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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello! Newbie here and looking for any tips or advice to keep my senior happy and comfortable.

He is an 11 year old Great Dane mix with expected arthritis through his hips. He is on tramadol currently and will start meloxicam tomorrow for pain management. He has a great diet. Ground turkey, canned Avoderm and Missing Link twice a day with his meds.

Over the last three months, I have found four lumps that have been aspirated and all have been lypomas (YAY! thank goodness)!

Over the last few days, his hips have buckled a few times and he is bumping into things. Of course this is to be expected with any beloved pet and it is absolutely heartbreaking!

We have been very active his whole life. Obedience, trick, agility, flyball and tracking classes. He loves balls, toys and frisbees. He tries to play, but it is hard on him. We used to drive everywhere together, but it is too taxing on his bones to get in and out of the car. We can still take short walks to the end of the driveway, but not much more do his joints allow.

I am fully committed to continue enriching his life, however, I don't know what to do for him sometimes. Lately, I have been offering long massages and I have taken to reading Dr. Seuss to him.

Any ideas for a senior to stay sharp, enriched and happy in old age?

OH! I also just ordered a ramp and a Ginger Lead. We got him two Big Barker Beds about two years ago. What else am I forgetting?

Sorry for the novel and thank you ever so for reading.


Premium Member
10,780 Posts
My elderly dog was on Rimadyl for the last few months of his life, his arthritis was severe and little else seemed to help ease his pain. It did work, he could move about with less stiffness and he had an easier time standing after he had been laying about, BUT it has some pretty bad side effects so if you decide to try it keep that in mind and way the pros against the cons. My boy was over 17 years old when I started him on it and at that point it was a case of quality of life over quantity. You could try putting some sort of scent on the things he's bumping into and he may learn that when he gets close to that smell he needs to stop, that didn't work for my boy but then again for his whole life my boy seemed to have trouble following a scent. I'd also barricade any stairs so that he cannot accidentally tumble down them, I had that happen to my boy and it only took a second of my inattention for him to accomplish it.

Try doing crate rest activities with him, they are geared towards dogs that are supposed to be on crate rest Food puzzles may help and scent work on days he's feeling more mobile.

Ah I had to look up Ginger Lead, I see it's a sling so you are ahead of me! It looks like it should work great.

The only other thing I can think of is try to keep him on surfaces that offer good traction. My silly boy liked to sleep on linoleum but then he'd wake up and have the hardest time standing, I'd have to go help him back up.

You could also try Advanced Cetyl-M : Advanced Cetyl M Joint Action Formula for Dogs - 120 tablets : Pet Bone And Joint Supplements : Pet Supplies
Response Products Advanced Cetyl M Joint Action Formula Powdered Large Dog Supplement, 1.2-lb pouch
It's helped with my new boy's joints (luxating Patella), I didn't know about it back when I had my elderly boy, but most of the reviews I've read on it say it can help with arthritis and it's what the active ingredient is used to treat in humans. I've also seen green lipped mussel recommended but I don't have any experience with it.

Have you considered getting a sling for him to help stabilize him while he walks? It may help to keep him from stumbling when his hips buckle. I know they make slings and harnesses that would work.

Does he have cataracts? That's what had my old boy bumping into things before he went completely blind due to a stroke. When he could still see large shapes and tell light from dark I learned to keep him on leash outside after I watched him run full tilt into the side of a retaining wall (yes he was facing it), They do make doggles to protect dogs eyes, they may help protect his eyes if he likes to sniff in underbrush

442 Posts
Is he on any sort of supplements? Omega 3 fatty acids (like in fish oil) help to reduce inflammation and can help with that aspect of joint pain, plus are just good in general. Also glucosamine/chondroitin helps some dogs. I've used Adequan (injectable joint compound similar to glucosamine/chondroitin, it's a series of 8 shots over 4 weeks, then as needed- usually monthly- after that) with 2 creaky old dogs, and think it helped both. Your vet can give you dosages for fish oil and glucosamine (they'll probably have products they sell, or some people use OTC human or dog products). If you decide to look into Adequan, a lot of people have their vet give all the injections, but I have heard of peoples' vets dispensing it to be done at home if owners/dog/vet are comfortable with that, which I suspect would help keep the cost down. For a big dog it would probably be expensive for the initial "series", but more cost effective when on the maintenance schedule.

A lot of dogs experience "miracle" changes on NSAIDs, hopefully your boy is one of them. If you don't see much improvement, there are others your vet may try (just like one person may have better results with aspirin over ibuprofen or vice versa), if you do see improvement, lots of senior dogs are on those medications long term and do fine. Bloodwork should be checked periodically, as liver and GI side effects can occur, but many dogs get extra months or years they wouldn't have without NSAIDs.

Does he like to swim? Swimming, or walking/wading is great exercise for old dogs especially, as it's low impact compared to most other things. There are "rehab" centers which may offer actual swim therapy with therapists who will use specific exercises to promote strength and ROM, but there are also places which just have pools with no specific "therapy", and you may be able to get by with that, or if you have a body of water with a gradual incline/shallow area, you can do some stuff yourself to help him.

Nosework type activities (hiding food, or training scent discretion, which you can do with a dog who is immobile) would probably be fun and easy for him. Tracking is something he could do at a walking pace on grass, and is very satisfying for many dogs. Lots of bones/recreational chews. My old dog gets about an hour with a cut of beef bone most nights, which satisfies and wears her out for the evening. She's still fairly mobile, and doesn't really care to do much anymore as far as activity (she's content to just amble around the house/yard for the most part). It would be harder if she still wanted to be more active and couldn't - that puts you in a tough spot.

Good luck, hopefully the medications have him feeling more like himself soon and for a long while :)
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