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Special Care for the Older Rottweiler.

There is nothing more wonderful than an old Rottweiler. Ten years is the average lifetime for a Rottweiler, however with better quality dog foods and more awareness of health issues, there are many twelve, thirteen and fourteen year old Rottweilers alive today. The old Rottweilers have so much knowledge. They will eat, drink and potty on command. They know what the word "no" means. They have house manners and know what is expected of them. They are confident in themselves and don't challenge for their position in the pack.

The average Rottweiler hits his or her prime at four or five years old. He is generally well bodied then and mature mentally. Generally, gray hairs start to show on the muzzle around age six, and muscle tone becomes harder to maintain at age seven. However, some bloodlines have very little gray and are still athletic at age eleven.

Rottweilers will begin to lose muscle tone and coordination as they get older. Slippery floors are a problem for older Rottweilers. Walking across a bare wood, linoleum or tile floor will become difficult as will getting up from a bare floor. Cover the floor with a nonskid backed rub to help your old dog's mobility.

Like most dogs, Rottweilers can develop arthritis as they get older. Rottweilers are large boned and substantial, and it is very common that they will develop arthritis in their toes. If your Rottweiler has hip dysplasia or another orthopedic problem, arthritis will develop in other joints, too. Arthritis and loss of muscle tone in old Rottweilers make them sensitive to pressure on their bony areas, such as elbows and hips. You can purchase egg crate foam from a discount department store, cut it to size and cover it with blankets or synthetic sheepskin to make a comforable bed. Rottweilers like to be with the family, so put several beds around the house for your old dog's comfort. Senior Rottweilers are more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures than younger dogs. They can become easily overheated in hot weather.

Old Rottweilers stress easily and generally prefer a routine in their daily lives. They want to be fed and walked on the same schedule every day and like to sleep at the same times. While your old Rottweiler likes routine, they also enjoy doing things they did when they were younger such as a car trip.

Weight gain is common in old Rottweilers, who become less active, so it is good to keep an old Rottweiler at a good weight.

Your older Rottweiler does not need a change of diet because he or she is a senior. The diet he or she has been getting as an adult should be fine, as long as he or she's healthy and not gaining weight. As your Rottweiler gets older, he will appreciate several smaller meals per day rather than one large meal per day. When you begin to introduce several meals, remember that the quantity of food per day should stay the same.

If your Rottweiler experiences a sudden loss of appetite, or his or her appetite has diminished to a dangerously low level, consult your veterinarian. This could signal a serious illness.

Generally, it is not necessary to give your older dog supplements if he or she has a nutritionally sound diet, It is always good to consult your veterinarian about supplements.

Observe your older dog's drinking habits to be sure that he or she does not get dehydrated. A mild dehydration can be serious for an old Rottweiler. It is advisable to raise his or her bowls off the floor as it can be uncomfortable for an older Rottweiler to bend down to eat and drink.

Older Rottweilers need exercise for their well-being. They need it to maintain proper weight, to benefit normal body processes and to combat boredom. The older Rottweiler does not have the stamina of younger Rottweilers, so you must adjust the duration of the excerise to your older dog's needs.

Old Rottweilers might not realize that they can't do what they once did and might become overexerted. Limit and closely supervise their excercise. Arthritis is common in older Rottweilers and without a warm-up and cool-down period before and after more strenuous exercise, your old dog can develop very painful inflammation.

When your Rottweiler gets old, you might think about getting a puppy or other pet because you feel he or she might not be around much longer. This is both good and bad for the old dog. When you bring a new pet into the family, it is most important to remember that the old Rottweiler had been part of the family for a long time and needs to understand that he or she is still important. It is easy to devote lots of attention to the newcomer and take the old dog for granted. Give the old dog special attention to make him or her feel that they are still important. Old Rottweilers need their rest, so it would be wise to give the old dog breaks from the new arrival and ensure that their sleep and rest routines stay normal. Old Rottweilers can become very protective of their things. The water bowl could be the object of an altercation. Monitor all encounters between the older dog and the newcomer for the first couple of weeks to protect both parties from an unpleasant dispute. A new playmate can make an old Rottweiler feel young again. Monitor play sessions and don't let the old dog play too long or to hard. Consult your veterinarian.

Old Rottweilers do not live forever and sometimes tough decisions must be made for our old Rottweilers. Rottweilers deserve their dignity at any age and there might come a time when euthanasia is the right choice for them. If Rottweilers cannot exhibit these characteristics, they are not happy and their quality of life is very poor. If pain, inability to get up on their own, inability to eat or drink on their own or other infirmities strike your old Rottweiler, please listen to what their eyes and actions are telling you. You will know that it is time for euthanasia. Your old friend deserves your company to the end. He or she would sacrifice their life to protect you and would never abandon you, so please now you must not abandon them. Rottweilers deserve unselfish owners, especially at the end of their lives. I speak from personal experience that I thought I could not euthanize my beloved Rottweiler, however due to bone cancer, I set aside my fear, my heartbreak and mustard up enough courage to give her the dignity she well deserved. She always stayed by my side, protected me and I gave her the same respect to be with her at the end.

During euthanasia your dog is given an injection of a drug, usually a highly concentrated barbiturate, that reduces central nervous system activity. This depresses all the functions controlled by the brain stem, causing a loss of consciousmess and cessation of the heart function. There is also depression of the respirtory function, but the other effects are more rapid. Unconsciousness precedes heart failure and the process is painless. While the veterinarian is preparing the injection, talk to your Rottweiler. Tell them how great of a dog they were, pet them and tell them you'll miss them and cry if you want. Veterinarians have pets too, and understand that this is a great loss to you and your family. This is the time to comfort your dog and not worry about appearances.

Email: wecarerotti@bellsouth.net