Older dogs are like younger dogs in needing a special place to sleep at night, the right nutrition, exercise and just the right balance of love and affection. However, our senior canine friends have some special needs on top of those. All-and-all, though, older dogs are quite easy to take care of and very comforting to have around.
Senior dogs are prone to certain diseases and conditions. An older dog should be watched for excessive thirst and frequent urination as these are the main signs of diabetes in canines. If the diabetes is not caught early on, it can cause the dog to go blind.
My husband and I adopted a 12-year-old Hungarian Puli who was a blind diabetic. (Other older dogs have been euthanized for less.) His previous family could not keep him, and he was used to us because he had shared a yard with our three dogs. Buksi (pronounced Book-she) required insulin injections three times a day and could see almost nothing. We moved after we adopted him and had to teach him where everything was in his new yard with us. But he learned.
Some Older Dogs Thrive
Not only did Buksi learn his way around the house and yard, he could navigate corners and slippery tile floors at full-speed-ahead when it was time to eat.
Every time we gave him his insulin shot, we would reward him with a piece of hot dog. When it was time to give him his injection, all we had to do was say, “Goodie!” and Buksi would appear out of nowhere. With the ease that he was able to negotiate his way around sharp corners, furniture and doorways, it was almost as if Buksi had a special type of radar.
Our Hungarian Puli lived three more years after we got him — until he crossed the Rainbow Bridge at almost 17 years of age. What more could a dog ask for?
Teeth and Nails
Older dogs usually need to have their teeth checked and cleaned periodically by a veterinarian. This is important because you don’t want a tooth or gum infection to spread to a dog’s brain.
A senior canine’s toenails should be clipped regularly. Otherwise, they may catch on furniture cushions or on something else and tear the entire toenail off. When you clip an older dog’s toenails, hold his foot up to the light and only clip where you can see that the quick isn’t growing. Otherwise, you will end up hurting the dog and the toenails will bleed.
Still Going Strong
Our oldest dog now, Lady, is closing in on 16 years and is still going strong. She may be slower than our others, but she occasionally likes to play and bark with our other dogs and can still catch a pretzel in mid air. Not bad for an older dog.
We think that she is simply living on love and will still be around for quite awhile longer.