Old Dogs

Last week’s blog These Old Bones, talked about something called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction in dogs – which is common in about 62% of dogs over the age of 10 years.


In further researching age related disorders of dogs, I found some very common traits of the older dog. 


            Separation Anxiety – Even if your dog has never experienced this, age can bring it on.  It can be due to a dog’s inability to cope with changes in his or her routine.  If your dog suddenly becomes anxious over separation from you, start to look at possible changes that have occurred – Did the kids just go back to school?  Did anyone’s time schedule change?  My dogs know my schedule better than I do and when I do change it, they can become a bit upset.  Did anyone start a job or retire from one? 


            Aggression or intolerance – Pain, vision loss, hearing loss, stroke (yep, they can have them) are all things that can bring about sudden aggression.  Let’s face it, when you feel poorly, you’re no happy camper.  Aggression can also come about with the addition of a new puppy into the home.


            Noise phobias – When a dog ages, you’d think they’re going deaf and would not possibly be afraid of noises.  Well, it can happen.  Your old dog is not able to easily remove himself from the source of the noise (due to arthritis etc) so he becomes afraid of it. 


            Decreased ability to handle stress – Things shake the older dog’s world much more easily than a younger counter-part.  Things that you would not think would cause an issue suddenly can, and can lead to incontinence among other things.


            Increased barking or whining – When your dog stresses out and can not get to you as easily as he could when he was younger (due to arthritis, etc) sometimes they will bark or whine more out of a panic.  Again, the inability to handle stress can make situations that used to be handled easily more difficult to tolerate.



            Nocturnal restlessness – I’ve noticed that both my 10 year old dog and even my 6 year old dog suffer from this.  Where before they used to both sleep through the night, it’s not uncommon for them to pace now (which, by the way, can be SUCH a joy while you’re trying to sleep!).  This can mean they need to go out more frequently or it can just mean they’re restless but you have to get up and check to make sure!  Jeepers.


So I’ve gone into more of the old dog stuff to help some of you understand why I tell you NOT to adopt a dog while your dog is going through his or her senior years. 

I get requests all the time for puppies or younger dogs by folks who have dogs over 10 years old.  They want a companion or a playmate for their older dog.  While I do understand the desire to get a new, bouncy, playful baby in the family, I do NOT think it’s appropriate while there is an aging dog there. 

The aging dog is an animal that requires special attention and understanding.  They’re at the time in their lives where they need you, their loyal, trustworthy, loving owner to help them when they’re in need.  They become afraid more easily, confused more easily and the thing they need the most is not a bouncy puppy but YOU, their caretaker.


So before you go thinking about adding a new one to the crew while you still have your old friend, re-read the issues they go through while they age.  There will be plenty of time for a new puppy, but not right now.  Sit on the porch with the old dog and let him know you’ll always be there for him.  Maybe some ice cream would help, too! (The dog told me to say that!)….


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