Caring For An Old Labrador

Puppies grow up all too soon and eventually senior dogs sometimes need a little special care and love

Caring for an old Labrador is an important task. In this article we will let you know what to do to keep your old dog as happy and healthy as possible. We’ll look at simple ways you can adapt your home and vehicle, and give advice on feeding and exercising your elderly Lab.

Do you have an old Labrador? Is your lively friend starting to slow down and look a little grey around the chin? To jump down to the section that interests you most, just click on one of the links below:

In this article we’re going to take a look at some of the challenges your senior Lab could face. Giving you the best ways to keep your aging Labrador Retriever fit, comfortable and happy.

Is My Labrador Old?

It may surprise you as it did me, to find out that the pet food companies classify a dog as young as seven years as ‘senior’. Labrador Retrievers as a breed have a life expectancy of around ten to twelve years. So it is a little sad to think that when they reach age seven, they are already considered to be entering the winter of their lives.

Happily though, we can take solace in the fact that with a little extra care and attention, these retirement years can be not only plentiful, but fun filled and healthy too. In this article, we look at how you can help your older Labrador enjoy life, and have a long and healthy old age.

Old Labrador Health Problems

Sometimes the changes that come with age must be accepted,  but often there is much that can be done. Common health problems in old Labradors can include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Vision impairment
  • Incontinence
  • Arthritis

Vision Loss In Old Labradors

Hearing loss and vision impairment might seen like inevitable parts of aging, but not all sight and hearing difficulties are untreatable. For example, cataracts can be removed giving dogs a new  lease of life.

Fortunately, failing sight does not seem to bother dogs that much,  provided you don’t keep moving the furniture or changing their routines around. Less happily though,  failing hearing can be more of a problem when managing your dog.

old yellow lab

Hearing Loss In Old Labs

Around the house you are normally fairly close to your dog, but the scenario changes rather rapidly when you venture outdoors. When you go for a walk, recall commands are very important and you do rely on your dog being able to hear you or your whistle at all times. This is not only an inconvenience but a potential safety issue.

Luckily there are measures we can take to reduce the problems that arise from loss of hearing. Build associative large, clear hand signals for his commands.

Labrador Incontinence & Arthritis

Incontinence is also common in old Labs, especially spayed females. However, some forms of incontinence can be treated with medication. Giving both you and your senior Labrador improved quality of life.

Arthritis is a common condition amongst elderly Labradors, but it can be helped with the right pain medication and on occasions surgical intervention. There are also various ways you can make your arthritic Lab more comfortable at home, which we will look at a little later on. It is always worth having a chat with your vet to find out what can be done before you accept the new situation as a definite part of life for your Labrador senior.

Sudden Changes in Old Dogs

If a previously active or greedy dog suddenly starts to slow down or  go off his food,  don’t just put it down to old age. Sudden changes can be a warning that something is wrong. Other signs that a visit to the vets is in order include persistent coughs, reluctance to walk, unexplained whining or barking, and reduced apetite. Remember that many dogs give only very subtle signs that they are in pain, and a trip to the vet may be in order.

Lumps and Bumps In Old Dogs

Older dogs are more likely to suffer from some serious health concerns, so it’s good to know what to look out for. You may notice your older Lab start to get a bit lumpy in his old age! Harmless fatty lumps are very common in older dogs, but you should still get new ones checked over by your vet just in case.

old yellow labrador

They might not always be immediately visible. Routinely give him a good rub along his flanks, belly, neck, shoulders and legs. Checking for anything new.

Best Dog Food For Senior Labradors

Senior dog foods are often designed for dogs with reduced calorie needs. Just like older people, dogs that are getting on in years do not require as much energy in their diet. However, be cautious when picking a new food straight off the shelf purely based on his age. If your dog is working or exercised hard he will probably benefit from staying on his current feeding regime.

Some of the ‘light’  or ‘low calorie’ foods for older dogs are simply padded out with fillers. The best dog food for senior Labradors is often simply his usual food in a smaller quantity.

Obesity In Old Labradors

One of the best things you can do for your older  dog is keep him slim. Any vet will tell you that most of the dogs they see are overweight, especially notorious food enthusiasts like Labradors. Carrying extra pounds is especially harmful to older dogs, as it puts a strain on their joints and exacerbates problems such as arthritis. Keeping your dog slim can buy him months and even years of extra happy life.

Helping Old Labs Slim Down

Don’t forget, even if he is not as active as he used to be, there is no reason for your senior Labrador to get fat. You control the food, so if he is piling on the pounds, give him less of it.

old chocolate lab

Senior Dog Supplements

Glucosamine and chondroitin are popular senior dog supplements. There is some good evidence that they may delay the joint problems associated with old age. Namely slowing down the progression of arthritis.

Old Labrador Training

As perhaps you would expect, elderly dogs are less inclined to race around and leave you behind when you are out and about. This assists us in dealing with the potential problems of hearing loss, as the closer he is to you the more likely he is to pick up your command.

A word of warning though – don’t be too quick though to put a failed recall down to hearing. It is always worth doing a bit of top up recall training every so often, as many dogs get ‘sloppy’ on the recall in later years.

Old Dog Recall Problems

A common cause of recall problems is that we tend to take obedience for granted in older dogs and fail to reward the recall any more. So keep those rewards coming from time to time and don’t forget to give your dog a nice ‘jackpot’ reward occasionally to keep his recall nice and sharp.

Exercising Your Senior Lab

Dogs will generally let you know when they are wanting to ‘slow down’. If your older dog is really finding an hour’s walk a bit much, then its ok to cut down a little. Breaking his exercise into two or three smaller walks may be just what he needs. If he is reluctant to go on longer walks, it could be that he is suffering from aches and pains.

Old Lab Pain Relief

A lot of people are understandably reluctant to give their dogs daily pain medication. However, this can drastically improve some Labradors’ quality of life. It is therefore worth talking to your vet about this option.

Never give dogs human pain analgesics like aspirin or paracetamol, they are not safe for canine use. Remember, dogs can’t tell us when they are in pain or discomfort. It’s our job to read their signs through changes in their behaviour. And to make these important  decisions on their behalf.

Senior Dog Care

Older dogs are more likely to need some extra creature comforts to keep them happy at home. Senior dog care starts at home. Additional padding on an elderly dog’s bed, or a thicker mattress could give them a much better rest. Raised feeders can make it easier for your dog to eat his dinner, although you will need to chat with your vet before using one if your dog is a fast eater.

Your aging Labrador might also benefit for some help getting about. For example, if you have any high steps up to your front door or he is showing signs of struggling to get in the car. Ramps can be a handy addition, and you can make or buy removable ramp for his use.

Geriatric dog care can extend to changing your home routine a little too. If his bladder is not what it used to be, you might have to wake up and let him outside a little earlier than you used to. But these small adjustments are a tiny price to pay for the years of companionship he

Does My Lab Look Old?

It is curious how differently some dogs visibly age.

old black lab

Some dogs have barely changed since they were puppies, so it is very hard for anyone that does not know them to guess exactly how old they are. Apart from the tiniest hint of grey under the chin, some dogs of eight or nine look identical to how they did five or six years ago.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

On the other hand others of a  similar age are almost unrecognisable from photos of them aged two or three. We had a female Labrador whose fox red coat was ticked all over with silver hairs and her face was almost entirely white by the time she was six. Whilst she was still very fit, her premature greying made her look like a little old lady.

Regardless of how your Lab looks, when they get older they will probably need a little more care and attention from you.

Caring For Your Old Labrador

Getting old is an unavoidably part of life, and most Labradors stay fit and active for most of their days. However, they will inevitably become a bit less mobile, have more aches and pains, and be less resilient in the face of illnesses.

As loyal and devoted members of our families, we owe it to them to ensure that they are well cared for and comfortable in their old age. Fortunately, there is a lot we can do to support them at this time. And in turn, they will continue to give us the companionship and love that we have so treasured throughout their time with us.

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The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website


  1. Our retired guide dog is a 19 yr old black Labrador retriever, although well trained she is now pooping and peeing in the house. We tried all the usual things but nothing works. The vets also say there is nothing left for them to do. She has outlived all her litter mates by eight years.
    She is getting to be to much for us, as we are up in years also, and my wife is totally blind.
    The guide dog school will not take the dog, as she is partially blind and does not hear well. We have steps and the dog needs help getting up them or into the van.
    We have gotten in to a lot of arguments lately, i want the dog put down, but my wife refuses.
    The dog had cancer twice already, and drags one foot and leg. I have made an ultimatum that the dog stay outside in the daytime. So most pooping has stopped, but she still poops in her sleep.
    Don’t know what to do, the dog is in obvious pain. But my wife is stubborn as hell.

    • We have an 18 yr old female lab who also lost control over her bladder & bowels. We switched her to boiled chicken & rice (about 60% rice) and she is doing much better. She may have an accident maybe 1 time a week now. We changed her eating schedule as well, she gets 1 1/2 cups of boiled chicken & rice in the morning and 3/4 cup in the evening. Making sure she has plenty of time to go outside & do her business before we leave for work in the morning or before going to bed at night. We also give her Cosequin twice a day (one in the morning & one at night) to help with aches & pains, but please check with your vet before giving your dog any supplements.

      • do you give her white rice? and just boil the chicken in water and like shred it? mine is almost 16 year old lab also pooping/peeing all through the days…

    • I realise that this is an old thread but I just wanted to share my experience just incase someone finds the thread and takes some comfort just as I did.

      I lost my 8 (nearly 9) year old yellow lab 4 weeks ago, she was full of life and showing no signs of slowing at all, she still bounced up and down to greet me home from work, she still chased balls at speed when out on walks, she looked and acted half her age.

      One day she started shaking, went to vets the next day and they gave me pain relief (loxicom) for a swollen knee, shaking continued so went back to the vet couple of days later and they then gave her Gabapentin, this medication stopped the shaking but two days later she was vomiting blood, back to emergency vet in the middle of the night where she was hospitalised for 4 days on an IV fluids and antibiotics, her temp was extremely high and they couldn’t find why, she had scans, tests and xrays – nothing could be found.

      In the end I made the decision to put her to sleep, she hated being away from home and when I went to see her on her last day she looked miserable and Ill, she could barley stand and her behind was soaked with urine and her paws were stained with vomit, I let her go, I broke down when I realised I had silently made that decision In my head,

      The heart wrenching thing is that my girl used what little energy she had to get onto her feet to come and comfort me by putting her head in my lap. I was too overwhelmed with grief to even realise that I should have went to her. I cannot believe the unconditional love and affection that dogs give us throughout their short lives.

      My girl went from a very heathy dog to getting out to sleep within 2 weeks. I’m racked with guilt over the life I provided for her, I worked every day and she spent most days alone and bored, all she had for me was love and I know I should have given her so much more than I did.

      Please cherish your dog because when they are gone the realisation of how much they actually mean to you hits you like a sledge hammer.

  2. We had our Bubba for 13 wonderful years he was a true blessing to our family. I had to help him cross the rainbow bridge on the 28th of July. I felt as though he was not having the life he deserved with the arthritis it was really bad he needed help getting up,going out side pretty much anything. I gave him meds for pain,but being able to move was the problem from his chest up he was very strong the rear end was another story.

  3. How often do you think an 11 year old male Labrador can hold his bladder? We’ve been vacationing a lot recently and it’s messing up with his pee schedule. Please help!

  4. My chocolate lab is almost 15, whoa! No hearing/eyesight loss, very energized (wrestles with our other dog every night), eats well (lives for it), goes on a walk every day (slow, but goes, and is fine on flat ground and rugs on wood floors) and is very happy. He blows me away. My concern is his heavy breathing, that I’ve read about, but not found any help for him. I feel bad for him and it seems to not really bother him (just laborious, pun intended), but I have to admit I’d like some relief from it! He also has horrendous breath, but he hardly chews on things, just swallows… He has also really started to smell, just a overwhelming dog smell. Washing bedding and giving me baths is doing me in! Any food recommendations that might help? The last trip to the vet about did him in, so I’m just writing for any input. The guy is happy and none of this worries me, just thought I’d seek any input! Thanks in advance!

  5. This was a great article. We have a 9 year old black lab, Thunder. Our children have grown up with her. A few weeks ago we noticed that she would stand completely in the mornings until prompted. Now she will actually crawl on her front legs with her back legs fully extended. After a little effort from the children she stands and walks normally. Does this mean she has arthritis?

    • Could be arthritis, since I am not a vet, I wouldn’t know. I know I had an all black lab retriever/chow mix that did that started doing that when she was a few years old. I thought it was cute, all be it silly, but decided to teach her the command crawl when she would do that. Eventually she learned to do that on command when I said crawl. I don’t know to this day why she crawled on her front legs and dragged her back legs because as far as I know she was a healthy dog when she started doing that. I just thought I would share a similar experience with one of my past dogs.

  6. I have a 15 year old black lab, Holly. She has arthritis, cateracts and problrms with her kidneys. She is on £300 worth of medication a month. Worth every penny. Holly still likes to go out for walks 3 times a day (only 20 minutes per walk) and is a happy old lady. Her sister, Ella, lived to an age of 13 years. She passed away after her windpipe colapsed. I was heartbroken. Labs are and will always be part of my family. My old girl lives the life of luxury just as she deserves.

    • Hi I’ve just read your article about your dog and it costing you 300 a month..I have a lab and she’s on quite a bit of medication..I go down the route a private prescription from your vet and then you can purchase your meds from pet drugs on line ..they are brilliant and it’s a fraction of the cost..regards kate bradbury..but the way my vet is at pets at home

  7. After 12.8 years I just lost my yellow lab “Rocky” best friend in the world. He had a heart tumor and was actively bleeding and not allowing his heart to expand and was very difficult for him to breathe. I saw it in his eyes that it was time to let him go. I loved him more than anything. I am heart broken and taking it badly. He was special and one of a kind and I don’t see how a new dog could ever take his place. I can’t stop crying and it hurts so much knowing he’s gone. He’s been with me through good and bad in my life giving me great comfort when I needed it most. He greeted me every morning and when arriving from work. We had a bond like nothing in this world and no words can explain my sadness. The vet said there was nothing we could do without hurting him more. A tumor on his heart took him from me. Please everyone do X-rays and routine checkups to look for this as your dog reaches older age. He was in the best shape of his life and within hours he was gone.

    • I am so sorry Tim. I completely understand. I lost my best friend, a chocolate lab named Roscoe on 9-12-16. He had a tumor that went into his spinal cord and there was nothing I could do and believe me, I tried everything. He had just turned 13. There are lots of people that understand our feelings of loss. Especially when their dog is their companion and confidant. That unconditional love is one of the best feelings we could every have in life. Dogs are faithful and always make you feel as though you are the most important person in the world.

    • I complete understand what you are going through Tim. I lost my Bruno 2 days ago, he got lymphoma. He was 11 and half years old. An amazing companion, loyal like no one, greatest friend, etc, etc,etc. We fight the cancer for 1 month, but treatment did not work.
      Can not explain the feelings we have right now. The house is empty, we miss him so, so much.

      • I hv just lost my Chulbul . He was 11days short to complete his 9 years . He got tumor on his stomach 6 months back . We had two surgeries and 6 chemos . But he was down n down after the fourth chemo . He was conscious till his last breath . Responding well . But at last we lost him . We are in inconsolable grief right now .

    • hey Tim I totally understand your pain. I had to put my black lab and best friend Oiler of 13 sleep on Dec 27/2016. I never had my own kids and this is close as I will come to that. he was the best anyone could ask for and I cherish every moment with him. I came home for xmas holidays on fri dec 23rd and he could no longer walk and wouldn’t eat. I did what I could to make him comfortable but in my mind I knew It was time. I will miss him so much for the rest of my life and will thk.of him everyday. love you Oiler… till we meet again.

    • So sorry for your loss Tim, I lost my dog to cancer around the same time you lost your dog, I still get upset when I think of him, I feel your pain, I hope in time you ate able to open your heart and home to another 4 legged friend needing a good home x

  8. My black lab Delaney is 12 and all of a sudden beginning to look old☺ he suffers from arthritis so we don’t do the marathon walks anymore he prefers to walk down to out local pub have a rest then walk home again lol. If we do go out across the beach he just acts like a 3 year old then wonders why he can’t move the next day so am reluctant to let him off the lead too long!! I lost my other lab Caffrey 3 years back when he was 12 so every day I have with Delaney is special, I love him to bits he’s my best friend and confidant ( so glad he keeps my secrets to himself ☺) labradors are the best!!

  9. I have a 9 year old lab who just recently started to decline somewhat significantly. Up to until now she has been healthy, except for a diagnosis of hip dysplasia which we’ve managed to keep under control. The decline is most noticeable in her hips. Before the dysplasia was mild and we were still an active family, but now we’ve had to slow down a whole lot. I use an Ortocanis rear support harness when we go out on walks so I can help support some of her weight myself. It usually makes a difference and lets us stay out for longer periods of time. I know 9 isn’t that old so I’m really hoping she has a least a few good years left in her…

  10. Our dog Baby is approximately 11 years old going on 2 lol. She was rescued from a puppy mill where she was a momma dog. She belonged to our neighbor who gave her to me a few months ago because he is in poor health. Baby is very active. She can run 500 yards in seconds and she has the appetite of a pup. She met us at our cars to shake hands. She knocks on the door when she’s hungry. My neighbor couldn’t afford to take her to the vet for the 6 years he had her. I took her recently and they said she’s doing great. No health issues and fit as a fiddle. We also have a 5 year old teacup toy chihuahua that she thinks is a puppy and treats him as such. Hopefully we have many more years with her.

  11. I Lost my best friend susie four weeks ago. A car clipped her standing at our driveway. I believe the driver lost concentration and swayed to the edge. Susie was 12 but very healthy with all her senses and full of life and happiness, just one elbow was slowing her down with arthritis and with good care it was not spreading that fast. Just at the earlier stage before and painkillers were really needed. I didn’t like it when my brother said it was worse for him putting his 14 year Labrador down than what happened mine but the shock I got when the door knocked and I found her lying there was so terrible. I was looking forward to more great times ahead. I have other dogs to care for and was planning to get a pup before this happened but susie will always be the best the ever. She done so much in 12 years, was always happy and made me so happy. I don’t understand how my brother thinks it’s better than what he had to do.

  12. Our Labrador is 14 years old and not really eating her dry food anymore what does somebody recommend ( any brand name dog food or wet food)
    . She has been eating dry food all her life.
    Thank you very much
    we love labradors

    • Our lab was almost twelve and she quit eating her dry dog food that she enjoyed fir many years. We had to buy aspecial dry and wet dog food sold only by the vet. She ate it till she left us. Not sure Of the name- it wasn’t cheap but she seemed to enjoy it. Toward the end of live recently the vet prescribed some appetite pills- had to give it to her with a treat- best wishes.

  13. I have a 14 year old Chocolate Lab, Shiloh. I got his medicine from DOC website for hip displaysia. He acts funny at night, breathing harder, running from outside to inside, drinks from the toilet then does it again. He jumps on the be then down again. Extremely nervous all of a sudden. Usually he is laying on his pallet, or next to me. Any ideas?
    Thank you,
    Diane M. Jimenez

      • Interesting my choc lab 11 has just had mri brain negative and ultra sound abdo negative for sickness at night panting at night chewing and increased aggression sometimes refuses walks . The vets don’t seem to know what’s wrong I personally think it may be hip pain and with you saying panting at night a sign of this it could be ??

        • Possibly hip pain. I have my 14 yr old lab on Carprofen for pain. She also gets glucosamine and chondroitin supplements (as well as both in her food) for her back hips. She doesn’t pace often at night now.

      • Panting isn’t always a sign of pain. My vet says my 13 year old lab pants because his lungs have lost some elasticity due to aging. Old dog lungs.

  14. can anybody tell me the answer to my question. my son has a lab that is about ten, I live down and my son lives up. my son has lived upstairs for 4 years, in those years ziggy has never come into my bedroom at all, starting a few days ago he has come down during the day and has been sleeping in my bedroom it is so odd . o
    he has never done this before
    should I be worried

  15. I got three dogs in 1998. Rocky was a Chocolate Lab born in December (’97) and I got him in February. In August, I got 8 week old Golden Lab littermates Kobey and Conan. Both of them were almost pure white when I got them but they eventually developed very light tan overtones in their coats–they were both absolutely wonderful dogs. Conan passed in 2007, age 9 (cancer). The two littermates were very bonded and so Kobey was very distraught. I brought Conan home from the veterinarian’s after he passed and laid him on a tarp in the garage and brought Kobey out to see him. Kobey hesitantly came near him and then ran around the garage in a disoriented fashion. I tried to calm him down and he stopped, started trembling and peed on the garage floor. That night, he slept next to the door leading to the garage. I woke up in the middle of the night to hearing him let out a low-pitched moaning sound which was a painful sound I had never heard a dog make before or since. I got up and checked on him and comforted him for awhile. Kobey and Conan slept together–sometimes with one’s head on the other. They groomed each other and they liked to play and wrestle with each other. They had been together 24/7 for 9 years. Fortunately, I still had Rocky as a companion for Kobey and he soon adjusted to the loss. I was very lucky to have those two dogs until recently. Rocky passed at age 16 and 8 months (cancer). A year later, I lost Kobey at age 17 and two and half months (cancer). One thing for sure, I’ve really learned a lot about taking care of geriatric retrievers. I managed their arthritis with occasional adequan shots, glucosamine supplementation, weight management, exercise, and very, very rarely, Rimadyl for occasional flair ups. And of course, a lot of love. There was no shortage of getting the same in return. Rocky and Kobey were always both temperamentally very laid back and loving. I was lucky to have them for as long as I did. You can’t go wrong with Labs, Goldens or Golden Labs. They are all such great dogs!

  16. We are currently going through similar to a lot of the comments above.
    We have a yellow lab and have had her from the age of 8 weeks she is now 13years 8months but the best dog we have ever had , never destroyed anything in the house as a puppy and walks by your side no lead needed. I think it’s nearly time for us to say goodbye as her back legs are very weak and she has now started to poop in the the house at night even although she is out most of the day in the garden and walked last thing at night. Her hearing and sight are fine but I can now see a sadness in her eyes. It’s going to be the most difficult decision to make but I can’t see her in pain any longer. We stopped getting her injections when she was about 5 and I now think this is why she has last so long in good health.

    • Sorry to hear your old friend is nearing the end of her life. There is some good evidence now that certain vaccinations do not need to be given annually, and may last several years. However, many dogs vaccinated annually live to an old age too, so I don’t think we can draw any conclusions about the affect of vaccination on longevity. Good luck with your dog, and here is a link that many people have found helpful, especially the supportive comments at the end:

    • We had a very similar situation with our beloved 15 year old fox red rescue Lab, Bo. He was the sweetest dog. About a year and a half ago, after two bouts of pancreatitis, his back legs really began to fail him. Our vet did a full set of x-rays and said it was a combination of dysplasia, arthritis and probably neurological issues (he recommended taking him to a vet/neurologist for an MRI, but we didn’t want to put Bo through that stress at this stage of his life). Bo also started to poop inside (usually at night while sleeping), not even realizing it most of the time — and we had to put mats, towels and blankets down throughout the house because he couldn’t walk on the wood floors anymore. But despite it all, Bo had a tremendous spirit and heart and wouldn’t give up. We gave him Tramadol, lots of love and walks as always, and he kept going until three weeks ago when we put him to sleep. As Bern said above, it was the hardest decision we’ve ever had to make.

  17. We had the pleasure of adopting Oates in August 2014, then at the age of 8, a retired guide dog of a few years and by then retired from being Scotland’s first adult buddy dog. He was ‘slightly’ overweight at 42kg and had all the usual side effects from it, lethargy, poor smelly coat, stiff joints etc. During the past 11 months we have concentrated on his weight, health and happiness, he’s made a truly valuable member to our family and a great friend for our now 15 month lab. Now he weighs 35kg and he is like a puppy again (sometimes)! Beautiful coat (never needs washed & smells lovely), happier & more sprightly. Diet was trial & error but homemade healthy treats works so well. To think that he is now over 9 years old makes his time with us more prescious. I really hope that we have a good few years with him & give him the well earned retirement he deserves! Thank you to your site, your puppy book and all the advice, we have gone from never owning a dog, to bringing up a lab puppy & adopting an oap in just 14 months & love every minute of it!

  18. We live on a ranch in a rural area of Southern California and ALL of our dogs thru the years, have lived into old age and in very good health: old english sheepdog, (22 years) Queensland Heelers: 22 years, 21 years 18 years and 17 years.)
    we now have a yellow lab who is 13 years old and doing fine, but she began having seizures when she was 5 or 6. Couldn’t afford the vet’s plan, so I have given her a magnesium citrate tablet in her food once a day, and fed her 2X a day for low blood sugar reasons… She bass done fine.
    I have always attributed our dog’s longevity tendencies to a simple diet and lots of exercise, but after reading many of the posts I want to add that our dogs always got only their puppy shots and one booster and their rabies and never any more. Because we are remote, we felt safe sparing them the repeated boosters and their possible side effects.. Does make me wonder tho., if it was the lack of later vaccinations that contributed to the long life?

    • I’ve wondered the same thing about vaccinations. I’ve started not getting any more yearly vacs for my dogs and only get the required rabies vac that’s good for 3 yrs. I’ve also wondered about commercial pet food. I’ve started making some of my own so that they do not eat exclusively commercial food. I’ve read a lot of negatives about over vaccination and about the quality of commercial food which from what I’ve read, is poor at best. Something is at the root of the increase in cancer and other health problems and the seemingly short life spans we see in our pets today. I know that vet clinics are a business that provide a service. However, they also have to make money to survive and vaccinations are one of their main sources of revenue and I feel that is why they push them so much.
      I’ve also started using holistic/natural methods of treatment for my pets as well. I had a 15 year old cat that was diagnosed with mouth cancer in Oct. 2013 and she had very little chance of making it even one year. Against all odds, she lived for one year and nine months, but I treated her myself exclusively for the last one year and three months of her life. She was 17 years old when she passed in July of 2015. In finding out how to treat her holistically, I had to strike out on my own and figure it out myself. No help from no vet as my experience was that they won’t even tell you that there are alternative methods of treatment. I now hesitate to trust anything that has making money its priority.

  19. Our black Lab Cleo is 16! She piddles + when sleeping, which she does quite a bit of. Her hearing and sight are declining, but she loves her treat every morning. She is starting to sashay when walking. She is also getting thinner, so I’m wondering if raising her food bowl off the ground would assist her? Some days she’ll only eat if fed by hand or if the food is placed on a paper plate (not her bowl). Any ideas why? Thanks.

  20. I have a yellow lab, Bud, who is now 13, I have had him for 11 years and he has absolutely stolen my heart! He is the most wonderful companion I could have ever asked for. He sleeps with me every night, we take long walks, watch tv, swim, you name it! He may be getting old but he is still going strong! So far we have been blessed not to have to deal with any ailments, blindness, loss of hearing, that sort of thing, however he has started to snore very loudly over the past few years! I’m hoping he will be around for a few more years to come, I just don’t know what I would do without my Bud!

  21. We have a 10 1/2 year old Lab named Winston. He’s been our best friend for almost 3yrs. Our daughter was having a baby and decided a dog would be too much. Reluctantly we took Winston but as he ages we see lumps in his hips and signs of arthritis. He limps quite a bit. Now he avoids jumping on sofa or our bed. He doesn’t seem to be in pain really but I’m wondering how will we know its time to put him to sleep. He’s on medication from the Vet. Would love some advice.

  22. Reading this brought tears to my eyes as remembering our first lab always does. We were lucky enough to have our old man, Dexter, for 15 1/2 years old. He passed in June 2010. He received rimadyl, glucosamine and chondroitin to manage the discomforts of old age. Though arthritic and incontinent I wanted him to enjoy eveyday he had left. He had good days and bad but as long as we could see the contentment on his face of laying in the sun and rolling in the grass we felt sure he still enjoyed life. He was the most loyal and loving friend I’ve ever had and we stood by him until he could no longer stand. The advice I always give to friends facing the loss of an old friend is to be with them in the end to help them cross over. It’s one of the hardest things to do but it’s the last thing you can do for someone who gave so much but expected so little in return. I always want their last moments to be in the arms of the ones that love them the most.

    • I still cry for my two labs, Suzie and Bailey, and it’s over ten years since they passed away. I have another yellow lab now, she’s 10 y/o and I wish she would live to be 100. It is so hard to see them decline and die. I would have given years to my own life to have them with me longer. I was with them to the end.

      • My Shelby is a black lab. She is 14 1/2. Swimming is great for her. She has cataracts, acid reflux and can’t hear it thunder. She is still very happy and her nose works for her enjoyment. I would like to goo the exact moment that she takes her last breath. However, my full point is the joy of their company should outweigh any pain by a million times. As they say, put your dog and your wife in the trunk for five minutes and see who is happy to see you when you open the trunk! God bless and thanks for loving as most do not understand.

  23. We lost our beautiful girl Sammi a blac lab on Wednesday 20th May. She was our life we did everything around her even the holidays we took with her included. She was nearly 13 and we got her at 5 and a half weeks old she was our little fur baby. We found out when she was young that she had elbow and hyp dysplacsia but we kept her fit. She climbed many mountains with Mark including Ben Nevis and went on many a long walk. She loved swimming in any water she could find so it was a natural thing to do as she slowed down to take her to Canine Hydrotherapy twice a week which she adored, she was also on medication for her joints. Then one day her behaviour changed, yes she still loved her playtime with us but she became very affectionate and started to pant a lot. We didn’t know if the panting was because of the pain of her joints or something else. One night she had a seizure which was awful, very distressful for her and us. We took her to the vets who took blood tests but said it could of been a one off and if she had another to come back. Her bloods were clear. 5 days later she had another seizure so the vet put her on medication to try and stop them but the treatment didn’t work. She had another 2 seizures in 24 hours they were getting closer together. We were beside ourselves as we knew we had to make a big decision, we didn’t want her suffering but we didn’t want to let her go. Sammi hated the vets, she would get very stressed out so on Wednesday morning the vet came to us. She thought Sammi either had a brain tumour or a brain lesion and we knew it was time. She slipped away really peacefully in our arms and crossed the rainbow bridge, we had lost our beautiful fur baby Sammi. I know she will be running free now chasing her ball, until we meet again sweet Sammi, we will love her always and forever and will be totally irreplaceable. Sweet dreams angel

  24. On Sunday we had to put our beautiful, kind, friendly and loving labrador Sam to sleep. He was nearly 13 and he was fine one day and suddenly really sick the next and unable to get up. We called the vet and she told us there was nothing she could do that he had many problems. She gave him an injection on the Sat so we could keep him until the next day to give us time to say goodbye. It was heartbreaking seeing him get worse yet he managed to lift his head that night, wag his tail and smile at us to let us know it was ok and to say goodbye to us. By the Sunday morning he was dying before our eyes. As our son said on the Sunday he wanted the vet to come quickly to take away Sams pain but didn`t want her to come as we knew it would mean saying goodbye and none of us wanted to let him go but knew we had to do this final act of kindness to take away his pain. It was heartbreaking watching him deteriorate before us. We have another lab Cassie who is 13 and they were so close. She is lost without him. We got her a few months before Sam and she has bossed him around ever since!We know he has gone to a better place and is no longer in pain but we are devastated especially as it happened so quickly without warning. We never saw it coming.Cassie is a diabetic and we inject her with insulin twice a day, her eyesight is failing and she is not in great health. Our vet says its a miracle she is still with us they expected her to die years ago they say its her determination and strong will that keeps her going. We never thought Sam would be the first to go we used to worry how he would cope without Cassie. We found it helped us to read other peoples stories on this website and wanted to share our story with others. Some people think dogs are just animals but to us and to a lot more they are part of our family. We will never forget our Sam and miss him so much. The house is not the same without him.

  25. Our black lab Brittany is going on 15 I thought I would share some of the thing we do to keep her as fit and comfortable as we can.2-3 times a week she gets a vitamin e capsule am ng with glucosomine made for adults she chews the both up and thinks they are a treat. She also has an automatic feeder that is a great portion control device 1-1/2 cups 3 times a day combined with her 5 gal water feeder. She is a very lumpy bumby girl but still has plenty of pep. She runs down the stairs like freight train much slower on the return trip she worries going down. But only does it when I go down. She still hops with joy when anyone comes in the house. Still like to stick her head out window. I hope everything I’ve done and continue to do is of help to others. It seems to be doing her a world of good. Paws up !!

    • Our Lulu is 15 too. Also “a lumpy bumpy girl” with moments of puppiness.
      I use a glucosamine powder on her food- have cut back how much she has now that she doesn’t go on long walks and runs anymore. Has a bad knee but still wagging that big old tail and sniffing through the garden on lizard patrol ( she’s never tried to catch one) . I love her to bits. Just noticed another new cyst like growth tonight. I’m not going to get a biopsy of it because I wouldn’t put her through surgery at this stage of here life. She’s getting a bit deaf but she seems happy and still greets me each day like I’m a rock star!

  26. Boy have we been through puppyhood to adulthood with Labs! Sadly our 1st we had to put down at 10 y/o from lymphosarcosa. I cried my eyes out. Our second went through bacterial endocarditis at age 7 followed a year later with lymphosarcosa at age 8. Sadly he died in front of my husband, me and the vet. We were prepared to put him down but he let go. March 2014 our 14 1/2 y/o Lab Gwen suffered a stroke and mercifully her vet was on call (weekend) and we had her put down. She had suffered heart and kidney problems for about 3 years but we feel our two “boys” Zeke and Zeus helped keep her going. Always happy it was the past couple days of her life that we saw sadness and pain. Thanks to the plethora of info on the net our boys have had the best start. No table junk. They love veggies especially their carrots and having just turned 7 in March we have substituted most of their daily treats with carrots. They are on a good holistic dog food and are happy, healthy and very energetic; not hyper but playful. Puppies chew (learned the hard way) but overall Labs train quickly, love to please and are lovable as can be. We pray every day they will live good long lives as Gwen. It’s unpredictable with Labs. We’ve seen the cancer, failing eyesight (Gwen) and the rages of age though Gwen always managed to keep up with the boys until the end. We enjoy every day with them and love them more and more. Afterall what isn’t there to love about a Lab!

  27. I have four labs nalla black 11. Jazz golden 10 Kirra golden 9. Choco’late lady cocoa 8. The most precious gifts in life I could ask for. There all showing the usual signs of aging. I was giving them hair cuts scaling there teeth, and found a lump under nallas front leg it’s the only one she has at 11. Still loves to play swim her eyes are getting cloudy kirra our third one is my husbands teddy bear she’s a loner But a amazing one to cuddle with and take in the pool she squeaks like a pig and will stay in the pool all day with you. Jazz and cocoa are my life saver not that the other aren’t these two find cancer I’ve had it twice in 7 years and if it wasn’t for the things they did that were unusual I would of never known Cocoa pushed my husband out if bed 4 years ago he was starting to have a heart attack. Our dogs have always been the princess of the house. And all the runts of the liters they sleep in our bed all four yes it’s crowded but worth the love they give us everyday. Our vet is amazed that I keep there teeth cleaned. But I got a daughter and daughter in law who clean mouths for a living. I fill for those who have lost there labs and been sick all day worring about my nalla I just am not looking for the day I have to say good bye But until then I’m going to let them sleep in my bed sweep 3 times a day and let them sneak the veggies out of the garden and eat the fruit off the trees less the seeds and have cocoa puck the pears cause she ate to many and clean it up. You can have 4 and keep a clean house It’s all so worth it

  28. My chocolate labrador turned 14 in February , he’s still his old self apart from being blind in one eye and completely deaf… He has a very large tumor on his side (benign) and can’t walk very far but he is still happy in his self , no loss of apatite etc
    I’m dreading the day we loose he was my first pet and it will break my heart
    He can’t always hold his bowels for very long and we sometimes don’t get much warning before he needs to go , I’m just wondering if there is anything we can do to help the bowel situation ??
    Any tips would be much appreciated x

  29. Sometime last night my Chocolate Lab succumbed to whatever happened to him a couple of weeks ago. He was eighteen years old in November 2014. He was the same active dog up until about two weeks ago. He lived to go outside and run and romp and most if all bark at all things. He would find a pecan on the ground and pitch it into the air over and over until something else caught his eye, which were very keen and didn’t miss a thing. He could tell from the sound if my husband’s truck when he was coming down the street towards our house. He knew the sound of my vehicle and always met me with a twist if his head, sitting saying “arrrrrrrrrgh” and paw in air for me to take. Then he would turn around three or four times and sit and do it again. He loved being loved. From 5 weeks old he had sit in my lap or my husband’ slap each time we sit down. At night watching TV, he would curl up in my lap and go to sleep. When he was small he slept with us, when he got to big, his bed was in the den on an enormous dogbed that he would roll and talk to us on. But each morning early, very early he would sneak back to our bedroom and put his paw up on my husband to wake him up. He never missed a morning and my husband said you could sit a clock by him. He was a wonderful dog that I think I’m going to miss more than I thought. I couldn’t bear to see him decline so quickly and I didn’t want him in pain, but I didn’t want him to leave either. I just can’t understand how one minute without warning he went from running and barking in the yard to laying on his bed in the den not eating and not raising his head up. I may never know what happened, but I do know that I loved Hank and I know he loved me, because he told me. Goodbye sweet baby. You will not be forgotten and you will be missed everyday. I know that you are not in pain anymore and I know that you are happy and healthy again. I know you didn’t want to leave….you told me that also last night when I was trying to comfort you and trying to talk you into trying to eat….you told me then. I’ll love you forever Hank. Momma.

    • Franka – What a beautiful story! You are so blessed to have had Hank for 18 years.

      Hank was also blessed to have such a loving family. I do believe we will see our labs again, only it will be forever at that time.

    • You made me cry, but I’m happy you had 18 years. Mine is 5, and it makes me hopeful for 13 more. She’s small and fit and will always be so. I hope you can find that live again.

  30. i had to put my black lab to sleep 3 weeks ago he was 11 and a half all his joints were riddled with arthritis in all his joints , kept on falling down all the time , last year he had his toe amputated due to a tumour , another one on his head we had removed before Christmas , we had to rush him to the emergency vets the Saturday before as he had a stroke , on the following Monday he collapsed and wouldn’t get back up he curled up in a ball all morning , my husband decided to have him put to sleep , you feel so quilty as they are a big part of your life , I still have a golden lab who is 8 , I don’t know whether to have a small dog to keep my lab company , not sure if he will accept another dog .

    • Teresa – You did more than anyone would expect, even for our best lab friends. My nearly 10 y/o yellow lab, CiCi, has similar problems with severe arthritis. Until yesterday, aspirin, the only drug that really worked, seemed to help. Today, she is barely able to get up and walk. She did eat, though, so I hope she will be OK. Going to the vet’s shortly.

      If your golden lab is like most labs, gentle loving and accepting, then another dog might be good, since he will miss your black lab. I’ve had black, chocolate and now yellow labs. They really are angels with fur.

      God will reward your kindness to your animals.

  31. I have a yellow lab which will be 10 in July. We just had a senior checkup done by our vet. The check up consisted of is normal annual examination but we also had a sonogram and a 3 view x ray done. Fortunately all the tests came back perfect. We had three dogs prior to Muggs. Each dog had a lovely personality but we lost each dog at 8 years old from cancer. By the time they were diagnosed it was too late. We were not taking any chances with this dog. Our vet suggested that a senior examination was desirable at 9 but that Muggs appeared to be in wonderful shape and that we could wait until he was 10. We decided that there was no sense in putting off the examination and had it done. Had it shown any problems we would have done anything that was required as long as it helped him, didn’t hurt him and that it added quality time to his life. Unless a person has a dog that person can never understand the extent that people will go to for what is a family member.

  32. Yesterday at 1.30 pm i lost my Labrador dog named “Labo” at the age of 9 . He was not eating anything and not able to sit , he always used to remain in standing position since last two days.
    I cconsulted vet who gave him some injection and told me that there is problem in his lungs.
    Yesterday after a walj my labo died collapsed suddenly vommiting blood ,iam very upset and depressed.

    • Robin – I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your dear friend, Labo. It takes a while to feel normal after we lose a good friend, but try to remember the good times and put his suffering out of your mind. He really is in a better place and probably closer than you think. I still talk to my “ghost dogs” even 10 yrs after they died. I feel better afterwards, but it depends on your own feelings. I hope you feel better soon.

      • Thank you John. Thank you all. I just lost my Lab this morning. 14 beautiful years. I don’t know how to deal with this. I hope soon I can accept that he is already heaven. I love my Bono so much.

  33. I have a Choc. Lab that will be 16 in May… I see her fading each day but she doesnt seem to be in any pain…. My Question is…..How do you know if it is time to help them…. She is slow to get up and down, going blind and some what deaf, she can find the food bowl, has no problem eating…. She does sometimes just walk and poop and piddles when standing up…. but for the most part she seems ok….

  34. I am worried about our dogs, Roman and Katie, Katie has bad joints and roman walks with a limp on the right shoulder. They are strong dogs and are hangin in there. I wish we could take them to the farm but no

  35. Our beautiful black lab is 13 years old. m
    Mostly he plods along at his own speed, but sometimes when he welcomes us home he runs around our house with as much energy as a puppy. We him so much.

  36. Thanks to all as your comments have comforted me. My wife and I had to put or yellow lab Libby to sleep the Monday before Christmas at the age of 13. I am still crushed. When we got her the vet said it would be hardest on me when the end came. I asked why and she said because Libby was a blond and I would fall in love with her. She was right! Seeing that we got 13 years of the best dog on the planet makes me grateful.

    • I have a lab and they are 13 we sadly can’t take them down to the farm any more because of there joints. Because they are dogs the more you run the more happier they are but that night and following days they might not want to get up. That scares me because we might have to put them down if we did that. But they will always be part of the family! Even of they are in heaven.

      • Reagan – I have a 10 yr old yellow lab that has the same problem (severe arthritis) and is in pain after walking for long or going up several steps. We just have to take it easier. I cannot let her go. She is such a gentle loving creature. I do hope we see each other again in the next life. Nothing would please me more.

  37. Hi, my dog is currently 12 years old, and he is an overall healthy dog. I’ve seen many websites that say yellow Labradors have a lifespan of 10-12 years, but my dog is alive and healthy. He was from Georgia and came here, to Hawaii, by plane, and was with a military family. The family was getting rid of him and we decided that we wanted him. My dog was about 3 years old, so we had to train him and it was very difficult. This year we just got a new puppy, and the puppy is becoming the alpha, and my older dog is getting cowardly. My dog hasn’t had any problems but he has slightly foggy vision. Will he be able to live longer than most people say?

  38. I have an older Lab/Ridgeback mix. Not sue of age because he is a rescue, but is at least 11. I swear he has become senile and if I am not in the room where he is, on occasion, I will hear him yelp in pain but have no idea from where
    He has fatty tumors, but when I palpate around him he doesn’t flinch. He is quite mobile, more underweight than over. G9od appetite. How can I figure out where he hurts?

  39. My Chelsea, black lab is 14.5 years old -and is an awesome friend. She has no hearing anymore and is sore from arthritis. Seems odd but she cannot “feel” when its time to go out. She never pees in the house – but at times is sleeping and we look – there is a bowel movement. Is this something common? is there anything i can do?

    • Our 13 year old lab is the same way. He also has weakness in his hind legs. Turns out that he has a degenerative spinal problem. He has been this way for over a year though now and keeps chugging along.

    • This is exactly what happens with our Sunny. She is 15.5yrs… she is 100% deaf (poor girl has been plagued with eat infections since birth) and has some cloudiness in her eyes, but not bad. She also has tons of thisHowever, her biggest issue is the arthritis in her knees – she is on Tramadol and seems to find relief, but she kind of happily hops around rather than walking… this seems to put less strain on her knees. But… the pooping. Oh my. We take Sunny outside A LOT to make sure she gets plenty of chances to go potty and she does almost always pee outside. But it’s like she just can’t feel her bowel movements coming. She’ll jump up and if we aren’t right there, there will be poop on the floor or in her bed (thank goodness for ceramic tile and hardwood flooring!). She gives us this “aw gee, Mom… you know I didn’t mean it!” look. Poor girl. A week ago we thought she was finally going… she was pretty much comatose, had voided her bladder and bowels, everything – we said good bye and waited… she went to sleep for twelve hours – and woke up wanting to go outside! This last week we’ve been spoiling her rotten, as we feel each extra day is a gift from God (as long as we know she isn’t in pain – she has her pain meds, as well as her prednisone and antibiotics for her chronic ear infections).
      We also have another senior citizen, but he still acts like a pup! Diesel is 12yrs and the sweetest 100lb thing you ever met!! His best friend, our 10yr old girl named Cooper, died from cancer last summer and he has now become my shadow. He epitomizes everything wonderful about Black Labs… he’s loyal, sweet, well-behaved, even-tempered, funny, playful, and willing to let a baby crawl all over him (even at 12!). I can’t imagine having any other breed of dog…dog and right now I can’t imagine having any dogs other than my little old lady and my sweet boy, period… but I know their time is limited and someday we’ll be puppy owners again. Until then, we’ll enjoy every single second of our time with Sunshine and Diesel!

  40. Hi;

    just writing as I am sad about our lab Josie, who we had to put down this last Tuesday. She was 11. She suddenly became ill, and not much was to be done.

    A wonderful dog and we will never forget her.

  41. On Sunday 27 July my beautiful red Labrador Lulu was off her food, unusual for a lab as we all know. Sunday 3 July, we had to put her to sleep. A brain tumour had invaded her glorious head. I’m heartbroken as she was only 7 x RIP my beautiful baby. Love you forever x

    • Heartbreaking. We had our lovely lab put to sleep yesterday. Her behaviour had changed dramatically . Most likely a brain tumour. I understand your pain.

      • Today is August 21 , 2014
        I have a yellow lab and her name is Sadie . She is 12 yrs old and she has been part of our family since 2005 . She has arthritis and we have been making her as comfortable as possible . When I would call her recently I noticed she would not come . I thought thats not like my Sadie . She is inside with us . So we are very close . I found out as I watched her that she has lost her hearing . The Vet said she has cataracts also . I Love My Sadie and she has been an awesome friend to me . I thank God for giving her to me . I will be there for her !!!! She has been there for me !!!

  42. Levi came into our lives in March 2000 10wks
    Old , been a fantastic companion growing up
    With my daughter Imogen born October 2000
    Many adventures Kayaking , Hill walking swiming
    In The River Severn in Shrewsbury
    Been poorly for a few days , vets have told
    Us to be pragmatic sleepless night caring for
    Him I can feel a hole opening in our lives

  43. November of 2000 is when Annie our Lab was brought into our lives as a small 8 week old. My daughter was 4 during the next summer as they both had there first swim in the back yard pool. The oldest of 7 who lost her 1st dog the year before who recovered with love.Wonderful memories till today July 24, 2014. We all miss you girl. R.I.P.

  44. Hi. I Have an 8 year old lab. His behaviour seems to have changed. It almost like he paranoid. He very nervous. Can you enlighten me on this behaviour
    Thank you

  45. Our present lab is now 14 years of age. Apart from failing hearing and poor eyesight he still enjoys his walks and suffers no ailments.

    Our previous 2 labs died at ages 9 and 11. Our first 2 dogs received their annual booster jabs unfailingly.

    12 years ago I visited my brother in America and happened to accompany him to the veterinary practice for some ‘spot on’ for ticks. I engaged the vet in discussion about annual boosters. He advised that ‘annual’ was merely the recommendation of the drug companies, who of course have a vested interest in such advice, and those vets who want to run a profitable business. His recommendation was boosters every 3 years minimum, indeed, he proffered the view that vaccinating more often can be potentially harmful.

    Our present lab had his initial puppy injections, the first booster, and then nothing in the intervening 12 or so years. To me at least that is testimony that we over vaccinate our pets !

    • Unfortunately the only way we can make assumptions and predictions about routine medical treatments is based on studying the outcome in large numbers of dogs. The outcome for two or three dogs does not give us much information. But it is great that your dog is well, and many vets are now changing over to less frequent vaccinations.

      • A large scale study is precisely what was done in America. the median results suggested that boosters are recommended only every three years, and in certain cases, ie where the dog is only occasionally socialised with other dogs, then it is not recommended at all, on the basis that potential harm outweighs potential benefit. There is reported evidence that annual boosters can damage the dog’s immune system.

        A cynical muse on this topic ….. where the NHS picks up the bill for human inoculations, NICE considers that these are ‘unnecessary in all but essential cases’. Whereas, in the case of UK vets, when it is us, the dog’s owner, who picks up the bill, inoculations are considered ‘necessary in all but exceptional cases’.

        To use that well worn maxim from the Profumo trial ‘well they would say that wouldn’t they’. Vets have mortgages to pay like the rest of us. I rest my case your Honour !

        • Hi John….
          I too have a lab that will be 16 in May… if she makes it that long…. I see her fading each day and am constantly wondering if it is time to help her go… The reason I am writing is that she too has only had her puppy shots and her Rabies shot (because required) in her 16 yrs… I think her not getting the shots is what has kept her alive for so long….

    • Same here John. My lab will be 14 in July. He has some hearing loss but otherwise in pretty good shape.I had all his shots when he was a puppy and nothing since.

  46. I have a 13 year old lab who has been suffering with happy tail syndrome for a while,it is now infected and i have been advised by my vet to have a partial amputation.Do you think i should put her through this?or is she too old.

    • Hi Christine, that would depend very much on your dog. Unfortunately is not a decision anyone else can really help you with, but one you need to make together with your vet. Things to ask your vet and yourself are “what is the outlook if we don’t operate”, “is she likely to make a full recovery from the operation”, “will the op improve her quality of life” and “will we be able to ensure that post-operative pain is minimal” Best wishes, Pippa

  47. Paula, I don’t know if you’re still looking at this site but I have today come across your posting in Feb 2013. I believe in fate and think I must have seen it today for a reason. I wanted to let you know how thought provoking I thought it was. I have 2 labradors, both are very much my babies even at their ages of 11 and 7. My older girl is slowing down but still with enormous spirit and as I watch them in the garden, digging, playing, exploring and thoroughly living their lives, I read your words. Yes, we humans can and should learn a lot from them. Thank you.

  48. To Paula for the great list to live by. I read this as I sat with our Lab. We can learn much from our pets and our children. Thank you for reminding us.

  49. We have a labrador. He is 13,5 years old.
    He is blind but fairly healthy.
    Now we woud like to buy a puppy.
    Is this OK or should we wait until our old dog dies?

    thanks for your opinion

    • Without knowing your dog Bea I really couln’t say. Some elderly dogs are still quite playful and tolerant. Others would be made miserable by a puppy. Good luck whatever you decide 🙂

  50. I read this article sometime ago, an after reading this link about older dog, it came to my mind.

    Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

    I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

    As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker ‘s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

    The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
    Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ”I know why.”

    Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

    He said,”People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?” The Six-year-old continued,

    ”Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

    Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

    When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

    Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

    Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

    Take naps.

    Stretch before rising.

    Run, romp, and play daily.

    Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

    Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

    On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

    On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

    When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

    Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

    Be loyal.

    Never pretend to be something you’re not.

    If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

    When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

      • Hello there. I have a 12 year old lab who has arthrittis. It is increasingly getting worse every day. He is good mentally, vision good as well but is having a very difficult time getting up and down. It is hip right hip that is bad. I know you don’t know him and cant really tell me when but what is your opinion about when its time?

        • I have an 11 year old black lab. She’s been an awesome dog, I love that dog like its my child and every weekend this past semester I would come home from college because she’s progressively getting worse. I hate to see her in pain and to watch her struggle when she gets up. Tonight I had to carry her to my parents bedroom to put her on a big comforter on top of her bed so she can get a good nights rest. She has those fatty lumps on her sides and her right arm is really bad, I think it must be arthritis. Could anyone PLEASE help me find some good arthritis and pain medication that could her…?

        • “Depo” shot ask your vet

          I give mine daily
          Glucos & condroidant 2 @ 1200 mg
          Fish oil 2 @ 1000 mg
          aspirin [email protected] 90 mg
          He is a 10 year old I rescued and this past year he has responded 100%
          Fatty tumors are smaller (had 12 large ones removed”

    • Lovely story, those recommended attitudes are to be endorsed! I’ve learned a lot from how my beloved (elderly) black Lab handles life.

    • Our lab was only 3 months away from turning 8. We had to have him put down 3 days ago. He was very ill with problems with his liver and pancreas. He was overweight, but this was not the reason for his organs just shutting down. The vet was not very sympathetic, he just said they had done all they could and that it was best not to let him suffer and best to put him down. We did this, but I am doubting. My heart has never ached this much, I don’t really know how to deal with this. Everything I see, I see him and I can’t help crying. Please do you have some words that could help me.

      • Hi Colleen, so sorry to hear about your dog. Please don’t doubt your vet, he was probably just trying to keep a professional distance and may well have been upset himself. It is never in a vet’s financial interest to put a dog to sleep as they can only earn an income from dogs that are still alive, so he was certainly thinking only of your dog’s welfare. You are bound to feel upset, but you should take some comfort in knowing that you did the right thing. Best wishes Pippa

      • Colleen – I lost a beloved black lab 10 yr ago, March 27, 2005 at 9 AM. It was Easter Sunday and the vet who euthanized her commented that we would always remember Suzie on that day of resurrection. Now, days away from that event, I have a yellow lab who is going through nearly the identical stages, like a bad dream.

        10 yrs later and I still cry for my Suzie, but the pain is gone for her and I sincerely hope she is out there somewhere and we will see each other again. It really did help to get another dog. Of course, it’s not the same and they can never replace your other departed friends, but having another lab to love and care for helps get your mind off of your own suffering.

        We really do better when we help others and focus our love on them. I hope you will remember all the good times and be grateful for the wonderful friend we had in our lives. God bless you. I send you hugs.