Challenges of Having a Senior Pet

Owning a senior pet is something that I take a lot of pride in. It seems like forever ago that I picked up Lola at the young age of eight weeks, and here we are now at the ripe age of 10.5 years old. Has it been an easy trip? Well, if you’ve ever heard me speak of Lola you will know that there have been lots of ups and downs, all of which come with owning a pet. Was it worth it? Every minute of every day, even after late night trips to the emergency clinic when she snuck into my in-laws’ basement and ate an entire bag of dog food. We look back at those moments and laugh, all of those moments giving her, and I, a few more grey hairs.

There are so many great benefits of having a senior pet. They have lived many years in your house and have come to know the routines of your home very well. Lola and my family have a great bond, we know what she is thinking by just looking at her. They aren’t full of beans at any moment of the day, and in our house are just happy to some days just lay around (especially when it’s raining). The best thing is the years of love and happiness that she has brought us.

A downside to having a senior pet can be the amount of medications that are required to keep them in tip-top shape. Over her years Lola has become incontinent which requires medication. She has arthritis from an old toe injury and sore hips (being a large breed dog) which require a couple of different medications. Within the last year, Lola has developed kidney disease. It started with us noticing that she was drinking more and urinating more. She is currently on a special diet (Hill’s k/d) and a medication to keep her blood pressure in check which is related to kidney disease. Her last blood and urine indicated that we are on the right track. Unfortunately, due to her kidney disease, we are required to monitor her blood and urine more often than you would with a younger dog. Lola has also been diagnosed with mast cell tumors which are unable to be removed due to her heart. After a visit to an emergency clinic in January to fix a decaying tooth it was noted while under the anesthetic that Lola had premature contractions of her heart which makes her at an increased risk for anesthetic death which I am trying to avoid at all cost. So, therefore, Lola is on medications to help keep her mast cells under control. Were you counting how many medications Lola takes? A lot. Is she worth it? Every single penny that I spend, every dose I measure out, and every single adjustment we make along the way.

One thing that I always recommend to clients with young puppies is to purchase pet insurance. I really don’t know where Lola and my family would be without it. Pretty much every time Lola visits a vet clinic the insurance is used, except for her annual visit, which is one of her many trips.

As with anything though, we know that our time with Lola is getting less every day, so we try to make every day special. She will one day have to pass over the Rainbow Bridge to be with those that we
have lost before her. Our plan is to make every moment we have with her a special one and when she is gone we know that we provided her with a great life. One I am jealous of.

Written by Suzanne Niel, RVT