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How can I make my senior dog's life more interesting?

December 2nd, 2005, 03:02 PM
My fourteen year old dog, Ebony, has bad arthritis, so she can't go on long walks any more. I tried to get around it by driving her to the park and then walking around with her a bit, but nevertheless the next day she was so tired and sore that she was walking stiffly and having trouble getting up and down the steps. Most of her time is spent in the living room / dining room and the kitchen, which she only goes into to eat because it gets narrow on the end and it's hard for her to turn around there.

I imagine it's pretty boring being in the same couple of rooms all day, though my parents are upstairs with her a lot of the time.

She is more lively when she's outside with someone, sniffing the yard and playing. (She's so sweet, she still wants people to "chase" her, so we run after her veeery slowly. ;) )

But it's still the same yard everyday . . . so I was wondering what I could get her to make her life more interesting. She lives with my parents and I see her about once a week. I used to walk her every time I was over, but lately she comes back so worn out that the next day she has trouble walking and going up and down steps. (And she loves walks so much that she never gives any indication that she's had enough . . . as far as Ebony's concerned there's no such thing as enough!)

So I was thinking . . . some kind of indoor toy for Christmas? But nothing that requires being run after because she's veeery wobbly. Or do they make those pet strollers for large dogs? She's fifty pounds and about the size of a lab or golden retriever.


December 2nd, 2005, 03:12 PM
When my husky mix was that age, she wanted to go for a walk, we would walk her to the corner and then carry her back! She was too exhausted. My dog loved to bark, that was her big thrill of the day to look out the window and bark at the dogs walking by.(During the day, there wasn't that many dogs walking by) She also loved car drives! So what I did, when I had to go to the animal shelter to drop off some supplies on the weekend, I would bring her with me. The shelter is 30 minutes away from my house, I would park the car close as possible to where she would see the dogs outside.Leave her in my car she would go hysterical barking at the dogs.I would deliever the supplies, drive her back home. When she came back home, she felt like a million bucks.

December 2nd, 2005, 03:18 PM
I was going to suggest going for car rides... Our old doggy used to love that. She wouldn't run unless she was being fed, so going for car rides was a more passive way of seeing the world.

December 2nd, 2005, 03:21 PM
There have been some studies done that say that putting senior dogs back into training classes extends their life expectancy because they are being mentally and physically stimulated again. Most senior dogs don't do very much as they get older so this is great for them. I have had several in classes over the years and they all loved it. I think the oldest was 14 yrs.

December 2nd, 2005, 03:44 PM
my dog, he's not old, but he does like to watch other dogs. I used to let him watch agility shows on TV. But since you're thinking of a gift, how about those videos they make for dogs?

December 2nd, 2005, 04:40 PM
The TVs are all downstairs or I'd try videos. :) She does have a window in the living room she likes to look out of, a long narrow one that goes right down to the floor.

Car rides sound like a great idea! Ebony does like to ride in the car (even though the only place she goes in them is the vet.) Where do your dogs usually ride in the car? I don't think she's steady enough to sit on the passenger seat, but maybe I can put down the back seat and she can ride on the flat bed of it.

Ebony would probably love training classes, she's smart as a button. ;) But I'm concerned her arthriits would make it difficult for her. Like if you tell her to sit it takes her several attempts at manuevering to get her legs arranged so she can sit down comfortably. You can almost see her wincing.

Oh, and she won't walk on any "slippery" indoor flooring like tiles or wood . . . wouldn't training places have, er, washable floors? :P Ebony's fallen down on my parents' hardwood floors a few times (think Bambi on ice) so they put rugs down everywhere. When we go to the vet, we take a couple of rugs so that we can create a trail of them to the examination room.

The rug thing is partly psychological, I'm sure, because after a few minutes in the waiting room she'll get interested in the displays of dog treats and food and wander off the rug to check it out. But her legs are stiff and sometimes weak, no doubt about it. :/

I wonder if I could get a dog trainer to let us just sit off to the side (on a rug, LOL) and watch the other dogs being trained. She'd probably enjoy that. :D


December 2nd, 2005, 05:38 PM
Is she on any medication? Swimming is great for arthritic dogs since they can move around without putting weight on their joints, maybe you could look into water therapy.

December 2nd, 2005, 07:35 PM
Yes, she's on glucocamine (sp?) and something else I can't remember the name of. One is a people medicine (suggested by the vet) and the other is an actual prescription from the vet.

Hmmm . . . even though she's half lab, she doesn't really care for water. She'll wade and lie down in puddles, but that's about it. ;) But I would be willing to try to convince her if it'll help! Is there a place people can go for pet water therapy? Or do they usually just wait until summer and go to the beach?


December 2nd, 2005, 08:22 PM
My sister's dog goes in the sea - they're on the west coast - but goldengirl, who often posts here, has a disabled doxie that she takes to water therapy in Montreal. If your vet is well-informed, he might be able to refer you to someone in your area. Just a thought.

December 2nd, 2005, 08:23 PM
My training floor is concrete. I usually set up a padded mat for them to work on. You don't need to do very much. Just being there will be enough.

December 2nd, 2005, 08:24 PM
Have you thought about a daycare.

December 2nd, 2005, 10:10 PM
Somebody mentioned last week that heated doggy beds work wonders for doggies with arthritis. It might be worth a shot...

For the training, maybe you could try to train facial expressions- you know, like moving the ears down or raising the head up- stuff that doesn't require moving too much.

December 2nd, 2005, 11:48 PM
Swimming is great for arthritic dogs since they can move around without putting weight on their joints, maybe you could look into water therapy.

This is definately great for dogs.There is a place in Toronto that has this.Can't remember the name,but a friend of mine takes her dog there.

My first GSD of 13 years ended up with Rhumatoid(sp) Arthritis in his back side.He was on Meds.I ended up taking him on VERY short walks,I mean 15 mins max a few times a day.I made sure he couldn't hurt himself in anyway.More carpets were put in the house.He played in the back at his own pace.He slept with me on my bed,so it was a soft place for him.

My current GSD has some arthritis,but you really wouldn't know it.I have him on K9-MX and it's doing wonders.He still runs around.But I limit that.

I would definately look into the swimming therapy for her.

If you plan on taking her for car rides,have her in the back seat.You can get a harness for her.This way she won't get jolted around.:)

December 4th, 2005, 11:18 AM
Check out K9-Karts. They make the wheelchairs for disabled dogs, but they also have lift assistants to help with the stairs.

I do the water therapy at home. Walking in warm deep water to help build Heidi's muscles. She actually takes one or two steps after her exercise sessions. I think it is as much the warm water (and the jaccuzi tub when we were in the hotel). I am going to try water massage with my hand held massage shower head once the cut on her paw is better. I plan to fill the bathtub with water and then submerge the shower head to create some water movement for her.

A heated bed, lift assists, maybe one of the treat balls that dispenses treats as the dog rolls it around, vary the selection of toys - goldens at least get bored easily, so I would leave out a few of the toys and then change them every few days, - car rides, maybe some people coming in just to visit Ebony. If there is a radio near her, change the station every few days. Popular, classic music another day. A friend's golden pup used to be very hyper in the car, one day she had a classical station playing and William settled right down. Now her car plays classical whenever William is along for the ride.

If you have a PetsMart around, they do training in the store. I am sure you and Ebony could watch.

December 4th, 2005, 05:42 PM
Does she like cookies? If she does, why don't you take couple of cookies and hide them. She will walk around slowly sniffing and looking for the cookies. When she finds them, it will be a nice reward for her.

December 4th, 2005, 05:50 PM
Check out K9-Karts. They make the wheelchairs for disabled dogs, but they also have lift assistants to help with the stairs.

Ohhh, that sounds great! I'll definitely check it out.

I visited Ebony yesterday and started teaching her a command to "smile" and she was definitely interested and intruiged. :)

Also, it had snowed and she loves that . . . She's always sticking her head in it and digging. :p

December 4th, 2005, 05:55 PM
How about a 'doggie stroller'? I've see them in all kinds of catalogues, and they do make some for larger dogs. THis way, he can enjoy the sites and smells of the outside without hurting later!

December 4th, 2005, 10:31 PM
The water therapy is a wonderful option if you were wanting to help keep her in shape w/o causing a lot of pain.

December 5th, 2005, 01:23 AM
Well, the thing is . . . even though she's half-labrador she really dislikes water. But I'll see if I can think of something. There's a pond in one of the parks that has a sandy, gradually sloping "shore", maybe I can coax her into that in the summer.


December 5th, 2005, 05:35 AM
LM, your doggy has such a happy face.:) What a cutie.

December 5th, 2005, 10:20 AM
Oh yes, my Ebony is SUCH a happy girl! She is the sweetest, friendliest dog ever . . . Never a complaint! And very resilient. I was so worried last year when she had her seizure . . . The vet was amazed that she bounced back.


December 5th, 2005, 10:34 AM
Ebony is such a sweetie!

I have been thinking about getting a stroller for my dog - but they are so expensive for larger dogs! This is the site I've bookmarked for when I have money to spare (I have my mind set on the large jogger):

If you go on ebay - you'll find a couple of stroller models for larger dogs that are about $ this one: ZViewItem

A cheaper alternative to a stroller that I have also been considering is a wagon - like the one's fishermen use...

Would Ebony like intelligence toys? I just bought a hide-a-squirrel for my dog and he loves it - she wouldn't have to move too much for it but it might keep her busy for a bit!?

It's really too bad that she doesn't like water because that would be perfect for an older dog! She looks really happy in the snow!