Caring for My Senior Dog

by Melissa R. on March 5, 2012

Senior Mocca

Senior Mocca

Mocca, my 12- year-old Border Collie, has finally started to show her age. Although most of the time she looks and acts like a 6-year-old dog, a few symptoms have developed lately.

First is a bit of a cloudy eye. When we see cloudy eyes in dogs, the first thought is almost always cataracts, but in fact, this is a common sign of aging in dogs called nuclear sclerosis. It does not cause any pain, and does not significantly impact the dog’s sight. Your veterinarian may simply monitor it. In Mocca, she seems to have a bit of reduced vision, and doesn’t like to walk down stairs in the dark. Our veterinarian commented that was quite common in older dogs with cloudy eyes. Our vet did not see any indication of cataracts, which was good!

Next is her arthritis. Mocca has been on a joint supplement for several years now. I started her on a low joint supplement when she was about eight, as she would occasionally limp on one back leg when she’d been lying on that side for a while. The joint supplement helped this. Gradually, we’ve increased her dosage to be on the highest level of Joint Care, which seems to have been working great up until recently. Nowadays, in the morning, or afternoon when I come home from work, Mocca has been unable to walk up the six stairs to the front door to go outside. This is so hard to see! Thankfully, we have another door to use that does not require stairs, but it is not the ideal door to use. She also does a little “hopping” when she runs, and seems to tire out faster (though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing!).

Not sure why she uses her bed for a pillow

Not sure why she uses her bed for a pillow

So after talking to our veterinarian, we decided to try giving Mocca a popular NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) called Rimadyl. It is supposed to help relieve pain and inflammation due to arthritis. I will say, after just a couple days on Rimadyl, Mocca has had little issues going up the stairs in the morning! She also seems to have a bit more pep in other activities. We are trying it for a couple weeks, and then will do some blood work with the vet to make sure her kidneys or liver are not being affected. Then we will try to get the dose down to as low as possible, yet still keeping her comfortable.

I think her recent arthritis developments will mean she is retiring from agility, which is a bit sad. Hopefully in spring we can at least continue classes, but at a reduced level with lower jumps and no a-frame. But there will be no competitions right now as I do not want her to injure herself.

I’m hopeful that Mocca continues to thrive in her “senior years”, pain-free and having fun! We will continue with our yearly (or twice yearly!) vet checkups to make sure she is in good health.

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About the author: Melissa is a devoted pet owner with several cats: Kai, Cirrhi & Ritter; and the newest addition, Emme a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Melissa is an avid dog agility enthusiast, and hopes her new pup will someday be an agility champion! She is a Graphic Designer and Project Coordinator for the DrsFosterSmith.com and LiveAquaria.com websites. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Michigan State University and is a lifelong pet lover and owner. See more articles by Melissa R.

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Caring for My Senior Dog | Lovely Pets
March 5, 2012 at 10:31 am

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff Narucki March 5, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Mocca’s lucky to have someone who cares about her as much as you do. I went through the same thing when I adopted an older dog several years back and starting with Rimadyl, and eventually changiing his diet to Science Diet J/D and going on Adequan he was better than when I got him for years to come. I just did an interview with a vet on arthritis in older dogs on my blog @ http://www.seniorpooch.com . Feel free to check it out when you get a moment.

Carrie Reves March 5, 2012 at 7:02 pm

My 11 year old husky/shephard mix has bad arthritis in her front legs as well as her hips. She is currently on Pet Enzymes Total-zymes & total-biotics (more for her digestion), Vetionx Arthro-IonX, Yucca Intense Anti-Inflammatory, Rimadyl, and has laser therapy. She has also been switched to a no grain diet as grains can cause imflamation. All these things seem to help to some extent and may be something you might be interested in looking into.

Kathy Branson March 15, 2012 at 9:31 am

Excellent article, with three dogs over 10 in our home we are always looking for tips and tricks to keep them healthy and comfortable! #CELEBRATE

Bonnie March 15, 2012 at 9:31 am

Our Golden is only 8 but he has cancer. Farley has MCT Mast Cell Tumors. We are very thankful that he has lasted as long as he has.
He is considered a senior dog due to his age and medical issues. There are days he will run faster then our other dogs, and then there are days he says “Ruff get off my bed and let we rest young pup”.
He is currently taking Deramaxx from the DFS pharmacy and it keeps him comfy and moving.
The best part of having a senior dog is that you can #CELEBRATE their lives with them!!

ANISSA HIGHTOWER March 15, 2012 at 9:33 am

I too have senior dogs. It’s so hard to see them struggle with getting older. My oldest is now on Rimadyl and it sure helps her too.. #celebrate

Laura March 15, 2012 at 9:37 am

Recently, my father passed away leaving me to care for his dog, Phu. She is a ten year old pit bull who suffers from hip dysplasia. I put her on Rimadyl, but did not really notice any difference in her hips. I have recently put her on Dasuquin. I am hoping this will at least provide her with some relief and make her life easier. I am hoping I see some improvement. She deserves it. It is nice to see other pet owners feel the same way.

#CELEBRATE

Elizabeth Nocera March 15, 2012 at 9:43 am

Taking care of a senior pet can get difficult but they will reward you with endless love. My wonderful poodle Nikki lived to be 18. Although she suffered from arthritis and vision problems Nikki never lost her spunk. She always amazed out vet with her energy. It’s wonderful that we now have so many new treatments and meds to take care of our senior babies. I now have an adorable puppy named Nelson but I’ll never stop missing Nikki. #CELEBRATE senior dogs!

Lisa Makrinikolas March 15, 2012 at 9:44 am

This is a helpful post for so many people caring for seniors (I’ve got 2 myself). I started both on a STRONG glucosamine/chond/etc. supplement from the day they were adopted so at 14 (with a lot of other mobility issues we thought meant arthritis was written in stone) and 13 I’ve got 2 boys that still run and jump and play like our youngest who’s 6 yrs old. OK, the 14 year old only runs if he smells pizza but I know he can run if he wants to 😉 We feed all 3 a grain-free raw diet and find that has made a huge difference (most folks think my 13-yr old is maybe 8 tops) in their overall health and longevity. #CELEBRATE

Deb freitag March 15, 2012 at 9:58 am

We adopted a 9 year old golden who had never been to a vet. She has severe hip dysplasia and arthritis. With a NSAID and glocosamine , she is acting like a puppy. The vet is amazed how good she is doing.

Sherri O. March 15, 2012 at 10:05 am

#CELEBRATE

It can be tough watching them age. My eldest, a yellow lab who is 3 months shy of 13 has always been exceptionally healthy, with the mental and physical attributes of a *much* younger dog. Two days ago, however, she came down with Peripheral Vestibular Disease, otherwise known as “old dog” vestibular disease. She is expected to recover fully (the disease is temporary I’m told), but it was the first time she had any “old age” issues (other than very mild arthritis, for which she takes glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM supplements) and it’s been hard to watch her go through it…

Yvonne Wilson March 15, 2012 at 10:25 am

I never really thought of my dog as being a senior because she certainly does not act like it. She is 8 1/2 years old and still has the heart of a puppy. I did do some research online and just switched her food to a senior formula with glucosmine for her minor stiffness. You’d never know she was a senior except for her white face. Loved the article, great tips for making your dog more comfortable, healthier and happier as they age. #CELEBRATE Your senior dog. Time goes so fast, enjoy them while you can.

anne hill March 15, 2012 at 10:41 am

i just took my 13 yo dog in to get her teeth cleaned. One had an infection & two had to be pulled. She also has arthritis. We give her one baby aspirin daily for her condition. we look forward to many more years w/ our pet! #CELEBRATE

Ruth March 15, 2012 at 10:48 am

I have a senior borzoi and I #CELEBRATE every day she is with me. Miss Demeanor (or Missy) may be an old girl but she still manages to kickup her heels every now and then.

Roberta Olson March 15, 2012 at 10:53 am

I have a 14 rottie/shephard mix at home. He’s still holding his own, but has nerve problems in his hind end that causes the muscles to get weak. The meds help keep him happy and pain free. #CELEBRATE

Rie Estes March 15, 2012 at 11:13 am

I’m a proud mama of 5 senior doggies and 4 senior kitties, all rescued from the streets or neglectful situations. There are challenges as they get older, but I’m committed to them as they are to me! I #CELEBRATE their uniqueness and cherish everyday that I can share my life with them.

Cassandra S. March 15, 2012 at 12:42 pm

My Chihuahua is not exactly a senior yet, but, i noticed her second guessing all her jumps lately. She is 8 years old and I have been giving her vitamins and joint care for years now, but the other day i took it one step further. I picked up stairs for her, she’s a little Diva so i had to cover them with an ultra plush blanket so she would use them. #CELEBRATE

amanda March 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I have a 6yr old lhasa mix, I got him when he was 12weeks old, he was diagnosed with luxating patellas, 1 luxating hip, and DJD, he is on 1 medication -Adequan, and several joint supplements, he gets as treats, all of which I purchase though DrsF&S, with the joint support and lots of love my little guy is as happy as any dog out there, and his joint issues don’t slow him down or stop him from doing anything or playing with other dogs, he does overdo it once in a while and his Dr. prescribed him a medication-I also get though Dr.F&S-which gets him back to himself, he also has 2 orthopedic beds-also Drs.F&S. So my little guy isn’t an “old man” yet and still acts like a puppy, be he does have several problems that we keep managed with his vet and Drs. Foster and Smith!!! Thank You for all you provide!! #CELEBRATE

Mom2Cavs March 15, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Mocca is a beauty and is lucky to have such a great pet parent! I, too, have senior dogs…3 of them. Two are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and 1 is a Mixed Breed. So far, by the grace of the good Lord, they’ve stayed relatively healthy. I have started feeding them a limited ingredient diet to help with some minor digestion issues, along with probiotics and enzymes. They also get a vitamin made especially for seniors by Vetri Science. I also try to keep their minds active with play. And of course give them lots and lots of love! I definitely #CELEBRATE having them in my life!

Jenny West March 15, 2012 at 7:42 pm

I have 2 border collies, one is the same age as Mocca (12) and the other is 9. Thankfully, neither have had any symptoms of arthitis or difficutly moving, but my oldest does have cloudy eyes. He no longer feels comfortable jumping into my SUV or walking in the dark. I have realized that the hand commands he knows won’t probably help much in the future, but thankfully his hearing is just fine. But, I love having both of them in my life – and I #CELEBRATE every day they are here with me.

Jennifer March 16, 2012 at 1:02 am

It is amazing to see all the people who #CELEBRATE their senior dogs! I had a Norwegian Elkhound/Rottweiler cross who lived to be 15 years old. Tigger was his name. He was AWESOME! He eventually did little more than go outside a few times a day, eat, and sleep a lot. But he always got so excited for food and treats even when it became a struggle for him to get up. He was just the cutest dog. I miss him a lot. It’s been 2 years since he passed. I now have 2 senior dachshunds who are a joy to have around. I’ll never forget Tigger, though.

Jinny Berkopec March 16, 2012 at 7:35 am

Positive article about caring for senior dogs. Our oldest is a 9 year old Boston Terrier. It’s helpful to hear what other people are doing to help out their older dogs. I #CELEBRATE each day with him.

DIANA KOETHER March 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I’M ALWAYS RESEARCHING CARE FOR SENIOR DOGS. WITH AN 11 YEAR OLD TINY TOY POODLE, I AM INTERESTING IN KEEPING HER COMFORTABLE, ACTIVE, HEALTHY AND HAPPY. I ENJOYED YOUR ARTICLE AND I # CELEBRATE EACH DAY WITH MY LITTLE JILL.

susan March 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Very good article.My senior dog Daisey has arthritis issues so I have been researching the best options for her. #CELEBRATE

Greta March 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm

I just got a 14ish dachsie who was left in a yard at a vet clinic. She’s in pretty good shape for an old lady given her circumstances. I’m going to start her on some senior supplements from Foster & Smith. So far she’s eating for me so I’m good there.

Great blog post. Thanks!

MotorCityMich March 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm

My Boxer/Mastiff is 8 or 9 and I am starting to see some changes in his behavior. It’s good to know that we still have plenty of options to make his life as happy and comfortable as possible.
#CELEBRATE

Darlene Koza March 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Thanks for all this great information! I have a senior guy with a cloudy eye. I thought he had cataracts but now I will check with my vet. He seems to see fairly well and even chases a laser pointer. I hope he is around for many more years since I lost my 15 yr old Pomeranian last year & my diabetic MinPin which lived to 13 yrs old. It was a difficult year…I wish they lived as long as we do but I will #CELEBRATE the time I have with my old guy.

Penny March 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm

We used Rimadyl for our elderly Border Collie and had great results. We didn’t even need to leave him on it all the time. We used it for about 6 weeks when he was 11 and that got rid of his limp for almost a year. When the limp came back (with warmer weather and more temptation to exert), we gave him another 6 week course. Eventually, we ended up having him on it all the time when he was about 13. So you might try just a temporary dose at first to minimize the side effects. #CELEBRATE

Lisa March 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm

#CELEBRATE .20,325….. My Senior Doxie has had the back problems that come with the long body. I give him baby aspirin, and it seems to help. He actually started dragging his backend around and off to the Vet for hydrotherapy and medication. When they sent him home, he still couldn’t walk with all 4’s so I did massages on him. He is now again walking fine, just doen’t jump on furniture now, but I pick him up and so he can lounge on the couch or in my lap. He is total L O V E. One of my co-workers asked if I was going to have him PTS,,,, I was angered and asked WHO WOULD DO THAT, he was still happy, even when he couldn’t walk, he would smile and love, and to see him now, you would never know he had been paralyzed at one point.

Carrie Reves March 17, 2012 at 8:31 am

My Nokee is having a hard time with her arthritis and we just had x-rays. Things didn’t look too good and I always #CELEBRATE any information on how to help her.

Kim March 19, 2012 at 8:40 am

Great article! Senior dogs are really the best dogs! We recently lost our pup @ 12 years old (good for a Rottie). He was the best dog ever and will forever be in our hearts! <3
#CELEBRATE

pam vandenburgh March 19, 2012 at 8:43 am

Great article… I run a dog rescue, we have older dogs all the time to care for…#CELEBRATE

Aaron Douglas March 19, 2012 at 11:22 am

Feeding our dogs more natural food without additives has helped keep them healthier longer. Our 11 year old still is running around like a puppy. #CELEBRATE

Sunshine March 22, 2012 at 10:16 pm

There are 2 senior-pups in my household, ages 9 and 12. The 12 year old always had trouble getting up on the couch and bed due to her small size, so I purchased her stairs years ago. Recently, I noticed the 9 year old begin to use the stairs instead of his typical running leap. Apparently, his age has begun to catch up with him. #CELEBRATE

Veneta April 4, 2017 at 3:29 pm

I have a 16 year old Border Collie who was started on Rimadyl yesterday. She has been on the supplement Cosequin for a year. Two years ago, she developed arthritis in her back left leg/hip and was given Previcox and she became lethargic, would not eat and had multiple personality/behavior changes and incontinence due to that treatment. So, I would like to know how Mocca did after using Rimadyl for more than a few days.
Thank you…Mocca is beautiful.

Melissa R. April 4, 2017 at 3:31 pm

Hi Veneta,

Mocca improved a lot after taking Rimadyl and kept on it for the rest of her life with great success. I hope it works as well for you dog!

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