I’m currently thinking of ways to accommodate our aging pup so that she gets the extra attention she needs, as well as, we get the sleep we need.
Several months ago, maybe even a bit more than a year, Sidney started acting like it hurt to jump up into the car. She chose to crawl into the car instead. If I recall correctly, the vet said it was due to lyme disease flare ups. Sidney was given some antibiotics and some pain killer. After that, she would act gingerly on occasion, but was back to her old self.
In the past few months, it seems Sidney’s always crawling into the car or onto the couch. She misses the bed more than she makes it. Chris or I usually have to pick her up. When this problem first started, she’d growl and bark until one of us picked her up. One night she did this five times. Why she didn’t just stay on the bed, I have no idea.
On a walk back in the summer, Sidney jumped up onto a footbridge and immediately collapsed. It seemed she’d hurt her back leg or hip. Chris was concerned of hip dysplasia and wanted to take her to the vet immediately. Since it was a Saturday afternoon, I told him that the vet office wouldn’t be open. It wasn’t. Plus, I said, there isn’t much a vet can do for dysplasia, sprains or other joint or muscle pain except give her pain pills.
So we googled remedies for hip dysplasia, and, sure enough, there isn’t much medical help for this problem. We decided, though, to buy her an orthopedic bed. So, instead of running the errands we planned to do after the walk, we went in search of a bed. Chris was afraid Sidney wouldn’t know what it was since she’d never used one, but after just a few days, she was using the bed most of the night. Now, instead of starting on the bed and moving to the floor, Sidney pretty much sleeps on the bed through the night. Unless, of course, she’s asked to join us on the family bed.
We also started feeding her dog treats made with chondroitin. I’m skeptical if they work, but she enjoys the treats and it seemed to help with her supposed joint pain. She was also more willing to go on walks, which meant I didn’t feel like I was dragging her behind me. I can’t say it was due to the treats, but she’s been out of the treats for about a month and she’s started moving slowly again. (Here’s some research on the effects of chondroitin and glucosamine that suggest that they help people with moderate to severe arthritis pain. The vets have told us they don’t notice any arthritis in Sidney’s joints.)
Another problem has now cropped up. Two times we’ve woken up to find Sidney has urinated in front of the door. Chris started taking her out for an extra evening outing before bed. That’s taken care of the accidents, but now she wakes us up around 4:30 a.m. every day to go outside. And, if we’re lucky to go back to sleep, she wakes us back up around 5:30 or so for her breakfast. She used to wait until 6 a.m., when the alarm goes off.
So, now I’m trying to figure out how to get her to sleep in a little longer. Maybe push our bedtimes back by half an hour or so? Is it time for a trip to the vet for medication? I’ve been researching solutions this morning. Here are two links about behavioral and physical changes in older dogs. They don’t seem to offer any help except advice to see the vet.