BlogPaws has designated August as Senior Pets Month. As you may know, my sister Katie turned eleven in June which has her in the midst of life as a senior dog. Luckily for a large breed, the Kuvasz has a fairly long life expectancy of 12-14 years. This is my mom’s first time really having a senior dog. Her first dog passed away at the age of ten rather suddenly from pancreatic cancer. She did not show many signs of being a senior other than slowing down a bit, and then suddenly she was gone.
Being a senior dog is not always a bad thing.
- I have noticed that my sister is allowed to do lots of things that were not allowed before and frankly, I find this unfair! She gets even more spoiled and also gets more snacks…I’ve actually caught Mom sneaking her stuff when she thought I wasn’t looking! The nerve!
- When you are a senior dog, you are pretty well behaved which means you might regain some off leash liberties that you lost as a younger dog.
- We still walk the same routes, but often times we are taking more time along the way to smell the roses and wabbits. We tend to follow Katie’s lead when it comes to setting the pace.
- When Katie decides to act like an immature puppy, Mom actually reinforces that behavior – seriously, what happened to acting your age? Mom used to get mad at Katie when she would lie down and kick her feet in the air and refuse to move, now Mom finds it cute and funny. When I do it, I hear a stern, “Emma get up right now”. What’s up with that?
Sometimes being a senior dog can be a drag.
- Arthritis is a problem which has gotten worse over time. Staying at a proper weight and keeping up on her fitness has helped her a lot, though. She also takes some medication to help out with the stiffness when she first gets up. Mom says she is like a car in a Minnesota winter…when it first hits the road the car rattles, sputters, and is hard to maneuver but after a block or two it runs fine…Katie is the same way when we go walking.
- One of Katie’s favorite things in the world has always been playing chase, but now she is not able to keep up with the younger dogs which sometimes turns her into a mean old lady dog. Watch out for older dogs when they get frustrated because they may lash out, not knowing a better way to handle their situation.
- When Katie gets sick, and she has always had a sensitive tummy, instead of feeling better in a day, it takes several days to get back to normal.
- Katie sleeps a lot more and tends to not appreciate getting up really early like she used to.
- Fears seem to get worse. Katie never liked fireworks, thunder, or gunshots, but as she ages she gets more and more bothered and frightened.
What to remember.
- Love a senior dog as much as you can…they tend to be big snugglers.
- Keep them at a healthy weight to cut down on health problems.
- Make sure they stay fit. Keep up their exercise program for good overall health but make sure it is something they can handle.
- Don’t exclude a senior dog from activities. Take them along but modify things so they can participate such as walking slower, or taking a few breaks.
- Know your dog and if something doesn’t seem right, contact your vet.