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How To Tell When Senior Dog Needs To Slow Down?


rsieg
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Hi all,


This is a very general question on my 10 yo greyhound Max . Some background: I usually walk him with Logan (4 yo) morning and night, total of usually 2-3 miles over a total time of about 1.5 hours or so (works out to 1.5-2 miles per hour according to the walk a dog app). He is always eager to go, usually leads throughout the walk, and when we go down in the park (usually on weekends, not every day) he jumps into and out of the back seat of my car with little hesitation. In short, he seems to be in good physical shape for a 10 yo.


However, this weekend on Saturday he was hesitant to jump out of the back seat when we got back from the park. He eventually did so after about 5 minutes, but he had to work himself up to do it. My guess is that at his age he has some arthritis that was flaring up enough after the walk to be bothering him. We have walked several times since then and he has had no problems, so I am not concerned about him right now. But this brings me to my question:


Are there particular things I should be looking for to tell if he is in arthritic pain or having some other "old age" issue? I look for the obvious, like limping (not so far) or hesitance to do something (just noted one isolated occurrence above), but are there other things I should be watching for? I like to take him for walks, and he really enjoys them, but I expect he will be slowing down over the next 2-3 years and I want to know when we need to take it more easy.


Thanks in advance for any experiences/thoughts on this.

Rob
Logan - LoganMaxicon15K.jpg - Max (Aug. 4, 2004 - Jan. 11, 2018)

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Being reluctant or hesitant to do something is a big clue, particularly when it's jumping into the car at the end of the walk. For an oldie who is not injured, this often means that he's outrun his strength and is over-tired, physically. At ten, if he's fit, his slowing down should be gradual. If it happens all of a sudden, I'd suspect injury.

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Guest herbsofmine

My Herbie lived to be 13, and I was able to tell right away when we needed to slow down. We walked about the same as you, but our walks were usually all at once, 2.5-3 miles. He started slowing down on the walks and just didn't seem to enjoy them as much. I was able to take him on shorter walks as he got older. I think he was right around 12 before he really didn't want to walk at all, but he was still doing well at 11. I haven't had much experience with any other dogs, the rest of mine have died from osteo when they were only 8. There are a lot of people with senior dogs on the forum, so they should be able to help more than me!! I hope he's going strong for many, many more years!

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Kasey will walk to the ends of the earth for us. It is up to us to say no, that's enough. We noticed him slowing down significantly around the 9 year mark or so, and he would push to continue to walk, and he really shouldn't have. He LOVED hiking, a rarity these days, just because we can't walk as far anymore.....walking into the forest also means having to walk back out! On the return walks he was very slow and nearly winded. He's just gettin' old and I have to respect that. It's difficult when you have a younger one too (Ryder is younger) since you don't want to leave one home to walk the other for a longer stint for energy wasting sake. It's something I'm coming to grips with. I feel guilty, but it's in Kasey's best interest to stay home when we go for a longer walk.

 

I think you have already identified your answer though.....

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My senior girl is 11-1/2 and I know she has some arthritis. Although she wants to do the distance, I can tell after two blocks that she is ready to go back, even though she doesn't want to. I take her back, along with one of the boys and then go out again with the two young ones. As long as she has been out, she's fine going home at that point.

 

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we are starting to see signs exactly like what you described w/ our now retired soccer player felix. felix also was having trouble getting onto the couch and bed. my vet suggested that he slows down- no more kicking the soccer ball(felix's favorite activity) for us since greyhound's lower backs tend to be an issue. our vet is very low keyed and doesn't make a fuss out of anything. he had slowed down his running at the beach on his own, which was the first sign.

 

 

independently i took felix to a chiropractor who has treated him twice so far. along w/ a weeks's worth of 1/4 aspirin 2xs daily(vet's rx) and the treatments he's been much more limber but we are hesitating on the soccer interactions. 4-6 mile walk in the woods are fine, no problems there. btw- he was sore after the chiropractor but showed significant improvement a week later. i often feel like that when i'm adjusted and the chiropractor felt the weaker parts of his back seemed much better the 2nd time. i'm making sure his back is nice and warm during these cold months. getting older %*&()&^%%$@

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My 12 yr old sisters didn't slow down until cancer took them. That's why I went the amp route with the one that had OS. At the time Dr Couto said age is only a number.

 

The only grey that I had that 'slowed down' was the one that made it to 15.5. She started slowing down at about 13.

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Watch for signs that he might be having some vision issues, too, especially in low-light situations. He might need strategically placed nightlights around stairs, plenty of lights outside when he needs to get out of the car--stuff like that.

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As counter intuitive as it may be, the BEST thing for arthritis is--to keep exercising!

 

You don't want to over due it, but regular exercise is critical as you dog ages. As well as keeping him slim and trim.


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All,

 

Thanks for the input, very helpful.

 

KF_in_Georgia, I am wondering about that. Max does have some cataracts, I believe, and I don't think the garage was well-lit, so maybe he could not see well and became afraid. He did not have a problem getting up into the car in the garage, but that may be less scary than jumping down, and of course it was outdoors and well lit at the park so it makes sense he would have no problem there. That said, he's not blind as I have seen him spot cats at night that I missed :-) I can turn the lights on in the garage next time and see if that helps.

 

GeorgeofNE, that is exactly my concern. I know keeping him walking is good both mentally and physically for him, I just don't want to overdo it and not realize if he is in pain. Based on the other comments here I do think he is doing ok right now, as he jumps onto the couch and into the car with no problem, and I have not seen any panting or heavy breathing from him on longer walks.

 

Thanks again,

Rob
Logan - LoganMaxicon15K.jpg - Max (Aug. 4, 2004 - Jan. 11, 2018)

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So, my experience with this all revolves around Bender, who isn't a greyhound. He is a real boofer with a high tolerance for pain, breed combination unknown. He has diagnosed (by xray) arthritis in his knee. He favors that leg and has some muscle wasting. The vets were divided on how much and what type of exercise he should be getting. We treat him symptomatically with metacam at the moment.

 

We tried him on restricted on-leash exercise and all it did was make the wasting worse. Now we allow him to run off leash and he is learning to take breaks himself. Of course the metacam means that he won't be too miserable afterwards. I pay attention to how he is moving on walks and that is our guide. It may take a while to get your 'eye' in but you will be able to tell when he is tiring just by watching his gait.

 

He sounds fit and happy .... as much exercise as he can tolerate is a good thing:)

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Lance lived to 14 and barely slowed down until the last 6 months or so of his life. At 13 he still loved to run and go for long walks (I have videos of him racing on the beach and hiking through the woods at an advanced age-and still doing great). He was somewhat unusual for a greyhound in my experience, he was what I call a "real dog" LOL! I adopted him when he was only 9 months of age, he lure coursed, played fetch was great off leash-he was always a very active greyhound. My other senior Henry lived to be 15 but slowed down much sooner. He suffered from corns pretty much his entire life and had a toe amputated at one point. Despite his long life, he really started to slow down at around 12. My other two hounds passed away from cancer at a youngish age. And my current two are thankfully relatively young and very active, (6 and 4 years old). I think it just depends on the dog.

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