What to Do When Your Dog Begins Showing Their Age
Guest writer, Gabrielle, 13, shares what she learned about caring for an older dog:
Fred, our beautiful chocolate Labrador, was with our family since I was born. When I was younger, I even ate his dog food and tried to take him for a piggy back ride. However, at age eleven, his grey hairs were showing, and he began limping with his back legs. We took him to the veterinarian and found that he had arthritis. The veterinarian gave us three options; Fred could undergo surgery for his arthritis, we could give him medication to decrease the pain, or we could put him down. After extensive research, we decided the surgery was too dangerous for a dog Fred’s age. That left us two options, in the end we decided option two was best for Fred. An important thing you can do for your dog is research. After which, you can make an educated decision with your dog’s best interest in mind.
There are a couple of variables to consider when your dog is aging, including the potential for additional medical issues. If you have a bigger breed, like I do, as your dog ages they may develop hip problems. If this is true, I highly recommend carpet, which will provide traction for your dog’s back paws. However, if you do have wood flooring, lie down washable blankets in your dog’s kennel or around your house. When lifting your dog in the car, be careful not to let them jump in without your help, as they tend to overestimate their ability. Also, consider any steps in your house–it may not be a good idea to let your dog upstairs anymore if you do live in a two story home, and even if you do not, avoid steps as much as possible. There is a high possibility, they will slip while running up the stairs and even if they do not it encourages them to try when you are not there. Lastly, be wary of your dog as you hike, throw ball, or go to the beach, they still think they can do things it may not be in their best interest to do.
With a decent veterinarian and some personal research on your dog’s medical history, they will live a healthy life. However, the medications that some veterinarians prescribe can be pricey, so it is important to compare prices. If you have a friend with an older dog, ask questions about their veterinarian. It is important that your veterinarian fits you and your dog’s personality, needs, and budget. Though we love to spoil our dogs, it is not a good idea to break the bank when there may be an equally helpful alternative. Ask your doctor about generic brands or whether there are any over-the-counter options. Additionally, it is easy to mess up the dosage while giving your dog medication, so be careful. Always ask your veterinarian before giving your dog any medication, and if you are unable or unwilling to give your dog any medications talk to your veterinarian about alternatives. If your dog hates to take medication, I suggest peanut butter to hide it. Not only do they love it, it is highly entertaining watching them eat it, and although it is slightly messy, it is completely worth it.
Our dogs are extremely important to us, and as they age we want to be the best owners we can be. In my situation, our best option was to provide the necessary medication for Fred and he lived a long and happy life. We enjoyed our time by going to beaches, dog parks, and Big Bear. However, when the bad days became more numerous than the good ones we discussed what was in his best interest. When it was time, we supplied Fred with his favorite foods, waffles and peanut butter, before driving to the veterinarian’s office. It was hard and will always be hard to let go of such important people in your life. Though it was not the best decision for us, it was the best decision for him. Ultimately that is the most important thing to know as your dog continues to age, the best thing for you, might not always be the best thing for them.
Author: Gabrielle Mikhail