Life With A Geriatric Dog

Posted on June 06, 2022
Written by Rae Anne Oskam

by Rae Anne Oskam

Posted June 6, 2022

Watching your beloved fur kiddo age can be a difficult process . It is so hard to watch your once energetic babe start to slow down and begin to struggle with things that used to come so easy to them, especially the normal day to day things. 

In this post I will be sharing my very own journey and experience with my late fur baby Zoe . Zoe made me a fur mama at just 17 years old. I brought her home when she was 8 weeks old! She was always so full of life and never failed to keep me on my toes.

The years flew by too quickly and before I knew it she was starting to grow some gorgeous white hair. I didn’t mind and honestly thought she just kept looking better and better with age. With more and more white coming through I knew it was time to start doing what I could to help her with this stage of her life. I did a variety of different things to do my best to prolong the effects of aging . 

The main thing I did was keep her as active as I could. We went on countless walks, which she loved.  Walking and swimming or aqua therapy are two gentle and effective ways to keep the joints moving.  We were not able to do much swimming due to lack of access, but it is a great option! Physical activity is one of the best things to do to help slow down the aging process. It can help keep the joints moving and muscle mass built up. As pets age they can lose muscle and gain weight, which can add stress to aging joints. 

Diet is also important, as their nutritional needs change as they get older. Zoe was already on a special diet for a majority of her life due to certain health reasons . I also started her on glucosamine supplements at around age 8. She loved these and looked forward to her daily treat! Joint supplements lubricate the joints to make it easier to move and decrease pain. I really do believe these helped her out significantly throughout her senior life stage. It is important to discuss this with your veterinarian to choose the right one for your dog.

Eventually we started on pain management . In addition to her daily Dasuquin supplement we did an anti-inflammatory medication.  We selected one based on her bloodwork and physical exam. It is important to to always talk to your veterinarian and come up with a game plan together for your kiddo before making any of these changes . 

Other sources of pain management include laser therapy and acupuncture.  These address pain without adding more medication. I did do some laser therapy on Zoe and it seemed to really help her. Laser therapy uses light particles to help reduce pain and inflammation. I didn’t learn about acupuncture until Zoe was in her last  year of life so we never tried that but it can also have good success.  See our post about acupuncture for more info!

Once Zoe started having a harder time getting up I did a few things around my home to help her. My house is all laminate so this made it difficult for her to get traction and would cause her to slip at times. I ended up adding runners and other rugs all over the home including adding little carpet runners on my stairs, so she could get more traction . Ramps are also a good option to use when you can with stairs, getting on furniture or getting into cars. Zoe refused to use ramps so i just helped lift her when she go the point of needing assistance. They also have great harnesses to assist as well! 

 Another thing I did was get her two orthopedic pillows  to lay on in the bedroom and living room. It’s better to buy thicker ones to help keep them up off the floor and as comfortable as possible. They can form pressure sores from laying on harder surfaces for too long.  Having a pillow really helps take pressure and stress off their joints . I did also try using grippy socks and shoes for her. At first she pulled the grippy socks off, so I tried the shoes . Unfortunately the shoes rubbed sores on her feet. I ended up switching back to the grippy socks and just folded them around her ankles. This did help them stay on better and made it harder for her to pull off!   

As I said before, watching your beloved companion age and begin to struggle is such a difficult process. I hope telling you my story and explaining a variety different things I did can really help all of you!                     

By Rae Anne Oskam

Hello all! My name Is RaeAnne but I usually go by Rae. I have always loved and had a passion for animals! I have been at Ankeny Animal and Avian for a little over a year now. I do a little bit of everything more behind the scenes at the clinic. I primarily take care of all the animals as well as make sure the clinic stays clean and tidy! I am currently a fur mama to one kiddo of my own and her name is Mya! Outside of work I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I spend a majority of my free time with my furbabe getting in as much snuggle time as I can!
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