and those big brown eyes, too
November 21, 2012 5:32 AM   Subscribe

Comforts or treats we can buy a very, very, very old golden retriever?

The deeply-loved dog of Mr. Machine's childhood is very, very, very old. I believe he is somewhere along the lines of at least being 13 years old at this point, and he lives with Mr. Machine's father about an hour and a half away. They spend all day together and are absolute best friends. We spend what time we can, but it isn't a lot.

On Metafilter's recommendation, we bought some salmon oil for his creaky joints/lack of desire to eat his food, and it worked for a while, but doesn't work consistently. When it does, and he enjoys his food, it brings a lot of joy to us and to Mr. Machine's father.

What other comforts/treats can we get now that a sedate one hour walk exhausts him for the rest of the day? Cost isn't a big factor, but the following are:

- He isn't very food oriented (and has never been). See above on the salmon oil, and even when younger, he turned his nose up at a lot of dog treats.
- On the other hand, getting to lick the plates after Thanksgiving dinner is still one of the things he loves with ALL HIS DOGGY HEART, so he looks forward to them and still gets them.
- According to his vet, he is technically still overweight, as he carries a lot of fat in his belly.
- Tennis balls are no longer interesting for him.
- He does not like hanging out with other dogs and gets very anxious around them.
- He has arthritis and is having real trouble getting up and down stairs/up and down out of the back of the car that Mr. Machine's dad drives. Mr. Machine's dad has fixed a harness to help him lift the dog over stairs/the back gate of his hybrid car, but it's rough on a man of about 70, too.
posted by joyceanmachine to Pets & Animals (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My thought would be a fleecy blanket or a stuffed animal to snuggle with.

A heated dog-bed, if you're in a cooler area, or even if you aren't that heat should soothe achy joints.

A ramp would be a nice gift for both dad and doggie.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:00 AM on November 21, 2012 [5 favorites]

Boil together hamburger and rice. Every dog I've ever owned has had this when sick or needed some tummy help, and every dog ABSOLUTELY LOVES THIS for some reason.
posted by xingcat at 6:42 AM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think the ramp is a great idea. Also a thick padded dog bed for his achy joints.

If he loves thanksgiving food, you could try adding gravy to his food. There's even gravy for dogs!

My golden used to have such severe food allergies, he was unable to eat regular dog food and instead ate a mix of ground turkey (it was ground beef before he got too chubby), potatoes, and canned sardines in tomato sauce. Gross, but he loved the stuff.
posted by inertia at 7:04 AM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

My mother had an older dog with arthritis who benefited from the following:

Heated dog bed, but more like this one (a bowl)
Apparently delicious pill pockets
DeraMaxx, which is by prescription, basically gave her a new lease on life. (Obviously, IANYV, your dad should ask his vet, etc.)
Missing Link supplement also seemed to give her a much needed boost (and, fwiw, the Amazon reviews are pretty glowing)
Depending on how his teeth are, you might want to consider a delicious chew (all dogs I've known are wild for chicken and rawhide wraps, which are also available at Target/PetSmart, etc. Trader Joe's also has some very popular dog treats.) I know you said he's not food motivated, but maybe these are close enough to "thanksgiving flavored" to sway him?

Mom's dog was small, but when you get to the point that jumping is no longer a good idea or physically possible, yes, ramps are excellent.

Old dogs are the best dogs.
posted by Flamingo at 7:05 AM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Old dogs definitely deserve a soft cushy bed; heated and/or near a furnace vent.

When they got old, our family dogs were allowed on the sofa whenever they wanted, got to sleep at our feet on our beds, and received an elevated doggy bed next to the picture window where they could lie down and still keep an eye on the front yard. When jumping up started to be a strain, we added little doggy steps next to each.
posted by ceribus peribus at 7:34 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

We bought a dog-sized Simmons Beautyrest mattress for our first greyhound when he started to get a little bit stiff. He loved it!

It really is a small spring-coil mattress, so being taller and firmer than your typical dog bed it had the added bonus of elevating him above the worst of the drafts on the floor. (I have no experience with the linked web site; that was just the first direct link I could find to the mattress.)
posted by usonian at 7:52 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

For the arthritis: most high-end pet stores will sell an arthritis remedy that includes velvet elk/deer antler. I am as skeptical of woo as anyone you've met, but my 16-year-old retriever mix has artritis in his back legs and this stuff seems to really work wonders. Waayy better than glucosamine + chondroitin.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:05 AM on November 21, 2012

Look into prescription remedies for arthritis. I started my 16 year old dog on an every-other-day dose of Metacam, and it has made a world of difference over the last year. No side effects for him. It's not super expensive, either (cheaper than the glucosamine supplements he also gets... I will have to look into that antler thing mentioned above).
posted by Kriesa at 8:14 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

My boy loves his heaty-pad. I stitched up a removable flannel cover for it. We leave it available year-round on his favorite big chair.
posted by ReginaHart at 9:26 AM on November 21, 2012

My dog's arthritis was really helped by glucosamine supplements; so much so that if we ran out and she didn't have them for 3 or 4 days she would get ouchy again. The ones I linked are a chewy treat that could be chopped up and put on his food, but there are also liquid supplements. I like the idea of a heated pet bed. Another is to get him a real sheepskin. They're recommended for people with achy joints and don't overheat but stay warm. My dog slept on one that she ended up preferring over our bed. I buy the 30 dollar ones from Ikea, and have actually washed them in the tub and thrown them in the dryer when needed.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:18 AM on November 21, 2012

Pain killers. Seriously, he's old and there is no need for him to be immobilized by pain. My old dog got Rimadol (sp?) and she was still in pain and the side effects were what killed her in the end. My friends old dog gets Tramadol, which is a synthetic narcotic, and its improved his quality of life by leaps and bounds. He even plays again, most importantly he's not confined to his bed 22 hours a day but can get up and down. He'll be on it daily for the rest of his life but it shouldn't do organ damage like Rimadol. I plan to drug all my old dogs in the future!
posted by fshgrl at 12:25 PM on November 21, 2012

My late cat loved his heating pad sitting on his favorite chair during the last months of his long life. Pet-specific heat beds are set to a lower temperature than human electric blankets and heating pads, so you can leave them on all the time. I second all the recommendations above for a heated bed or pad.
posted by matildaben at 1:02 PM on November 21, 2012

Try the meds; here is one way to handle it:
My 14+ year old Sheltie has been on Tramadol for a long time and this year he needed something more. The vet and I put him on a very low dose of Rimadyl (low as in recommended for much smaller dogs) and it has helped a lot. I was having his blood tested monthly to see if there is organ damage butr I have stopped that.
posted by andreap at 1:41 PM on November 21, 2012

Heated dog bed, plus non-skid sticky paper that can be put on smooth floors to help him get a better grip and make walking easier.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:05 PM on November 21, 2012

Why doesn't the vet want to treat with pain meds?
posted by OsoMeaty at 2:29 PM on November 21, 2012

Maybe Machine Dog would like to watch a doggy movie? Or can be made a comfy bed somewhere where he can watch the action outside the window (or whatever interesting activity is going on)?
posted by thylacinthine at 3:04 PM on November 21, 2012

Pain medication has given our 12 yo lab a new lease on life over the past year. She also likes her comfy orthopedic bed. She's lost some weight from the addition of some veggies with her kibble- maybe this would work for your old guy. I used small rugs and old yoga mats on my floor with my 15 yo pooch who was having trouble getting up on the smooth floors.
posted by bookrach at 4:43 PM on November 21, 2012

Your golden and my 60 lb border collie (14 years old) are of the same cohort, and Duffy's like an old man who needs a walker. We can't let him go on smooth surfaces any more: his hind legs lose traction. When he flops down it hurts him and he has paroxysmal dyskinesia when things hurt him.

Therefore, we pillow the world for him, so he doesn't hurt. He takes Tramadol 50 mg twice a day, and that helps his arthritic hips. He stays on the carpets or comes outside (all rough dirt or grass surfaces) and he is lively there. He never ever wanted a dog bed, just the carpet by my partner's side of the bed.

What's really given him a lot of excitement is our new kitten. He loves cats, and he's been very patiently making friends with her.

As far as he's concerned, being with his puppy pack is #1 on his list. Spend time with your old dog. He loves you.
posted by jet_silver at 9:58 PM on November 21, 2012

One trick that has helped with my picky eater has been to buy Natural Balance food rolls and grate them over the kibble. They are actually marketed for helping to whet the appetites of picky or sick dogs. Also, maybe a raised dish holder would help.

I also have a small set of dog stairs (purchased off Amazon) to help with getting on the couch.

Good luck :) Let us know how it goes!
posted by dottiechang at 12:26 AM on November 25, 2012

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