Senior Italian Greyhounds…as your dog ages
Dogs approach old age at different times, depending on their size and breed. While a Great Dane is considered elderly at 7, a miniature poodle doesn’t hit old age until about 10 or 11. Some Italian Greyhounds are still running agility courses at 13. The oldest dog recorded lived to be 22.
As your Italian Greyhound ages, you will notice that he begins to slow down. Unlike energetic puppies, he may have a harder time getting up or jumping into your car or onto furniture. The fur on his muzzle and around his eyes will become gray or white, and his coat may start to lose some of its shine. Mentally, your Italian Greyhound may slow down a little as well. He may even have moments of confusion or forgetfulness, his personality may change and he may become fearful or aggressive, and he may have more anxiety than he used to.
Providing a supportive bed to cushion his achy bones, a ramp to a piece of furniture, or to help him into the car, and regular veterinary treatment will improve his comfort. Your veterinarian can help determine the best route to take in treating age-related confusion and physical ailments.
Place extra bowls of water around the house if you have an elderly Italian Greyhound. He may not feel like walking to get water, but it is important that he stay hydrated.
Your elderly Italian Greyhound may also require special food and may receive some comfort treats. Add supplements such as glucosamine and fatty acids. A senior diet may help sedentary Italian Greyhounds keep off the pounds and a low-protein diet may slow kidney disease. After about the age of ten, your veterinarian will likely recommend yearly physicals to check for any age-related conditions. Use these visits to discuss nutritional and exercise needs, as well as physical symptoms.
Just because your dog is older, doesn’t mean he no longer enjoys life. While he may not be up to a 5-mile run, he will cherish a leisurely walk, a car ride, and even a visit to the dog park. You may find that your bond strengthens as your dog ages—now that he is not busy chasing every squirrel he sees, there is more time for cuddling on the couch. He may begin to look to you for more companionship than he did as a rough-and-tumble youngster. Your Italian Greyhound’s senior years provide you an opportunity to return all the gifts your dog has given you over the years. Pamper him; he deserves it.
Saying Good-bye to your Italian Greyhound
These days, because of medical and nutritional advances, Italian Greyhounds are healthier than ever. We are able to keep our geriatric Italian Greyhounds living well past 15 years. Because we have the means to cure or temper many of the ills of old age, our Italian Greyhounds can live long lives, and we are often put in the position of deciding when it’s time for our beloved friends to go. Sometimes, because of illness or injury, even relatively young Italian Greyhound may need to be put to sleep.
When to put your Italian Greyhound to sleep is a personal decision. Some feel that it is most humane to put their Italian Greyhound to sleep before he ever suffers; others let their Italian Greyhound die naturally. Many people feel that their Italian Greyhound lets them know when he is ready: he loses interest in activities that once delighted him, may refuse to eat or drink, and seems depressed or in discomfort or pain more often than not. Whatever you decide to do, your veterinarian should support your decision and provide you with the information you need.
Today there are more options than there were in the past when it comes to ending your Italian Greyhound’s life. Instead of going to the veterinarian, many have now implemented home visits for euthanasia. If your veterinarian doesn’t do this, she can probably put you in touch with a veterinarian who does. There are even mobile veterinarians who specialize in this end-of-life care. Allowing your Italian Greyhound to pass away in the safety and comfort of his own home might be a great gift to him and maybe of comfort to you. To ensure that this is a possibility, it’s a good idea to ask your veterinarian about her policy far before you need this service.
Euthanasia and your Italian Greyhound
Whether you decide to put your Italian Greyhound to sleep at home or in your veterinarian’s office, there are a few basic procedures. If possible, make arrangements beforehand for payment and body transportation, and final disposition before putting your Italian Greyhound to sleep. This is a traumatic event for you and you shouldn’t need to deal with the problem of finding yourself. A good idea is to pay beforehand. If done at a clinic, your vet should be willing to do the euthanasia first thing in the morning or at the end of the day when there are fewer patients waiting, and you should be allowed to wait in an exam room rather than in the waiting room.
Your vet should give you the option of being in the room with your Italian Greyhound as he dies. Although it is a personal decision, many people who opt not to be in the room later regret the decision. Most people find comfort in seeing that as their Italian Greyhound dies, he feels no pain and simply slips away.
If you opt to have your dog euthanized at home, you can allow him to choose a location to lie down or lay him in a location of your choice. If he loved to sleep on the sofa or bed, he may feel most comfortable here. His favorite snoozing spot under a shady tree can also be soothing to both of you. If you are indoors, place an old blanket under your dog. Do not be alarmed if your Italian Greyhound seems to perk up when the veterinarian arrives; this is very normal and it does not mean that he has recovered or that you are doing the wrong thing.
Before putting your Italian Greyhound to sleep, your vet will probably administer a sedative. Your Italian Greyhound will become sleepy and lie down. This is a good time to say your last good-byes—give the last kiss and head rub. Then your veterinarian will administer a lethal dose of sodium pentobarbital. Your dog will rapidly lose consciousness and soon after, his heart will stop.
Nearly 60 percent of owners bury their pets on the family property when they die; 25 percent have them cremated, according to the 2002 American Animal Hospital Association.
Let your veterinarian know if you would like to spend time with your Italian Greyhound following his passing. A good veterinarian will accommodate your wishes.
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