Getting Old Ain’t for Sissies

With many thanks to Quin’s grandmother for the titular phrase!

Well, Lily and Cash are getting older. Lily has a little bit of hip dysplasia and a lot of arthritis (she’s one supplement and, recently, pain killers/anti-inflammatories). Cash is in remarkably good shape, except for the added weight from helping himself to dog food. We’re working on that!

One of the books I’m reading for myself is called “Younger Next Year” by an MD and a lawyer who thought the information needed to be out in the world. There are several editions, and I can’t say it’s the most perfect book out there, but it is based on medical information, and it steers clear of the fad diets and whatnot, which I appreciate! The main message of the book is this: exercise an hour, six days a week, to help your body stay young. A brisk walk is good enough. It goes into a lot more detail about why, but that’s the basic premise.

Here’s why I mentioning it: the things they talk about have to do with being mammals, not always being human. Lily’s been sliding downhill slowly and I thought, “You know what? She’s a mammal, too.” So Lily and I (and Cash because I want him to stay in good shape) are now embarking on a get-younger lifetime regime.

Lily’s arthritis and dysplasia mean that her hips are sore and weak. To help with the weakness, I bought some anti-slip spray by Bio-Groom. [link] From what I can tell from the reviews and my own experiments, it seems to work well for dogs who have just a bit of slipping and weakness; too much, and it doesn’t make a great difference. I make sure to spray it on her pads and toe pads as well, and then pet her for thirty seconds while it dries. I re-applied every few days, and after a while I stopped using it; she stopped slipping.

I took her walking. Lily likes walking, but she gets bored walking the same thing all the time. I hadn’t realized this until I was distressed that she lagged so much, and then one day I took her jogging down a trail… and I’ll be damned if she couldn’t suddenly keep up! Now we walk or jog daily, and she’s gotten far more agile, much stronger, and happier. She’s playing again, and romping with other dogs.

I wasn’t sure, at first, if she was going to be strong enough to walk and jog, so I also looked up strength training exercises. Some things you can do include standing your dog on stairs (if they’re facing upstairs it works their hips, if facing downstairs their shoulders), practicing sit/down/stand/sit (puppy push ups and doggie squats!), and massage helps as well. Dogs are like us: some like a firmer massage, others a softer one. Start with the big muscles alongside the spine, and the ones on the shoulders and thighs. If your dog is pulling away, ease up!

Stretching helps, too. With your dog standing, very gently take a front leg and stretch it forward, stopping when you feel resistance. If at any point they pull their leg away with determination, let them! Give treats and praise throughout, because let’s face it, stretching is odd. You an also bring the front leg back (carefully), and then do the same thing with the back legs. Don’t do anything sideways without talking to your vet.

Finally, I made sure that Lily had enough Lily-time. It’s easy to ignore her and Cash; they have excellent manners, good confidence, and don’t ask or need my time like the younger Doc or any dogs I’m boarding. I started letting Lily on the couch for snuggles, and I make sure that I give Cash snuggles, too, though he’d rather I pet him while he lays on the floor.

We’re all feeling better for the exercise, and Lily is back on the 30-year plan: to live until I’m old!

Dogs, vets, herbal help

I’d like to start off by saying: Cash is okay!

So yesterday about 4pm Cash had a bout of very liquid diarrhea. It was water. This isn’t unusual for him, sadly. I gave him two Imodium and waited an hour, took him back out, and sure enough, he had another bout. I gave him one more per package instructions. (Cash is big enough that he gets human doses of drugs.)

Then I locked him in the kitchen, and went to the play Quin and I had scheduled.

When we came home at 11:30pm, he’d had what I thought was three more bouts of diarrhea. This IS unusual: typically the Imodium is enough. Later, I realized that he’d at two more bouts of diarrhea and one of vomiting, which is also unusual.

Anyway. Quin took him out then, at 11:30 pm, and he had diarrhea again. I cleaned up. At 5:30am I got up, saw he’d had diarrhea again, took him out, he had diarrhea again, and then he vomited. Twice. At that point I called the emergency vet and off we went. (Note: if your dog isn’t prone to insane bouts of diarrhea, and especially if they are prone to eating things they shouldn’t, you should go to the vet MUCH EARLIER than I did. I waited for vomiting because I know just how sensitive Cash’s stomach is.)  (Extra note: If your dog pukes, take them to the vet. That’s a red flag for poison or having eaten something they can’t digest.)

The upshot was this: Cash has a really sensitive stomach. They filled him up on fluids via subcutaneous IV (so he doesn’t have to drink today and tax his stomach) and gave him an anti-nausea injection, which stopped the nausea but won’t stop the vomiting if he really does need to puke (he hasn’t yet).

Living with a dog with a sensitive stomach can be… interesting. Things that set off Cash’s diarrhea:

  • Being too hot
  • Being stressed out
  • Eating something new
  • Working too much

It’s an ongoing battle. If you have a dog like this, there are some things you can do to help:

1. Add pumpkin. Canned pumpkin (with no additives) added a bit to their food every day acts as a regulator. (“Regulator” means that it will soften their stools when needed, or harden them when needed.) In a dog Cash’s size (100 pounds), you need half a large can per day.

2. Add slippery elm. Until a couple of days ago, I’d been putting slippery elm powder into Cash’s food nightly, and hadn’t had any diarrhea incidents in months. (This is a VERY long time for him.) I stopped two days before his major bout of diarrhea started. I use about 1/2-1 teaspoon of powder, and I don’t bother adding water or anything like that. I just sprinkle it on his kibble, shake it in, and serve. He likes it: it’s a little sweet to eat. Slippery elm is also a regulator, and doesn’t take up as much space in my cupboard as pumpkin. It’s also cheaper! I order it online, in bulk.

If these don’t work, and your dog has a bout of diarrhea, you can:

1. Give them LOTS of slippery elm. This will help settle their stomach. Add water. I gave Cash 1.5 tablespoons, and have been known to give him 2 or even 3 tablespoons.

2. Try Pepto-Bismol. It’s easier on their system than Imodium. (You’ll have to figure out how much to give via weight. I’d get it in tasty liquid form.)

3. If Pepto doesn’t work, the next time it happens try Imodium!

4. White rice is a staple. You can combine white rice with any of the above and it acts as a binding agent for what’s in their stomach and guts.

As for me… after spending half the night dealing with a sick dog, I’m going back to bed!

Jenna

PS: No new pictures of probably-Tango, who’s about five weeks old now. S/he looks about like this:

5 week old Grey Parrot by Papooga

Gettin’ cuter!