Positive ageing (no one I know is getting any younger and that includes your dog)

I have wanted to write this blog post for a while.

The motivation behind this post rests squarely with the contents I have been reading on some Facebook groups I belong to.  There are consistently posts which say:

  • My dog is slowing down, is this arthritis?
  • She pulled up lame today.  What should I do?
  • I can’t take him out with us on walks anymore; he’s too slow.
  • I’m gonna take her to the vet, but I thought I’d ask for advice here…

So let’s get this straight – what my mother always said holds true for our dogs as well as us – no one I know is getting any younger.

Stan positive ageing

Stan having a snooze. Rest is important for recovery and older dogs will sleep more.

The basic principles of well being are the same for us and our dogs.  It’s called positive ageing – and to look out for ourselves we need:

  • good nutrition
  • exercise that is appropriate for our physical condition
  • rest
  • social interaction and stimulation
  • safety and security
  • medical care

We can’t be rehabilitated out of old age and neither can our dogs.  We can, however, facilitate a long and happy life by managing all of the basic principles.  We’re responsible for taking care of ourselves and, if you’ve chosen to have a dog in your life, you’ve made a commitment to care for them for their lifetime as well and so you need to look out for age-related changes and adjust your dog’s lifestyle and routines.

Case study – Stan

The picture above is Stan, who is now aged 10+.  I first met him when his Mum joined one of my massage workshops for dog owners almost 3 years ago.  She then brought me in to work with him directly because he was stiff and would occasionally limp.

We’ve worked as a team on things like weight loss, making good food choices and adding fresh ingredients, supplementation, and things to ask the vet during consults.

Unfortunately, Stan ruptured a cruciate ligament in 2017 when playing on wet grass and then (as the textbooks suggest), he also ruptured the ligament on the other leg earlier this year.  But his Mum has managed through it all and has kept up with exercises for rehab and committed to his diet and supplement regime.

Stan benefits from having a family member care for him when Mum is at work – so no noisy day cares for Stan which also helps him rest.

His Mum told me today that she looks back on the last couple of years and it has been a challenge (in many ways – including financial) to manage ‘one surgery after another’ but because Stan is happy, she knows she’s done the right thing for him.

Positive Ageing.  Are you ready to give your dog what he/she needs?

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand


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