Caring for Your Senior Dog

We got our Sunny from a rescue organization when she was 4 years old. She had been in a puppy-mill those first 4 years, as a breeder dog, living in a crate, with extremely poor care. (I don't even like thinking about it.)

Caring for Your Senior Dog

Sunny is now a joyful 14 1/2 year old Yorkie, and we are  in the thick of "senior dog care."

senior dog care

What a wonderful 10 years it's been!

This is Sunny, with my daughter, just a few weeks after we brought her home, in 2009. 

tips for caring for a senior pet

And here they are in 2018.

tips for caring for a senior dog

Sunny had a lot of - what I can only think of as PTSD, when she came to live with us, 10 years ago as a young dog.

For quite some time after we had her, whenever we would set her down, she would back up until she was against a wall. (We assume she did that because she was unused to being in the open, after being in a crate her whole life in the puppy-mill. So, she would back up against a wall to feel secure.)

She still jumps if we touch her too abruptly near her neck, even now, 10 years after we got her.  So, we assume she was scruffed (grabbed by the back of her neck) each time she was removed from her crate when she was in the puppy-mill.

And she never barks, (which I've been told is not like a Yorkie at all.)

Gradually, though, Sunny blossomed, beyond all expectations, to become a secure, incredibly loving, joyful dog.  At 14 1/2, Sunny is living her best life, despite being in kidney failure, quite deaf, and with very, very bad eyesight.

Other than sleeping a lot more now than she used to, and walking a bit more unsteadily on the slick wood floor, it's hard to tell that she's old. Well, and the cataracts you can plainly see, and the little skip she does when her knee pops out of place... Who am I kidding - she looks old.

Another one of the many, many phone pictures. I have always taken a lot of pictures of Sunny, but it is increasing, the older she gets!
senior dog care

She still runs and plays and bounces off the walls with happiness, though, when we come home, and she rolls around so much on the sofa when she's happy that we have to keep her from falling off.

Sunny is old, though.  At this point, quite old.  So, of course we mentally prepare ourselves for the fact that she won't be around for a whole lot longer.  If we focused on that, though, it would sap some of the joy.

Here's how we care for our senior Sunny:

  • We give Sunny a lot more "cushion."  We got her a really soft and comfy dog bed, that she adores. It's amazingly soft and fluffy. Her joints are more painful now, and the extra softness helps  keep her comfortable. 

  • We keep her warm.  Now that she's old, and probably because of her kidney failure, Sunny gets colder than she used to.  We always keep a little fleece blanket by both of her  beds, to cover her with.

  • We give her that extra greenbean, that extra little bit of cheese or banana.  

  • We make sure her health is closely monitored, and we have a great specialist that has helped us keep her kidney failure to a minimum, with special food and supplement recommendations.

  • We spend as much time as we can, giving her as much affection as we can. Of course, we always gave her a lot of affection, but there's a new quality to it now.  My appreciation for those snuggles is magnified.

Sunny in her new bed. If I had known how much she would love it, I would have gotten it for her sooner!  Seriously, she adores it, and I can see how happy it makes her.

Sunny is thriving with her "puppy hospice."  Because she's in kidney failure, we have been told that there is no way to determine how much time she has left, but at her last check, she is "stable."
Sometimes I feel like one of those older ladies who pampers her tiny dog to the nth degree (Oh, wait, I am one of those. But, I completely get it now!)

Senior dogs, do need a bit more pampering and care.  And, don't they deserve it?  After giving us a lifetime of the most pure love, I think our senior dogs absolutely do!

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  1. Such a great article! So glad Sunny ended up with you! We have our little Teddy who was also a puppy mill rescue. I will never understand how anyone can look at those faces and intentionally hurt them! He's still pretty young, 3 years old and this is his second year with us. He is still frightened by even a gust of wind but he is getting better every day! He is such a treasured part of our family! Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Denise! Aw, best wishes to your Teddy! He will keep blossoming!

  2. ********************************************************
    Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Please stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn

  3. Aww.. Sunny! I think small breeds like that do live longer. Athena is now six, which surprises me. I know she's not senior yet but I realize how fast it comes.

    1. :) I've heard that about small breeds, too. It really does go by too fast, doesn't it?

  4. Sunny is lucky she found such a wonderful home. I rescued my dog when he was 10. He was surrendered by his former owners for being "too old." He's 17 now and we are in the twilight of his life. Yes, he gets whatever he wants. Give Sunny a pet from me and my pup. He loves the ladies.

    1. Thank you! Aw, give your pup a pet from me too!

  5. Thank you for sharing a sweet post about your Sunny. I have four dogs and one of them has had two hip replacements and is failing quickly even at just 7, but he is a much larger breed. Another one of my dogs is a rescue from a dog fighting ring and I agree that dogs can have PSTD. But we love them and spoil them rotten. Good luck with Sunny and enjoy her as much as possible. Thanks for visiting this week at #HomeMattersParty

    1. Enjoy your sweet dogs, too, Donna. My German Shepherd, years ago, had hip issues, too. So sad to hear that. How sad that your dog was in a dog fighting ring, but how happy that you are now the owner!

  6. What a great mama you are! It looks like Sunny is thriving in her hospice. I had a cat that lived to 18--he was blind and arthritic the last few years but he was still eating, still loving us, and happy to snuggle with us. He taught us a lot about taking care of an older pet and the love they give in return.

    1. Thanks, Katy! Our pets really do teach us a lot, don't they?


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