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Need help with senior girl (12 replies)

2 weeks ago
Whatsername 2 weeks ago

My 16.5-year-old Norwegian elkhound mix, Eevon, has really bad arthritis but loves to sleep on the tile floor. She wakes up stiff and sore but will not sleep on the orthopedic bed I bought her. I put a sheet over the fuzzy top of the bed to hopefully cool it down, but she scoots off into the floor.

It got so cold one night when she slept on the floor that she was stiff to the point that it felt like she was almost dead, and I was in tears. I thought I almost lost her to the cold, but I really have no idea what to do.

We are both staying up until 11:30/12 because she's barking to get up and lay on the floor. We are both up at 6 in the morning, and it's making for long days.

I have relaxing music on for her, we do leg exercises, and I use heat packs on her legs to help relax her.

Any suggestions from anyone? 

Melissa Smith
2 weeks ago
Melissa Smith 2 weeks ago

What a sweet face she has!

Unfortunately, I don't have much in the way of suggestions. The only thing I can think of is to have her sleep in a different room and see if she'll adjust to her bed there. You may have to go through a "puppy period" where she does vocalize to get your attention and you have to ignore it, but it sounds like she is doing that now and things are rough on you guys.

I wonder, is it the coolness of the floor or the surface texture or the hardness that is making her want to sleep there?

2 weeks ago
Whatsername 2 weeks ago

I can believe the coolness of the floor is probably a big factor. She has a lot of hair, but it's thinned down a lot in the past few years. It's supposed to be down to 46 tonight, and that floor is going to be awfully cold. I think when she got really cold that one night it was about 36/38 overnight.

She's also lost a lot of weight over the last year, everything comes back fine in her blood work, but I'm having to put extra things in her food to give her extra calories and keep her interested in eating.

We've had a hard few years. She suffers from canine cognitive disorder, and she's had strokes plus the arthritis. But we go out for walks every other day, and she gets 2 regular meals and 2 small meals a day.

So I wonder if between the weight, thinning hair and the tile floor is the reason she gets so cold.

She used to run and play in the snow with her sister, who is 2 years younger. She would come in covered in snow and be fine. I never thought I'd see her so cold that she couldn't move, and it was terrifying.

She's been with me since I was 16, when she was 2 months old, and I have been trying to do anything I can for her senior years to make her comfortable. (That's her and her sister, Rein, who is 14 years old.)

Melissa Smith
1 week ago
Melissa Smith 1 week ago

Do you think she'd let you wrap her in a blanket before laying on the floor? Probably not the most ideal solution but possibly a start?

Karen Doll
1 week ago
Karen Doll 1 week ago

Hi Whatsername,

I just had a thought...my husband is a contractor and we always have extra pieces of plywood, vinyl flooring, etc. around the house. Could you purchase a piece of hard flooring material at your local Home Depot or Lowe's and put it on the floor up in your bedroom? You could create a little bedtime sanctuary for Eevon that's close to you but comfortable for her--the piece of hard flooring would be cooler and hard, but also warmer than the cold tile downstairs. And, just like Melissa mentioned, she may need time to get used to her new bed, but it just might work. 

Just a thought 🙂 I hope you are able to find a good solution soon for sweet Eevon. 

1 week ago
Whatsername 1 week ago

Thank you for the help. So far I've folded and layered 4 blankets and a flat sheet that she seems to sleep on OK with a blanket covering her. I'm trying to lay her on the bed off and on during the day covering it with the sheet. She has slept on it twice for about 20 minutes each, but it's a start.

I would love to have her upstairs with me, but we've been planning a move and my room is full of boxes. One nice thing about the new house is it will have carpet for her and should make it easier for her to walk. She's never loved beds, even as a baby, but with her getting so cold now and her age I worry so much.

Has anyone had the issue with a senior dog pooping and peeing itself when you leave? She doesn't do it every single time, but a lot of the time I leave and she gets so upset that she potties herself.

I don't really go anywhere; she's used to me being home. I might be gone twice a month for any length of time, and usually she's with my mom when I'm gone. She's just too cute when she sleeps.

Melissa Smith
1 week ago
Melissa Smith 1 week ago

Yes indeed - I had a senior dog who had Myasthenia gravis and I work with several senior dogs currently (pet sitter). As they age, just like people, those muscles get tired. Sometimes when they get upset those muscles relax without their meaning them to. Sometimes the pups don't even realize they're going to go until they're, well, going. The best thing to do here is to memorize or keep track of their potty schedule - how often do they need to go out, and what times of the day do they do their "1s and 2s"? This really helps cut down on accidents. You can also use blankets that can be washed over and over, pee pads, plastic mats, etc. This usually is not a problem that resolves unless it's an actual medical issue with their bladder or bowel. Most times, in my experience, it's been simply old age.

4 days ago
Whatsername 4 days ago

She's always been very independent, so this behavior for her is unnatural, but she's been more affectionate as the years have gone on. I will lay her down on blankets when I leave and probably get bed mats at the store.

My mom had asked me about maybe putting her down after the first of the year, and honestly thinking about it hurts. At the same time, she can't stand on her own anymore. She walks, but I have to hold her legs at times for her to use the bathroom and not get messy.

I still get her out on walks with a sling. We play seek a treat to keep her mind sharp. Some days she does really good; other days she doesn't. So I'm trying to kind of tally day by day good vs. bad.

I've been looking at quality of life for her. I can't be home 24/7, though I am home most of the time, but I feel bad going to the store and her getting so upset that she potties herself.

I wouldn't even know how to bring this up with her vet without losing it, and I've kept my head through so many other things like her strokes. I apologize; I guess I'm a little overwhelmed.

I'm going to try the blankets today when we go to the store and see how that works. We have had senior dogs before, but none that had that problem, so I wasn't sure how normal it was. But like I said, she's been tested several times with everything coming back normal.

Has anyone used diapers? Do they really work well? She has so much hair, so when she goes potty she kind of rolls in it and I can't give her a bath all that often. I've always heard too much is bad. 

Melissa Smith
3 days ago
Melissa Smith 3 days ago
2 likes by Dave Baker and Karen Doll

Believe me, I am the last person you need to apologize to! My German shepherd had Myasthenia gravis and lived with it for over a year. She couldn't walk more than about 4-8 steps at time because the disease mostly impacted her hindquarters, destroying the nerves. It also affected her elimination functions. She had no idea she was going to go #2 until her tail shot up (we had a lot of OMG and I scoop her up and run outside with her moments, Lol) She also had to be on a fully liquid diet because it caused her esophagus to stop working. But she still had her spark. She tried to chase rabbits. Poked at the cat. Listened to me rant and rave about whatever annoyed me. Had an appetite, engaged in her environment. She wasn't ready to go until she was ready to go.

The hardest moment was when she looked at me and I knew she was telling me that it was time to let her go. Even with all the work - up at 1am every day, carrying her, sitting outside with her, making her food at home and blending it and then hand feeding to her (or drinking, really, she had to slurp it), long, scary bouts with aspiration pneumonia....I didn't want to lose her. But I loved her. And it was her life, and her call to make.

So when she said she was ready, I brought her down to the vet one last time. And I still grieve for her, even though it's been years. But respecting her wishes was the best thing I could do for her, after she had done so much for me.

It's okay to not be sure, and it's okay to ask people like your veterinarians to help you make that decision. I had a lot of people telling me to put her to sleep, too. But those people weren't living with her and didn't love her. They weren't mean people, they just didn't understand why I was laboring so much for a dog - and that was okay, not everyone will understand. I knew why I was doing it, and so did she, and that was all that mattered. So getting my vets to weigh in helped a lot because they could see how her environmental interaction was and give me a trained opinion.

When it comes to letting her go, that's between you and your pup.

Too much bathing (on a different note) isn't a good idea because with most breeds it actually takes out too much of their natural skin oils which helps protect them. I've never used diapers myself, to be honest. Some clients of mine have with great success. Another option might be to have a groomer clip her really close in that area to cut down on furry issues. She'll have a naked butt, but at least it will be easy to clean 😀

Karen Doll
3 days ago
Karen Doll 3 days ago

Such good advice as usual, Melissa 🙂 

I've used doggy diapers on foster dogs, some older, some young. And, yes they do work. However, some dogs adjust just fine to wearing a diaper and go about their day as usual, while others will fuss and try to nip at it to yank it off and end up tearing it. So, you may have to experiment for short periods of time when you're home so you can easily monitor your dog's reaction. 

I'm so sorry you're going through this. I understand how exhausting, frustrating, and overwhelming this is. When our dog, Pip, was 13, he began to lose interest in eating and thus began a long journey of vet visits, changing his diet and supplementing with approved human foods, and watching him age daily before my eyes. (I work from home). It's always difficult to watch a beloved pet friend age and face declining health. HUGS!!

I hope Eevon likes your new digs and feels more comfortable on the new flooring.

3 days ago
Whatsername 3 days ago

Actually, this is some of the best advice I've ever gotten, and I feel a lot better.

I do worry about her making the 2 to 2-1/2-hour drive to the new house, and I worry about her adjusting to the new house. My boyfriend is worried about it too. This is my first time moving out, and I feel so wrong thinking that she might not get to come on this new adventure with me.

I know a lot of people see the messes that she makes and how much she barks and are worried I'm not living my life because I'm busy caring for her, but I see the almost 17 years of things we've been through and I feel it's the least I can do.

After my dad passed away, I don't know what I would've done without her or her sister. Eevon missed my dad as much as we did and grieved with us. She got in his wheelchair and laid in it. She laid on his hospital bed and his winter coat; I always knew she felt how I felt. We got through it together, and we've worked through so much.

I worry about her constantly. I lay in bed and cry. I just can't imagine her not being there. We went through over a month where I think I slept 4-5 hours a night trying to calm her down and get her to sleep until we tried melatonin. We used to lay in bed Sunday morning and watch Animal Planet together, sharing breakfast. She used to steal food off the counters, plates, anything out of the trash and eat all my sister's cat's food (then get cornered by her cat, and I had to save her.) She's always had attitude and spunk.

I'll try some diapers see how she does. I was able to go to the store tonight, and she did OK. I'm home all the time, which I don't mind since I get so much time with the pups, but, yes, it's hard to see how much she's aged just since we've lived here.

I give her chicken and rice, pumpkin and a tiny bit of peanut butter with her food to keep her interested, and fish and coconut oil. I also believe that they will let you know when they're ready unless they don't have a chance, and we've dealt with that a few times as well. I take my responsibility very seriously for these guys.

Thank you, everyone. This is so hard. I just want to give her as best of a life that I can, and I just hope we have more time. 

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