Kelly In Catty

This blog is Kell's attempt to keep in touch with friends far away who complain that I don't e-mail nearly enough.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Elder Dog 101

I know I've been going on and on about Second Hand Smoke - but what can you do? When you adopt a dog, your life changes... And as she's in her twilight years her life is changing just as quickly. I've lately been making fast friends with a local veterinarian - who is guiding me through my senior dog care with a little tough love.

See? Smokey is aging. At fourteen, she's not as active as she was at 5, 8, and 10...- heck. She's not even as active as she was when we got her. Despite outings, and daily walks, she's slowing down. She's walking slower - she's at times wobbly, and her eating habits are changing... Drastically.

This is partially due to the weekend I spent in New York with my sister (photos soon, btw) - and left the dog with Dave and my nephew, TJ. I don't know the details precisely, but when I returned after an OVERNIGHT stay in the city, HALF of a container of dog treats were gone. I don't know WHO exactly ate them, but I can tell you that Smokey seemed to have lost her taste for Purina Pro Plan. She kind of stopped eating dog food.

And I tried everything. I'd let her watch me pour the tiniest bit of milk onto the Pro Plan. I burried one of her beloved treats into the Pro Plan, I tried the Pro Plan Dry, I tried the Pro Plan wet... I tried giving her her pills NOT in the Pro Plan (she normally took them ground up and mixed in with the food) - Nothing was working.

Finally, two things happened. One - I called the vet. Who gave me an earful as soon as I mentioned that she'd been over-fed with biscuits. I'm paraphrasing - but it went something like this - and it reminded me of reprimands my mother gave me when I was seven:

"Well, first of all, let's change the way you're feeding her. She gets her food at mealtimes - whatever is convenient to your schedule. She must eat it then... You give her fifteen minutes. Whatever she doesn't finish goes out to the birds. If you're moistening her food, it's even more important. It can't sit in water. That's how we get bacteria."

"So I can't leave it for whenever she's hungry?" Then I began to feel sheepish. Yes. I fed previous dogs by leaving food in their bowls at all times... That's the way I knew to do it... but now - with Smokey - well, I was so wrong.

"Look," she said. "You don't feed your children by leaving food at the table for them to come and go as they please - eating for a minute, getting up, then coming back an hour later. That's not how it's done. If you don't feed her table scraps, and don't give her too many treats, then even if she doesn't eat one meal, she will surely eat the next time you feed her."

Then she got personal - and spoke to me as if I were well-meaning but slightly ignorant child (or spouse!!!) It was like I was given a C- in Elder Dog 101:

"And regarding treats. Buy the smallest possible biscuits. I'm constantly battling my husband because I used to give our dog big biscuits and break them in half. I came to find out that he'd been giving her handfuls of big biscuits... You do that and there's no wonder she's not eating. And don't worry. Your dog is very old - and her eating habits are going to change. As her activity level changes, she'll need less and less food."

Ok. So I went home that night, and though it pained me, I didn't give Smoke any tablescraps. I only gave her one biscuit. I told my husband it was painful to watch her beg. He agreed. We held our ground though... somehow...

Eventually, Smoke had no other choice than to amble over to her food bowl... Which she sniffed at and started to walk away... Then, I stumbled upon my second flash of inspiration. I took a handful of the Pro Plan - and put it on the floor. She immediately gobbled it up. I cautiously put more on the floor. It was gone in seconds. I got brave and dumped the remainder on the floor. Within a moment, it was like the vaccuum cleaner had sucked the floor spotless.

I have no idea why that bowl is now anathema, but the dog is eating again... So I don't mind. I guess it's part of taking care of the elderly pooches we've fallen hard for.


  • At 7:45 PM, Blogger Issa said…

    You never can tell with animals. My parents' new kitten (about 6 months old now) suddenly stopped drinking water out of a bowl about 3 months ago. She'd take it out of my mom's hand or from a turkey baster, but no standing water. Then Christmas rolls around, and my parents still get a real tree which needs a stand with water in it.....guess who loves her water with a little pine freshness? And now the tree's gone, she will drink from a bowl....provided it's in the same place as the tree was--in the corner of the living room. *shrug* Sometimes I think pets are even WEIRDER than kids!

    Love that good old dog of yours! Give her a big hug from me. :)


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