There’s something all kinds of special about old dogs (and cats)
The greying muzzle, the wise old eyes, and the steadiness inside them. They have a presence that touches the heart very deeply. My Whippet, Pearl, is about 13 years old now. She is still active and can easily jump into the front of my truck, or onto the massage table. Every time I look at her, every day we spend together, I’m treasuring the moments, and saying goodbye. I don’t want to cling to her emotionally. I want her to be free to leap out her body when the time is right for her- even though I hope that won’t be for a good while yet!
Old age creeps up on our dogs. The changes are so slow that we can miss them. I often have people with a middle-aged or older dog come in to see me. I can see straight away by how the dog moves that they are stiff and sore with arthritis and neuro-fascial pain. But this develops so slowly that it’s invisible to the humans. OR they think that it’s normal for old dogs to get slow and stiff (tip: it’s not).
There is so much you can do to help your old dogs (and cats) stay young, mobile and happier for longer. I’ll go through a whole lot of things that you can do in a minute, but first, let’s look at you. Are you getting in the way of your old friend’s well-being without even realising? It’s highly likely. We humans are a complex mess of contradictions, all tangled up in trauma, belief systems, social patterns and superstitions.
Most of us have some unhealthy subconscious patterns that affect our animals.
We may over-connect with our pets emotionally, using them for emotional support and connection that is lacking in our lives. When this happens, it may be hard (or impossible) to make the choice to help your pets die well at the right time, before they lose their dignity and quality of life too much. It’s so important to be able to let your old friend go when it’s time!
We may have no boundaries with our animals, and not be able to communicate about kind respect for our personal space, not being able to ‘talk’ to our dogs in a way that they understand about staying out of our personal bubble, or at least asking to come in. This lack is actually anxiety-provoking for our dogs. And it’s often linked to overly relying on our pets for emotional support.
Or we may feed our pets too much, because they look at us with big sad, starving to death eyes. Many of us simply can’t find the emotional strength to let our dogs be hungry, so they get back to and then maintain a healthy weight. Even when this would make a massive difference to their quality of life.
What you can do to help your old friends be happy and well!
- Feed a healthy whole foods diet. It’s never too late in your pet’s life to make a BIG difference in their well-being by doing this! Very old animals often do better on a home-cooked rather than raw diet. The BARF diet is fine- same proportions if you cook it.
- Learn how to find and melt away silent (neuro-fascial) pain with the Whole Energy Body Balance Method Bodywork for Pets. This is a big part of the reason why Pearl is still so spry! I assess her every week, and always find her usual spots that get tight and painful, and nearly always find one or two other places that need some TLC. Silent pain slowly gathers in your dog’s body as th year pass, weighing them down. This work sets your old friends free from the bondage of silent pain. I help a lot of old dogs with WEBB, and their guardians are always happy to see the improvements in mobility, activity levels, playfulness, and engagement/connection. They are NOT so happy to see them doing some of the things they haven’t done for ages – like digging holes in the garden! Check out the link for the online training – and mention this blog post in an email to me to get a 50% discount off the already very affordable prices! I have taught this to hundreds of people- it’s easy to learn and makes a HUGE difference to your old friend’s quality of life.
- Make sure the floors aren’t too slippery when your old dog gets really rickety. You may need to put down mats, or put on grippy socks or boots for your old dog. And when they are very old and weak, you may need to lift them to help them stand. You can get special harnesses to help with this.
- Pain relief. You can use heat packs day and night to help ease the aches and pains of age. This is surprisingly effective! Make sure it’s not too hot though (you should be able to hold it on your face comfortably) – 10-15 minutes in each area. CBD is a great natural medicine for pain relief (and dementia). Green-lipped mussel extract and golden paste also help. And when it comes closer to the end when palliation of pain is needed, I won’t hesitate to use prescription medicines as well Comes a point when side effects are no longer of any concern when the quality of life is the most important thing to consider. Cartophen/syntocin/zydax injections form your vet can sometimes be a huge help with arthritis too.
- If your old friend is losing their senses – vision, hearing etc then try not to make changes in the environment. Keep all the furniture in the same place. If your dog can’t see, they still learn pretty quickly where everything is. If your dog is demented too, you may need to give them a halo to stop them bumping into things.
- Dealing with doggy dementia. If your dog is starting to pace and bark at night, or if they are getting lost and stuck behind things in the house, or if they are sticking to you like velcro, suddenly anxious when they haven’t been before, or if they become disconnected and don’t want attention any more, your dog may be developing Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. It’s often worst in the evening and at night. CBD often helps these dogs a lot- and if they have pain, managing the pain with WEBB bodywork, heat packs, etc as above can also dramatically improve the symptoms. There are some other things that can help, bt I’d need a consult to find out what’s going on and to give you the right advice for your dog’s unique needs.
- Avoid ANY re-vaccinations in geriatric dogs. I have seen all too many old ones get tipped over the edge with vaccinations. It’s just one insult too many for their tired old bodies, and they can fade away and die within months of a vaccine in many cases. Toter test, and even then, with older animals talk to a holistic vet (I’m here to help) to make a well-informed choice.
- Reduce exercise. As your dogs age, you’ll need to slowly reduce the amount of exercise, and also cut out high impact activities. Very old dogs still need a quiet wander, but it’s not for exercise, but for enrichment, so they can have a sniff and explore. Very rickety dogs, only 20 or 50 meters might be enough!
- Lots and lots and LOTS of love. Enjoy every day. Give them lots of loving touch. Let your self feel the pain of letting them go, even though they are still with you. And think about when you’ll know it’s time to help them leap out of their body. Are they having more bad days than good days? Have they gone off their food? Have they looked at you and told you it’s time?
It’s not easy, saying goodbye. So do everything you can to keep them as happy as possible for as long as possible! The WEBB Bodywork online training is one of the best gifts you can give your old friends. WEBB eases their aches and pains, keeps them mobile, and they simply love it!