Large vs. Small Senior Dogs

Locke

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Senior Dogs Large vs. Small?

What are your experiences in caring for large senior dogs vs. small senior dogs?

The level of care a senior dog will need is an important factor in choosing my next dog. My experience with senior dogs is limited, so I would appreciate reading about yours.

My parents currently own a 12.5 year old Standard poodle with severe hip dysplasia. We have to assist/carry him up and down stairs, often times he asks(barks) for assistance in getting up, and it is honestly worrying to leave him alone for long periods of time in case he got stuck in an uncomfortable/painful position and could not right himself. It is difficult and awkward hefting his 50 lbs. up and down the stairs all the time. He is pretty high needs at this point. Thankfully my Dad is retired, and able to care for Matrix well, but if Matrix was my responsibility, I would either want a sitter for during the day/bring him to my parents, or put him down. And he hasn't reached the point yet where I feel euthanasia is the best choice.


On the other hand, Tippy, our small breed dog was 17 years when she passed away, and aside from blindness and incontinence, she didn't move as well as she once did, but she was still pretty spry until the very end.

Compared to Matrix, Tippy was incredibly low maintenance as a senior. I will do anything for my dogs to make them happy and comfortable, no matter how high needs they may be, but at the same time, I need to be realistic in what needs I can afford (money & time wise).

Does the size of the dog have any bearing on the needs of the dog as a senior? Are larger dogs more prone to debilitating joint/movement problems due to age as opposed to small dogs?
 
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Laurelin

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#2
We ended up putting our GSDx down at 12ish because of hip dysplasia and it worsening. 75 lbs is hard to move around.

We haven't really had any dogs live terribly long- 13 is the oldest. Nikki (sheltie) had mobility issues but was easy to carry at 25 lbs. She was on rimadyl for her last 4-5 years because of wrist arthritis. She hobbled but what ended up causing her to pass was congestive heart failure. I think mobility on it's own would never have been a big issue.

Trey didn't have mobility problems at all even to the end.

Beau is the first papillon to be really getting to his last legs. He's 11.5 and his rear goes out on him a lot. Being 8 lbs he's easy to carry if need be. But he needs carried a lot nowadays. We think it's more of a neurological/dementia type thing than physical issues. To be honest if he was mine I'd probably be considering putting him down. But he's not mine so.... :/

Summer is older than he is and she's doing well aside from very occasional mild seizures. She can still jump on the bed and flits and runs around with the best of them. But she's had a lot more exercise than he has. She's getting cataracts too but most people who meet her guess she's 4 or 5 years old at first glance. She's still pretty crazy and wild.

Overall though smaller breeds definitely seem to age better in my experience. More weight on aging joints is probably a big factor. But a lot is probably luck of the draw.
 

SpringerLover

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Caring for a geriatric medium to large breed dog is quite demanding. More pee, more poop, more space, more weight, etc. My 40-50 pounders are taxing some days. The cockapoo I'm dog sitting for right now is around 25 pounds and he is SO much easier because of it. Cold feet outside? Carry him! He's easy to tuck under one arm and still be able to open doors and such. Bailey is not terribly difficult at this point as her mobility is still quite good but if I had to carry her everywhere, I'm not sure that I could.

That being said, there's a ton of products to help make things like is easier with bigger dogs. Specialty harnesses and slings being he most common.

I want my next dog to be under 40 pounds. 35 or less would be even better.
 
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Most of my dogs are getting older. Susie, my Bernese cross, weighs about 80 Lbs. and will be 12 years old this year. She does have trouble getting up and down, does not go with me in the Van very often as too hard for her to get in and out of it. She still seems to enjoy life but is not near as active as my smaller dogs who are still running around at 9 and 10 years old. Remmy is 9 years old this year and is still enjoying running Agility.

I think big dogs do seem to age faster and have more joint problems than smaller dogs.
 

Locke

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Thanks for the insight. It seems my concerns about elderly large breeds are somewhat common.
 

Skits

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I never personally owned a senior dog, but I worked in a shelter and we had a lot of senior dogs come in (unfortunately).

I'd say the larger dogs are more difficult to care for because of the size. Taking them up and down the stairs, cleaning up their messes...smaller dogs were always easier to just hold in my arms and take them wherever they needed to go.

I noticed most smaller dogs go blind in deaf compared to larger dogs, though. Larger dogs seemed to always have issues walking or tumors/cancers.
 

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