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It’s been over 10 years since I brought Miss Sally Pants home. She was just over 1 years old when we found each other and since then we have been inseparable. When I can, I bring her with me, and when I can’t, she waits patiently at home for me. Hehe, well that’s what I think; who knows maybe she is having a party when I am not there and inviting all the neighbourhood dogs over ;). Hmmm maybe I should get a home-cam 😉

Over the years she has been her energetic and bountiful self, however. The last few years I have noticed little things sneaking up on her. Like her ears and chin fur turning grey (a.k.a her grey beard), she gets tired easy on long walks, and she now has back and hind-leg pain and discomfort. Hehehe, so at 11 years old, she is no-spring-chicken. After all, she is a senior dog now! Now this blog post is all my opinion, thoughts, and perceptions, and recommendations. If I am stating something, it’s based off of my own knowledge and experience. Heheh just an fyi.

Every breed has their own ‘senior age’. They say the larger breeds tend to become seniors earlier than smaller breeds, however. I have met and photographed many 16 year old dogs that were large breeds. And they certainly out-performed my Sally Pants’s energy level at 11 years old. So, let me alter my thinking, every dog becomes a senior dog at their own pace. Thus, you will be able to tell when your pooch is a ‘senior’ by simply observing their behaviours and activities.

Here are 5 things I have noticed about Sally Pants as she has come into her senior years.

Cocker Spaniel dog smiling up at the camera. Owen Sound Pet Photographer. Grey Bruce Pet Photographer. Collingwood Pet Photographer. At Collingwood Arboretum.

Senior Dog Energy Levels

Living with a senior dog is just as fun as having a puppy. Hehehe, the energy level just might be a tad less…or maybe more sporadic 😉 One of the biggest changes I’ve seen in Sally Pants is her energy level (and appetite). She still gets daily zoomies, especially in the mornings, but she gets tired faster. In addition her daily walks are a lot shorter in distance and duration. Two years ago we would try and do a 45 minute walk every day, but then I started noticing by end of the walk she was exhausted and a tad sore. Thats when we cut her walks down considerably to 2-blocks, which takes us 20 minutes. She has been much happy and less sore after these walks. Now…hehe I am looking to buy a doggy backpack for Sally Pants. This way we can go for longer walks…but she would just be hanging out in the backpack for most of it.

Oh, and speaking of getting tired, she even puts herself to bed at night much earlier in the evening. Some nights around 6 or 7pm, I will go looking for her and find her snuggled into her night-time bed…which is in the bedroom.

Senior Dog Appetite

Her appetite has changed too. Now, she is always a sucker for treats. Her favourites are dried liver, bacon and hotdogs, however. Her morning breakfast appetite has changed. I noticed about a year ago that she stopped eating her breakfast right when I gave it to her at 6am. (heheh that’s when we typically get up every morning). She would just look at it and walk to the couch and lay down. She wouldn’t touch it for an hour or two…or even half a day. I initially thought she was ‘sick’ and thus took her in for a vet check up. and all tests came back normal. So I tried changing her food and that didn’t work. In the end, I think it’s just that she’s not overly hungry at 6am. After all, I am not hungry then either. I have my black coffee with honey and then a few hours later have some food.

Speaking of food. You may want to consider changing up your dogs food to a ‘senior diet’. If you think your dog isn’t getting the nutrients and/or protein, chat with your vet and see what they recommend. Once again, every dog is different and as they age, their food may need to be altered. For Sally Pants, her current food is good so we don’t have to change anything up yet.

A great dane dog in front of the window with his mom. Dog photography. Pet Photography. Owen Sound Dog photographer Grey Bruce Pet Photographer.

Aches & Pains In Aging Dogs

A few years ago Sally Pants injured her back/hindlegs playing and now has back/leg pain and we believe some arthritis. Now this may not be an artifact of aging, but it does affect her mobility and comfort level. She is a small 12 pound Schnoodle, whom loves to jump up and off of the the furniture. 5 years ago she could easily do this, but now her ‘body’ isn’t as agile as it once was. In fact, she shouldn’t be jumping off of things. So we are in the process of getting two sets of little stairs. These will go up against the couch/chair and our bed. And then the next step is to somehow convince her to use them…instead of doing the easy thing and jumping down.

Because of her back/hind-leg pain, she also goes to see Ashley at Pawtherapy for her biweekly Hydro Therapy swim. I highly recommend hydro therapy to any dog that could benefit from this (please check with your vet first) as Sally Pants’s pain and mobility has definitely improved.

When a senior dog is having a ‘bad day’ with some aches and pains, let them have a slow day. Meaning, if they just want to nap all day then let them. Or skip their daily walk…even if they still want to go. Because their health and comfort level is priority so we don’t want them to be even more uncomfortable.

Keeping Your Aging Dog Comfortable

One thing to point out is also comfort level. And this will differ for each senior dog. As they age, their ‘body’ aches more; just as ours do. So sleeping on hard surfaces may not be as comfortable as it once was. Consider getting some more doggy beds and place them throughout your home. In our home, we now have a doggy bed in almost every room for Sally Pants. Hehehe, now she still picks the kitchen floor where the sun hits, but I like knowing that there is a comfy bed for her in the room if she chooses.

And because she has lost a tad bit of weight, I wonder if her body temperature is still regulated…so I have little sweaters for her and blankets.

Please note, I know that I may have anthropomorphized these comfort levels (and other behaviours in this personal blog), because I think she needs them to be comfortable; She undoubtedly may not need these. BUT if she does, and she can’t tell me, then they are there for her.

Cocker Spaniel dog with her mom. Owen Sound Pet Photographer. Grey Bruce Pet Photographer. Collingwood Pet Photographer. At Collingwood Arboretum.

Quality Time Together With Your Dog

The amount of time I have spent with Sally Pants really hasn’t changed since the day I brought her home. We always go for walks, play with her toys in the morning (and again in the afternoon/evening), cuddle together on the couch, and simple hangout everywhere. But one thing is fur sure, and always on my mind, is that our time together is getting shorter. Oh I wish our dogs lived much much MUCH longer lives. It saddens me knowing that they are only with us for a short time. So, we make every moment count. Their love is so unconditional and pure it makes us better people. And, having heart-felt photos of our dogs helps us hold onto their memory, personality, and soul…the photos of them and of us with them help us heal when they are gone. They allow us to feel them with us.

I encourage you to have a pet photoshoot with your dog and create special and meaningful photos together. These will bring so much happiness into your heart and home. Plus, the time you spend together during your pet photography session because a fun memory you two share together.

Together we will choose a comfortable and familiar environment for the senior dog’s photo session. We will consider any physical limitations your senior dog may have, and be patient to capture their personality and essence in each shot. The resulting images will serve as a heartwarming tribute to the wonderful moments you’ve shared.

If you are interested in learning more about a pet session with your dog, please click the button below.