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  • Writer's pictureAureate

Caring for Seniors

There is no greater privilege in life than giving back to one who has spent their life giving so much to you!

Whippets for the most part have a fairly impressive longevity with a lifespan of 12-15 years. What we hope at Aureate is that our dogs head into their senior years active, healthy and robust. By no means is 10 "old" for a whippet, but as your whippet ages we want to make the most of the time you have together. The following are our recommendations to keep your senior whippet active and engaged.

-Keep them Fit: Whether that's venturing to their favourite haunts and trails, there's no reason your Sr whippet can't still enjoy an active lifestyle. Be mindful that their ability to cope with extreme temperature will be lessened as they age. So be wary of very hot or cold weather and take extra precautions to keep them comfortable and safe. Expect a slightly slower pace even if your whippet is adamant they can keep up with the younger dogs. Try to prevent your dog from over exerting themselves and if they do, give them the time required off to recover.
-Healthy Weight: Some breeds are prone to obesity and that's rarely the case with whippets. Although a whippet should never be fat or too thin, we do allow our Sr's to carry a small bit of extra fat in the event they become unwell and go off their food. We like to think of it as their weight "reserve". Now that being said we do not allow our whippets to become fat. Why? It's too hard on their body and exacerbates the strain already placed on their compromised joints.
-Supplements: If you haven't already, now would be a good time to start your whippet on supplements to keep them comfortable. Mobility is a key indicator in maintaining their overall health. We have our Sr's on Nutramax Glucosamine daily. We also add Omega-3's in the form of salmon oil. The recommended therapeutic dose for Omega-3's 75-100 mg/ kg total EPA/DHA. Our dogs are given 1000 mg daily. We also provide green lipped mussel for it's anti-inflammatory properties daily and probiotics for their gut health.
-Myos: Muscle supplement. We feel this muscle supporting supplement deserved its own mention. First of all it's not uncommon for all Sr dogs to experience some degree of muscle atrophy as they age which can exacerbate chronic or old injuries and joint arthritides as they no longer have the same muscle mass supporting their joints and those articular surfaces wear down. We put all our Sr dogs on Myos and have noticed a significant improvement in their comfort and mobility. It's made our older dogs young again!
-Mobility in House: Floors can become a hazard for older dogs who no longer have the same strength and balance of their youth. We recommend placing matting down, carpets or runners so your dogs can navigate without slipping and falling. You may also need to have a ramp made if you have stairs leading into your house and yards.
-Vet: Don't overlook the importance of keeping in touch with your dog's clinician. Any significant changes in behaviour or levels in comfort should be discussed with your veterinarian to rule out reversible causes.
-Nutrition: We mentioned the importance of keeping your whippet at a reasonable weight. This may also mean finding a food that takes into consideration any medical issues they have that's also nutrient dense. For our Sr dogs we gladly will add toppers to their food or mix in some wet dog food from Purina to make their food as appealing as possible. As your dog ages you may find in order to optimize their intake you have to change when meal time is, you may even decide to offer them two meals if it helps them maintain a better weight. Don't stress over meals. It's not uncommon as the body ages to have some degree of anorexia. Your dog's intake and interest in food will likely decrease over time. Let them eat what and when they want (provided it's dog friendly). After all they've earned it!
-Temperature Sensitivity: We mentioned this in regards to the outdoors, but it also applies indoors as well. Although we don't like to leave clothing on our dogs unsupervised, we do make exceptions for our Sr's. We recommend dog sweaters or jumpers without leg coverings. So it's a sweater instead of full body pj's. We find sometimes their legs slip out or they can get caught up in them and that presents a fall risk.
-Cognitive Changes: Just like people dogs can develop sun-downing behaviours and canine dementia. Be patient with your Sr's. Be gentle and be kind.
-Oral Health: Keep an eye on your dog's dentition. If you do discover fractures or concerns with inflamed gums or any suggestion of infection always bring this to the attention of your vet.
-Lumps and Bumps: It's not uncommon for a whippet's body to change as they age. Things like lipomas, dermoid cysts, hemangiomas and histocytomas are common. Any new skin change discuss with your vet. As always it's important to weigh the risks and proposed benefits when exploring any diagnostic or therapeutic intervention. This is especially true in your Sr's.
-Lameness: Don't turn a blind eye to unexplained lameness. Sometimes this is how bone, joint or even cancers first appear. Just because your dog is old, doesn't mean they have to be in pain.
-Maintenance Treatment: Some Sr. dogs have benefited a great deal from monthly or even weekly massage, acupuncture and or chiropractor appointments. Even if you don't feel convinced it will do anything, at least give it a try. It's worth every penny if it improves your dog's quality of life!
-Managing Young Dogs: Make sure your other dogs are respectful and mindful of your Sr. Don't allow young dogs to harass Sr's who won't put that young dog in check. Many if not most whippets enjoy the company of other whippets. We are not discouraging you from having more than one dog, just make sure the boundaries of your Sr's are respected.

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