Senior Dog Training Tips October 02, 2017 13:45
My senior dog isn't the brightest crayon in the box but she is fit and eager to please. Her cognitive dysfunction is a challenge but she amazes me with intermittent learned behaviour. She's proven that teaching an old dog new tricks is possible and fun for both of us. Here are some tips that may be helpful for you and your senior.
Same Place, Same Time
Senior dogs like routine and familiar surroundings. Familiarity with their environment gives them comfort, helping them to relax so they can focus on your signals. Make note of when your dog is most alert and active. This time is best for training. My dog's sweet spot for fun is 10:00am. Ensure the area you are training in is comfortable, i.e. soft surfaces and appropriate temperature.
Just like for us, stretching before physical activity is important. Stiff, old joints take time to warm up. A nice easy walk or massage before training is a good idea. I give my special girl a massage with olive oil and frankincense essential oil in the morning when she wakes up. Frankincense is great for inflammation.
Short & Sweet
Be patient but keep training sessions short and take breaks. You want to avoid stress or injury to their old joints. Repetitive commands like asking your dog to sit ten times in a row without a break can cause pain and then your dog won’t want to respond. Or worse, they will work through the pain resulting in a more serious injury.
Use a signal that works for your older dog. Each dog learns differently. If they are deaf, use hand signals. If they are blind, use verbal. Teaching your dog both will make for an easy to transition to whichever is needed as they age.
Know your dog and what he is capable of for his breed and age. For example, my senior Newfoundland isn't going to be able to stand on her back legs and dance. Her big trick is catching a soft frisbee from 4 feet away. Don't push them beyond their limits. Watch to see if they are uncomfortable or out of breath.
Above all, it is important to keep your senior dog's weight in check so that tricks are easy and pain free. Use low calorie treats like fruit and veggies. Or reduce their meal portion to allow for training treats if higher in calories.
Bi-Annual Health Check Ups
Senior dogs should have overall health check ups with your veterinarian twice a year. At that time, ask your vet if it's okay to be teaching certain tricks based on their health.
Does Your Senior Dog Need Natural Heartworm Prevention? May 06, 2017 14:37
It’s a scary thing if your pet is infected with the heartworm disease. It’s even scarier if your dog is a senior.
In an infected dog, the presence of these parasites can lead to lung disease and heart failure. While there are treatments available, the process is arduous, costly, and can negatively affect the health of a dog. Senior dogs have an already compromised immune system so it’s possible the treatment could kill them if the heartworm infestation doesn’t first.
What is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected female mosquito. Mosquitoes become hosts of the heartworm larvae after biting an infected dog, coyote, or fox. The larvae mature in the salivary glands of the mosquito and are then transferred to your dog if bitten.
These larvae grow inside of your dog’s body and, when they become adult worms, can travel through the bloodstream and end up in the heart and lungs. Once they arrive there, they can mate and produce thousands of the tiny microfilariae which cause severe health complications.
Initially, a dog infected with heartworms will show no symptoms. It can take 5-7 months for the heartworms to grow to sufficient size and number to affect your dog’s health. As the worms grow and start to fill the lungs and heart, a dog may experience these symptoms:
- Fatigue after exercise
- Reluctance to exercise
- Difficulty breathing
- Coughing up blood
- Rapid weight loss
- Heart failure
For more, read 7 Warning Signs That Your Dog Has Heartworms.
What is the Risk Where I Live?
Talk to enough veterinarians and you will find out that there has been at least one case of heartworm reported in most populated areas of Canada and the US. However, just because heartworm CAN be present in any area doesn’t mean there is a significant risk.
Mosquitoes must be able to support a heartworm larvae incubation period long enough that they’re capable of transmitting them to your dog. This is primarily determined by temperature. You can read the Literature Review by Banfield Pet Hospital but, basically, the temperatures have to be above 26⁰C (79⁰F) for 10-14 days after ingestion for the mosquito to be infectious. If the temperature drops below 14⁰C (57⁰F) during that time period, larval development ceases.
As you can imagine, the incidence of heartworm is lower in geographic areas with colder climates. In Canada and the northwestern United States, temperatures rarely reach 26⁰C (79⁰F) for periods of more than a few days at a time. This means the chances of a mosquito in those areas being able to transmit the heartworm disease is low. It can vary by sub-region though so I would definitely talk to your vet about the risk in your area.
It is important to note that reported heartworm cases are increasing in areas where it was previously considered very rare. The Ontario Veterinary College published a paper in 2010 which showed that the estimated prevalence of heartworm in Canada increased by nearly 60% since the last study of its kind in 2002. (source Pets.ca) The source of this increase isn’t known for sure but it could be related to 1) rescue dogs being imported from areas where heartworm is prevalent and 2) Climate change potentially causing the weather to be warmer for longer periods, allowing the right conditions for the larvae to incubate inside of a mosquito.
How Can I Help Prevent Heartworm in My Dog?
Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell if a mosquito is infected. It’s important to determine the risk factor for your senior dog by taking into account the known risk of heartworm in your area, how often you and your dog travel to areas where heartworm is prevalent, and the potential ability of your dog to endure treatment.
Many pet owners would rather be safe than sorry. There are treatments available for heartworm but many of them have potential side effects. Also, they may be stronger than needed for a dog that is at low risk of contracting heartworm. If your dog’s risk of contracting the disease is low, but you want reduce the risk even further, I suggest using natural products to prevent mosquito bites.
These are the natural mosquito bite preventatives that I recommend:
- PetzLife TickZ - This herbal repellent helps to repel mosquitoes and other biting insects. It doesn’t contain any chemical insecticides and is great for dogs with allergies. Simply add it to your dog’s to food for months of protection.
- NEEM shampoo - Neem oil, from the bark of a tree in India, both kills and repels fleas and ticks. It also leaves an odor that will continue to repel unwanted pests. Treat weekly or more often for effective flea and tick control for dogs and to catch all insects in their various stages of development.
- PetzLife Complete Coat Insect and Parasite Repellent - PetzLife “Complete Coat” is formulated as a topical formula to keep your dogs coat healthy and, more importantly, to ward off insects and parasites of all types. It is all-natural and contains NO pesticides. It contains extracts of Quassia bark, which has been used for years as a natural insecticide for organic farming. The Rain-Tree Tropical Plant Database (www.rain-tree.com) lists the curative properties of Amargo as: kills parasites, kills lice, kills insects, kills larva, and treats malaria.
As with any risk to your pet, it’s important to be educate yourself about it and understand your options.
Are you aware of any heartworm cases where you live?
Protect Your Senior Dog From Fleas & Ticks the Natural Way May 04, 2017 11:33
Most veterinarians where I live don’t recommend starting flea and tick treatment until May but I like to start my dogs on their natural supplement in mid April. It seems that the nasty little buggers are coming out earlier every year. A customer called last week and found a tick on her dog already and March wasn’t even over!
How Fleas and Ticks Can Harm Your Dog
- Lyme disease - This is the big scary one people always worry about. The most common symptom observed is lameness due to inflammation of the joints. However, lyme disease can cause many other complications including lack of appetite, depression, heart abnormalities, and nervous system complications.
- Bartonella Infection - Bartonellosis is an emerging infectious bacterial disease in dogs caused by flea bites. Symptoms include fever, lameness, arthritis, vomiting and more. Bartonella is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can be transmitted between animals and humans too.
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - Despite its name, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever has been reported in almost all of the contiguous United States, Western Canada, and Mexico and is transmitted by ticks. Clinical signs in dogs include loss of appetite, fever, depression, joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes. This disease is also zoonotic and can pass from dogs to people.
- Anemia - Severe flea infestations can cause anemia from blood loss. Signs of of anemia include lethargy, decreased appetite, and pale gums.
- Plus many more tick transmitted diseases and diseases caused by fleas.
Senior dogs have weaker immune systems, which can make them more susceptible to these diseases. It also means that traditional chemical flea and tick treatments can compromise it further. I don’t know about you but I don't want to risk making my dog’s immune system less effective by using potentially toxic preventatives.
Natural Flea and Tick Protection
There are many natural preventatives that make good alternatives to toxic and poisonous chemicals. They primarily fall into two categories - things you pet can ingest (internal) and topical preventatives.
These are my favorite preventatives:
- Treated clothing - Clothes, collars, or bandanas treated with essential oils can help to prevent ticks. Some good oils to use are lavender, citronella, sage/clary sage, cedarwood, lemon eucalyptus, peppermint, geranium, sweet orange, and rosemary. Make sure that you use diluted oils, or dilute them yourself, so they don’t transfer to your dog’s skin and cause irritation.
- PetzLife TickZ - This herbal tick repellent helps to repel ticks and other biting insects. It doesn’t contain any chemical insecticides and is great for dogs with allergies. Simply add it to your dog’s to food for months of protection.
- Diatomaceous Earth (DE) - Food grade DE is finely ground siliceous sedimentary rock that dries out the exoskeleton of fleas and ticks, making it an effective pest killer. Simply rub DE into your pet’s fur to keep fleas and ticks from hanging around or get rid of them once your dog has them. You can also and sprinkle it on carpet and their bedding to kill fleas, ticks and dust mites and then vacuum it up later.
- NEEM shampoo - Neem oil, from the bark of a tree in India, both kills and repels fleas and ticks. It will leave an odor that will continue to repel unwanted pests. Treat weekly or more often for effective flea and tick control for dogs and to catch all insects in their various stages of development. As a bonus, neem oil helps to relieve itchy skin due to bug bites.
- PetzLife Complete Coat Insect and Parasite Repellent - This topical formula keeps your dog’s coat healthy and will ward off insects and parasites of all types. It’s main ingredient - extract of Quassia wood or bark (Amargo) - acts as a natural contact insecticide and antiparasitic. The Rain-Tree Tropical Plant Database lists the curative properties of Amargo as: kills parasites, kills lice, kills insects, kills larvae, and treats malaria.
Personally, I like using an ingestible preventative along with a topical repellent for better protection. I often combine PetzLife TickZ and the essential oils, neem shampoo or spray… or I use all of them! That’s the great thing about these - they aren’t toxic so it’s near impossible to overdo it...
Preventing or reducing your pet’s contact with fleas and ticks is very important. A problem with using flea and tick preventatives is that you get complacent thinking that’s all the protection your dog needs. It’s not though. They’re not foolproof. A proactive approach and a watchful eye are actually the best things you can do.
- A healthy dog is less likely to get fleas. Make sure to get regular vet checkups and feed them a high-quality dog food.
- Always check for ticks after a walk. If your dog has a long or thick coat, you may want to use a dog grooming blow dryer to help you part the hair so you can see better. I keep a flea/tick comb at the door and do a once over on their coat before they come in the house.
- Run a lint roller over your dog to remove any ticks that are not yet attached. If you find a tick that has attached itself, remove it safely using tweezers.
The frenzy is starting! I’m seeing concerned comments all over Facebook. I'm starting to feel the panic too. My best advice is to be prepared and know which preventatives are safer for your senior dog before flea & tick season is upon us full-force.
Natural Ways to Manage Your Dog’s Arthritis Pain May 04, 2017 11:20
Many people assume that “old dog” behaviors are a normal part of the aging process. However, if a dog is having trouble getting up from a lying position, walking stiff, limping, or standing with their back hunched, it might be a sign that they have arthritis. If this sounds like your dog, take a look at this list of pet arthritis symptoms to see if they are displaying any other telltale signs.
If you suspect your dog has arthritis, know that this is not something they have to just live with. There are ways that you can minimize their pain and increase their quality of life. The first thing you should do is take your dog to the vet for an assessment and to discuss arthritis pain management if needed. I also suggest giving them supplements that can help their arthritis pain.
Some pet parents choose to explore natural approaches to pain management for their dogs before moving to prescription medications. Others use traditional pain medication but want to supplement that with alternative treatments so they can use the lowest possible dose. Whether you go with prescription pain medication or not, there are many alternative therapies that can offer dogs some relief from arthritis symptoms.
Alternative Therapies for Managing Arthritis in Dogs
I’m a big proponent of treating your pet naturally if you can.These are the natural treatments I know have helped many dogs.
During massage, a person manually manipulates an animal's muscles and connective tissues to help relax and “unbind” them, which allows bodily fluids to move freely through the area. This increased circulation decreases pain and stiffness, helps to flush toxins, and can improve the function of your dog’s immune system. Massage also increases flexibility and makes them feel better in general by reducing stress.
You can take your dog to a trained animal massage therapist but even massaging your dog yourself at home can help. A bonus of massaging your pet yourself is that the quality time you spend together can help strengthen your bond.
Chiropractic treatment for dogs involves low force manual manipulation of the spinal column, joints, or other affected areas. When bones in the spine are out of position in relation to one another, and if they are not moving properly, this vertebral misalignment can cause the body to shift into unhealthy positions. This can put undue stress on joints, causing degeneration, inflammation, and discomfort.
Water therapy, often called hydrotherapy (meaning “water healing” in greek), typically takes place in a swimming pool or on a treadmill submerged under water. The water adds buoyancy so the weight of the body is supported, helping a dog move naturally and taking pressure off their joints. At the same time, water is denser than air so it provides resistance, which helps strengthen their muscles. Hydrotherapy also helps with improved circulation, increased joint flexibility, and decreased joint pain.
Many animal rehabilitation facilities have small swimming pools or underwater treadmills. I’ve also heard of some public swimming pools allowing dogs to swim there right before they drain and clean the pool.
Often called low-level laser therapy, cold laser therapy is a noninvasive procedure that uses light to stimulate damaged cells inside the body. This increases energy and blood circulation in the treated area, increasing cellular function and mobility. This new cellular activity helps to reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, and increase circulation. It also prompts the body to release endorphins - the body's natural pain reliever.
Many veterinarian, and animal rehabilitation, clinics have a cold laser machine. You can also look into purchasing an over-the-counter laser unit to use at home.
Similar to cold laser and chiropractic treatments, the goal of acupuncture is to help the body to heal itself. From a Chinese veterinary medicine perspective, it does this by correcting energy imbalances in the body. During treatment, an acupuncturist inserts very thin needles into targeted “meridians” in the body to help promote the healthy flow of energy, increase blood circulation, stimulate the nervous system, and release anti-inflammatory and pain relieving hormones.
Acupuncture treatments are typically given by a holistic veterinarian or someone specifically trained to treat animals using this method.
Give Them A Try
According to Dr. Paul Rosenberg of Pets In Motion, “Most joint degeneration/arthritis is from improper motion – either too much or too little motion. This improper motion can be from a forceful acute trauma or gentle but chronic poor postural forces. Proper exercise to ensure the joints can work through their natural and full range of motion and to ensure that the muscle are strong enough to stabilize the joint in proper alignment is key to both prevention and treatment. This can be assisted by a certified animal chiropractor, certified canine massage therapist, a rehab certified physiotherapist, rehab vet or vet tech loosening tight joints and prescribing an appropriate exercise program.
The therapies listed above can help correct imbalances in your dog’s body, and prompt the body to heal itself, naturally so I think they are definitely worth a try. However, please keep in mind that these won’t work the same for every dog and most of these treatments are a process rather than a “quik fix”. It can take several sessions before you see an improvement in your pet and often maintenance treatments are needed.
I suggest trying one, giving it a bit of time to work, and moving on to another therapy if you don’t see the desired results. Unlike ongoing prescription medication “therapy”, the therapies listed above won’t produce unwanted side effects.
Has your pet tried any of these treatment modalities? Did it help?
Signs Your Dog Has Arthritis and How to Help May 04, 2017 11:13
Is your senior dog more careful when lying down or slower to get up? Do they stand “weird” with their pelvis tucked and back a little hunched? Are they slow to walk or do they limp? If so, there is a good chance they have arthritis.
Arthritis is the #1 ailment that affects aging dogs. “Arthritis” is not a single disease; it is a broad term referring to joint pain or joint disease. There are many different types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type. When the cartilage – the slick, cushioning surface on the ends of bones – wears away, bone rubs against bone. It usually occurs when a dog’s immune system is depleted and therefore starts attacking joints. One thing that the different types of arthritis have in common is that they cause inflammation, stiffness, and pain of the joints.
Dogs are stoic creatures that rarely display outward signs of pain or discomfort. It’s up to us as pet parents to detect the subtle changes that signal something is wrong and find ways to help them feel better. In addition to the signs mentioned above, queues that could indicate your senior dog has arthritis are:
- Repeatedly licking, chewing or biting a specific area on their body
- Sleeping more or acting lethargic (yes older dogs sleep more but when in pain rest a lot more)
- Being more irritable, which may include snarling or snapping when you try to pick them up
An Important Way to Help Ease Your Dog’s Arthritis Pain
The key to treating your dog’s arthritis-caused pain is to lubricate the synovial joint fluids and help to maintain cartilage. The key ingredient that will help with these things is Glucosamine.
Glucosamine is a natural chemical compound in your dog’s body that helps keep up the health of cartilage. As your dog ages, their body’s ability of producing this compound begins to drop, which leads to the gradual breakdown of that cartilage. The best supplements for joint care have high levels of glucosamine. They may also contain supporting supplements such as chrondroitin, MSM, hyaluronic acid.
Not all supplements have the same effect on all dogs. In order to best help your furry friend, you need to determine the right ingredients, in the right doses, for them. Don’t give up if you don’t see a difference with the first supplement that you try, at the recommended dose. Any supplement you try takes approximately 2-4 weeks to kick in. If that doesn’t work, then try a different supplement. Eventually you will find something that reduces the arthritis symptoms in your senior dog.
Here are some of my most-recommended joint supplements:
- Welly Tails Cartilage Hip & Joint supplement
- Pet-Tek Re-Gen Max Hip & Joint Powder Supplement
- Joint Rescue Green Lipped Mussel Joint Supplement
- Pet-Tek Elk Antler Powder (A great alternative joint supplement if your dog is allergic to seafood or shellfish)
Joint Supplements Are Not Just For Old Dogs Either
Treating your dog at all ages is important when they show signs of arthritis so they can live a more comfortable life. However, joint degeneration and disease often begins to occur at an early age. It’s just that we don’t see outward signs in our pet until later in life.
Because of this, it’s just as important, if not more, to take care of your dog’s joints when they are younger. Especially large breed dogs. The products mentioned above can be used before your dog shows any signs to help delay the onset of the disease and symptoms. This will help ensure their joints stay healthy and pain free as long as possible.
Does Your Senior Dog Have Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome? May 04, 2017 11:05
Have you noticed behavioral changes in your dog as they’ve aged? I know I did. When my dog got older, I noticed a rapid shift. Sadie became afraid of family members, forgot her routine and exhibited ALL of the symptoms I list below.
As a dog ages, their brain function declines. Dogs’ brains undergo oxidative damage, neuronal loss, atrophy and can develop beta-amyloid plaques (the same as in humans) as time goes on. Eventually, when a dog’s brain ages enough, they can develop what is called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) or doggie Alzheimer’s. CCD is a degenerative, neurological disorder that includes a variety of symptoms such as memory loss, disorientation, confusion, behavior and personality changes.
Not all dogs develop CCD. However, CCD affects between 40-50% of dogs, with most pets presenting at least one symptom around age 10*. So how can you tell if your dog might have it?
Does My Senior Dog Have CCD?
It can be difficult to tell if your pet’s new behavior is a normal sign of aging or a sign of doggy dementia (unless it occurs rapidly like in my Sadie). However, there are some telltale signs of CCD.
Some of the most common symptoms of CCD are:
- Your pet is startled by lights, sounds or familiar objects
- Your pet waits at the wrong side of the door for it to open (hinge side)
- Your pet becomes trapped behind furniture or in room corners
- Your pet paces in circles or wanders aimlessly through the house
- Your pet frequently has potty accidents in the house, regardless of frequent bathroom breaks
- Your pet sleeps more during the day and less during the night
- Your pet stares into space and seeks less interaction
- Your pet does not recognize you or other family members
If you see any of these signs – and especially if you see two or more – the first thing you should do is visit your veterinarian. They will ask you details about your pet’s behavior. They may run tests to rule out any other conditions that may be causing the symptoms. If they think your dog does have CCD, they can try to determine what stage your dog might be in.
Unfortunately, CCD can’t be cured. Thankfully though, it can be managed.
Most vets prescribe medications to manage CCD. There are various medications that may help your dog’s condition but some are expensive and it may take experimenting for a while to find the right one. After almost a year on medication that didn’t work well, and observing some negative side effects, I chose to go a more natural route with Sadie.
How Can I Managing My Dog’s Alzheimer’s Naturally?
There are some things you can do to help slow the progression and keep your dog’s brain sharp. Please remember though that each dog will progress differently and not all dogs will be helped by every method of management. The key is to do your research and try different things to find what works for your dog.
That being said, here are some things I know can help a lot of dogs.
- Pet-Tek Heart Health & Cognitive Function – This supplement contains amino acids and vitamins that can reduce fatigue, help improve memory, slow the progress of Alzheimer's… and so much more!
- Welly Tails Fish Oil Supplement - The components of fish oil can have a positive effect on several areas of brain function including mood and memory. It can also help to reduce inflammation, which will help senior dogs with mobility and joint discomfort. (note: My vet recommended doubling the dose of fish oil to help improve brain function for CCD)
- Tru-Pine Antioxidant - Antioxidants have been proven to help slow down aging and improve cell renewal.
- Peppermint essential oil - An aromatherapist told me that this oil can help oxygenate the brain. She told me to put a couple of drops in my hand, rub my hands together to warm the oil and place them near (but not too close) to Sadie’s nose so she could breathe it in.
- Improve their diet - Feeding your pet a natural, high-quality food can help the whole body function better. Some research suggests that feeding a diet high in Vitamin E and natural antioxidants may help delay or limit the progression of cognitive decline. One simple way to improve your pet’s diet is to upgrade to a premium kibble that is free of corn, wheat, soy, inferior proteins and chemical additives. If you’re already doing that, or you want to jump straight to the best stuff, you can move to a balanced home-cooked meal or raw food (ready-made or home prepared).
- Reduce stress - Provide your pet with a predictable environment. Keep things structured, stick to a routine when possible and try to avoid major changes in your pet’s life. Keep familiar objects in each room, as well as items your pet uses regularly, to reinforce familiarity with their surroundings.
I know watching your pet’s behavior change, and their mental alertness decline, can be frustrating. Especially when they forget who you are after years of a strong bond. Please be patient and compassionate though. Your senior dog is not “being a jerk” or doing these things to spite you. These changes aren’t something they are conscious of or can help. They’ve given you many years of loyal and loving companionship. The least you can do is help them age kindly and gracefully.
Help Your Dog Live Longer Through Good Oral Care May 04, 2017 11:01
Has your dog’s breath gotten stinkier as they’ve grown older? Bad breath can be a sign of serious dental disease. As a dog ages, small issues with their teeth that went undetected in their younger years can really set in.
Did you know that taking care of your senior dog’s teeth could help keep them with you longer? Gum disease and plaque buildup can result in poisonous bacteria being released into your dog’s blood. This can cause serious problems.
According to Dr. Jen Emerson-Mathis DVM, CVJ,
"Pets with regular dental care live an average of 2 years longer when compared with pets that don't.”
Seeing a “Pet Dentist”
If your dog needs his or her teeth cleaned, one option is to take them to the vet, or a “doggie dentist”, for a cleaning under anesthesia. A veterinarian can scale the plaque off of their teeth and thoroughly examine their gums. Going this route can have its drawbacks though.
Putting a senior dog under anesthesia can be risky. Even though fatal complications from anesthesia are very rare, the likelihood of something bad happening increases with age. Increased anesthesia monitoring, and commonly-needed tooth extractions, can be very costly and are rarely covered by pet insurance.
Now, sometimes anesthesia is necessary risk and the money just has to be found. When I rescued Sadie at 7 years old, her teeth were a mess. She had a terrible amount of plaque and her mouth was in bad shape. She desperately needed 4 teeth extracted. I was scared and worried for her but felt I had no choice but to have the dental work done. Her life, and my happy life with her, were counting on it!
If your dog doesn’t need professional dental work like Sadie did, or they just had it done and you want to help prevent having to go through that all over again, make sure to develop a solid home dental care routine.
Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth
Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly is one of the simplest things you can do at home to keep their mouth healthy. If you are like me, your initial reaction when my vet told me to brush my dog’s teeth was, no way!
I admit, if you’re never brushed your dog’s teeth before, the first time will probably feel a little awkward for both of you. Your dog may be confused and dislike something being stuck in their mouth. You might feel frustrated or like you are being mean. I get it. But I assure you that with a little practice your dog will learn to tolerate their teeth being brushed. Many dogs even look forward to it.
Three Simple Steps to Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth
- Ease your dog into it and make it a routine. Start by putting your hand or fingers in your dog’s mouth, touching and massaging their gums.
- Move on to using a face cloth wrapped around your finger and then a gentle baby’s toothbrush or “doggie toothbrush”. You can start the routine by using your finger but then progress to using the little towel. Later, you can start with the towel and progress to using the toothbrush.
- Once they are used to you putting something in their mouth, introduce a simple cleaner such as baking powder and cinnamon (the baking powder acts as an abrasive and cinnamon is an antibacterial) or a natural toothpaste made for dogs.
What Else You Can Do
If your dog has more serious gum and plaque issues, I highly suggest adding a good oral gel, like the all-natural PetzLife Oral Gel, to their routine. This will give some extra oomph to your dog’s dental care routine. The oral gel is also great for days that you just can’t get to the brushing.
PetzLife Oral Gel was originally created for zoo animals who couldn’t have their teeth brushed. The gel doesn’t require a toothbrush to be effective. Simply put some on your finger, gently place it on your dog’s gum line and the product goes to work breaking down plaque.
Hands-down, this oral gel is the best. I am amazed at Sadie’s lack of bad breath today. Two years ago, we could barely ride in the car with her! Now, most of her plaque is gone and I love getting slobbery Newfie kisses.
Whether you use PetzLife Oral Gel in conjunction with brushing their teeth, or instead of brushing, I honestly feel its key your dog’s dental health.
The Joy of Adopting an Older Dog May 04, 2017 10:55
Every November is National adopt senior pet month but I think every month should be.
I never thought in a million years I would rescue a senior dog knowing the heartbreak I went through after losing a dog. I didn't think I was strong enough to give my heart and soul to another dog knowing our time together would be shorter. But as fate would have it, adopting a senior was the best thing for both of us.
We needed each other. My time, patience and commitment to her health and wellbeing, no matter what, and her unwavering loyalty to never leaving my side has been a tremendous life gift no matter how short… or long.
How Do Senior Dogs End Up In Shelters?
Old dogs can end up in shelters for a lot of reasons. We often see the heartbreaking stories on social media about the family that dumped their senior dog off. It’s typically portrayed that they were tired of dealing with their old dog’s needs and wanted a puppy instead. Sadly, that does happen (and it makes me mad) but there are many, less sinister reasons, why senior dogs are surrendered.
For example, sometimes they’ve lived many long, good years with a loving human but, unfortunately, their human’s time was up before theirs was. No other family member was in a position to properly care for the dog so they let them go to a shelter where the perfect person could discover them.
Another big one is the reality of financial limitations. A family may have adopted a dog intending to see them through their golden years but then their circumstances changed. Caring for an aging dog’s health needs can be a costly and some people just can’t afford it no matter how hard they try.
The point is that the dog didn’t necessarily do anything wrong and the family that had to let them go is not always the “bad guy”. Sometimes they reluctantly let them go knowing that someone else could give them a better life.
That Person Could Be You
There is definitely something special about getting to know a senior dog for the first time. It can be fun and enlightening getting to know each other - like two past lives coming together in a twist of fate. Some celebrities, like George Cloony, recognize the importance of helping older dogs in need.
If you think could give the gift of health and happiness to an old dog, I suggest you check out a specialized senior rescue. They really understand what their older dogs need and do a great job of uniting you with the right one for you. The Senior Dogs Project compiled a great list of general and breed-specific senior dog rescue groups in the US. In Canada, the Senior Animals In Need Today Society (SAINTS) rescue is a great place to look for senior or special needs pets. There is nothing wrong with checking at your local rescue or shelter too though. You never know where your special one might be hiding.
Let’s Be Honest Though
While bringing a senior dog into your life can be a special gift for both of you, it’s not without its challenges. Like any rescue dog, there will be an adjustment period while they are settling into their new home. They may experience fear, anxiety or just act generally uncomfortable for a while. Because of their age, they could also need extra health care.
Some great, natural products that can help you care well for your senior dog are:
- Pet-Tek Calm Aid to help relieve your dog's anxiety, nervousness and stress
- WellyTails Senior Dog Supplement to improve their general health and help them live a long, natural life.
- Pet-Tek Re-Gen Hip and Joint Liquid Max to help maintain their joints at an optimum level.
- DGP® - Dog Gone Pain to help reduce discomfort and help your dog be a carefree and playful member of the family like they want to be.
- SOOS Rescue Cream to moisturize their paws, create a protective barrier and prevent infection (good for both paws and skin).
- Pet-Tek Heart Health & Cognitive Function Supplement to help increase energy and keep their brain sharp.
There's nothing as rewarding and fulfilling than caring for a senior dog. The unconditional love and gratefulness they show is so special. They also teach you to be more mindful and to recognize that slowing down doesn’t mean enjoying life less. Some might argue that going at a slower pace, stopping to smell the roses, makes things MORE enjoyable.
I hope you are having a great experience with your senior pet. I’m right here with you to offer support so would love to hear about your senior success stories or challenges. Please share them with me by leaving a comment below or on the DOGsAge Facebook Page.
The Best Way to Protect Your Senior Dog’s Paws May 04, 2017 10:48
Does your senior dog still “shake a paw?” That is a great display of trust. They are trusting you to make sure their feet stay safe, protected, and healthy.
Keeping your dog’s paws healthy is very important because pads are not only used for protection, but for navigating different types of terrain. Pads act as shock absorbers protecting bones and joints and the “carpal” pads work like brakes helping your dog to navigate slippery or steep slopes.
Basic Foot Care
Think of the wear and tear on dog’s paws as they age. Senior dogs typically aren’t as active as they were when they were young so their paw pads become softer and thinner. That makes them more sensitive and prone to becoming dry, cracked, and rough. The feet of senior dogs need extra tender loving care.
The first step to protecting your dog’s feet is to keep their nails at a proper length and trim the fur around their pads. It makes it more comfortable for them to walk and they are less likely to slip on hard surfaces (anti-slip stair tape can also help).
Keeping the fur on their feet trimmed will also help a lot on your winter walks. If my Newf Sadie doesn’t have trimmed paws, ice balls stick to the extra fur. She stops to try to lick or bite them off, with makes it worse as it inevitably collects more ice and snow due to the licking.
Protect and Nourish
The second thing you want to do is use a paw balm to protect and nourish your dog’s feet. The best paw balms will form a barrier over the foot pad to help protect them from chemicals (like de-icer and salts) and replenish moisture to keep them pliable and resistant to abrasion. Paw balms are important whether your dog wears boots outside or not.
In my opinion, the two best balms, or salves, to protect your dog’s paws are Pet-Tek: Paw Balm and SOOS Rescue Cream. Both are natural, moisturizing, form a protective barrier, and are harmless when licked. They have differences too though
Pet-Tek: Paw Balm
I love Pet-Tek: Paw Balm because has just 3 simple, organic ingredients: beeswax, virgin coconut oil, and lavender essential oil.
Beeswax attracts and seals in moisture while forming that protective barrier (without clogging pores). Coconut oil acts as a disinfectant. The lavender oil not only calms your old girl/boy’s nerves while you are working on their paws but it helps to clean and heal.
Note, this is on the greasy spectrum of paw balms so I would suggest using it at night when the body is at rest and cell regeneration occurs. Or wait 5 to 10 minutes before you go out for their walk.
Because of the ingredients, it works well on all parts of your dog’s body. Truth be known, it works on our bodies too! My whole family uses it. We use it on our dry skin, blemishes, or any other skin issues that arise.
SOOS Rescue Cream
What puts SOOS Rescue Cream in a category all its own is the fact that it’s non-greasy and it contains 93 different natural remedies to stop pain and prevent infection. While I love both of these balms equally, this one offers even more healing, and deeper moisturizing, benefits.
The SOOS cream is your answer if your dog doesn’t like their paws touched a lot because it absorbs very quickly. That means you won’t have to spend more time wiping the excess off and you don’t have to worry about your Persian rugs or carpeting getting marked up.
When Sadie was out on the east coast with me hiking and frolicking on the beach, she managed to cut her paw pad quite deeply. She was limping and licking the pad raw. Luckily, I had a tin of paw balm on hand. I put some on the cut area at night and twice the next day. She was up walking around normally in no time.
Also, inside scoop from one aging girl to another, the manufacture rep told me that I can rub a little extra on my own wrinkles!
Getting Your Dog Used to It
Properly taking care of your dog’s feet may take some practice. At first, when you touch the top of their paws, they may pull away. The many nerve endings in their feet makes them sensitive to the touch.
Be patient and keep trying. Eventually they will get used to it. Dogs are creatures of habit and routine so if you develop a patient, rewarding routine of touching, rubbing, and gently squeezing their paws they may even look forward to the “pampering”.
Help for Your Young-at-Heart Senior Dog May 04, 2017 10:27
Hi. My name is Laura Ducharme, owner of www.dogsage.ca, and I’m obsessed with the health of senior dogs.
I love it when people stop me on the street and ask how old my “puppy” is. My special senior, Sadie, is 9 1/2 years young and stronger than ever. She was the inspiration for DOGsAGE.
I rescued Sadie a few years ago when I was hosting the TV show Fido & Wine - a cooking show inspiring nutritional meals beyond kibble. That’s when my passion for a dog’s health really ignited. I quickly realized older dogs have special needs way beyond diet. Dogs at this life-stage also need extra care to keep their aging bodies in tip-top shape, including the right supplements to keep their brain and other internal systems performing at their best.
While searching for the best products for Sadie, I found a lot of products and services on the market for senior humans but it was hard to find provisions for senior canines. I thought, “If only there was a one stop shop for the essential products they need.” In that moment, DOGsAGE was born.
DOGsAge is an on-line retail store specializing in health and wellness products for older dogs. I’ve weeded through all the marketing jargon and have carefully selected products that are beneficial, effective, safe, offer great value and are backed by reputable manufactures. I’ve put all of the essential products for senior dogs in one place and made them easy for you to find. Best of all they are delivered right to your door! From head to tail, inside and out, DOGsAGE.ca is your one stop, on-line shop.
There’s nothing that makes me happier than helping owners of senior dogs improve their furry family member’s health and vitality. Through this blog, I’ll be offering you solid advice on senior dogs. I’ll help you to find answers and solutions to your dog’s special needs. Together, we’ll share stories celebrating our “puppy’s” golden years.
Welcome and thanks for being here!