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Discussion Starter #1
Can someone share with me some typical signs/symptoms of aging in our senior goldens? I've never had a senior dog and while Scout (who will be 10 in June) is battling cancer (MCT Stage 2, High Grade...successfully removed tumor in October but with dirty margins) there are times it's hard to tell if his behavior is due to the cancer or just the aging process. And we're to the point where I stress out over every single change in him and I could use some reassurance.

For 6 months, his behavior and appetite were medically enhanced due to a daily high dosage or prednisone. We are no longer using that drug so I think some of the things I'm noticing are due to that. But it's so hard to tell what's a 'big deal' and what is just par for the course with a 10 year old.

We made the difficult decision 2 months ago to stop treating his cancer with modern medicine (he did 6 months of chemo)so the things we're noticing lately are not side effects from any meds. We'll go to the vet in mid/late June for some bloodwork to see what the cancer is up to so I will ask these questions there, too. But we're also at a place where we're loving him as much as humanly possible,and dealing one day at a time and changes are to be expected in him as we draw closer and closer to the end so running to the vet for every nuance doesn't seem necessary.

Ok, so here's some of what we're seeing:

1. In the morning Sara (our 8 year old golden) will be jumping around like a loon to be let out and do laps around the house and Scout is now content to snuggle on the couch 'til he feels like getting up later.

2. If he's comfy snoozing in some location in the house, he no longer greets anyone who comes in the house. He's happy to see you if you come to him but doesn't get up and come to you.

3. His interest in dry kibble ebbs and flows. If I add his fish oil and cottage cheese to it he'll gobble it up quickly but just plain and he walks away from it. He will however eat any form of treat or people food you offer.

4. Some days his energy seems like he's a young pup and still gets the zoomies and rough houses with Sara...other days he struggles to get on the couch.

5. He no longer charges outside (we have a doggie door) for any noise, bird, squirrel, kids walking by, etc. Sara zooms out and he might let out a single 'ruff' from wherever he's snoozing to acknowledge the situation but is content to let Sara 'handle it.'

Any insights would be much appreciated. This is a rough journey right now and every little decline in him breaks my heart a little more. We've been blessed to have more time with him than we thought we'd have but I hate seeing these changes and stressing out so badly about each and every one. Sometimes I wonder if this is how I react now to little changes, how in the world will I handle things when they really get bad?! Sigh. So hard :(.
 

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Mac's Dad
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Hi "S" Team,

My Goldens slowed down quite a bit when the started to get older ...what you have stated sound like aging more so than illness but considering your diagnosis I would be just like you (diligent and worried) and rightfully so ! You a good doggie owner ....you will never stop worrying ...you just keep moving forward !!!!
 

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From my experience, with losing two goldens to cancer,and a old English girl, it sounds like he is not feeling well, they lose interest in food, doing the things they always liked to do, they want more naps, this just goes on to more of this, I knew it was time, because with spencer, he loved playing ball,lived for it, it grew more difficult for him, then finally he let me know in several ways, including walking away from a ball,that was lightly tossed to him.
 

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Kristy
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Maybe one of our vets will chime in here. I imagine that all dogs are so different, just like people. Some decline mentally and can get confused, some just have their bodies wear out and are happy to lie on the porch and watch the birds. I would think most would continue to enjoy things they always have just on a smaller or slower scale?

The guy I field train with has a chocolate lab who is 12 and this old boy has no idea he is old. My friend has to leave him home when it gets hot because this dog just doesn't know he needs to slow down. I think most dogs do know.

I am so sorry for what you're going through. This happened with first Golden at age 10. We didn't have as much time. I was so devastated and refusing to accept it that I think I didn't allow myself to enjoy the time we had left. I hope you will try to get to that state and enjoy the couch snuggles, maybe even quit feeding him kibble and start just finding people food that is healthy and he will eat. I wish I'd done that. I'm so sorry for your heartache.
 

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First, I'm sorry to hear he's not doing as well as we'd all hoped.
I have to say that, while all dogs are certainly different, it sounds more to me like those signs are associated with the cancer and not aging. Both my Tiny and my Toby, at age 10, were pretty much the same as they were at age 5 or 6. I didn't see any real differences until they were over 12, and then they were more things that I could pinpoint to a specific ailment, like arthritis.
Sending good thoughts your way.
 

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Kate
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I don't necessary remember Sammy and Danny slowing down to that extent - even as I'm thinking primarily of their last years (Danny was pushing 13, Sammy was pushing 14). They were not running laps around the house, but they definitely wanted to wake up in the morning with their people and be in the middle of everything. And begging for food. And one of their BIGGEST things was going outside and hanging out in the grass or snow.

Biggest change we noticed with both guys energy/strength wise was their desire to go for walks. They became very reluctant to exercise, probably linked to their old age arthritis as well as the heavy fatty tumors on their sides.

They definitely slept more throughout the day - though that was taking advantage of "down" times. One special memory my mom had was every day when I went to work, I'd let Danny and Jacks outside, then Jacks went back to my room alone and Danny would be taken up to sleep in my mom's room with her. We did the same with both Sammy and Danny as well. They appreciated sleeping in, but not at the expense of people company.

The other thing too is they slept deeper when they slept. When Danny was young, all you had to do was turn on your side and look at him in the morning and he was popping up like a toast and ready get going. I remember Saturday mornings just kinda forcing myself to keep lying on my face or back so I didn't wake up "barky". :) As he got old, there were times where you went up to touch him just to make sure he was still breathing. And he'd give you the bleary eyed look like, "What? I was having a good dream!"

There were other things that were age related that I hated the most.... like their rears dropping out under them and it being too difficult climbing up or off the couch or beds like they used to.

Another thing too is that in their old age, they were a bit more prone to "wandering" outside if you weren't watching them. And you could never yell at them because they were always so dotty and gentle when you had to go running after them and get them back home.

Same thing with them wandering into the bathrooms or other rooms to snoop around and shutting the door while nosing behind it. And they'd be stuck there in the dark bathroom or whatever until somebody noticed they were missing.

Sammy right through the end was the same little guy who would go outside to find a rock to bowl to the middle of the yard and bark and howl over.

Danny right through the end was all business about marking all his favorite bushes and then plopping down in the middle of the yard to watch over the neighborhood kids.

Eating - their appetites NEVER went away until the last 1-2 weeks of their lives because of cancer. These were dogs who were fed dry food all their lives, nothing special. This is one area where I'd really check with a vet to make sure nothing else is going on.

ETA - one memory I always hug close is that last year with Danny - he always insisted on his turn at training when I was done with the pup. I had to shut him in my room or with someone else while Jacks trained because otherwise this big blond dog was barreling in and squishing between me and Jacks with the heeling or he was hipping Jacks out of the way on the fronts or snatching the dumbbells before Jacks could get there. And even as an old man with arthritis, he could still float in heel position and come charging in like a big blond bullet.

Again, I would not accept lethargy and anorexia as telling signs of aging. Not at 10 - which I agree was still fairly young.
 

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where the tails wag
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Our older dogs are so special and deserve such care :)

One thing I have noticed with my older ones is that they can go downhill very quickly so any worries I have usually have me heading to the vet. And I have learned the hard way that even under vet treatment, further worries can warrant a trip to the eVet.

That being said, while all dogs age differently, I usually do not notice a real slow down until around 14 years old. My Casey is 12 and still jumping and swirling and excited about his walks/hikes (he does tire more easily but I believe he has the beginnings of larangeal paralysis which I most certainly will not have surgery done for - the surgery killed my Rowdy). Casey, at 12, is beginning to go deaf I think, since he no longer turns his head at certain noises and checks in more frequently so he is not always at the door when walk time comes or I come home. Scout may also be going deaf and so just doesn't hear things as he used to.

Good luck with him - it could very well be a combination - and fwiw, I think if I was a dog, kibble wouldn't always excite me. If Scout is less active, he may need fewer calories.
 

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Seeing our sweet souls through illness and ageing is one of the hardest things. I'm sorry your guy has been so sick.

I think probably his decline in energy is a little of both. I am sitting here trying to remember when my girl started to exhibit similar behaviours to Scout's. She lived to 12, and was the energetic picture of health until she was diagnosed with cancer two months before she died.

She definitely slept more as she got older - maybe after age 10 - but she would still play ball hard and fast, and swim and run. I reduced the up times (an hour of swimming versus two hours) and she increased the down times. I really did just chalk this up to her being an older dog. She also walked much slower on walks. Bring out a ball, though, and she was 100% ready to go.

The not getting up in the morning was really only after she got sick. For years, she got up with me and we went out first thing, no matter what time I had to be up. In her last year or so, I'd say, she would wait to get up for me to first go the washroom, take my vitimins, get my clothes on (I called her my lazy girl)... but then she'd happily jump off the bed and come out. In her last two months, when she was sick, I actually would not make her get up. She just seemed to me to be much more tired and I knew she needed the sleep. I'd get up and she would sleep as long as she wanted (I had a schedule that accomodated this) and I would take her out when she got up.

The not wanting to eat only happened when she was sick (she had cancer, too, and had side effects from post-op antibiotics and chemo). I changed to wet food, both because it was more tempting, and because it was easier to consume (she could just lick it off the plate without really having to chew).

In her last year or so, even though she ran and played ball and swam, she didn't always go after squirrels anymore. I think she just accepted that the days of catching up were over. But every so often, she'd try. :)
 

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Logan & Lacey in R hearts
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I also think it might be a combination of both. At this point, I would ahead and give him the cottage cheese and a little fish oil in all his meals, maybe a splash of chicken broth as well. Having been there with 4 Goldens and cancer, at 10, I would let him enjoy what he likes to eat. He does need to keep his strength up, but I would still watch his weight. Good luck to you.
 

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I am yet another who thinks it is both. I lost 3 golden's to cancer before the age of 7. I now have Amber, who is almost 11. She has lost a step or two, but is the same dog she was before. Arthritis has slowed her down, but she never fails to get up with my husband each morning and greet him when he gets home every night. She loves to swim and fetch while swimming. She will do that for hours if you let her, but she will pay for that time by hardly being able to get up for two days. And as for food, she leaves more food in her dish after eating than she used to. She used to eat it all. She doesn't fail to beg for our food though, so that has not changed.

I am very sorry you are going through this with Scout. Cancer is the horrible curse we as golden owners go through so often, and it is horrible to see our beloved girls and boys contracting the disease. Please remember, while you are taking care of Scout to also take care of yourself in this stressful time.
 

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Can someone share with me some typical signs/symptoms of aging in our senior goldens?
Being unable to regulate their body temperature is one. Some may need a coat for the winter or blasting the A/C in the house in the summer. Arthritis is another. Also dementia which may be initially confused with loss of sight or hearing.

Out of the five things you posted I think #2 bothers me the most. A Golden not getting up to greet people seems strange to me. You might try Mirtazapine which helps with eating and attitude. I lost my first girl at approximately 10 and my boy at 13yrs 3 months. Both of them were chow hounds and people greeters right until the end.

Cherish every day and try to stay positive for your boy.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you all so much for your insights and shared experiences. I never thought it possible to love a creature as much as I love and adore Scout. This stage of our journey is so very difficult but somewhat eased by having supportive and kind people like all of you in our lives.

I've made notes of many of your suggestions to address when we go to the vet in a few weeks and he indeed is getting food he wants and likes. Today seems to be is a good day and we'll take every one we get. He was up and cheery and bouncy when The household woke up today and that makes my heart smile. He's teaching me every day to live in the present and its not surprising that even in his time of need he's still able to provide me with so many life lessons.


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