I have rarely posted on this board but have enjoyed reading it from time to time. Our male ridgeback, Ripley, is 10 years old so living with an older dog is all too familiar to me. He has been diagnosed with arthritis of the hips which has showed a gradual but progressive weakness of his hind quarters over the past year. Here is some info I can share:
1.We continue with Ripley’s daily walks but let him set the pace and distance by how he tolerates the activity. Some days we can go a full mile, other days its only ˝ a block and back to the house.
2.As long as Ripley is able to do certain activities, like jump on the furniture, we let him do so, but we also sort of “spot” him to make sure he doesn’t injury himself.
3.We’ve had to stop playdates with some doggie pals that play too rough with Ripley. These are the dogs that are too physical in their play and don’t sense Ripley’s limited abilities.
4.Ripley doesn’t do well with slippery surfaces, so all smooth surfaces in our home like the kitchen and front hallway have several non slip area rugs.
5.Ripley has shown some hesitancy about going down stairs. He’s ok with going up the stairs. We make sure the stairs are always well lite. At night Ripley sleeps in our bed room and we close the door so he can’t get out and try to go down the stairs in the dark. Most times all Rip needs to get started is one of us to be beside him and give verbal encouragement.
6.Last year we had several visits with a vet that specializes in rehab medicine. These visits were well worth the cost and the distance traveled to her office. We learned simple exercises and techniques that are easily incorporated into Ripley’s daily activities that would help to maintain the muscle strength of his hips and back legs. We were also taught the proper techniques of therapeutic massage. The vet recommended aqua therapy, but Rip hates water and the stress of him being in a pool outweighed any benefits of aqua therapy. Acupuncture was also an option we discussed but have not yet tried.
7. On his 10th birthday, we wrote down all the things Ripley can do (i.e. jump up on the bed with relative ease, greet us at the door with tail wagging, eat with enormous gusto, etc.) and on occasion have referred back to the list to see if anything has changed.
8.Ripley has been receiving a supplement of glucosamine/chondroitin since he was 6 months old. We’ve given him trials of Rimadryl with no visible improvement. On occasion when Ripley acts sore we will give him a few days of Ascriptin (as recommended by our vet). At this point, we don’t think Rip is experiencing discomfort that would require daily pain meds. When that day comes, we won’t hesitate to start it.
9.Ripley’s weight is about 80 lbs, give or take a few. He looks healthy with mostly balanced muscle development. We’ve very careful to maintain this weight.
Ripley doesn’t know he’s a geriatric dog. He’s mentally sharp, wants to be with us and do everything with us. Last fall we took the dogs with us to the mountains for a few days with the hope of some easy hiking ventures. Unfortunately, it was too much for Ripley. So instead we just walked around the neighborhood near the house and hung out on the deck. Rip was content with that as long as we were together. As with most mature dogs, Ripley shows such wonderful dignity, calmness and wisdom. We cherish every day we have with him and give him extra special love and attention.
I hope some of our experiences can help with your dogs.
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