Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

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Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by mockingbird on Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:47 am

Oh, dear friends. She may not look like it or act like it most of the time, but our Hildegard is an old dog. It became quite evident yesterday at the park, when, for the first time ever, she could not jump up into the car. We have a Saturn, it's not a high car, but she could not get into the back. I ended up lifting her front feet up and onto where I wanted her to go and then scooping her back legs and she was able to get in that way. When we go to PetsMart for Georgia's lessons on Sunday, we're going to check out getting a doggy step to help her get into the are. I think they sell little stairs there for dogs.

It's easy to forget how old she is. I just talked to Joshua about it and we agreed we are going to have to be more mindful of her advancing age, even when she doesn't look or act like it. Right now, she's in there squeeking her squeeky toy at Joshua and it's easy to remember her as a puppy...and still think of her as a youngster. But, she's not and while I'm so glad she's with us, it makes me almost cry now to think of her getting older...

I've found a great website for Senior dogs, if you have one in your life, too. Here's the link:

http://vetmedicine.about.com/cs/doggeneral/a/caringseniordog.htm

On it is an age calculator for dogs, according to breed. According to that, Hildy, being a German Shepherd, is the human equivelant of being an 82 year old. So, she's doing GREAT for that age. It's just the little things that are making my heart sad, like yesterday.

I'll be keeping you updated here as to her trials and triumphs as an old lady. If age is a state of mind for dogs as well, then Hildy will be eternally young...it's just the stuff she can't help that may slow her down.

Thank you for being here, dear Mutties. I will need your support as we go through the aging process with her.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by fiffur on Wed Jan 19, 2011 1:10 pm

You might want a couple of those lil steps for Hildy, one for the car, one for the bed, another for anywhere else she might have trouble jumping up. As an "82 year old" she might be having a bit of arthritis in the hips or knees, understandable at her age. Bless her always-young-at-heart self........she's still enjoying life to the hilt.

If PetSmart doesn't sell those stairs, they aren't hard to make if you're so inclined. Just make sure to carpet them so paws get a good nonslip grip on them.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by mockingbird on Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:41 pm

Thank you for your reply, fiffur.
We only really need the one set, as her bed is on the floor and she doesn't have to do any jumping, other than into the car. I'll check things out at PetsMart and see what they have (they may be for only little dogs, but we'll see.) If they don't have anything we like, then we may have to make them, as you suggested.

Yes, I mentioned to Joshua yesterday that she may have developed arthritis as well as having some hip displasia. She's been on supplements since she was a one-year-old for her hips and has never had any trouble. Yesterday was the first time it ever really became an issue. It's like she got old when we weren't looking.

But, as I've said, and as you've agreed, her heart is still young and she still loves to play (at home and in the woods) and loves to walk. We went out for 3-mile walks for 3 days in a row and I actually think ALL of us overdid it. We were just so excited about Georgia Rose walking! We all took today off and they did a lot of resting, so we can be ready to go walking on Saturday. We're taking tomorrow off, but I may walk Georgia when Hildy isn't looking. Wink
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by WarriorNY on Wed Jan 19, 2011 7:41 pm

Bullet, my dog, is an old man. According to that calulator-- he is a 12 year old Shih Tzu-- he is 64 human years old. He does not act old most of the time but sometimes he really does feel his age.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by jeanebellini on Wed Jan 19, 2011 8:15 pm

i know they make the steps for bigger dogs as well....though i'm not sure where to point you.if petsmart doesn't have them then maybe they could tell you where to go OR you might just want to google it and see what you can find.
if you can't find or don't like the portable steps you might want to look into getting a step up for the car. i haven't seen them for cars but i've seen them for trucks...a little silver step.

okay...i googled it for ya. there are not only steps but ramps so one of them should work for your car. and they show golden retrievers on them so Hildy should be able to use them! here's one...
http://www.1800petmeds.com/Pet+Steps+and+Ramps-cat200006.html

and here's one from Dr Fosters...
http://www.drsfostersmith.com/dog-supplies/ramps-stairs/ps/c/3307/18712?ref=3929&subref=AA&mkwid=sRrFKq71I|pcrid|6252129921&cmpid=PPC-_-G-_-3929
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by Suzzzz on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:23 pm

You already know that Shepards are prone to hip displaysia and you're clearly doing all you can prevention wise. My guess is that Hildy just overdid it a bit with all the walking lately and got a bit sore. I have to watch out for Shop Dog, too. She was rescued as a pup with bad breaks in her hind legs, and we were warned that she would probably have probs with arthritis as she got older (and she does). She has taken glucosamine & chondroitin supplements most of her life, but now at 15 she can no longer jump into the car. This thread is very timely for me. After our last vet visit I realized I really need to get her some steps. Struggling to lift her into the car was almost too much for both of us. We two old ladies are much too old for that!

Edit: I did the age calculation on the first link. It says Shop Dog is equivalent of 90 in human years. Ha! Tell HER that! Such comparisons are fun and interesting, and they are certainly useful in reminding us to be mindful of our babes' needs and possible limitations as they get older. But I think it's important to remember that we are comparing apples and oranges here. The key to caring for any animal, IMO, is to be aware of how he acts: eats, sleeps, poops, walks, jumps, chases the cat. We know when our babes are sick or low by their attitudes if nothing else, and we can certainly see any overt symptoms. Our best bet is to note any changes in their behavior and partner with our vets to address any anomolies.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by fiffur on Fri Jan 21, 2011 1:15 pm

And of course we will do whatever it takes to accomodate our furbabes issues in later life. Not much different than us using canes and walkers when we get older. So steps or a ramp is really not a big deal for us to get, but a big deal for the furkid who will be grateful you got one to make things a bit easier on them.

I know you will do whatever you need to do to make Hildy's later years as comfy as possible, and make adjustments as needed to make life easier for her. Her bed has a heating pad, doesn't it? Cold or damp weather is hard on arthritic joints.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by Suzzzz on Fri Jan 21, 2011 10:50 pm

I don't know about Hildy, but Shop Dog has commandeered my biggest chair for her bed and it is lined with my thick woven Mexican throw and my best down comforter. I should have it so good. Shocked My guess is that Hildy has it as good or better! Very Happy

Today I measured the jump to the back of my car and ordered steps for Shop Dog. I really don't think we can make another vet visit without some car access assistance. While shopping, I read some very helpful advice about getting a dog to use the steps (treats on the lowest step, then the next one, etc.) that we will practice. I'll let you know how it goes, Elizabeth.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by Sue Short on Fri Jan 21, 2011 11:02 pm


I never had to use them but a friend of mine did.
What he did was set up the steps and then sit in the back
seat with treats and encourage the dog to come to her.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by fiffur on Sat Jan 22, 2011 1:26 pm

My sis has a set of steps for Maggie, since she's so small. Didn't take her but one try to get the idea and master using them. I think if you used them once while Hildy watches, to show her what they're for, then call her to you at the top of the steps, she'd get the idea right away.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by pupskweek on Sun Jan 30, 2011 10:16 pm

O dear dear Mockingbird--we all know what it is to watch our best friends fail--and it happens to us over and over because our animals don't live as long as we do. Not fair. You are in my heart. I'm sure Hildy will still have many more years of good living to do. Pups
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by mockingbird on Sun Jul 03, 2011 8:48 am

I know this is an old thread, but I have an old dog, so there it is. Wink
Hildy is doing well, but yes, age is catching up with her. She is moving slower and tires out quicker than even a few months ago. She showing her age around her eyes, but those eyes are still bright and happy. She is getting grey under her chin where it's not noticeable at all, clever Hildy!

A few weeks ago, we took her to River Street in Savannah for a walk. It was still pretty hot, so we are not going to take her out again like that until it cools down a little bit. Shepherds can get overheated pretty easily with their double coat. Lots of people wanting to pet her, some took their pictures with her. We saw that trumpet player again who played her song for her ("Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?") and we had a good time. We found a little doggy water fountain at one of Savannah's squares and will remember that in the future. When she got tired and started directing (herding) us away towards where the car was, we listened and headed home. She had a good time and we wanted to keep it that way.

It's been so hot and humid here already and she is suffering at night, even with the air conditioner and ceiling fans on. So, we got her a little personal fan and directed it (from a nearby shelf) down onto her bed. She really likes that and has stayed in her bed longer. She wants to be where she belongs so badly, but will eventually get up and go lay down on the tiles in the kitchen. We are trying to figure out a summer bed situation for her (she moved the warmer blanket off her sleeping bag and is laying on the satiny sleeping bag fabric. I just fogot to move the blanket but now it's put away for the summer.) We've been thinking of maybe some linoleum or something like that. We could get loose tiles, but I don't want them accidentally pinching her if her skin should get caught. We will figure it out, but for now, the little fan is working great.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by jimkr2t on Sun Jul 03, 2011 11:29 am

What a great story about Hildie! And what a fantastic family you have for her! queen

Jim
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by jeanebellini on Sun Jul 03, 2011 6:51 pm

hmm...the satin probably is cooler...just think of sleeping on satin sheets! i have some of those crystals that you can make a mat with ..you soak it in water and it cools for hours. but that might be too much with ac and stuff on as well. you can also get cooling pads you can put under doggy beds...check out Petsmart and see what they might have. if ya need help just drop me a note and i'll do some searching for ya!
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by Suzzzz on Sun Jul 03, 2011 8:30 pm

My elderly dear, Shop Dog, needed a decent summer bed, too, so I bought her a crib mattress at Walmart. Got the good one with plenty of support (she has hip issues and can't handle a mushy bed) but it wasn't too expensive. It's big enough that she can stretch out comfortably (she's prob a bit smaller than your Hildy, but not much), it's right on the floor so she doesn't have to jump, and since it's low it stays AC cool. Of course, those baby beds have a plastic surface, so I also cover it with a cushy cotton mattress pad and (washable) cotton crib sheet. She loves it!

Shop sends nose touches and friendly butt sniffs to Hildy, and I send hugs to you and Matthew! I love you
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by bpaquet on Sun Jul 03, 2011 11:08 pm

What a great idea! Petie is an old kitty, but he doesn't have many ideas for nice cool beds. He is happy sleeping on his chair with the ceiling fan blowing on him. He does send some purrs to his fellow senior pets.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by jeanebellini on Mon Jul 04, 2011 6:54 pm

that is a good idea about the crib mattress! if you want to check out that option try Babies R Us they're always having sales and coupons....and if you can get it on sale and get one of the 20% coupons etc if might be really reasonable!
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by mockingbird on Tue Jul 05, 2011 8:19 am

That is a great idea about the baby crib mattress. We are considering it. I was wondering if it would be difficult for her to get up off of it, though, since it has more give in it than the floor (with padding and blankets under her sleeping bag.) Does your doggy have any trouble with getting up off of it?

Poor Hildy is having more difficulty getting up off the floor when she is out in the living room or wherever. In her bed, she has the wall to help her brace. Oh, friends, my heart just aches when I see her acting old. I whispered for her to stop it yesterday...but I guess she isn't acting, is she? According to the Purina website pet age calculator (I shared about that before) she will be the equivelent of a 90-year old woman on her 12th birthday (in October.) Once she gets up, she's good to go. We've upped her glucosamine and give her buffered aspirin in peanut butter when it seems she needs it. She's still her sweet self and still making people smile when we go out. She's been with us every step of the way and I believe she still has more of the journey to walk with us.

Thank you for all your kindess and suggestions, dear Mutties. Thank you for loving our girl, too.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by fiffur on Tue Jul 05, 2011 2:04 pm

Have you also tried gentle massages? That helps loosen up old stiff joints. Would Hildy use a large petbed in the livingroom, one with stiff sides so she can brace against that to get up? My sis found a few on sale at Petco (metal frame like a daybed only smaller with a nice mattress) and her furkids love it.

((((((((((((((((((STRONG STAY HEALTHY VIBES)))))))))))))))))))
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by Suzzzz on Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:12 pm

Shop Dog is 15 and has a lot of muscle weakness + arthritis in her back legs (she was found as a pup with severely broken back legs and we were warned that, even though her surgeries were very successful and she's been a strong dog all her life, this would come to pass). But no, she doesn't have a prob getting up off the mattress. I got the best one available and it has lots of support. In the store it seemed nearly solid. It does give a wee bit when she's standing up, but not enough to make her falter. And I think it must be more comfortable than a hard floor that offers no give at all under her old joints. I have a bit of arthritis in my own hips, and while even my bed is not always comfortable, I know I wouldn't last ten minutes on a hard floor.

I suggest you go check them out and see what you think; that's what I did when I got the idea. It was really kinda funny. Went to Walmart, found the crib mattress aisle, and hauled all three support levels off the stacks and laid them out on the floor, one of each. Then I knelt beside each one and stiff-armed them like I was a dog walking across them. Then I sat on them and moved around a bit. I must have looked like a total nut, but you know what Walmart's like. Nobody even blinked. In fact, nobody even noticed! Put the firmest one in my cart (put the rest back -- I'm a good citizen, even in Walmart tongue ), grabbed a mattress pad and 2-pack of crib sheets off the shelf (they had some nice light green sheets with no silly baby stuff on them) and the rest is dog-bed history.

Just one thing, which you probably already know. I give Shop a low-dose aspirin most nights, too, (in peanut butter -- great stuff, peanut butter!) and according to the Web, dogs shouldn't get the enteric coated type. (That leaves the chewables, of course. Shop will take the orange, no prob, but spits out the cherry! Go figure. scratch )

Mockingbird, no matter what you do about beds and whatnot, believe me when I tell you I know how you feel about seeing Hildy age and not be as strong and agile as she used to be. When I see Shop struggle at times with her mobility, it breaks my heart. I know she won't be with me forever, and I will NOT let her truly suffer, no matter what it may cost me. But right now she is lively and loving and happy. That's our focus, to enjoy every moment together. What else can we do? I love you
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by jeanebellini on Wed Jul 06, 2011 7:19 pm

i can just see suzzz on those mattresses at walmart. i bet you really can find firm ones....i don't think they make baby mattresses too soft anymore for fear of the kid slipped down between the railing and the mattress.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by mockingbird on Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:51 pm

I am going to Wal-Mart and picking a mattress up tomorrow. I was there the other day and almost got one, but had a few more questions to ask of you, dear Suzzzz. Hopefully Hildy will be happy with her new bed. Smile Thank you so much for the suggestion. I'll let you know how it goes.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by jeanebellini on Thu Jul 07, 2011 7:43 pm

let me know when you get the mattress what size it is....i'll keep my eyes out for some sheets for ya. sometimes we have them marked down really cheap and its always good to have a few extras;)
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by Suzzzz on Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:58 pm

mockingbird wrote:I'll let you know how it goes.

I'll wait to hear. Hil may be a bit suspicious of the change, but give her time. I put Shop's stinkiest bed blankie on the new bed right at first so she'd know this was meant to be her bed. After a while I removed it (too hot and slippy) and she got used to the bed without it. It didn't take her long to get used to the idea. After a few days she was basking on her new lounger like a princess at a spa! geek

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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by fiffur on Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:30 pm

Sounds like a good way to let her know it's for her to sleep on. How about putting Hildy's bedtime toys in the new bed, along with her blanket? Then she'd know for sure it's for her.
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