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For those of you who have had old dogs, and I'm talking Border Collies versus other types of dogs, I'm wondering what their senior years were like and what you might attribute their longevity (or lack thereof) to.

 

I feel very fortunate to have two very senior dogs, Megan, who turned 15 last August, and Celt who turned 15 in November. Both are still very active, although both have certainly lost a certain zip to their step and are, like me, a bit stiff on rising.

 

Background - Megan lost her hearing to EAOD, losing it between the ages of five and seven. Poorly built in the front end, that is now her weakness - she occasionally stumbles and has had a few episodes over her lifetime of muscle pulls (biceps, triceps). I wonder how much her youth, spent largely in a crate, may have contributed to poor skeletal development. Overall, she's always been a very "efficient" dog, never one to use energy extravagantly but rather efficiently and effectively; an easy keeper who required fewer calories per pound of body weight than our other dogs, to maintain condition and fitness; and always been a dog that showed her zest for life and being alive. She was diagnosed with kidney failure a bit over three years ago and has been on a home-made diet in light of that. She also has been supplemented with fish oil, Vitamin E, and Dasuquin for years, in addition to what she gets for her kidney disease needs.

 

Celt is losing some hearing and occasionally shows some very minor signs of confusion, although I'm not sure it's confusion so much as the hearing loss manifesting itself as confusion. He's been my main go-to work dog and worked cattle from one to thirteen years of age. At thirteen, he let me know that he was formally "retired" and only occasionally likes to "woof up" a bovine on the other side of the fence up the road. Silly boy! He, like my other dogs, has been fed on quality food and the same supplements as Megan. I started the Dasuquin on all of them when Celt had his first TPLO surgery at age 9 (his second was at age 11). He's slower than he used to be but no less eager to get out and get going, to play and to go for walks. He's got a lot of enlargement in his wrists and the front wrists have been very stiff for years. He's always been a rather extravagant mover, and tired out before Megan because he was not one to pace himself.

 

Celt, Megan, Dan, and I still log at least 20 miles of walks a week - dirt/gravel roads, pastures, hay fields, woods. Dan and I often do about six miles more than the others because I do give the old dogs a couple of "short walk" days a week. Celt shows some signs of being tired on the way home, particularly coming down the hill to the house, but that could be his stifles rather than being tired per se - stifle issues are more readily noticed on the downhill. Plus, we don't play ball on that last leg of the walk, and he's a different dog when the ball isn't in the picture.

 

I'm not sure what to attribute their ability to be so active at this age to - is it the Dasuquin? The food? The daily activity? Coincidence that I have two that just are that way? I'm curious to hear other's experience with old dogs and activity.

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One thing I never wanted to have is two dogs getting old at the same time, but that happened anyway as such things do.

 

Kit is proving to be longer-lived than Jester, but I don't know by how much. Jester came to me at the age, I was told, of two. But one doesn't know if that is barely two, or two-and-ten-months. So I know he had to have been over 15 when he died, but he could have even been 16. Now Kit is almost 16 and a half.

 

Neither had the best food until they came to me, and Kit was 6 when she came. Both had been neglected to some degree before I got them. I don't feed all-organic or raw homemade but I do check the Dog Food Adviser and feed the brands that have 5 stars.

 

Jester's teeth started wearing down before he was even 10. I never knew why. I did not use tennis balls. It could be that we played frisbee every day and there was dust and grit.....but I think it's more likely that he just had soft teeth. Kit's teeth are still good and have points on them. Go figure.

 

Honestly, I really don't know enough about such things to attribute the longevity of my dogs to anything, but in the absence of disease or other negative factor, there are two important things.

 

One is just the way these dogs are. All heart, all go, all enthusiasm for everything, all life-loving, endlessly. No time to get old, got things to do and life to live. This is the border collie creed.

 

The other is having a good life; a life to live for. I am not saying I have been the best ever dog keeper, but the dogs have never doubted that they are loved, protected, listened to, and respected. What they need or want matters, and they know it. I give them choices. They have physical and verbal affection and a lot of training and other attention. They never doubt their security or their place in the family or the world. I am sure that has a lot to do with living a long time.

 

I have seen dogs who were only 6 who looked and acted twice their age. They didn't have good exercise or attention or affection, and if a dog doesn't have those even the best food won't make the difference.

 

They've done studies on the longest living people in the world. Some of the things they all had in common are meaningful work, a sense of belonging, exercise daily, and a sense of their place in the world being something meaningful and important.

Dogs are really not any different.

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Lovely, D'Elle!

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I agree with D'Elle,

 

My Laddie died at almost 16. We adopted him when he was 18 months old and fed him one brand of high quality food along with random, dog safe people food. For most of his life he had a fish oil supplement and Chondroitin. He usually walked 3 times a day with 1 of those times involving a lot of ball play for up to 45 minutes when he was younger. He also went to the beach, hiking and to the barn with me. He went with us to family and friend events and was well socialized with people.

As he aged, he had arthritis and took Rimadyl for it. He lost most of his hearing around 14 and at 15 senility/confusion started to set it. His hind end also got very weak and I got him around with a Help Em Up harness.

 

My Jezebel is now 16, we adopted her when she was about 2. She has had the same food/routine as Laddie. She doesn't have arthritis, but has been diagnosed with a benign liver tumor. She takes a Denamarin supplement once a day for it. At 15 her hearing started to go and her eyesight at night is very poor. I use a lot of hand signals now and she follows them well. She has bouts of senility/confusion - sometimes I find her staring into space or facing a corner looking confused. I bring her back by touching her shoulder and she comes back to reality.

 

Overall, both of my dogs had a good diet, a variety of activities and we addressed medical issues quickly.

 

Laura

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I think genetics plays a role, helped along by good diets and good weights, as well as active lifestyles. All things that are supposed to confer longevity in humans too....

 

J.

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I had one who lived to 16 yr 4 mo. She had liver surgery and splenectomy at age 14 (no cancer - whew!). THAT was scary. But she bounced right back as good as before. I adopted her at age 3.5 yr - before which, I'm pretty sure, she lived under a truck with an itinerant artist - who no doubt loved her a lot, but probably fed her crap food. Her teeth were a mess ("You want to chase rocks? OK, here!" GRRR!). She had urinary incontinence - until I got some serious work done on her teeth. Low-grade infection cleared up, and incontinence gone! Amazing. And started her on raw food - coat improved, etc. etc.

She was an agility dog who did quite well. If I'd known then what I know now, she probably would've gone on to even higher accomplishments. Lots of hiking and swimming. She was definitely my heart and soul dog.

She had a few months of some beginning dementia-type symptoms, though nothing very drastic.

I attribute her long life to genetics, good food and vet care, and lotsa love.

 

My now-12-yr old has early kidney disease, though it is progressing unusually slowly. (Last vet's report started with "Wow!" If only all dogs could progress at this pace....) He's still competing in agility too, raw fed, and everyone says he doesn't look his age.

 

Would that they all should live so long...

diane

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Here is a question for any of you who know about such things: I have heard there is a medication which helps to curb urinary incontinence in an older dog.

 

Up until recently I have not thought of using it but lately Kit's incontinence has gotten worse and some days I feel as though all I am on the planet to do is clean pee off the carpet. Sometimes when I am home with her she will head towards the door and I can put her outside, but sometimes she just goes off and pees quietly somewhere and I don't find it until later. I get up in the night to let her out 2 to 4 times, and some nights she still pees in her bed.

 

I don't know anything about the medication, and am in general a person who believes the less medication the better, for myself as well as the animals. but am curious about it, and if anyone has had experience with it maybe you could let me know.

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The medication is Proin. It definitely helped Tilly when she was older, though is wasn't as effective in her last few months. (There may be others but this is the one I and other ppl I know have used.)

 

There are some herbal OTC products too. I tried one of them but ended up having to go to Proin in the end. Don't remember the names but you could do a search.

 

Washable doggy diapers were a lifesaver too. https://www.amazon.com/dog-britches/s?page=1&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Adog%20britches

 

Saved me so much time and effort in cleaning carpet. Having 2 or 3 so you can wash them is really helpful and they're often sold in packs now. I bought cheap sanitary napkins at the dollar store for liners. They're both thicker and less expensive than the liners sold for the diapers. When it was just leakage I'd cut the napkins in half, but later used the whole pad.

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Proin helps Megan, an early spayed bitch who developed kidney failure over three years ago and will be 16 in August.

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My understanding is that there's some evidence that early spay may in crease incontinence somewhat, but it's not really very well established.

 

Spay in general increases incontinence somewhat, no matter at what age it's done, IIRC.

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Thanks for the recommendations. I will ask my vet about it.

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Sorry this thread has been hijacked a bit, Sue...but incontinence is such an old dog problem!

 

I used Proin on my ol' girl, as well as DES (not at the same time). It got to where Proin didn't seem to be working as well, so vet recommended DES (hormone). I eventually weaned her down to one a month - I have NO idea if it was working, but incontinence decreased to almost nothing, so I was never willing to stop it!

 

Also, I *hate* any kind of diaper/pad. It's like a baby with a wet diaper - unless you're able to check and change it frequently, it could get ugly. My girl only had incontinence when she was sleeping, and she pretty consistently slept on her bed. So, I got a number of crib pads - soft fabric but waterproof - to put on her bed, and just threw a towel over it. I just threw the pad and towel in the washer as needed. JMHO.

 

diane

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All old dog issues are of interest!

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A poster to these boards has a border collie who is about to turn 17, and she swears that the secret is Frisbees!

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A poster to these boards has a border collie who is about to turn 17, and she swears that the secret is Frisbees!

 

Wait, who are you? LOL!

 

Honestly, I think the secret to really old dogs is my ex husband, because every dog we owned together and the dog in question have all lived a very long time.

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I agree about the diapers, and would not use them.

 

I do use absorbent pads that are waterproof on the underside and simply change them out and wash them. Often one time she gets me up in the night will be because she wet the bed; I just change the pad, let her out and in and she goes back to bed.

 

Those pads are great, and much more ecologically friendly than going through dozens of disposable pads a month. Cheaper, too.

 

I am also in agreement that anything having to do with elder dogs is of interest at any time, because barring disaster or disease, we all either have or will have elder dogs.

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Wait, who are you? LOL!

 

Honestly, I think the secret to really old dogs is my ex husband, because every dog we owned together and the dog in question have all lived a very long time.

 

:) Ha! I'm Janet Elliott. I imagine our paths will cross in person eventually, perhaps at Fido's.

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:) Ha! I'm Janet Elliott. I imagine our paths will cross in person eventually, perhaps at Fido's.

 

:) OK, thank you! I get so confused by everyone's screen names! Yes, I think we keep missing each other there!

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D'Elle said:


 

 

"I am also in agreement that anything having to do with elder dogs is of interest at any time, because barring disaster or disease, we all either have or will have elder dogs."

 

I'm in agreement, too. All but one of my dogs has lived to a decent age. Losing Buzz at age 10 was way too painful. Hard enough to say good-bye when they are tottery & gray haired, but feels a bit easier than losing one too young.

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