The Unexpected Gift of Aging Pets

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  • By Bree
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The Unexpected Gift of Aging Pets

Hello Beloved Clients and Friends!
As 2024 begins, I find myself not only noticing that I am getting a wee bit older, but my two dogs are as well. Lately, I have been looking into their big, brown, slightly cloudy eyes, wondering where the time has gone. Sometimes, I get teary-eyed, as I accept the fact that despite my diligent efforts to keep them healthy and happy, they will not be around forever. I adopted Sophia at age two, and North at six months. Presently, they are ten and twelve years old. I often hear parents of children exclaim that their kids "grow up in the blink of an eye!", and I feel myself relating to that sentiment, with my canine companions. Are you heading into the New Year with a senior pet? Maybe, some of you can empathize with these same thoughts and feelings I have.
One of the biggest changes I have noticed, as time ticks by, is my girls' energy levels. Both of my dogs are very active, and love nothing more than playing fetch and running around. Though, they cannot exert themselves the way they used to. Recently, I have been limiting their high-impact activities, to keep their aging hips and joints from becoming fatigued or fragile. So, I have been providing them with extra "sniffing time" and mental stimulation, in place of some of the hard physical activity. I offer them puzzle feeder toys, loaded with kibbles -- or, even scatter treats in the backyard, for them to scale around and find. We also focus on leisurely walks, more, now. How I enjoy watching them smell their surroundings and see their tails wag. I have also been doing more obedience training with them, as they love to please through "tricks". Seeing that they are still happy, doing more leisurely activities -- takes away my guilt, as we transition away from more vigorous exertion. Try not to feel badly, if as a pawrent, you are needing to limit your senior dog's strenuous activities. Your dog will not be upset with you, and will not judge you. They trust you know what is best for them. Your dog will adapt to the new, "slower" pursuits you add to their routine. You may just need to experiment a little!
My dogs have never really been the types to lay on dog beds. However, I have noticed, within the last year, that they are more keen on keeping comfy. I ensure that I have a few different kinds of cozy spots, sprinkled throughout our home, so they always have options when they are looking to take it easy. Speaking of snoozing, I have observed differences in their sleeping patterns. Sophia, for example, has started to need a bathroom break in the middle of the night, when she never used to before. While this is slightly irksome, especially in the winter, it is what it is! As some dogs age, they can lose some of their bladder control. North's sleeping routine has changed as well, in the fact that she has learned to LOVE resting! She was never a "napper", and would only sleep once us humans were bedding down. Now, she will go off to bed on her own, before us, and we will often hear her whimper as she dreams -- fast asleep before we are! Allow your senior dogs to "chill" more, as they embrace their golden years!
I have always been very mindful of the nutrition I provide for North and Sophia. I feed them a combination of balanced raw, and kibble high in meat protein and low in carbohydrates. Thus far, this regime is continuing to work well with them and their digestion. Though, I have noticed that they both have more sensitive tummies, as compared to when they were younger. As a result, I have had to swap out some of their "rich" treats, for one-ingredient, freeze-dried ones, instead. If you are needing to make a treat swap as well, no need to worry. You can find so many limited-ingredient alternatives, which they will enjoy just as much. Besides, variety is the spice of life!
It can be difficult to find the positives, when it comes to watching your dog(s) get up there in age. However, there really are things to cherish, about the inevitable progression in their life cycle. North and Sophia have really ramped up their desire for "the loves", in this last year. North has begun laying on her back, limbs splayed out, assuming the position for belly rubs! This is not something she used to do. Sophia, a normally independent gal, has started approaching me for the pets. Whereas, in her younger years, she would play hard-to-get, with letting me show her TLC. I find much joy in pampering them with more affection than ever before. Something that makes me happy, in my personal time, is writing. I will set myself up at my little writing nook, and transcribe my thoughts into the written word. Since my girls have become more relaxed, they have made a routine of joining me, as I engage in my hobby. They will lay right at my feet and just be there, while I compose pieces, containing my deepest feelings. It has been a gift, having their support -- knowing I can look down at them at any point. It is as though they have become even more emotionally in-tune with me. While they may be mellowing, I sense that they are becoming more wise as well.
As you embark on this new year, do remember that there are things to rejoice about, when it comes to aging -- for you and your pet! While life may look a little differently, change can bring forth many unexpected gifts.
Always Fondly,

North showing me just how much I mean to her!

Sophia and I at our most favourite place -- Especially 4 Pets!


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