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Bridget 06-17-2014 10:01 AM

to swim or not to swim
Heidi is 12, almost 13 and going downhill. She still likes to swim and I have been trying to take her swimming as much as possible. We park as close to the swimming place as possible. It is probably 1/4 mile walk from the car. She is having a terrible time getting up the incline from the lake and then back to the car. Yesterday, her back legs kept giving out and we had to stop and rest numerous times. Also, she fell several times while trying to run up and down the beach. But going there and the swimming makes her happy. Do I keep taking her or play it safe at this point?

wyoung2153 06-17-2014 10:36 AM

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I haven't had an older dog before, so this may be completely odd advice, but I was wondering if there's something you can get to put under her belly or back legs that you might be able to lift her a little if she is have trouble walking? Something like this.. - Dog Harnesses & Slings. Help Dogs Walk with Dog Lift Harness & Slings

So that when she does have some trouble you can give her a hand a bit better?

Liz&Anna 06-17-2014 11:44 AM

That's exactly what I was going to say!!!! Get a lift assist harness for the walk to the lake, think of her quality of life, and how happy swimming makes her- then you decide, swimming is amazing muscle exercise with no impact on hips and joints, I swim my pup at least once a week

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Bridget 06-17-2014 11:45 AM

Yes, a sling is exactly what I need I think. Thanks. Seems so simple, unsure why I didn't think of it myself. I'm not thinking clearly lately.

scout172 06-17-2014 11:48 AM

I don't mean to be a copycat but I do think a sling would be a good idea

DJEtzel 06-17-2014 12:04 PM

Might be worth putting a life vest on her or attaching a long line to fish her out should she run out of energy while she's out there. :(

I would keep doing it though to keep her active and moving, but that's just me.

wyoung2153 06-17-2014 12:08 PM

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DJ, that's a great idea, I wouldn't have really thought of that.

Bridget 06-17-2014 04:12 PM

I only throw sticks in the water to the point that I could wade out and get her if I had to. But still, there was the one time recently that she didn't see it and swam past it and it appeared she might keep going. It was scary and luckily she did listen to me when I called to her. So, a life vest probably wouldn't be a bad idea. Thanks.

Mister C 06-17-2014 04:32 PM

I agree with the sling and life vest ideas. I also encourage you to keep up your old girl's exercise any way that you can.

I've had experience walking a dog with a sling. It will take her a bit to get used to the idea of you helping her walk.

I suggest starting this at home and get her used to it before needing to use it after swimming when she is tired. She may not want to walk at all the first time you put it on her. Just be patient and give her treats when she takes steps. It's easier if you can have a friend lead her with treats while you hold onto the sling. It also takes some coordination--kind of like having a dance partner.

My old girl wouldn't walk in it at first but she did get used to it eventually. As she grew more infirm she would put more and more weight into the sling. Eventually, we got her a dog cart which she absolutely loved and adapted to immediately.

Best of luck to you,


NancyJ 06-17-2014 05:08 PM

I also agree with the life vest. Maybe shorten the sessions so she can make it back to the car?

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