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Friday, May 21, 2010

Geriatric Dog and a Face Plant

I recently posted about the joys and perils of hiking with dogs and I stand by what I said, that all dogs love it and benefit greatly from dog hiking expeditions. But what do you do if one of your pack is a senior dog? Hmm, this is an issue that should be addressed, and hopefully it'll be of some assistance and consolation to owners of senior dogs when faced with the rapid health decline that affects their beloved canine.

Linguini (dalmatian and german shorthaired pointer mix), Hank and Sue (the rhodesian ridgeback duo) on a hike. The rhodies are only four years old whereas the dalmatian mix is almost eleven

Senior dogs should get regular exercise but not too vigorous. Hikes are great, but watch out for symptoms of fatigue which can hit your senior dog suddenly. Don't ever force geriatric dogs and don't push them any more than they can handle. With that in mind, let me share some pictures of our canine aging dog. 

The beginning of the hike is always exciting and our aging dog well rested

She gets to jump around and enjoy the smells, the fresh water, and the new surroundings

The joy any dog receives from a hike is like medicine, if you don't push them too far

Sometimes, regardless of the owner's good intentions, situations can arise that nobody is prepared for. In this instance, our Linguini, out of sheer joy decided to leap only five feet off a ledge, a situation she's managed easily until now. During our last hike we discovered that jumping from a distance is a thing of the past. As Linguini's front legs touched the ground, they buckled, either due to her arthritis or her dog tumors, and landed on her face.

She was temporarily immobilized because she was in shock

Poor girl, she just lied on her back and took a minute to process

Our hikes are far from over. We'll just have to be even more conservative, cut them short, and keep a better eye on our aging girl. She's doing as well as could be expected. Luckily, for now the term "mast cell tumors" is not part of our vocabulary, or so we like to think. Whatever the case may be, we're going to maintain a positive outlook and hope for the best. 

Caring for a senior dog is difficult, costly, scary at times, but incredibly rewarding. I wanted to end by saying that I not only support all kinds of dog rescue, I particularly appreciate and admire those who are willing to take in and provide a home for the very ill and the aging animals, the ones least likely to be placed.



houndstooth said...

Ah, those senior dogs like to keep you on your toes, that's for sure! We don't take Lilac for walks anymore because her back legs just don't cooperate, and her pride won't allow her to accept help. It's such a fine balance between allowing them to have fun and preserving their dignity. We've found that what seems to make our old girl happiest is to take her to the dog park when it's really quiet and just let her wander around and sniff grass to her heart's content. When she's had enough, she comes to us and lets us know that we need to take her to her royal conveyance (otherwise known as the van) and she lays down to rest and drink. If Blue and Bunny want to romp for a while longer, she's fine with that! It's so good to see Linguini still enjoying life to the fullest and doing what she loves!

brooke said...

Poor Linguini! I hope she's okay after that shock!
Darwin's not a senior, but her back problems have us on our toes. What used to be 2 hour dog park trips are now 30 minutes to an hour with LOTS of "down stays" and rest periods. It's tough when you're used to them being so active to having to limit their activities.

Madi and Mom said...

Sweet little Linguini!!! We can see the shock in her face and possible a little bit of embarrassment as I'm sure not being able to carry of a well practiced jump was a surprise.
Bless her heart!!!
Everything needs to get out and romp we are glad you have ways of letting her do so on her level. Losing one's independence is hard.
Madi and Mom

Nadine, Chewy and Lilibell said...

Oh no, poor Linguine! She looks so sad and pathetic lying there. Dad had a senior dog too, and towards the end it was really sad with her, she was such an old lady.

Waggles & Chi kisses, Chewy & Lilibell

Frankie Furter said...

The last few years that my mom and dad lived with the 3 short hairs... they started to walk their favorite walking trail BACKWARDS... beclaws it meant that they did the UPhill part FURST while Baron, Sarek, and Lisel were more fresh. The downhill back to the car was much easier on them.
Sorry that Linguini fell. She is a PUP in mind and spirit. She wss probably a little embarrassed too. two leggers don't realize that we can feel that way, butt we can and DO.
I am soooo glad that you have that grrreat strong pawsitive thought thing going. That is what is needed, you know.

Kira The BeaWootiful said...

Woooos! Poor Linguini. I know how she feels, as Scampi and I are both senior citizens we feel her pain. Scampi is is good shape yet, fur a 12 year old, but I have trouble with my back legs a lot.Mum says she spends more on my meds in a month and hers in a year....
She loves us anyway!
~husky kisses~
-Kira The BeaWootiful

Benny and Lily said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Benny and Lily said...

Those are great action shots of your hike. Poor Linguini, despite the fall we hope he was able to get back on his feet. My friend just want through this with her 18 year old Cairn terrier.
Happee Friday
Benny & Lily

Sally Ann said...

I like senior dogs very much. Getting older doesn't mean they can't be a part of the family, it just means you work around their needs to keep going. My big sister had a baby stroller to keep her going for years. Mommy arms are nice and toned because of toting around my brother, so here we love senior dogs and we can't imagine the world without them.
Sally Ann

the booker man said...

oh, poor miss linguini! i bet that was ouchies and a little embarrassing to fall on her face like that. :( i'm glad she's okie dokie and didn't hurt herself.
you are right, though, miss twinkie! it's good to get out and exercise no matter how old you are!
the booker man

JackDaddy said...

OH poor baby. I thought she was doing what Jack does sometimes when he doesn't want to come inside. I hope she has a full recovery!!

Lorenza said...

Sure it was shock for your to fell in that way! I hope you were recovered soon after that!
Take care
Kisses and hugs

♥♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥♥ said...

When Dakota was starting to fail, she still wanted to go for a walk even though she couldn't handle the long ones she used to so enjoy. But Mom would take her for a short walk along some of the same route and then bring her home. Mom knew Dakota was content with what she got because she just lay down and rested when Phantom and Thunder would get leashed up to go for their walk.

Thanks for another great lesson.

Woos - Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

Ina in Alaska said...

That is one gorgeous "Splash" picture of Linguine enjoying the fresh water. The ones of her on her back are heartbreaking. I am so glad you are so caring for Linguini. I love the Senior dogs and have taken in two after their owners died and/or were hauled off to jail... (one of the dogs was a 14 year old Maltese whose owner shot and killed his soon-to-be ex wife at a gas station and the dog was left alone in the apt.), the other was Porter, probably my favorite dog ever, he was 11 when we got him and lived to be almost 17... RIP Porter...

Halle is going to be 12 on Halloween. she still has lots of energy. When my previous doggies got too old to walk but enjoyed their walks I would buy a used stroller and take them along for a ride. Great post!!! xoxoxo

BRUTUS said...

Oh, poor Linguini! And her "senior" moment captured on film to boot! Good to see she's feeling so well though!

Brutus the Frenchie

Martine said...

That photo of your girl and her rhodie pals is fantastic. We love it!!!

We hope Linguini starts to realize she can't be running and jumping like she use to you.

xo martine & the kiddlets

Oskar said...

Ooh, I'm happy that Linguini didn't hurt herself!

Sagira said...

Aww..poor baby. :(
I know all to well about caring the for senior dogs. 3 of our 4 are seniors now. :(

ocmist said...

Poor Linguini! How embarrassing for you!

Yes, as you know, there are days now when OC needs to use her wheelchair to get along. We have to be careful when we do put it on though, because she REALLY has a tendency to overdo then! It helps her get her exercise and get out to go potty. Often, after she has used it a bit, when we take it off, she can walk alright for a day or so.

Older dogs also tend to gain weight because they don't like to get up and get exercise, and this has helped in that area too. We also highly recommend Dr. Franks Joint Pain Remedy... a homeopathic
remedy that has worked wonders for taking away her pain and helping her.

The Two Country Poodles said...

Poor girl...Sorry you did a faceplant right in the sand. Hope you are ok.

Wags and Licks,
Mollie Jo & Bobo

Dennis the Vizsla said...

hello twinkie its dennis the vizsla dog oh hay wow i feel for poor linguini this has ben tuckers sitchooayshun for a wile now he cannot do the things he yoozd to do but he stil wants to do them it is verry sad!!! ok bye

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