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Old 01-27-2009, 04:53 AM
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Problems related to old age

Sorry to say that my ageing male golden retriever (Ben) is showing more signs of senility. He's very nearly 14 and is, generally speaking, pretty healthy (if you discount the cataracts, failing hearing and arthritis). Besides that he appears to be happy, eats well and is generally calm and friendly - he's a lovely dog. He also has quite a turn of speed on him when he puts his mind to it! He is on medications for his arthritis (vet prescribed along with a 'natural' joint supplement) - these help him a lot and signs of stiffness are, as a result, kept to a tolerable minimum.

For a few months now he has occasionally pawed at the carpet, doors, barked at nothing, ended up staring into corners for no reason (and barking), etc - basically the signs of senility that I've read about elsewhere (incidentally, I'm using the word 'senile' as a general term for behaviour changes due to old age - apparently dogs don't really go 'senile' in the same way that humans do - the biological mechanisms are different). He sometimes also just sits and pants and stares at you yet seems excited and happy. He has seen the vet about all this, but to no avail (well, they can't cure it in people so I guess I shouldn't really expect a cure for dogs). I should point out that whenever he does any of the above he doesn't appear distressed - if you approach him he'll wag his tail, insist on having his back rubbed and generally appear extremely happy. He also has a bit of a mischievous twinkle in his eye!

He is on Cholodin, a 'natural' product that I saw recommended here for ageing dogs - it apparently helps the brain functions a bit so the dog has less 'senile moments'. I'm not sure if it's working that well though!

Ben's latest 'trick' (which he has been doing with increasing regularity for the past week or so) is to wake up my wife and myself during the night by pawing at the bedroom door at some random hour - curiously enough he also paws at this door very occasionally during the day, even though we're not in there! There is another door opposite the bedroom which he will also sometimes paw at during the night.

Once let into the bedroom he will generally settle down, although he will still occasionally fidget and/or paw at the carpet. Overall this is causing my wife and myself to have many bad nights - we'll soon go mad from sleep deprivation!

We have thought of putting him into another room in the house overnight, but he's so used to being near us at night (the hall where he sleeps is just outside the bedroom) that we wonder if putting him in another room will distress him (he's a fairly 'sensitive' dog). He would also then be out of earshot and we like to know that we can hear him if he has any kind of a problem.

We have two other dogs - both male, one is nine months old, the other coming up to two years old. The two year old sleeps in the hall with Ben, the youngster sleeps in the kitchen (if I also let him into the hall overnight then he'd end up playing with the two year old all night - not a good idea!).

Any thoughts please re Ben's 'senility'? Any ideas how my wife and myself can get a decent night's sleep?

Thanks

Last edited by Dog-drops; 01-27-2009 at 05:11 AM.
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Old 01-27-2009, 05:37 AM
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showing more signs of senility. He's very nearly 14 and is, generally speaking, pretty healthy (if you discount the cataracts, failing hearing and arthritis). Besides that he appears to be happy, eats well and is generally calm and friendly - he's a lovely dog. He also has quite a turn of speed on him when he puts his mind to it!

For a few months now he has barked at nothing, ended up staring into corners for no reason (and barking), etc - He sometimes also just sits and pants and stares at you yet seems excited and happy.


my goodness we could be talking about saxon here , so if anyone has any ideas would be good to hear them
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Old 01-27-2009, 07:35 AM
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have the pressure in his eyes checked, and have his ears scoped. Sometimes when older dogs do that, they're in pain, especially eye pain!
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Old 01-27-2009, 08:27 AM
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Ben's eyes were checked a few months ago - the only apparent problem is the cataracts. He certainly doesn't seem to have an type of eye discomfort, ie he's not constantly blinking, rubbing his head on the floor, pawing at them, etc. They're not red either.

His ears are pretty waxy and I have some special cleaning solution to try and get the most obvious muck out (the vet has shown me how to do this without 'digging deep' and causing ear-drum damage).
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Old 01-27-2009, 08:41 AM
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Tippykayak and I lived with my golden Joplin the year he was 14 turning 15, when he started to do strange puppyish things he never had before. He ate a sock, rocks, and Brian has a memory that he ate a candy bar from a "candy bouquet" someone had sent us- things the vet said were the doggie version of senility. It was stressful taking him out at night, because he couldnt hear and got his "pause button" stuck at an interesting smell and just would stay sniffing the same spot for 15 -20 minutes. If I moved on with the other dogs, I wouldnt know where he was and couldnt call him any longer. For the first time in his life , he had to be on a leash when visibility was poor for his own safety. What if he got lost? Tippykayak reminded me, bc I had forgotten, that when he was finally too elderly to go on walks with the other dogs, I used to pack him in the car and drive him around the neighborhood, and he would think he'd been on a walk. He did the same thing of pawing in the middle of the night. I had such a high pressure schedule(partially self-imposed) of getting up at 3:45 am to grade English papers/prepare for class, that I remember that feeling of going insane from sleep deprivation, but yet not having the heart to shut an old dog out of a room he'd slept in all his life. It was a really difficult period offset by waves of love and appreciation for a best friend with such a long and happy life.
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Old 01-27-2009, 08:46 AM
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Puppy-ish - yes, a good description of Ben's behaviour as, besides the pawing and barking at nothing, in many other ways he does appear to be reverting to puppy-hood (as with people I guess, ie as people get older many become more child-like in behaviour).

Did you do anything about Tippykayak's night-time pawing, or didn't it disturb your sleep?
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Old 01-27-2009, 10:44 AM
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No real advice i'm afraid, but in the last few months that Ginny was with us she would start panting for no apparent reason, and as like you, we and our vet could find no reason.

I don't think that putting him in another room would help - in fact it may distress him even more.

Some nights were a nightmare. Both Ginny and Holly slept in our bedroom, and very often Ginny once she got upstairs would not settle and keep going to the door - i would take he downstairs, she would have a wander around the garden and then back upstairs and she would settle and go to sleep. This sometimes happened as well during the night, and although we grumbled about it, we learnt to live with it. We don't know why she did it, because she never wanted to go to the toilet. She would also come and nudge my arm, and once she had her head stroked she would settle again - it was if it she needed the reassurance that we were still there.

Sorry can't be any help.
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Old 01-27-2009, 11:16 AM
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Sorry to hear about Ginny.

Ben has had his intermittent panting routine for a few years now - he seems to do it when he's excited about something, but we're not always sure what that is.
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Old 01-27-2009, 02:00 PM
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I know how you feel

I went throught the same type of wierd behaviour the last few months of Sandys life. She was so weak and had lost most of the control of her back legs she would bark when she couldn't get up. So I would help her up, carry her down the stairs and it was so hard on us.

There is a common theme in this thread. We have all mentioned what happened shortly before we lost our faithful friend. I think it is safe to say that you too are coming to the end of your journey together. So, rub and love on Ben as much as you can.
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Old 01-27-2009, 02:06 PM
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I've kind of been thinking the same thing, but given the fact that he still eats well, moves pretty well, seems pretty strong, seems happy, etc - well, I'm not so certain. Time will tell I guess - I was just curious if I could help him in any way to settle at night, which would possibly help him and also allow my wife and I to get a bit more sleep.
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