Haven't we all been guilty of this at one time?
Is that cheese?

How life with a senior dog keeps changing for the better

You know why your veterinarian says it's important to bring your mature or senior dog in for a check up every six months? Dogs age faster than people. They show signs from aging more quickly as they advance in years. It can be easy to miss something, like a behavior change that slowly creeps up on you.

image from www.grouchypuppy.com

When my dog developed diabetes, we were fortunate to notice her heavy water drinking quickly -- very out of the ordinary for her. If left undiagnosed, the negative impact of the diabetes on her big Shepherd-Husky body could've been life threatening. Two years later, we keep a close eye on any changes in her water consumption.

Since the development of diabetes over two years ago, my dog has developed cataracts. She had previously shown signs of Pannus, and my thought is the diabetes accelerated the vision loss. We had already stopped navigating her down steep flights of stairs because of her arthritis, however with the cataracts we starting teaching her words to build up her confidence negotiating a curb or ottoman.

Today when my dog moves around during the night in our bedroom, or from her bed by the front door down the hallway to the living room, she swims like a minnow. Through repetition and keeping her path clear, I think she has learned to trust her environment, which might explain why sometimes she moves as if she can see where she is going.

Keep Calm and Don't Move the Furniture

My dog will gently bounce off corners, table legs and walls, using her sense of smell and touch -- unless UPS is knocking at the door. She is a dog, and her instinctual reaction to a door knock is charge and bark, even if she doesn't know the direction she is currently pointing is away from her goal.

I shepherd my dog whenever she hesitates at a table leg or doorway. An upside to her aging process has been my opportunity to help her. I've enjoyed teaching her new words and seeing her face light up with every successful expedition.

What is the best part of this constantly changing life with an older dog?

She now knows to expect that chair. She expects to get a couple of treats before heading out for her morning walk to boost her blood sugar. She anticipates that curb when she hears the word "step."

It feels great every time Cleo successfully adapts to a new situation, a new ailment, a new obstacle because that means she can now return to acting like the big nosey protective and loving Shepherd-Husky dog that she is.

Do you have experiences with a senior dog that have made a difference in their life, or yours? 


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