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Coping with the emotional turmoil of an older dog

Discussion in 'Dog Chat' started by golfchick, Feb 2, 2021.


  1. golfchick

    golfchick PetForums Senior

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    My dog Ziva is 10 now and being a Rhodesian Ridgeback I know that time is running out because she's a large breed. My last dog was a boxer but due to complications I lost her at 6 so this is the first time I've had an older dog. I completely hold myself responsible for my dogs so it feels like the burden of being responsible and capable of coping is crushing me.

    I'm not sure if it's because I've been in lockdown for the last 12 months (haven't we all) but I just don't seem to be coping so well with her lately. Every time she has the slightest groan or whine I feel like it's the end of the world. Pet insurance is now up to £100 a month and is set to renew in March and is bound to increase the same it does every year. She has an issue currently where she keeps clearing her throat a little and her snoring has gotten ridiculous, she had xrays this last year which showed she had bronchitis and we did a million checks for her lethargy which all came back clear and since then she's picked back up. She eats very well still and is drinking plenty and is holding her weight bang on at 40kgs. I've been to the vets for the clearing of throat but they listened to her lungs and poked her throat lots and were very happy with everything but I think I'll take her back again because she was sick in the middle of the day yesterday. She struggles with her back legs and stiffness so she's on daily metacam and I give her some cobalaplex for her gut health and to keep her B12 levels good. She's on yumove currently but I'm going to stop them as I cant see a reason to give them on top of the metacam for pain.

    I was even looking at Ridgeback rescues yesterday because I just felt like I couldn't cope and someone with more money should have her, someone who doesn't feel like they're about to crumble at the prospect of her being unwell.

    Apologies for this being a longer thread but the only person I see is my boyfriend as he is my support bubble and I'd love to hear from some other people who feel like they're losing the plot with their beloved dogs and older age. Or just reassurance that it's not just me who isn't coping!!
     
  2. Rafa

    Rafa PetForums VIP

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    I have had many dogs and been fortunate enough to see them all through to old age.

    There is no doubt though, I don't find puppyhood or the teen years the most stressful, it's old age.

    You do find yourself watching them constantly, worrying about their breathing or the odd noise they make, or whether they seem a little 'off colour' today. It's not a pleasant feeling, but I have felt it with every dog I've ever owned.

    I find that all you can do is your very best, which clearly you are doing, to give them a happy life, security, comfort and Veterinary help when needed.

    It's frightening for you, but Mother Nature will prevail.

    Your feelings are normal.
     
  3. Boxer123

    Boxer123 PetForums VIP

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    I don’t think lockdown helps my dogs a fairly young but I am getting very anxious if an issue pops up. More time to worry I suppose. We do have a thread I believe about looking after older dogs. There are lots of experienced people on here so do come on and chat if it helps.
     
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  4. Kaily

    Kaily PetForums Senior

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    It is heartbreaking watching our once active fun loving dogs get old. To add insult to injury, they can't tell us what hurts.

    All we can do is our very best to make them comfortable. It is a difficult time, harder than puppy hood in my opinion.

    Last March I lost my 19 year old Jack Russell and even now I wish I had done more for her, not medically but I wish I had bought her a new bed. Sounds stupid but it bothers me now.

    With regards to your insurance I think you have to decide how much you actually want done to your dog. I was adamant I didn't want Matilda in and out of the vets for tests and ops at her time of life. If you feel the same it is not worth paying £100 + a month. Don't get me wrong, she had what was absolutely necessary but no more.

    Keep loving her and treat her how you would hope to be treated yourself in your twilight years.
     
  5. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

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    My Jack is 13+ now and showing his age too.

    I do worry about any little symptoms and he’s definitely more demanding and has me wrapped round his paw, meeting his every need.

    All I can do is keep him happy and comfortable and deal with issues as they arise.

    I dread the day I have to let him go but rehoming him wouldn’t enter my head tbh.

    I stopped his insurance as it was getting too expensive and instead have savings to cover day to day vet bills and meds.

    I wouldn’t put him through surgery or unpleasant treatments now anyway, just meds to keep him ticking along and pain free.

    If you’re currently paying £100 a month in premiums, maybe putting that money into a separate account would work better and still cover her meds?

    Maybe earplugs at night to help you sleep through her snoring and snufflings? ;)

    If it gets to the point that she’s really struggling and you aren’t coping then maybe that’s the time to let her go? Hard as it is to make that decision, we’ll all face it eventually, sadly and shouldn’t feel guilty for it.
     
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  6. golfchick

    golfchick PetForums Senior

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    Thank you for your kind replies, it helps to know that I'm not alone in my feelings really. She's certainly not at deaths door, compared to some she's very healthy and looks fine still, I think maybe I need to adjust my own outlook now she's 10. It's okay to walk slower and not go as far on a walk when she's happy to sleep.
     
  7. Linda Weasel

    Linda Weasel PetForums VIP

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    My ridgeback made it to nearly 14 years old and was still enjoying her life right up to the end.
     
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  8. margy

    margy PetForums VIP

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    I can't really add anymore than has already been said. Luckily your dog hasn't got anything major to worry about, just the usual aches and pains that pain killers can help with. It sounds like your seeing to her needs, they do slow down a lot as they age as we all do. Your giving her a happy old age so nothing for you to feel guilty about.
     
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  9. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    I have an oldie too and while it can be stressful dealing with things and worrying about things that in a younger dog you might brush off, I find it helps to remember that getting to care for a dog who has made it all the way to his/her twilight years is a privilege. I've also lost dogs way too young, and looking at my old man I'm grateful we've made it this far together and I feel fortunate to be able to be there for him all the way to the end.
     
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  10. DaisyBluebell

    DaisyBluebell Earth, the insane asylum of the Universe

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    Check out the Oldie Support Thread at the top of the page golfchick & you will see we are all exactly the same as you are. Its just that bit harder for you at present as you have not been thru the Oldie stage before. Trust me we all love our dogs to the point we start worrying about them at around 10 years old, what ever size/breed they are!
    If you can remind yourself that your precious girl is here now so accept that you are privileged to have her still in good health & until such times as you see a decline in her then continue as tho she is still a youngster. Remember dogs live in the moment, as far as she is concerned she is still a youngster and enjoying her life, she is not thinking, 'where has the time gone, how long have I got' etc... She is thinking 'when's my next walk, wonder what I've got for dinner today'.
    Lots of us on here have been through the oldie stage and the thoughts that we could never stand to go through it again, the pain of seeing them get old and then doing what is best for them and not us, when we have to let them go, but then we realise we have been the lucky ones to have had them all those years and seen then through every stage of their lives. Every time I have gone through it I have said can I go thru this again? Yes of course I can, there are dogs out there that will never know a loving home so I go get another and the cycle starts all over again. YOu are doing everything you can for your girl & its no more than she would expect of you, so continue just as you are but try not to worry so much, she isn't, she is just enjoying her life still & your love.
     
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  11. golfchick

    golfchick PetForums Senior

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    Thank you again for your kind replies, we've just been for a walk to the woods and she was dashing about chasing squirrels, making a mockery of my worrying! It's good to be able to offload with people who understand and have a deep care for their dogs unlike my other friends who haven't felt the burden of it all.
     
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  12. Nonnie

    Nonnie PetForums VIP

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    Im a neurotic worrier, and really struggled with my two previous seniors (lost at 15 and 17). Even got to the point where my vet had to be firm as i was there constantly with my first dog (in my defence, he had a fair few health issues) and he informed me that there were things he wouldnt be prepared to do, or conditions he wouldnt treat in such old animals.

    I do think its natural, and its better to be concerned and on the ball than to be blasé and potentially miss an issue.

    I think far too many people look at eating, drinking and the odd walk, and dont really question quality of life beyond those.
     
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  13. Leanne77

    Leanne77 PetForums VIP

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    All 3 of my dogs were a very similar age with only 18 months between oldest and youngest. I feel like I've been looking after oldies constantly for a long time now.

    I guess it was a blessing that I lost Jed to lymphoma before he got properly old (he was 11), but I had to nurse him through his cancer. Then almost immediately after I started to notice Jessie slowing down. She had some seizures and a stroke and never fully recovered. She became fully incontinent, had poor balance, became deaf and visually impaired and her mobility issues really kicked in. She was 14.5 when I finally let her go. Now I'm looking after my remaining dog who will be 14 soon. His mobility isnt great and often has the odd surprise poop in the house. He's gotten to that stage where he has unexplained tremors and seems to zone out and almost fall over, exactly like Jessie did in her old age. It must just be an old dog thing.

    Yes, they are a constant worry and I've watched them all like a hawk. You know that they don't have many years, or even months, remaining and are left wondering when, where and how you'll lose them. It's the certain, ever present dread of having to deal with what could be round the corner. Plus, alot of their behaviour resorts back to puppyhood - a loss of manners, toilet accidents, just being very demanding and they take up alot of time. I am tied to home alot and am constantly clock watching as Flynn has several meals a day and medication several times a day, at set times, so I can never be out the house for long.

    I suffer anxiety too which doesnt help but looking after an old dog is exhausting, costly and stressful, and I struggle to keep my cool sometimes but considering the dedication and loyalty they've given me all their lives, it's the very least I can do for them when they need me the most. Rehoming them never entered my head, I could never betray them that way.
     
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  14. golfchick

    golfchick PetForums Senior

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    Wowzers all of that pales in comparison to Ziva's health! Reading that I even more dread what is to come though, respect for you and your emotional strength with all of that!
     
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