About Dana

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I'm a dichotomy of blue jeans, pretty jewelry, frugalista, and Southern girl living the simple rural life. I want to live my life holistically, thoughtfully, economically, and most of all gratefully, and encourage other women to do the same.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Caring for an Aging Pet

I wrote many months ago (my, how time flies!) about how we love our old dog. But there's another side to pets that live a really long time. Since today is not only Halloween, but the last day of National Pet Wellness Month, I thought I'd let you take a peek into what it's like to care for an aging, large (90-pound) pet. It's something to consider when you're choosing that cute little puppy. Will you be able to handle a senior pet that may have mobility issues later on?

Experts* estimate about 25% of our country's pet population is comprised of aging pets, and pets' care requirements change as they go through the natural life cycle.

Molly is more than 16 years old, so she's definitely well into the senior category. There are services that we must spend money on now that we never had to before, just because of her advanced age. And I'm not even talking about veterinarian bills.

I have to pay a mobile groomer, who is strong, has a special table and special equipment to come bathe and trim her now. Because of arthritic back legs (very common in many breeds of large, older dogs and a result of her double hip surgery when she was a puppy), she is not able to stand for very long like she used to when I gave her an outside hose bath.

And she often falls when she tries to get up.
And falls again for no apparent reason when she is trying to go to her food bowl.

Then she just has to wait until someone comes along and picks her up.

Another thing to keep in mind is that large dogs who become stiff and partially immobile need someone to help them squat when they go to the bathroom. Not fun, but it has to be done (Thanks, my son).

As they get older, they may have to sleep somewhere else (rather than in your bedroom) overnight, as they often become incontinent (but of course this can happen with smaller pets, too). Molly has a special nighttime bed in the garage.

Expecting troubles during the aging process would never deter me from adopting a large breed dog, but it's something for every family to consider before making the decision.

Happy belated 16th birthday, Molly!

TCB and the whole gang

* American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)

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