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The older BC

I'm finding this article to be very familiar.............Dagwood is still unable to navigate the stairs. Mike is his sole travel companion and "carrier". He's Dagwood's HERO (and mine :)!! He carries (flys) Dagwood down the stairs like Superman!......ok Superdog! Hearing for Dag is non existent and vision appears to be taking the same route. Daggie does appear to enjoy life still with short bouts of energy and continues his walks/runs......In appearance he is ageless :)

The older border collie.
A older Border Collie is of course not a diseases. Caring for your older Border Collie can be very rewarding and challenging, as well as heartbreaking! On an average, Border Collies typically live 10 to 13, but many dogs go well beyond the age of 13. Just like with people, old age is a relative thing. Some dogs age gracefully, while others do not. Some dogs are old at 8-10, while others remain youthful and full of pep well beyond 12 or 13. As with anything, it depends on the breed of dog, the genes, the kind of care and the amount of stress in the dogs life. As with the human experience things can and will go wrong.
The older dogs needs become quite different depending on how well they are aging and what particular health problems they may have developed. Unfortunately most of the problems that occur as a result of the aging process are irreversible. About all we can do is take care of our elderly dogs the best way possible, giving them the best medical care, lots of love and making sure they spend their golden years as comfortably as possible.
Puppies may demand extra care, attention and time, but you know the difficulties will improve as they mature.
However, with the older dog, everything is down hill and past a certain point, you know the situation is not going to get better! You may find especially in the last couple of years, the senior citizen definitely needs additional care. As a dog ages, many of their needs begin to change. Some typical signs of the aging process are decreased activity and appetite, longer hours sleeping, stiffness in the extremities, and dyer skin and coat. Their predicament can be tentative and fragile.
The diet may need to be altered, as well as reduced in quantity. Aging typically sees a reduction in appetite. You may discover overnight that your less-active Border Collie has suddenly become obese. Obesity is not doing the older dog any favors because it can add stress to already weakened bones and joints. Consequently you may need to reduce the amount of food or change the type of food entirely. Personally I have never had a healthy Border Collie our athor breed lose its appetite due to age, but I have had quite a few become obese. As a rule Collies are easy keepers, so you do need to watch their weight! There are numerous excellent senior diets on the market. Some people though have found many of the senior diets not only lacking in palatability, but also too low in protein or fat. As a result, the older dog can either can get too thin or the coat becomes dry and brittle. Many people opt for leaving the dog on the same diet they have had for the entire life, as long as the dog is doing well. Also available are various vitamin supplements specially fortified with extra iron and calcium, with the senior in mind. Vets are discovering the value of moderate exercise in older people. The same rules apply in dogs…..the necessity for moderation becomes a necessity. Older dogs still need exercise, but not as strenuously as previous years.
It's not unusual for some older dogs to become deaf or blind. Unfortunately other than treating the dogs with kindness and respect, nothing can be done in these two areas. Make sure the ears and eyes are kept clean and free of matter. Of major concern are dental needs. It pays to keep the dogs teeth clean and watch out for any tooth or gum problems. Border Collies teeth seem to be more prone to tartar collection as they age and you may find yourself having to keep up with the teeth more often than than in previous years.
General health needs of the older dog may need to be treated differently. One of the typical problems that seem to hit many of the larger breeds, including older Collies, is arthritis. Sooner or later, your aging Collie will probably show these signs: stiffness, soreness or lameness. In years past a dog owner was pretty much limited to treatments of aspirin or various cortisones and steroid products. However, within the last few years there are several alternatives to these previously used drugs. They won't cure arthritis, but they may help alleviate some of the problems such as, pain and swelling typically seen in the arthritic dog. Recently, one of the most highly touted drugs is Rimadyl®. Opinion is still out on this drug, as many people have had either great success with it, or others have experienced side effects. Another popular choice in the ongoing battle with Arthritis is a combination of supplements called: Chondroitin Sulfate & Glucosamine HCI. Usually these two supplements are combined with vitamin C. Many dog owners, as well as Veterinarians have had good luck with these joint care products. When the situation gets to the point where the dog becomes really uncomfortable, there are various buffered aspirin products on the market. One good one is Arthricare, made by Veterinary Products Laboratories. However, with any aspirin product, the owner needs to be aware of possible stomach irritation. As with anything, consult with your Veterinarian before using any supplements or drugs. When things get to the point of no return when a dog is having great difficulty getting up, laying down or navigating, more extreme measures may be necessary. Some Veterinarians might suggest a minimal daily dosage of either prednisone or Phenylbutazone. These two drugs should never be used without first consulting a Veterinarian. Not only can they have dangerous side affects, but they can cause imminent death when combined either together or with other drugs. Basically any drug used on the older pet is just buying the dog a little more time and trying to ease the quality of life. But by the same token, you don't want to destroy them doing it.
There are orthopedic beds with lots of foam rubber, made especially with the aging pet in mind. Also, heated pads or bedding might help to make the aging pet more comfortable.
Many Vets recommend occasional health checks and blood work as a form of preventative medicine. Blood work especially can give early warning to pending health problems. This is especially a good idea if your aging dog just doesn't seem right. Anemia can often be a problem in the aging dog, as well as lower Thyroid levels. It is good to keep on top of these health issues, before something gets out of control.
NEVER, EVER should the older dog be left outside to deal with the weather elements, whether it is heat or cold. Situations that a younger dog brushes off, can become a calamity for the oldster. Not only do they need to be protected from weather extremes, but they deserve it, after all the great rewards they have given to the owner!
The older dog may need to go outside to eliminate more often. The once fastidious oldster may find themselves in a position of not being able to “hold it” as they once were able. Thus, more frequent trips outside become necessary. A frequent Collie problem (and other breeds as well), is a condition found especially in the spayed bitch.....leakage of urine. This condition is a medical problem and has absolutely nothing to do with housebreaking. There are various products on the market, such as female hormones that can help with this condition. First though, infection needs to be ruled out. Consult with your Veterinarian about taking in a urine sample to check for an infection. If infection is ruled out, more that likely the problem is incontinence from being spayed. There are several studies in the works regarding this problem. This problem may become even more common with the recent pratice of early spay, thanks to the overpopulation problem of dogs.
Personally I just cringe every time I hear of an older Collie being abandoned or given up for adoption....I just can't imagine such a thing and the cruelty of it all.
Border Collies especially, more so than any other breed (thanks to their close ties to humans), deserve much better than this! After all the pleasure your dogs have given you over the years, they deserve the best care and treatment possible whether they be a retired show champion, brood bitch or just a valued pet.
Whatever they may be, they deserve the extra time that comes with their aging years.
Most important of all, don't forget the love and attention that they crave and deserve! It becomes a rewarding experience for all involved!

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  1. the 4 Bs Says:

    we know it's tough getting old, but it happens to all of us someday. we are thinking of you, Dagwood.


  2. Ailurophile Says:

    Great article. All animals of every species and breed deserve our love and affection in all ages, young and old, especially when they are vulnerable. Thanks for this touching post and the very best for sweet Dagwood.

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