Our dog is a mess to look at. He has a weeping growth on his lower right eyelid.
This growth mars his once beautiful face.
We’ve had to combine him to a small part of the house. Because he often forgets to let us know when he needs to go outside.
He sleeps a lot. But the minute he wakes up we need to quickly get him outside. Or else.
Taking care of a 16-year-old dog is challenging. A tremendous amount of work goes into it.
A number of people have asked us, “Don’t you think it’s time?”
That’s because our dog doesn’t seem to be in obvious pain. He gets around okay. His appetite is great.
Our vet isn’t pressing us to end his life. She just says, “This is the time to give him lots of treats.”
So that’s what we do.
Taking care of a 16-year-old dog is difficult. But once he’s gone he’s gone.
So why not let him enjoy the remaining time he has left?
Taking Care Of A 16 Year Old Dog
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Our dog is special. He’ll be the family dog forever. Even if we eventually get another dog, after he’s no longer with us.
He’s our family’s first and only dog so far. He watched our kids grow up. He patiently allowed my youngest to turn him into a plaything.
Never did I imagine he’d live long enough for my son to graduate college. I remember as my son was leaving our house during his freshman year. My husband reminded him to say “goodbye” to the dog. Just in case.
However, I won’t sugar coat it. Taking care of a very elderly dog is hard work. In the last year, family vacations have been non existent. Because someone needs to stay home to take care of the dog.
He needs so much care that we can’t ask anyone else to do it. It would be difficult for him to stay in another house. (He’s confused enough in his own house.) We’d need someone on site for most of the day.
None of this is feasible. So for the last year, we haven’t gone away together.
The other option would be putting him down so we could travel. But I know we’d spend the entire trip feeling guilty.
So for now we’re staying close to home. We know this is very time limited, because our dog is very old.
How To Take Care of A 16 Year Old Dog
Other than needing to be home with our dog, there are other things we’ve found that make it easier (somewhat) to care for our aging dog. So this is what we do.
- We feed him USDA-certified organic wet dog food. This has two potential benefits. Our dog was diagnosed with a malignancy on his lower eyelid last spring. But it doesn’t seem to be getting worse. We try to keep him as healthy as possible by feeding him organic dog food. By law, anything with the USDA certified organic label doesn’t contain genetically modified ingredients. I’m also hoping that feeding him pesticide free food will help reduce inflammation in his body, and keep arthritis symptoms at bay.
- We feed him a medical mushroom complex made for dogs. This is designed to boost his natural immunity, which wanes with age.
- We confine him to one area of the house. Because he’s confused and often forgets to “tell” us when he needs to go outside. This makes accident cleanups much easier.
- More frequent grooming. Older dogs smell. Really old dogs smell worse. Our dog no longer cleans himself. So frequent grooming is needed. If your dog is difficult to work with because of his age, don’t forget to leave an extra tip for the groomer.
- Not feeding him at regular times. I know this sounds odd. But we make our dog “work” for his food. We’ve been doing this as long as he’s been elderly. He doesn’t know exactly when he’s going to eat. So it forces him to interact and engage more. He also gets more steps in while doing this. Otherwise, he’d go right back to sleep once his belly was filled. (But don’t do this if your dog is diabetic and needs regular feedings unless your vet says so.
- We try to enjoy his remaining time. But I’ll admit we don’t always appreciate this time because taking care of him is so much work.
- We try to forget that he’s forgotten who we are. Our dog was never the brightest bulb in the package anyway. But he used to enjoy being part of the family. Nowadays his memory seems to go in and out. I think he still remembers my husband most of the time. He seems to remember me when he wants water, a lot of the time.
There is one blessing to having a 16-year-old dog. When he goes, we’re going to know it was his time. We’ll treasure his memory more than mourning his loss.