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Senior dogs are the sweetest! Our senior greyhound Misty is 14 years old now. She has been through discospondylitis, kidney and urinary tract infections, anaplasmosis, and now arthritis. We have been very lucky with her health after adopting her as a two year old, but after a while, old age catches up. Right now she is experiencing another health crisis and we're not sure she will pull through considering her age. I want to share some things that we believe have helped give her a long, happy life and things we are doing now to keep her comfortable. Good quality food is a must. I've always fed Misty good quality kibble, going through a lot of different brands over the years including Wysong, Natural Balance, California Naturals, Earthborn, EVO, and most recently, Blue Buffalo chicken and rice. She loses interest after a while and she relishes a change every so often. I supplement this with homemade food, carefully following the instructions in Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats. At times I fed her only homemade food, but I found she liked the kibble and ate better with the mix. I also use good quality canned food. We have a very good vet who works with me to minimize invasive procedures while still keeping up with Misty's health. One thing that I believe helps is to do only one immunization at a time, not several at a time, despite the need for more vet visits. I believe this is easier on her system. I also ask my vet do titration tests to see if vaccines were necessary. I think the less you do the better, as long as you are keeping up with the necessary vaccines to protect them. Now that our sweet girl is in her golden years, it's hard to get her to eat. I've managed to tempt her with baby food (Beechnut stage 1 chicken and chicken broth is a favorite), Castor and Pollux canned food, and homemade chicken or beef stews. She will also usually eat ham or pork chopped up and mixed in her food or in the recipes from the Pitcairn book for a better nutritional balance. Hamburger and rice works great for diarrhea. She likes Stonyfield Farm yogurt, often right from the spoon. When she has been really sick and dehydrated I have fed her by smearing baby food into the side of her mouth, carefully dripping pedialyte or Gatorade (not artificially sweetened) into her mouth with a big syringe, and spoon feeding yogurt. We recently bought a Ruffwear harness, which I wish I had bought before. It's a little bit of a pain to put on but it can be done by holding the leg strap at floor level and lifting the foot just a little, then sliding the rest over her head. A soft coat fits over it, modified with a hole cut for the handle. The handle on the back is perfect for helping her outside and boosting her up from lying down. My husband built a ramp so she can get in and out of the house--heavy planks with wooden strapping for traction. Her Christmas presents included a supersoft blanket and a Crazy Warm pet from the Green Pet Shop. I don't understand how it works, but it contains tourmaline which reflects the dog's body heat back and keeps them warmer. She loves it and sleeps on it for hours. Her beds have grown in size as it seems more comfortable for her to stretch out now. Her bed in the living room is a combination of a bolster bed plus an orthopedic bed so the whole thing is the size of a child's mattress. Despite her current condition, she sleeps on it very comfortably. She loves to be covered by a soft blanket or pashmina shawl (yes, she has her own collection of pashmina shawls). Due to her current condition, she is now on gabapentin, mirtazipine to stimulate her appetite, and prednisone to help with inflammation in her spine and legs due to arthritis. X-rays show something going on with her left lung, possibly a tumor. At this point we are not going to put her through further testing or extreme treaments. We are trying to find the balance of comfort care, possible improvements, and non-stressful treatments. I'd love to hear how long other's greys have lasted and any other tips to help keep our Misty comfortable.
Researchers at the University of Washington are seeking participants in a large study on how aging affects our beloved companions. They need dogs of all types and breeds, and many different living situations. They are doing both a lifestyle study and a drug test with rapamycin - you can sign up for one or both. Here's one link to information in a news article. NPR also had a piece this morning. There is also a Facebook page for those of you who Facebook. http://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2016/08/31/51736/researchers-on-aging-study-to-expand-lifespans-of/
I posted this on the facebook GT last week, but thought I would try here as well since I only had one response. In a nutshell: one of my dogs was showing signs of CCD (doggie dementia). I'm not sure this is really what is going on and am working on ruling other physical issues out, but while doing some research, I discovered a supplement called cholodin that has rave reviews. People like it for the cognitive effects, as well as many other old dog type issues. Has anyone ever tried this and if so, I would love to hear the feedback. Thanks!