As some of you may recall, I have a 55-pound dog who is now 16 1/2 years old, perhaps older as he is a rescue. The vet diagnosed him with an anal gland tumor exactly one year ago, and I was told he would decline somewhat rapidly. Well, he has declined since then, but very very slowly. I attribute this very slow decline to a freeze-dried raw food diet and making sure he is offered water throughout the day. I have a theory now that dogs decline rapidly if they don't get enough protein in their diet and if they are not getting enough water.
You need to keep your eye on them as they age and ensure they can reach to the water bowl without any issues. At a certain point last fall, my dog stopped being able to drink from the water bowl and lost his balance a few times. Once that happened, he got scared to drink from the bowl (at any level that I placed it), as he toppled over while he was drinking. So I started to balance him by putting an arm under his belly and holding the water bowl up to him. Takes a lot of work to figure out where they feel safe enough to drink once they've had a scary fall, and you have to keep at it and adapt as they lose mobility.
The other thing I learned this past weekend that I wanted to share before I forget is that I tried to put him on a home-cooked turkey and rice + supplements diet from a very good company based in NY that shipped the frozen food to me. As I lowered the amount of freeze-dried raw turkey patties and raised the amount of turkey/rice on this new diet, he suddenly got so weak he couldn't get himself off his bed. And that caused a lot of panic in him. I theorized that he wasn't getting adequate protein and had too many carbs in this new diet and immediately put him back on his freeze-dried raw patties with just a small amount of the turkey and rice mixed in. 12 hours later, he could get himself off his bed again.
I just wanted to throw this out there for anyone dealing with an aging woof.
I have read that dogs can easily live to 18 on a raw food diet, and I now suspect it is exactly the type of protein they need as they age. But you can't forget the water. Dogs will rapidly decline in a matter of days if they get dehydrated.
No vet has ever told me these important things about raw protein and watching the water bowl for adequate consumption, so I hope this information will help other dog owners.