When the North Shore Animal League van pulled up outside our apartment six years ago, we had not planned on adopting a dog. My kids, however had another plan. From the fifth floor, we had a perfect view of the van and they asked, no begged, repeatedly to let them go out there and “just look.” So we did.
Once inside the van, a small, long haired Chihuahua mix caught the eye of my then 9-year-old daughter, Katie. Katie had been diagnosed that year with a chronic autoimmune disease and everyday was a struggle for her. When she locked eyes (and hearts) with this dog, it was really difficult to tell her no.
And I didn’t.
Instead, we scooped up the dog and learned that she had been abandoned by her elderly owner who had fed her all day long. At nearly 20 pounds, with dirty, long fur, she was a sight. We immediately realized that she had been abused as she was insanely afraid of everything and everyone; even scratching your hair would cause her to yell out in fear. It has been six years since then and Hayley is now a clean, slimmed down, and spoiled little girl. Lately however, she has been having issues with her legs and has a touch of arthritis.
The adoption specialists estimated her to be at least three years old when we adopted her, so along with that information, our vet guesses she is anywhere from 9-11 year old. That puts her in the geriatric category. Along with a newly volatile stomach, she sleeps a lot, and is acquiring a bunch of moles and growths. After a full check-up, the vet says she is just growing older and having special, although largely normal concerns that come with old age.
Caring for an older dog is very different from raising a pup. Here are 10 tips to help you care for your older dog and help him be as comfortable as he possibly can be:
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