Tag Archives: elderly dogs

Enrichment for the special needs dog

In my massage practice, I see quite a few special needs dogs.  These can be senior dogs who are slowing down for a variety of reasons, dogs who have been injured, and dogs who are terminally ill.  Some also have behavioral difficulties which exacerbate any physical limitations they may have.

One of the things I address with my clients is enrichment.

The dog may be physically limited in its abilities but is not impaired cognitively.  Like older people who have entered rest homes/nursing homes, or who are being cared for at home, these dogs need stimulation and variety.

Visitors, including other dogs, is just one example of an enrichment activity.

Another issue for owners in this situation is introducing variety by getting their dog out of the house.  If a dog enjoys car rides, for example, they may be happy just to take a drive to a new location with the windows down to experience new scenery and smells.

Kenny, a 13+ year old Bull Terrier/Blue Heeler cross, was taken to the beach recently - his smile says it all!

Kenny, a 13+ year old Bull Terrier/Blue Heeler cross, was taken to the beach recently.  He needed to be carried from the car to the beach but his smile says it all!

I know some owners who take their dogs for a take-out meal so they can sit in the car and enjoy it together – with snacks included.

Once owners have tried enrichment activities with their dog, they have universally reported to me an improvement in the dog’s disposition and general engagement.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

An old dog’s snores

I adore my Daisy and I’m very aware that she’s getting older.  For example, I notice that she doesn’t hear as well as she used to and she sleeps very deeply as a result.

I love watching her sleep and couldn’t resist taking this short video of her snoring.  Enjoy!

The Princess and the Pea

When you own a senior dog, it’s important to understand that they experience discomfort from arthritis, aching joints, and muscle tension.

A supportive dog bed is essential.

In Daisy's case, she now sleeps on a total of four mattresses, one of which is memory foam and acts as the 'boxed spring' layer.  I call this her Princess and the Pea look.

In Daisy’s case, she now sleeps on a total of four mattresses, one of which is memory foam and acts as the ‘boxed spring’ layer. I call this her Princess and the Pea look.

Those ‘Bambi’ falls…

I had a lovely email this evening from a new massage client.  She says ‘Ash was very happy after her treatment and has not had any bad falls (i.e. the ‘Bambi’ ones which are really bad for her hips.)’

You know what she means, right?  If not, here are a few examples:

Copyright Disney Studios

Copyright Disney Studios

Copyright Disney Studios

Copyright Disney Studios

Copyright Disney Studios

Copyright Disney Studios

Does your dog fall like Bambi?  Landing like Bambi when you are an older or mobility-challenged dog can really hurt.  Please take care!

The PupLight – helping an older dog see at night

As a dog gets older, it is common that they will experience a loss of eyesight or visual acuity.  I have found that many owners assume that their dog has cataracts but a more common problem is nuclear sclerosis.

Nuclear sclerosis, which is also called lenticular sclerosis, is a condition that causes the pupils of the eyes to look cloudy and often blue-gray in colour.  Nuclear sclerosis isn’t painful and it comes upon the dog gradually.  At some point you will notice that your dog isn’t seeing well at night and their peripheral vision may also be limited.

Such is the case with my Daisy.  We have stairs that go from our house to the outside garden and I noticed that she would stop dead at the top of the stairs because she couldn’t see the steps in the dark. It made sense that, although I could turn a light on in the house, the lighting in the garden wasn’t as easy.

Then I found the PupLight, the lighted dog collar.  Although marketed most strongly for people who walk their dogs at night and need to be visible to traffic, I decided to give it a try…

The PupLight

The PupLight

It’s been great!  Just what we needed.  I can clip the collar on before letting Daisy out at night and she can see the steps, and all the irregularities in the garden.  And she adjusted to its use very well.

Daisy shows off her PupLight dog collar

Daisy shows off her PupLight dog collar

The PupLight's bright light makes it much easier for Daisy to see at night

The PupLight’s bright light makes it much easier for Daisy to see at night

Bottom line:  Highly recommended product, particularly for senior dogs

Note:  This product endorsement is entirely my own and was not paid for by the PupLight company or its retailers.

Does my dog have arthritis?

Fireplace photo

Arthritis is a common condition in older dogs.  At first, though, owners may not always realise when their dog is suffering.  That’s because dogs tend to hide discomfort and pain from their pack.

Signs that your dog may be suffering from arthritis include:

  • Difficulty sitting or standing
  • Sleeping more
  • Weight gain
  • Reluctance to jump, run, walk or climb stairs
  • Decreased interest in playing or engaging in activities
  • Being less alert
  • Favouring a limb
  • Changes in attitude or behaviour

One day in 2011, Daisy let me know something was wrong.  We were out walking and she slowed down and stopped and the look in her eyes was one of pain.  She had finally let me know that she wasn’t feeling herself.

A series of x-rays confirmed arthritis in her lumbosacral spine and left hip.

Since then, she has responded to rest, conventional treatments, hydrotherapy, and other complementary therapies including my massage and laser treatments.

Quality of life for an arthritis sufferer can be attained – once the owner is aware of the problem!

Give your dog a hug from us

I love dog people.  I mean – true dog people.  And for that reason, I love doing business with companies that are managed by dog people.

Take D-Fa, for example.  We’re having a very hot summer here in Christchurch and Daisy really needs her cool collar.  Unfortunately, the ice pack insert has lost some of its fluid and is no longer working as well.  I contacted D-Fa and they said they’d send me a replacement pack for only $5.00.

Well, the pack has arrived (Daisy is very happy).  And I’m happy because I got good service from them but also a nice note:

Hope this finds you well.  Sorry you didn’t have these for the screamingly hot day in Christchurch yesterday, but here they are now (hope it doesn’t start to snow as a result).

Thanks and let us know if there is anything else we can do for you.

Cheers and give your dog a hug from us.

I’ve previously endorsed Cool Collars and recommend them to my clients, particularly those that own elderly dogs.  I’m also a fan of their Float Doggy flotation vests.

Thanks D-Fa…from a satisfied dog person (customer)