SINCE I HAVE old pets now, except for Michael, my parakeet, I wonder if people know how to provide for a senior pet and what to expect.
I have been through the old age years with dogs and cats many, many times.
At around 10 years, a dog will begin to slow down and turn grey around the muzzle. By 11, the hearing may begin to go and the eyesight is not as good as it was. At 12, one must always either walk the pet on a leash, have a fenced in yard or walk along with your dog. Senility can begin to set in and a pet can easily forget how to get home even from the driveway. If his hearing is gone, you will waste your time calling him. A friend just told me the best idea to locate your dog. First she must always wear her collar with a name tag when outside and also put a small bell on it. That way, if you can't see your dog, at least you can hear where she is. I got Amy a chip and also have her name and phone number sewed into her collar. Jimbo goes out at night, but we stand by the door to watch him. If he takes a turn around the house, one of us goes out immediately.
At age 13, the legs really get shaky and a heavy or big dog might not be able to get up or go up steps. We use Rimadyl for arthritis and have been since jIM, WHO IS BIG, WAS 10. Amy, who is little, does not seem to need any medication yet and she will be 10 in April.
At age 14, the bowels begin to go. That means poop just comes out at any old time. DO NOT GET MAD AT YOUR OLD DOG WHEN HE HAS AN ACCIDENT. He cannot help it. He may also lose control over his bladder. The dog becomes very embarrassed and upset, because all his life he tried to be good and go outside. If he or she is big, you may not be able to get them up or to constantly clean the dog. You can ask your vet for medication to control it. If that is not an option, it may be time.
A cat will often not show any signs of age until about 15. The eyes may look cloudy and the hearing may go after age 15, but some cats go on until kidney failure takes them at 18 or 19. I have heard of cats as old as 22, but I have a feeling they are in really bad shape by then. Just because a cat does not cry, does not mean she is not in great pain from arthritis. I knew my old cats had kidney failure when they sat by the water dish almost all day, had a scrawny bad coat and croached in one position all day. That was my sign. I do not believe in injections of water for dehydration or making an old, old pet go for tests. I think it is cruel and I wish the vets would have the courage to tell people the truth.
My dog,Claire, lived to be 17 and one half years. She was a collie/English setter mix. This was amazing to me and it was the pain from arthritis that made me have her put to sleep. It would have been cruel and selfish to wait any longer. She experienced every thing I mentioned previously, but I was young then and could clean her up and clean her mistakes. Whatever you decide, do not feel guilty. A dog who has lived 13, 14, 15+ years has had a total lifespan. More important than the final day, is waiting too long. If they could talk, I am sure at a certain point, a dog or cat would ask to be released from a life with no quality.