his leg even slightly he would squeal. So happy he is better now though it acts up sometimes though. My uncle recommended elk antler pills for dogs joints - anyone heard of this or know how to maintain the health of his joints other than food?
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    Jan 13, 2013 3:14 AM GMT
    Brush their teeth every 2nd or 3rd day. Hand held battery power toothbrushes with small brush heads are best (these are often referred to as "for kids"). Get heads with soft bristles. If you can't get the dog to let you brush their teeth there is a product "PlaqueAttack" which is only sold online that softens plaque and thus reduces gum inflammation. This stuff is worth the money. I've only used the spray on my dogs but they now offer a gel as well. By using this along with tooth brushing it shouldn't be necessary to have your pets teeth cleaned, which is a risk in an older dog because of the anesthesia. Most people don't realize how important healthy teeth and gum are for a pet. Don't neglect this. Any questions drop me an email.
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    Jan 13, 2013 3:18 AM GMT
    dan_x saidYay I love this thread icon_biggrin.gif

    My dog had some problems with his right leg sometime mid last year. We took him to the vet and they gave some Glutamine but didn't really give a reason as to what was wrong. She recommended to have surgery but it was over 6k and there was really no explanation given. Long story short, it healed by itself after a few weeks and he is back to being his hyper self (like jumping off my dads HIGH bed - I have to try and stop him from jumping so high cause I don't want him to hurt himself again but he loves being adventurous). Longest, most stressful two weeks of mine and of course his life. I had to carry him everywhere very gently as if I touched his leg even slightly he would squeal. So happy he is better now though it acts up sometimes though. My uncle recommended elk antler pills for dogs joints - anyone heard of this or know how to maintain the health of his joints other than food?


    "Glutamine"? I think you mean Glucosamine, right? Either way, Glucosamine is something I give my dogs every day. A good Omega 3 is also important. I rotate all their supplements as I've noticed they tend to be more effective that way. Right now I'm using Krill Oil for their Omega 3's. Fish oil of any kind is also an anti-inflammatory.
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    Jan 13, 2013 3:18 AM GMT
    JustZeke saidBrush their teeth every 2nd or 3rd day. Hand held battery power toothbrushes with small brush heads are best (these are often referred to as "for kids"). Get heads with soft bristles. If you can't get the dog to let you brush their teeth there is a product "PlaqueAttack" which is only sold online that softens plaque and thus reduces gum inflammation. This stuff is worth the money. I've only used the spray on my dogs but they now offer a gel as well. By using this along with tooth brushing it shouldn't be necessary to have your pets teeth cleaned, which is a risk in an older dog because of the anesthesia. Most people don't realize how important healthy teeth and gum are for a pet. Don't neglect this. Any questions drop me an email.


    Yes very good advice. When I brought my dog to the vet he had to get some of his teeth removed and had to be under for it. For a little while I had to crush his food for him. I put his food in a bowl, let it soak for a bit with hot water, blended some of his favorite treats in a Magic Bullet, then drained the water and put the blended treats in the food and mixed it. He absolutely LOVED it and now almost always expects it, lol.
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    Jan 13, 2013 3:19 AM GMT
    JustZeke saidBrush their teeth every 2nd or 3rd day. Hand held battery power toothbrushes with small brush heads are best (these are often referred to as "for kids"). Get heads with soft bristles. If you can't get the dog to let you brush their teeth there is a product "PlaqueAttack" which is only sold online that softens plaque and thus reduces gum inflammation. This stuff is worth the money. I've only used the spray on my dogs but they now offer a gel as well. By using this along with tooth brushing it shouldn't be necessary to have your pets teeth cleaned, which is a risk in an older dog because of the anesthesia. Most people don't realize how important healthy teeth and gum are for a pet. Don't neglect this. Any questions drop me an email.


    You're right, and it affects heart health too (just like in humans). I like the kid's electric toothbrush idea. I feed my dogs raw meaty bones for breakfast each morning, so their teeth and gums are very strong and healthy, but they still need a little help with brushing.
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    Jan 13, 2013 3:19 AM GMT
    Scruffypup said
    xrichx saidSpeaking of euthanasia.. When/how do you decide you don't want to spend $x amount of money to save your pet, and just put him down instead. I hear pet surgeries/procedures can be crazy expensive. Is pet insurance worth getting?


    I personally could never kill my dog over money, so I just can't relate to your question. I would only take my dog's life if he were in constant pain and I had tried everything possible to help him.


    This.

    My 14+ years old golden retriever died about a month ago. Had a couple of things that needed surgeries over that time but was overall a really healthy and active dog until the last couple of weeks. I spent whatever required for the medical care he needed. I'm glad I didn't have to make a decision about putting him down. Not sure I could have done it.
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    Jan 13, 2013 3:29 AM GMT
    Scruffypup said
    dan_x saidYay I love this thread icon_biggrin.gif

    My dog had some problems with his right leg sometime mid last year. We took him to the vet and they gave some Glutamine but didn't really give a reason as to what was wrong. She recommended to have surgery but it was over 6k and there was really no explanation given. Long story short, it healed by itself after a few weeks and he is back to being his hyper self (like jumping off my dads HIGH bed - I have to try and stop him from jumping so high cause I don't want him to hurt himself again but he loves being adventurous). Longest, most stressful two weeks of mine and of course his life. I had to carry him everywhere very gently as if I touched his leg even slightly he would squeal. So happy he is better now though it acts up sometimes though. My uncle recommended elk antler pills for dogs joints - anyone heard of this or know how to maintain the health of his joints other than food?


    "Glutamine"? I think you mean Glucosamine, right? Either way, Glucosamine is something I give my dogs every day. A good Omega 3 is also important. I rotate all their supplements as I've noticed they tend to be more effective that way. Right now I'm using Krill Oil for their Omega 3's. Fish oil of any kind is also an anti-inflammatory.


    I could have sworn it was Glutamine. I'm basing it off memory as I don't live at home anymore so I can't see the bottle. Regardless, since the problems with his leg, we buy him food that caters to his joints which don't taste that good apparently cause he won't eat it unless I mix it with treats like I explained in my previous post. He has improved dramatically and just had his 10th birthday at the end of December.
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    Jan 13, 2013 3:41 AM GMT
    Love walking the dog, giving him healthy meal portions, and massaging away his leg and back muscles so he doesn't get a cramp.
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    Jan 13, 2013 3:43 AM GMT

    This is my dog Kelly at his first Water Treadmill session taken about a year ago. I eventually discovered he gets a better range of motion with regular swimming, but each dog is different and some get better results from the Water Treadmill. For arthritic dogs, it takes pressure off their joints enough for them to exercise. It's also great for dogs recovering from certain surgeries.
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    Jan 13, 2013 5:34 AM GMT
    Re dying with dignity, I just heard about at-home pet euthenasia: http://www.journeysendinhome.com/

    Wish they had that for people!

    Btw, I've been brushing my dog's teeth and scraping their minimal plaque from under their gum lines myself since they were puppies. New vets can't believe that they're not a year old. (They take after daddy that way - my dentist tells me I have the teeth and gums of a 20 year old, and being gay he's picky.)
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    Jan 13, 2013 5:47 AM GMT
    eagermuscle said

    Btw, I've been brushing my dog's teeth and scraping their minimal plaque from under their gum lines myself since they were puppies. New vets can't believe that they're not a year old. (They take after daddy that way - my dentist tells me I have the teeth and gums of a 20 year old, and being gay he's picky.)


    What do you use to scrap them with?
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    Jan 13, 2013 5:51 AM GMT
    There is so much that I could post here, but right now, I don't want to get that sad.

    Regarding paying big bucks for emergency surgery: Yeah, I have spent more on my dogs medical than on mine, over the years. Usually, the vets will let you pay over time. The ones that have come my way have been $2k -$3K. Twice, it ended up being futile. Once, it saved a life, and she is still going strong two years later. I think it's worth it.
  • MidwesternKid

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    Jan 13, 2013 5:53 AM GMT
    Pet them all day everyday.
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    Jan 13, 2013 6:27 AM GMT
    Scruffypup said
    eagermuscle said

    Btw, I've been brushing my dog's teeth and scraping their minimal plaque from under their gum lines myself since they were puppies. New vets can't believe that they're not a year old. (They take after daddy that way - my dentist tells me I have the teeth and gums of a 20 year old, and being gay he's picky.)


    What do you use to scrap them with?

    Manicure scissors, usually ostomy scissors (curved with a blunt end):

    2w6vr6t.jpg

    Just remember, the trick is to go at it like it's an extra special reward for them - I use that same "Tom Sawyer-whitewashing-the-fence technique" when I have to put an e-collar on them - lots of petting and praise.
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    Jan 13, 2013 8:15 AM GMT
    Speaking of caring for our treasured companions - I have recently been watching a show about overweight pets.
    http://www.downsizeme.tv/downsizemypet/
    Its amazing how many people don't realise the health problems that over feeding their pets is causing.
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    Jan 13, 2013 9:38 AM GMT
    I lost my eldest (but he was only 10 and a half) back in march due to heart problems, and I was convinced it was because I didn't take proper care of his dental needs. I want to be more proactive with the rest of my pack, but I have five more, so I need to find the most effective ways possible.

    I'd like to know if the water additives that claim to remove plaque and tartar are effective. The one brand I tried had a mint flavor which seemed to have affected the taste of the water, and my dogs didn't want to drink it. I'd still like to try brushing their teeth; but three of the five are toys with little mouths and tiny teeth, so I may have to stick with finger brushes.

    Other than that, they eat about 95% grain-free; pound for pound my dogs have a better diet than I do. icon_redface.gif

    My vet wouldn't let me pay in installments. Unfortunately my financial situation is pretty dire at the moment, I've had to cut everything back in my life except their care -- but I pray to god that nothing serious will happen to them anytime soon, as I won't know what to do. icon_sad.gif
  • monet

    Posts: 1093

    Jan 13, 2013 12:46 PM GMT
    Scruffypup said
    dan_x saidYay I love this thread icon_biggrin.gif

    My dog had some problems with his right leg sometime mid last year. We took him to the vet and they gave some Glutamine but didn't really give a reason as to what was wrong. She recommended to have surgery but it was over 6k and there was really no explanation given. Long story short, it healed by itself after a few weeks and he is back to being his hyper self (like jumping off my dads HIGH bed - I have to try and stop him from jumping so high cause I don't want him to hurt himself again but he loves being adventurous). Longest, most stressful two weeks of mine and of course his life. I had to carry him everywhere very gently as if I touched his leg even slightly he would squeal. So happy he is better now though it acts up sometimes though. My uncle recommended elk antler pills for dogs joints - anyone heard of this or know how to maintain the health of his joints other than food?


    "Glutamine"? I think you mean Glucosamine, right? Either way, Glucosamine is something I give my dogs every day. A good Omega 3 is also important. I rotate all their supplements as I've noticed they tend to be more effective that way. Right now I'm using Krill Oil for their Omega 3's. Fish oil of any kind is also an anti-inflammatory.


    Glutamine is an amino acid that is sometimes given as a dietary supplement. It is used to help injuries heal faster.
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    Jan 13, 2013 1:11 PM GMT
    Found this quite interesting what people have posted.

    I am a qualified veterinary surgeon, so obviously this is a topic I am greatly interested in.

    The views about spending as much money as possible to make them better if there is any possible treatment is a controersial one to me.

    Euthanasia is the greaest gift to our profession. And often it can be the greatest gift to your pet. Please never forget that.
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    Jan 13, 2013 2:52 PM GMT
    surfswim saidFound this quite interesting what people have posted.

    I am a qualified veterinary surgeon, so obviously this is a topic I am greatly interested in.

    The views about spending as much money as possible to make them better if there is any possible treatment is a controersial one to me.

    Euthanasia is the greaest gift to our profession. And often it can be the greatest gift to your pet. Please never forget that.


    I was hoping this would bring some professionals out. Thanks for joining us.

    I have to say, I don't see what is so controversial about exhausting all possibilities before resorting to euthanasia. Wouldn't we want someone to do that for us? Why would we think our dogs would want any less? I do realize that some people drag their dying dogs around our of a selfish refusal to be without them, so if that's what you're referring to, then I'm totally with you on that. But that's not what I'm talking about in my above statement. My dog in the video above would have been dead several years ago had I not changed his diet, got him into rehab and got him on medication to treat his heart condition. I think he's a happy dog and glad to be alive. I don't regret trying to extend his life for a second. When the time comes that he gives me that look that says "I'm not enjoying my life anymore", I will do the right thing, regardless of how much it hurts me.
  • monet

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    Jan 13, 2013 3:06 PM GMT
    Scruffypup, your dog Kelly in the above treadmill video looks like such a sweetheart. Brother Joe looks like a sweety too. Give them each an extra hug from me, please. icon_smile.gif
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    Jan 13, 2013 3:08 PM GMT
    surfswim saidFound this quite interesting what people have posted.

    I am a qualified veterinary surgeon, so obviously this is a topic I am greatly interested in.

    The views about spending as much money as possible to make them better if there is any possible treatment is a controersial one to me.

    Euthanasia is the greaest gift to our profession. And often it can be the greatest gift to your pet. Please never forget that.

    At the age of 16 1/2 our late Westie was having seizures and had grown so weak she could barely get up off the floor. We were ready to pay for whatever drugs or procedures might help her. Our vet who had cared for her for years took me aside and said "I can prescribe more things they won't change the fact that by now your dog isn't living, just existing. We all love her but you need to do the right thing."
    I was grateful fro the honest advice evn though it was hard to follow.
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    Jan 13, 2013 3:19 PM GMT
    I've been fortunate enough to have had two wonderful canine companions in my life, and one is still with me. One thing that has helped all of us are daily walks, weather permitting. Both of my dogs know no greater joy than to go for a walk around the block. It is wonderful bonding time and the daily exercise is good for all of us. It makes me happy to see them happy.

    My current dog has had lots of dental issues, mostly due to genetics (says the vet). I have an apple-head chihuahua and according to the vet, the small size and shape of his head makes him prone to dental problems. At 8 years old, he's lost half his teeth. Trying to brush his teeth is a no-go and has to be anesthetized. I'll try some of everyone's suggestions.

    And just wanted to put a plug in for adopting a rescue dog or one from the shelter. My dog was rescued from a puppy mill, where he spent the first 1.5 years of his life. He suffered psychologically, but I love him just the same. After having him for 6 years, last year he finally sat in my lap for the first time. Small victories, everyone.