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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Unhealthy, But Happy: Making The Most Of Quality Time Together When Your Dog Is Very Old

As their health deteriorates, we will naturally want to spend more time with our dog as they get older. But as time goes on, the idea of what can constitute as quality time can be quite a head-scratcher. We need to find good ways to spend time with our dog, and in some respects, we can overthink it, but how can we ensure that they are getting the best from us?

If They Want To Sleep…

Let them sleep! They are going to spend more time sleeping now than they were years ago, so make it a bit more comfortable for them. Give them some extra blankets to lie on, or give them a space on the couch. It's at this point where the rules of them staying off the couch might not apply, especially if you want to give them your all.
Helping Them Walk

Yes, they will still want to go for walks, but it will be few and far between. As they get older, their mobility will naturally decrease because of stiff joints, but they will still want to accompany us wherever we go. In which case, do your best to help them get up or down stairs, or if you want to take them out for a walk, make sure it's on terrain that isn't too difficult for them.
Getting Them Outside

They will want to stay active, and there are going to be parts of their body that will not do what they want. As they get older, their bladder will be quite weak, but you can purchase a dog belly wrap to help with this so that they can get outside a bit more. And if you were used to going out for hours on end, playing Frisbee, or hiking up and down mountains, you need to pull this back and make sure the time outside is nice and active, but not overly so. Ultimately, the more active they are, the better they will feel, but there has to be a limit.
Getting More Home Comforts

They will be more sensitive to the changes in the seasons, and we have to be ready to adapt to these changes. Keeping some home comforts to hand will ensure that they are a bit happier despite their failing body. They are going to be more sensitive, not just in terms of their body, but their mind also, so think about the home comforts that they usually like, and get a few more ready!
Providing Extra Nutrition

In their senior years, they will need more in their diet to keep the feeling healthy. Not only will they need different types of nutrients, but they will also need an adequate amount of calories. Fluctuations in weight are very common for dogs in old age, and it can be a struggle to find the right balance. 

Ensuring that they have adequate supplements is something you need to provide for them at the very least, but you may want to think about other approaches to ensure they have healthier functions, such as the gut. 

A lot of dog owners give their dog kefir grains, as the good bacteria benefits their gut in many ways, but be careful not to overdo this, and ensure that their stomach can take this influx of good bacteria. On the other hand, bone broth has been shown to be a great way to improve digestive health as it is very light on the stomach and provides many nutrients.

Taking Those Opportunities To Bond

Even if it's not like it used to be, you can still bond over old activities. Even if they don't get out much, something as basic as grooming time is your opportunity to bond with them. It's the two of you, together, and it's a very simple way to show them how much you care.
Take Each Day As It Comes

It can be very upsetting when your dog isn't able to move around as they once did, and they may not want to do anything anymore, but you need to judge each day on its own merit. As long as you are keeping them as healthy as possible, and you are doing everything in your power to ensure they are comfortable, then there's no telling how they will be tomorrow. They may be sprightly and full of energy, but they might not, and this is something you have to take on a day by day basis.
Keeping Your Medical Knowledge Up-To-Date

Something as simple as keeping in touch with the vets during this difficult time will make sure that you are doing everything you can for them. Old age is one of those things that happen to each and every one of us, and while your vet will tell you that they need to be comfortable and healthy, it doesn't hurt to know the signs and symptoms of a certain illness, so you can act quickly if there is an emergency.
Have Some Fun!

You may feel sad, and understandably so, but you have a lifetime of memories together, and they wouldn't want you to be sad for them, and instead of dreading the worst, give yourself the opportunity to relive some old times. They need you more now than ever, but you can still do the things that you used to do, albeit with a little more care and attention. Enjoy some fun time together, and talk to them. 

They don't want to feel scared or upset, and this is why you should spend quality time with each other. It can be incredibly heartbreaking to see your dog give into old age, and while everyone will say it's a part of life, it can hurt. But it's not helpful at this point in time to dwell on the negative aspects, because they may still have a lot of life in them yet, and it's your responsibility to make the most of their twilight years, and you can still make new memories. 

Your dog is your best friend, so treat them accordingly, and make the most of your quality time together.

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Author Amber Higgins

Author Amber Higgins
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Welcome UK and worldwide visitors and friends to Family Disaster Dogs online! Although I'm an American author and dog professional the worldwide web has given me the opportunity to connect with some wonderful folks who have contributed pictures for my books. The "Start Mantrailing" book features RRI K9 North Scotland trained Search and Rescue Dog "Amber" on the cover and her teammates training in the book, plus American dogs using my training methods. A portion of sales of the Start Mantrailing book or copies were donated to RRI North Scotland. The children's picture book "My Puppy Can Find Me" has my daughter and bloodhound as illustrations by UK cartoonist Scotty King. You can find the books on Amazon UK or use the contact page to order from me. When you click the links will take you to your own county pages of this site.

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