When we first adopted Speckles, the furthest thing from our minds was how we would care for her as a senior dog. We thought about playing with her, not wondering which type of orthopedic beds to buy. We thought about how to burn her puppy energy, not adding in joint and bone supplements. We thought about how to train her, not worrying over how to ease the pain from arthritis. Yet, here we are seven years later, with a full-grown dog now entering her senior years. We have found that raising an older dog is so different and, in many ways, kind of scary. Fortunately, I was able to get expert advice from a VCA veterinarian to help me face these upcoming years with confidence.
Seven Years Later — From Puppy to Senior Dog
Speckles was almost three months old when we brought her home from the rescue/foster family. Munchkin was 10 years old then and we felt it was the perfect time to get her a “little sister.” Speckles was/is our first dog so everything we went through with her was a new experience. As the years went by, we continued to bond with her and her impact on our lives grew. Life at home just doesn’t feel right when Speckles isn’t at home to greet us or stare us down while we’re eating. We love that furry little girl so much!
How to Care for a Senior Dog — Signs of Aging
Over the past several months, we started to notice a shift in the way Speckles acted. She is so much pushier when she wants something. Before, she would give us a slight nudge to pet or feed her. These days, she knocks devices out of our hands, pounces on us, or lets out a few low growls to get our attention. Too, Speckles somehow thinks she deserves a treat for everything now. If we smile at her, give her praise, or even make eye contact with her, she runs to the kitchen for a treat.
Her energy levels started dropping too. She would still play but, after a short time, she would poop out. It reminds me of elderly folks at a party. As soon as the music starts, they ditch their canes and walkers and dance like there’s no tomorrow. Yet, when the next day does come, they’re sore all over and are out of commission for the rest of the week.
How to Care for a Senior Dog — Worries Galore
When we went for Speckles’ wellness exam this past January, our veterinarian informed us that our dog was now a senior. When I heard that, anxiety poured over me. How much longer will we have her for? How fast will her health decline? Do we have to switch to “senior” dog food? Is she going to get arthritis? When will she lose her hearing or sight? Will she be able to walk much longer? What do I do if she can’t control herself anymore? Should we still order a year supply of heartworm and flea medicine or will she last that long? This might seem to be a pretty bleak outlook. Yet, the thought that we could lose her at any moment suddenly became real.
It was around that time that VCA reached out me. I mentioned my concerns about having a senior dog and it turns out I’m not alone in having those feelings. Other pet owners often share the same worries and health care decisions. So, they offered to put me in contact with one of their veterinarians at a location near me to answer all my questions. Nice! How often do people get to have a one-on-one with their veterinarian for a relaxed, hour-long Q&A session WHILE mapping out a wellness plan for their pet?!
How to Care for a Senior Dog — Wellness Exam & Expert Advice at VCA
Frans and I brought Speckles to the VCA Holly Street in San Carlos, CA. Our appointment was with Dr. Yick. Dr. Yick was already aware of our situation and agreed to face the barrage of questions I had about our fur baby. Upon entering the building, we found that the hospital was clean, had an open layout, and was well-lit. We were greeted by a friendly staff and immediately shown into the exam room.
Dr. Yick took the time to answer all my questions before, during, and after performing a wellness exam on Speckles. She also listened to and addressed extra issues I brought up. Dr. Yick had such a warm bedside manner. Even Speckles could tell that she cares about the animals she treats.
Of course, no animal enjoys being at the veterinarian. Still, considering the new environment and the fact that she was being poked at, she was a super good girl!
Dr. Yick did a thorough examination from head to tail including Speckles’ teeth, eyes, heart, lungs, back, and legs. She also checked a lump which had developed on our pup as well. Dr. Yick took a small sample and it turned out to be a fatty deposit which we don’t need to worry about. Check out our experience along with all of Dr. Yick’s advice below!
I was also glad that Dr. Yick was very candid about treatments and pricing. I didn’t feel like I was being price-gouged in even the slightest. Even when we talked about VCA CareClub, there wasn’t any pressure to sign up if it wasn’t right for our pet at the time.
How to Care for a Senior Dog — VCA CareClub Wellness Plan
VCA CareClub is a wellness plan to ease the financial burden of having a pet. It is not a pet insurance nor is it a discount plan. Instead, VCA CareClub allows members to pay for their pet’s health care in monthly installments. This can help break up those major treatment fees for exams, vaccines, diagnostic testing, and even dental care. There are three types of packages: puppy/kitten, adult, and senior. Each package is designed to best fit your pet’s life stage and the needs associated with it.
At first, I was a bit alarmed that I could not find any prices online. But, the lack of pricing had to do with regional cost differences since VCA is a national company. When you visit any VCA Animal Hospital for a FREE wellness exam, the veterinarian will give you a printed price sheet and program details. During our visit, Dr. Yick helped break down the costs and outlined various pros and cons. She said that, while VCA CareClub is not for everyone, it is a valuable offering for many clients. The veterinarian also mentioned how the wellness plan might be worth it one year but not another. Factors such when a dental cleaning is due or if the pet has more serious health issues can impact how much mileage you could get from the plan. That transparency goes a long way in my book.
Pet Owners Raising Senior Dogs
After our visit, I felt much better about Speckles being a senior dog and wasn’t as worried about caring for her. Previous to this, fear of the unknown and the “what-ifs” were overwhelming. Now I know what to expect, what changes to look out for, and how to help her as she ages. Speckles is still full of life and we hope she continues with us for a long time yet. So, while it isn’t nice to have our dogs enter this stage in life, the senior years are still manageable. With extra TLC and support from qualified veterinarians such as those at VCA Holly Street, your senior dog can fully enjoy their canine golden years.
This is a sponsored post with VCA. All opinions are my own.