Tag Archives: senior dog

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

 

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Old dog face

What a lovely perspective on having an older dog…it does creep up on us yet they are a joy to have in your household – making you value time even more.

No Dog About It Blog

What is it that changes in a dog’s face that suddenly makes her look old? Is it the lightening around her muzzle? Or, the increasing milkiness of her eyes? Or, is it the way she smiles, flashing that toothy grin at us?

What is it that we first notice? Is it a moment or an accumulation of moments? It seems like one day we are looking at our dog and seeing a young and energetic face, and the next day we see an old one in its place. It always seems like a surprise to me when I finally see it.

A couple of months ago, I took a candid shot of Cupcake standing out on the patio. What I saw on my camera’s viewing screen made me stop and stare.  “Wait. What happened?” I thought, “That doesn’t look like Cupcake. That looks like an old dog.” And it was. It was my Cupcake, in all…

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When something isn’t right with your senior dog

Old dog_dementiaWe love them to bits.  And gradually we notice changes that signal they are getting older.  They may no longer hear the doorbell and, thanks to this new deafness, they may sleep very deeply.

But  changes in an old dog need to be considered carefully.  Behavioral changes can often be the signs of other problems, like diabetes, hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, dental disease, and cancers.

One thing that I’m learning more about is canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS).  Veterinarians describe this as a ‘diagnosis of exclusion’ which means they look to diagnose another disease or disorder first before deciding that the dog is suffering from CDS.

When assessing for symptoms and severity of CDS, veterinarians follow the acronym DISHA.  DISHA stands for:

D= Disorientation

I = Interaction changes

S = Sleep/wake cycle changes

H = House soiling

A = Activity level changes

Disorientation can present as changes in spatial awareness, loss of ability to navigate around familiar obstacles, and/or wandering behavior.

Interaction changes can include a decreased interest in social interaction, petting, greetings, or dependent behaviors.

Restlessness or frequent waking during the night, panic or panting (particularly at night), and increased sleep during the daytime are indications of changes to sleep/wake cycles.

House soiling can increase when there is a loss of signal from the brain so your dog doesn’t realise it needs to eliminate; signs of incontinence or fouling indoors when this has never been a problem are symptoms.

Changes in activity can include decreased exploration and response to stimuli, decreased grooming, change in appetite, increased anxiety with signs of restlessness or agitation and/or separation anxiety.

Most vets offer senior wellness checks  for older dogs.  It’s well worth observing your older pet and discussing all changes with your vet before dismissing the changes as simply old age.

Source:  Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine