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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.

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