Taking Care Of a 15-Year-Old Dog

taking care of a 15-year-old dog

Our wonderful dog is now about 15 years old. We call him our “Christmas miracle.”

That’s because, last winter, right around Christmas, it looked like he was reaching the end of his life.

He totally stopped eating, and this seemed to be the culmination of a long steady decline that had started a couple of years earlier.

However, we also have a wonderful homeopath. She was somehow able to come up with the right remedies, and he made a miraculous recovery. I realize how blessed we are to have such a skilled practitioner in our lives. (However, for people who can’t find a good veterinary homeopath, wide-spectrum homeopathic remedies are available from a company¬†with two holistic vets on staff. They’re available to answer customer questions.)

Following homeopathic treatment, our dog’s voracious appetite returned. This was something we hadn’t seen in years. He also started looking healthier and acting healthier. Miracles still happen. Even relatively little ones, like this. (Please understand, though, that I’m not promising anyone else will see similar results from homeopathic treatment.)

Taking Care of a 15-Year-Old Dog

I have no proof of this. But I like to think our dog has lived a long and relatively healthy life because we’ve kept him away from potentially dangerous chemicals, such as the ones found in commercial flea products. Instead, during flea and tick season, I’ve fought these critters with essential oils. One summer, I put a drop of geranium essential oil on his collar. This aromatic smells good to us. But insects hate it.

Another aromatic that also naturally repels insects is lemongrass essential oil. I always make sure to put essential oils on my dog’s collar, and not on his fur.

However, if you plan to use essential oils on your dog, please run this by your vet. I’m not an animal healthcare expert, so all I can do is share my personal experience of taking care of my dog. Essential oils should never be used on pregnant dogs or on cats.

Taking Care of a Senior Dog

Our dog eats very well. In our house, we eat primarily organic food and he’s always angling for table scraps. Once he reached a certain age, it became clear that he could no longer eat grain-based kibble. Actually, now I’m sorry I fed him this for so long, because I now realize it wasn’t sufficient nutrition. Thankfully, he was always good at procuring people food, one way or another.

Since it wasn’t practical to feed my dog all people food, for a long time we supplemented with a high-quality grain free kibble that contains antioxidants and probiotics. This sustained him very well for more than a year. I believe it was a good move to put him on a grain free diet. However, if you plan on a diet change, it’s imperitive that you work with your vet, especially if your pet has a delicate digestive system. Here is the high-quality grain free kibble we used.

Taste of the Wild Grain Free KibbleTaste of the Wild Grain Free Kibble

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Tips for Taking Care of Old Dogs

In addition to feeding our dog well, and keeping him away from potentially dangerous chemicals, and using natural remedies when appropriate, there’s something else we do that may be helping him.

He has to work for his grain-free food. Since he loves to eat, he’s highly motivated to work. I don’t automatically feed him when I sense that he’s hungry. Instead, I wait an hour or more. This forces him to engage me, follow me around the kitchen and go outside a few times, hoping a meal is waiting when he comes back inside. (Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t.) I may split his meal up, and make him “work” a little more before he gets the rest of it.

The reason I do this is because older dogs like to sleep. Once his belly is full, he usually takes a nap. Making him “work” during the day keeps him up longer and forces him to move around, more than he usually would.

Researchers have found that cats who “work” for their food are happier and healthier than cats who don’t.

For More Reading

It’s been an interesting ride this past year with our dog. At one point, we thought we were going to lose him. Then, it all turned around with homeopathy. You can read more about our experiences here:

Can You Add Years to Your Dog’s Life?

Putting Your Dog to Sleep Too Soon

Knowing When to Put Your Dog to Sleep

When Should You Put Your Dog to Sleep? 

Anyway, you should probably know that I have very strong feelings on the topic of putting animals down too early. At one point, last year, it almost looked as if this would be the most humane thing to do. But our dog rallied back to health in a way that surprised us. This is an irreversible and permanent decision.

One suggestion I can make. If I thought my own dog was in pain, and I didn’t have access to a good veterinary homeopath, I’d first try a gentle wide spectrum homeopathic formula designed to naturally relieve arthrtis symptoms and restore mobility. Although I can’t promise it will work, there’s nothing to lose by trying this formula, since it comes with a money-back guarantee.

Homeopathic Remedy for Dog Pain and StiffnessHomeopathic Remedy for Dog Pain and Stiffness

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