We asked holistic vet Ilse Pedler to tell us about how she adapted things to suit her Border Terrier cross, Broccoli, in his old age.


Is it deafness or is it selective hearing!? In my experience, it’s a fine line and in the early stages it definitely seems more convenient for them to ignore the commands of “Come!” “Stay!” or “Get away from that fox poo or I’ll kill you!!”

However, as time progresses it does become more obvious that the deafness is real and in the end, you feel you are shouting everything including “GOOD BOY” much to the alarm of fellow dog walkers. Deafness does have its advantages though ~ Broccoli used to be terrified of fireworks, but he ended up sleeping through them.

To walk or not to walk ~ that is the question…

Old dogs don’t have to go for a walk. It often surprises me how upset an owner gets when their 15-year-old dog doesn’t want to leave the house ~ sometimes I almost say:

“He’s a 105, he wants to sit in an armchair watching Cash in the Attic with a cup of tea and a copy of Sporting Life!”

Broccoli chose his own walks in his later years, sometimes 15 minutes, sometimes 30 and sometimes he just sniffed the air from the back door and went back inside and turned the TV on.

Today was a walk day

Equipment for elderly dogs

If needed, invest in as many sample carpet squares as possible as older dogs find it increasingly difficult to get up on wood or laminate floors. However, do make sure the squares don’t slip either. One client told me that they thought they’d done a great job of putting them at strategic places until they called their dog into the kitchen and watched it set foot on the first square and skate slowly across the floor revolving majestically as it went!

I invested in a dog whistle given the observations about deafness, and (don’t laugh) a dog rucksack to carry Broccoli on longer walks, because of course as in the point above, I was an owner who was still obsessed with wanting my dog to go for a walk. Actually, it was more to do with us still wanting to go for long walks on holiday. As Broccoli only weighed 5kg, a dog rucksack was a viable option. Please don’t try this with a German Shepherd…

Why did I come in here?

Old dogs get forgetful just like people. We often found Broccoli standing in the middle of an empty room with that, “What was it I came in here for?” look on his face and then of course because he couldn’t hear us coming, when we bent down to stroke him he jumped out of his skin and gave us the “Stop creeping up on me!” look.

Why did I come in here?

Time for another wee

Bladders become weaker with age ~ I’m sure you all know the saying that as you get old, never pass a toilet without using it. Well, I find with an older dog it’s never miss an opportunity to let the dog out into the garden for another wee!! Of course, this aspect combined with points 1 and 4 above can often lead to the perfect storm of an old dog not hearing the call to go outside, wandering into an empty room, forgetting why they were there and then thinking, “Oh well, perhaps it was for a wee, I’d better do one now.”

So there you have it, the joys of living with an elderly dog but of course really we wouldn’t have it any other way, would we?

In honour of Broccoli 2002~2020

Useful links

Ilse Pedler MA VetMB Vet MFHom MRCVS

Ilse qualified as a veterinary surgeon from Cambridge University in 1989 and started work with Mercer and Hughes in Saffron Walden, Essex, treating both large and small animals. She became a director in 1992 working her way up to senior partner by the time she retired from there in 2020. 

Ilse had always had an interest in complementary therapies and studied with the Homeopathic Physicians Teaching Group (HPTG) in Oxford, gaining the Diploma of Homeopathy in 2001. She went on to study Chinese traditional medicine and acupuncture and more recently herbal medicine. Ilse has written many articles on complementary therapies for magazines and is a member of the British Association of Veterinary Herbalists, The Raw Feeding Society, The British Veterinary Association and is currently vice president of the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons (BAHVS).

With over 30 years of experience, Ilse has recently set up Ilse Pedler Holistic Veterinary Care. Here she offers holistic veterinary treatment for animals in Cumbria and the NW, providing services in acupuncture, herbs and homeopathy as well as advice on species-appropriate diets and a wide range of supplements. 

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The veterinary Surgeon’s Act 1966 restricts the treatment of animals (usually other than your own*) by anyone other than a qualified vet. Always consult a veterinary surgeon if you are concerned about your animal’s health. *For full details visit the RCVS website