We had a small scare last week with Scooter, our 14.5 year old man. He has had a heart condition for several years now. He takes both a heart medication as well as a diuretic to help his heart and keep the fluids at bay. I am very in tune with my dogs and can tell you the minute something is off.
Scooter started becoming more restless both during the day and at night. This was unusual for him because within the last couple of years, he sleeps or rests a lot of the time. He also started to do the funny sneeze that dogs sometime do but his lasted for a lot longer and he sounded like he was cough/choking too.
I know that coughing is a sign that his congestive heart failure is progressing so I took him to the vet pronto for a check up. Thank goodness she said his heart rate was good, his gums were a good color and he did not have fluid build up in his lungs. She thought that the night restlessness could be due to fluid build up while laying on his side making it harder to breathe. She told me to give him a second dose of his diuretic in the evening to help lessen the fluids while he is sleeping.
It seems to have helped because he is now back to burrowing under the blankets and sleeping soundly until everyone else is up (he is usually the last one out of bed). Thank goodness, I feel like we have dodged another bullet. I know we don't have a lot of time left with Scooter, but we try to cherish every minute with our little man.
I want to share with you some things we have done for Scooter that may help your aging friend as well:
1. Comfortable and supportive bed - We bought a low profile, memory foam bed to help him with his arthritis. We got a large because he usually has a sister or two sharing it with him.
2. Sweaters - We have bought Scooter a few warm sweaters for cold winter days. Older dogs, just like older people, have a hard time maintaining their body temperature. A sweater helps them to maintain their body heat.
3. Glucosamine - I have been giving Scooter a supplement now for about two years. It helps lubricate joints and ease discomfort to increase mobility.
4. Softer treats - Scooter has his own special soft treats. He simply cannot chew the crunchy treats any longer.
5. Senior dog food - I switched Scooter to a dog food especially for senior dogs to meet the special requirements of an aging dog. I moisten his kibble by covering it with water and microwaving it for 30 seconds. I let it sit until it softens and pour out the excess water. It's especially important to keep your senior dog at a healthy weight so their joints aren't stressed by excess pounds.
6. Dog diapers - Since Scooter is on a diuretic, his need to urinate is more urgent and frequent. We can manage this as long as we are home but if we must be gone longer than an hour or so, we put a doggie diaper with a maxi pad inside to catch the urine. I am also including a link and review of my favorite brand.
7. Cleanliness - Keeping your senior dog clean and free of fleas/ticks will help him stay more comfortable. Keep their ears, eyes and teeth clean. Unfortunately, Scooter's teeth are not in good shape so we cannot brush his teeth. I do use a water additive to help keep the bacteria and odor at bay.
8. Steps - Your senior dog may need some steps to help them get to their favorite spot on the couch or into the family bed. Unfortunately, Scooter refuses to use them, probably because all he has to do is give us "that look" and we are his servants, lol.