Having been raised around dogs since a little girl, I am no stranger to dogs ageing and the difficulties that they face on life’s journey. It has not been until I have had the opportunity to share in the joys of my own dogs, that I have had had my eyes opened to the one thing that they are unable to outrun, time.
Alfie is now a senior gent at the age of 12, he is a Collie cross Staffie, who over the last year has really shown signs of slowing down. Not only have I noticed changes in his physique but also his everyday behaviour. At his last routine check, the vet was happy with his health and found that on appearance he did not look his age. He did not have the usual greying in the face, his coat was glossy, and his body score was ideal, which is crucial for him with his history of cruciate issues. All this I can attribute to him being on a diet that supports his body holistically.
What however I cannot escape are the unavoidable signs that he is slipping into his senior years. Identifying these has helped me refine his daily diet and exercise to accommodate this change and his needs. Alfie is now showing signs that he is joining the senior citizens of the canine world, these include:
• Muscle wastage in his hind quarters and his facial features
• Changes in exercise abilities and appetite
• Sleeping pattern (increased sleeping periods)
• Subtle changes in cognitive function
• Visual impairment
• Some weight loss
• Increased reactive behaviour
• Diminished hearing (not always selective)
All to name a few of his now endearing qualities that we have accepted and addressed as a family to make his life a happy and healthy one. We have put measures in place as a family to help him in this transition and adjust better to the changes that his body and mind have now placed on him. We have implemented the following:
• Changes in his feeding routine – smaller more frequent meals
• Adjusted exercise routine – shorter, lower impact exercise periods
• Adjustment to how we approach him – speaking before touching to make sure he is aware of our presence
• Allowing him more time to get from one place to another
• Gentle massage – especially his hind legs
• Making sure his bedding is suitable to support his ageing joints
• Amended his feeding amounts to accommodate his lifestyle
As we acknowledge Alfie getting older and the changes that need to be made to make his life easier, it is hard to accept that our once bouncy, boisterous boy is now a polite and snoozy gent who favours stealing our warm seats over chasing a Frisbee. As much as it pains me to admit that he is getting older and that time is slipping away too fast, I cannot help but celebrate the years he has given to us and helped shape the family we are today. So here’s to celebrating the seniors of the canine world who continue to give unconditional love and support to us even in their golden years.
Do you need some help and information on nutrition for your Senior Pet? Contact the Burns Nutrition team through their free advice helpline today, or send an email to email@example.com