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Some thoughts on Senior K9 Care.

Home Forums The Lounge Some thoughts on Senior K9 Care.

This topic contains 8 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of RonW farmer 1 month, 1 week ago.

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  • #64742
    Profile photo of Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Moderator

    Some backgound…

    Many here know I rescue and rehabilitate dogs, mainly ones who are extremely fearful and those that have been involved in bites (not just GSD’s). Some of the fearful ones have not just been neglected, but actually tortured (beaten, cigarette burns, cut on, etc…). Most are about to be euthanized since most Animal Shelters are not equipped to deal with these cases.

    A fearful dog may take me from 2 months to a year to rehabilitate. Most bite cases a minimum of a year, usually I can get them good to go much sooner, but I will not release a dog unless I am 100% sure they are good in as many situations as I can come up with. If a dog can’t be released I’ll keep them myself.

    So most of my K9’s are rehab failures that require a knowledgeable handler, but on occasion I take in a special case.

    …a senior female GSD.

    In her day she was a real “bad ass” Schutzhund 3 (SchH3) trained/titled. She’s thirteen so on occasion you see the K9 she was, but now is mainly enjoying retirement. Her handler was a friend and veteran, but he died of cancer. His family was fine to keep the much younger trained male.

    With no one interested in her I stepped in to provide her a much deserved home.

    It turns out she’s actually 16 years old! Uncommon, but not unheard of.

    Like any senior she has good days and bad. Her hearing is poor and vision is getting even worse.

    On bad days I have to carry her up and down stairs.

    It’s important to keep a seniors weight proper as excess weight affects mobility and health, just like us. There are senior blend foods available, essentially more volume than calories so they feel full, but helps avoid weight gain.

    Sometimes a very senior dog will choose not to eat, I keep beef and chicken broth on hand for this to aid in some nutrition. This can be serious or nothing and if you lack experience consult a vet. Pain can also cause a lack of appetite, various medical issues, or when their time is simply coming to an end.

    Monitoring the senior for mobility issues is something important as well, old age stiffness vice debilitating pain is something to consider. Aggression or negative reaction to physical interaction are some of the potential signs of pain.

    Exercise is important part of their life, but use caution to not overdue it. Seniors tend to be more at risk of heat injuries as well.

    Quality of life is a subjective observation.

    As long as the dog seems to enjoy various activities and any pain if present is managed I am happy to deal with their extra needs. In this case sometimes carrying a 65 lbs dog, being observant for possible confusion due to limited vision/hearing/mental lapses in order to calm her as appropriate.

    Sometimes the senior K9 will pass on peacefully in their sleep and a sad occasion it is, but it is also a blessing for the family.

    Sometimes the senior will need to be euthanized and this for me is always a difficult decision.

    I will not allow my K9 friends to suffer needlessly, but I will not base the decision to euthanize on my convenience. Of course I am in a position to spend as much time as needed to care for their special needs.

    Understand the laws in your area, some do not allow you to euthanize your animals without a veterinarian. If you are going to euthanize any animal make sure you know what you are doing, since if done incorrectly it can make an already difficult decision into a traumatic event with needless suffering for animal and yourself.

    Providing this senior female a home has been a positive experience and for me, just compensation for her years of service to her handler until his passing.

    Her time is near, but she is resting comfortably in her dog bed as I post this, but is not interested in getting up though she took some water I brought to her.

    I’ll see what the day brings.

    #64744
    Profile photo of JohnnyMac
    JohnnyMac
    Participant

    Dealing with a senior dog in their final months is an awful experience.

    Determining when quality of life is too poor is really hard to do. I honestly think many good owners wait too long. I say good owners, because you also hear of owners asking the vet to euthanize their healthy dog for reasons like: we’re moving.

    #64745
    Profile photo of Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Moderator

    It’s a balancing act and very difficult.

    She is the black GSD on the left.

    From my Fitmas day 6 post.

    #64787
    Profile photo of Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Moderator

    So today she is up and down the stairs on her own and eating her normal quantity.

    :good:

    #65156
    Profile photo of Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Moderator

    On New Year’s day it was time to say goodbye to this Senior.

    She lived much longer than the typical GSD and until December was in surprisingly good physical condition for her age. It was a rollercoaster experience these last few weeks, just when I thought the time had come she would bounce back for a day or two.

    For many who I think of their dogs as objects or tools this will seem overboard, but my experience has been one of close friendship and better companionship than most people. Fiercely loyal family protectors, who are surprisingly intuitive, and capable.

    When I carried her outside for the last time the other dogs began to howl, this is not normal for my group, barking yes, but howling is extremely rare for my pack.

    Why the change?

    I have my own thoughts, but you can interpret for yourself.

    I spent some time together laying in a grassy field, offered food and water. Watched the sunset, she drifted into sleep, and while she slept…

    It was time, but still difficult. This is an unfortunate part having dogs as part of your life.

    I do think it’s best to have at least two dogs of disparate ages to ensure always having one capable companion and it eases the transition when one passes. A lesson my Grandfather taught me.

    #65158
    Profile photo of JohnnyMac
    JohnnyMac
    Participant

    On New Year’s day it was time to say goodbye to this Senior

    Sorry for your loss Joe. My wife’s favorite coffee mug says “Dogs are people too”…so you know how we have felt in a similar situation.

    I agree, it’s WAY easier having two dogs of different ages to better get through the passing of the (hopefully) elder dog.

    #65160
    Profile photo of Darkrivers
    Darkrivers
    Participant

    Joe I’m sorry for your loss. Thats a hard thing.

    If you're gonna fight, fight like you're the 3rd monkey on the ramp to Noah's Ark... And Brother, it's starting to rain! James from Texas

    #65161
    Profile photo of wheelsee
    wheelsee
    Participant

    Condolences…..

    Which is heavier - a soldier's pack or a slave's chains? Napoleon

    Strength, Honor. Maximus (Gladiator)

    If you tolerate evil, you yourself are evil.
    Col Hugo Martinez, Commander Search Bloc

    William, in The Republic - CRS/CTT 2017, HEAT 2/CQB/FonF 2018, DCH 2018

    #65162
    Profile photo of RonW
    farmer
    Participant

    My condolences Joe. Been there, done that. Its hard & leaves a hole in the heart.

    RonW

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