This post is for all the pet-loving people, especially those with elder dogs. This note is because our pets are members of our families. This note is because we love the pets of our friends-families, even the pets we only know through social media. This note is because there may be some bits of information that help someone else care for their pet.
This note is because… LOVE.
In 2008, after our younger son had moved to Washington to study at The Evergreen State College, Kyle and I agreed to adopt a dog. Looking at Petfinder.com, I was drawn to a sweet-looking brown and white dog. I read about Springers, and learned about the English Springer Rescue of America (ESRA). I completed the adoption application. On the Saturday before Thanksgiving 2008, Kyle and I went to the home of the ESRA representative. Mark Samuel introduced us to Beau, who had been found injured and would have been euthanized if not taken in, and cared for, by ESRA. Sporting several scars, but otherwise a healthy two or three year old, Beau joined our family. And in our opinion, Beau is one of the best dogs ever.
Beau is that sweet dog who little kids can pet and lay on. That dog who has so many friends from being part of my social work and being Kyle’s companion on walks and runs. And Beau is now also that elder dog living with health challenges.
Early this year, I asked Facebook friends to share tips for caring for elder dogs. The responses were very caring and helped guide us. And this autumn, some additional guidance came unexpectedly. In September, Beau had a serious leg injury, and Michelle Hall, the new veterinarian available at our vet’s clinic not only helped us heal Beau’s leg, but also suggested a new medication to improve his mobility. In October, at our annual retreat at The Light Center for people with suicide grief, I met an out-of-state veterinarian who was receiving training in veterinary chiropractic medicine from an area veterinarian. It only took a little internet searching for me to find that expert, and for him to become part of Beau’s care.
And the rest of this note has the specifics of what we have tried for our beloved Beau, for those who are seeking some guidance for their own beloved pets.
Because love really IS the answer.
Elder Dog Care
~ Loving his people
~ Walking slowly, and only short walks
~ Trouble getting up after a nap & getting started walking
~ Cannot walk up or down stairs
~ Lack of awareness of peeing and pooping
~ Little to no appetite, and no consistency in what he will eat
~ Sleeps lots
Our long-time primary vet is Dr. Bill Bayouth at Animal Hospital of Lawrence (Kansas). Also at AHL, Dr. Michelle Hall treated Beau for a leg wound and got Beau started on Adequan injections for hip/ mobility issues.
Mobility tools we continue to use:
~ raised food and water bowls
~ rubber grips on his nails, which we keep trimmed
For sleeping overnight:
~ A memory foam orthopedic dog bed with removable cover; in our kitchen, as he is no longer able to go up and down stairs to our bedroom
Because of his incontinence, we use:
~ disposable pads for him to lay on
~ male dog diapers/ wraps for pee
We are giving Beau, twice daily:
~ 750mg of GABA amino acid (Info about GABA is included at the end of this note.)
~ a pre- & pro-biotic mix capsule
~ a joint supplement chewable tablet
In October 2019, he started Adequan injections: twice weekly for four weeks, and now every two weeks. This has improved his walking somewhat. However, we may discontinue due to finding non-medication treatment that works even better.On November 26, 2019, he started receiving care from Dr. Drew Spisak: veterinary chiropractic and cold laser treatment, supplemented by some acupuncture. These treatments were administered twice weekly for a few weeks, then lweekly until realistic benefits have been achieved. We also stopped giving Beau the NSAID Carprofen (Rimadyl is one version), which might be contributing to diminished appetite and other health issues. His walking has improved very much, his movement overall has improved, and his appetite may be returning.
~ He has little interest in eating, and this year has gone from 60 lb to 45 lb.
~ He stopped eating the boiled chicken and broth that was his standard for a while.
~ On the list of foods he will sometimes eat are mostly just-cooked items: home-cooked hamburger, home-cooked cornbread, fried eggs, pieces of ham, chicken nuggets from fast food restaurants, vanilla ice cream, or any animal protein we are eating as part of our meal.
~ Our primary vet, Dr. Bill Bayouth, prefers older dogs being on a prescription kidney diet dog food, however Beau would not eat the Hill’s version and will no longer eat the Purina version.
~ For a long time, he has had no consistent interest in dog food, with the rare exception of eating some Purina puppy food when we are visiting our son’s family, which includes a puppy. We continue to offer different high quality kibbles.
~ He will rarely eat any of the wide range of dog treats that we try, other than Smoked Pig Ears from a local meat market.
~ 50 mg of the NSAID Carprofen (generic name of Rimadyl) morning and 50 mg evening: Quellin from Bayer
~ 100 mg Gabapentin every 36-48 hours – We quickly discontinued Gabapentin, because it was way too strong for Beau, even at this very small dose for his weight
~ CBD oil purchased from our local natural pet food store – No benefit for Beau from that
With episodes of diarrhea, which were frequent at times in the past, when he was eating more and we had not yet added pre- & pro-biotic to his daily routine:
~ Immodium (generic version) after first incident: one capsule, occasionally a second after 12 hours
~ after right rear leg which was diagnosed with ACL tear in March 2019 – compression brace for several weeks
~ underbelly wraparound sling with handles for times when he can’t get up or down hardwood stairs inside our home
~ step stool for getting in and out of car
~ carpeted steps/ ramp for getting onto bed, but he never liked using this
Note: This is not the same as the pain relief medication Gabapentin GABA is non-prescription and is available through natural food/ supplement stores.
From a health coach friend, Christy Kennedy’s, readings:
GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain with a principle role of”reducing neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system.” Lower-dose supplements are generally understood and used for mood, anxiety, and sleep problems, but it is used at higher doses and in the form of gabapentin/neurontin (analog [mimic] of GABA) for its anti-inflammatory/inhibitory effects to treat inflammatory pain and seizure disorders.
https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jvms/67/10/67_10_1063/_pdf/-char/enWhat we saw initially with GABA and Beau was a very quick and very positive reaction. His mobility and gait improved within 5-10 minutes. However that is no longer true.