Join Date: Sep 2015
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Going on 17yrs old...tips to help increase quality of life?
Liam turned 16 in January. The last year was probably the most dramatic in terms of behavior changes...up until then he could hike up to 12 miles and swim for hours. And, then something shifted.
This last year his blood work showed some liver disease (new prescription food and supplements have his numbers back in the good range) and anemia due to secondary disease (not new, we just watch it).
His eyesight is almost non-existent with uveitis in one and cataracts in the other. He can sometimes see outlines, shadows....we think. Since he's lost it over time, I am amazed at how he's adapted and how brave he has been over the last few years.
He's had frequent skin issues and GI upset...and on his birthday this year the poor guy had a bout of vestibular disease. THE WORST! Such a scary thing to witness the nystagmus, the vertigo, inability to stand, etc. The vet said it usually resolves in weeks (normal) to a couple months (not as normal).
He doesn't have his head tilt and he can walk...but after two months! It seems like each day his abilities to navigate his world are a little different. We have covered all the floors with rugs and rubber mats because otherwise we find him unable to stand, exhausted from trying in uncomfortable positions :-(
One thing constant - his appetite. I try to keep his mind active with treats and puzzles since we can't physically exercise as much. But, it doesn't seem like enough. Some days he doesn't want to go for a walk (which I totally get). He doesn't want to play. And, then he spends 830pm until 1030pm pacing, restless, and panting.
Sleeping at night is probably what is hardest on everyone. The panting, the shifting around, etc.
It's been like this for a while, but seems to have gotten much worse in the last 3-4 months. He regularly takes gabapentin and sometime tramadol. But, this doesn't affect his panting and sleep. Is it akin to sundowners? It is funny how it definitely starts around the same time every night and during the day he is sleeping...
We do sometimes find him in corners...confused. And, it breaks my heart to see these changes in him as my mom is suffering with the early stages of Alzheimers and the similarities are striking.
I'm just looking for any insights, tips, suggestions, as we navigate this really special and difficult time.
My guideposts have always been is he eating and can he go to the bathroom on his own. Both of those things he can do save the occasional little 💩 that happens in his sleep...Poor guy!
He eats and he can ambulate. But, with his sight and body - our 4 stairs to the backyard are getting harder and harder for him. Our walks are getting shorter and shorter. And, his interaction with me, other dogs (we only have two cats right now and I'm not entirely sure he knows they are here!) is getting less and less.
I know 16 years is an incredibly long time for a Golden...I just want to make sure that I am doing the best for him right now...that he doesn't spend any of his coming days feeling anxious, confused, or worse - scared. I am grateful that he physically is eating and drinking and I can spend most of my days with him sleeping peacefully...yet, I want to do more - what else can I do for him?
If you've read this far - thank you!