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DOGICA® World of Dog & Puppy




10 Warning Signs of Cancer in Dogs
Old Dogs Pain Relief
9 Ways To Help Blind Senior Dogs
Weight Loss in Older Dogs
Arthritis In Older Dogs
9 Health Problems of Senior Dogs
Common Health Conditions in Senior Dogs
Deafness in Older Dogs
Blindness in Senior Dogs
Mobility for a Senior Dog
Seizures in Aging Dogs
Weight Loss in Older Dogs
Dementia & Alzheimer in Older Dogs
11 Reasons Why Senior Dogs Shiver
7 Reasons why your Old Dog Smells Bad
Old Dog Syndrome - Vestibular Disease
Why Do Old Dogs Have Seizures?
Obesity in Senior Dogs
Why Senior Dogs Shake?
Arthritis & Hip Dysplasia Massage
6 Tips for Cleaning Teeth to Older Dog
Signs of a Dog Dying of Old Age?
Making Old Dogs Young Again
Tips for Walking Senior Dogs
Why Older Dog Smells Bad?
How to Give a Massage to Dog
Diapers for Senior Dogs
When to Euthanize an Old Dog?
Neutering an Older Dog
Do Older Dogs Get Menopause?
Eye Problems in Senior Dogs
How Long Do Dogs Live?
Can Older Dogs Get Parvo?
Comforting an Old Dog
Idiopathic Vestibular Disease
Old Dog Diarrhea


This article is proudly presented by
Jenna Stregowski

A diagnosis of cancer in a beloved dog can be heartbreaking for any owner. This devastating disease is a leading cause of death in dogs, but if your vet can diagnose cancer early, your dog might have a better chance of survival with treatment. Learn the warning signs of cancer now so you will know what to do if your beloved canine companion becomes sick. Many dogs with cancer will show no signs, at least initially. In other dogs, signs may be vague. Once a dog becomes sick enough, signs can be quite severe and seem to have a sudden onset. Routine wellness visits and health screening tests can help your vet detect illness early. This includes various common health issues โ€‹and other more serious canine diseases, including cancer.

The following list is certainly not a complete list of cancer signs. In addition, these may be signs of other diseases. It is very important not to ignore them. Contact your vet if you notice these or other signs of illness. Your vet will examine your dog and probably run tests to determine the problem. If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the dog's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.

1. Lethargy or Depression
When dogs are lethargic, depressed or just not right, it usually means something is wrong with their health. If it resolves on its own, then this is something to make a mental note of. However, if changes in activity level, mood and / or behavior persist for a few days or are combined with other symptoms, you should contact the vet.

2. Weight Loss
There are a variety of health problems that can cause a dog to lose weight. Sometimes dogs with normal appetites even lose weight. Talk to your vet if your dog seems to be losing weight without trying.๏ปฟ It might be cancer or another disease.

3. Appetite Changes
A decrease in appetite often goes along with weight loss. However, some dogs might still eat fairly well and maintain weight but seem less enthusiastic about food or simply picky. Trouble eating or swallowing is also something to act upon. Contact your vet if your dog's eating habits change, especially if it occurs in conjunction with other signs.

4. Vomiting or Diarrhea
Vomiting and diarrhea may occur for a number of reasons. While not always associated with cancer, they are things to address regardless of cause. If vomiting or diarrhea persist and treatments for every day problems do not work, your vet may recommend additional diagnostic tests to look for cancer. Similarly, difficulty urinating and / or constipation should be noted and reported to the vet.

5. Lumps and Bumps
Lumps, bumps, growths, masses, or tumors can appear just about anywhere on or in the body. Many lumps and bumps are benign growths. Some may come with age or genetics. Your vet should be the one to decide which growths are concerning. See your vet if your dog develops new lumps or bumps. In addition, visit the vet if existing lumps or bumps change in shape or size, rupture, develop a discharge or if they begin bothering your dog. Your vet will run tests to identify the lump and determine if treatment is necessary.

6. Persistent Lameness or Pain
Limping can be related to an injury, but, if rest and medications do not make the problem go away, be sure to let your vet perform X-rays and other tests as indicated. Bone cancer, in particular, can cause persistent lameness, but diagnostic testing is needed to differentiate it from other chronic conditions, like arthritis. Pain in the abdomen and other areas of the body can also be caused by a number of things, and cancer is one of them.

7. Distended Abdomen
If your dog's abdomen looks enlarged or bloated, you should go to the vet as soon as possible. There are a few conditions that can cause the abdomen to become distended. A tumor in the abdomen may lead to fluid buildup, enlarging the abdomen even if the tumor itself is still relatively small. Anther potential cause is a deadly condition called GDV or bloat.

8. Abnormal Discharge or Bleeding
Blood or drainage from the skin, nose, mouth, eyes, ears, anus, or genitals are all reasons to see the vet right away. Potential causes of this can range from minor infection to major illness. Even if the reason is not cancer, it is an issue that needs attention.

9. Strong Odor From Mouth
Your dog's breath might be bad due to dental disease, and this alone is reason enough to see the vet. However, strong odors, especially when they come on suddenly and or no dental disease is present, can also be seen with tumors within the mouth. Additional signs to look for include swelling in the face and apparent shifting of the teeth.

10. Abnormal Gum Color
A healthy dog's mucous membranes - gums, cheeks, insides of eyelids and tongue should be nice and pink - black color from pigment is also normal. Pale, white, gray, or blue mucous membranes indicate a big problem. Additionally, a yellow tinge to the mucous membranes, whites of the eyes, and or skin is indicative of jaundice that is typically seen with liver disease or disorders affecting red blood cells.


This article is proudly presented by
Marc Abraham

Anyone who is or has been the pet parent of an older dog understands the dilemma of trying to determine when pain from common senior dog aliments, like arthritis or cancer, is bad enough to warrant medical treatment. It is important to weigh the risks and potential side effects when choosing a senior dog pain management option. But the first thing a pet parent needs to know is how to identify when a pet is in pain.

Once you and your vet have established that your pet has pain that needs to be managed, you can discuss the possible pain relief options for old dogs. So, how do you know if an old dog is in pain? The following signs can signal many different types of pain, and all of them mean you should consult your veterinarian.

Signs Your Old Dog
is in Pain

1. Squinting of eyes is a pretty dependable sign of pain, especially if accompanied by rapid breathing.

2. A hunched posture is often associated with abdominal or back pain.

3. Obsessive grooming, especially when it involves a particular area of the body, also signals pain. For example, if a dog is constantly licking the skin over a joint, there may be pain or inflammation in the joint.

4. Difficulty sitting or rising is often the first sign a pet owner notices.

5. Sometimes, the only obvious sign of pain may be that a dog who has always been friendly and tolerant suddenly becomes irritable or even aggressive.

How to Manage the Pain

Weight Loss
Obviously, weight loss is not a factor in controlling pain for dogs with cancer, but it is a significant factor for many overweight dogs with arthritis. Carrying around 25% more weight than a body was designed for can be very taxing to a sore hip or knee joints. Therefore, weight control is oftentimes one of the most important things you can do an old dog with arthritis pain or old dog with hip pain.

Supplements (Nutraceuticals)
For chronic pain of osteoarthritis in dogs, there is good evidence that omega-3 fatty acids have a significant anti-inflammatory effect when given at relatively high doses. A 50-pound dog would need approximately 2,000 mg of fish oil daily to fill that need. The medical evidence for glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM is much thinner than that for omega-3s, but some studies show that they may help.

Hyaluronic acid might be helpful as well, and injectable polysulfated glycosaminoglycan - known as Adequan is easily absorbed and has been clinically proven over the years. All of these supplements are very safe when taken in the recommended doses, and even old dogs with poor kidney function can tolerate them well. Certain kinds of dog food, both over-the-counter and prescription, contain glucosamine, omega-3s or other supplements, and can be very useful.


Wondering what pain medicine you can give a dog, or if over the counter medicine is safe for dogs? Let's begin with NSAIDs: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are pharmaceuticals that are not corticosteroids, like prednisone or opioids - like morphine or codeine. They can have different mechanisms of action, and, because of that, may have different levels of efficacy and safety in individual animals. This class of drugs includes carprofen, ketoprofen, meloxicam, aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and many others.

Aspirin is the only over the counter NSAID that is well-known to be safe, although its use in dogs is considered off-label. It's always best to talk to your veterinarian before using it. Safer and more effective products than aspirin are available, so it should be used only as a temporary measure unless specifically recommended by your vet. If using aspirin, give only buffered aspirin, as the non-buffered form can cause significant stomach upset.


Prescription NSAIDs like carprofen and meloxicam have a very good safety and efficacy record. In my opinion, the risk of side effects is well worth the benefit. These drugs can give your arthritic pet a significant boost in quality of life with minimal risk. Older dogs with potential liver or kidney problems may need periodic blood tests to use NSAIDs for prolonged periods.

In sensitive dogs, NSAIDS can cause stomach upset or bleeding of the stomach lining, but these are not especially common side effects. The most common problem I see with the use of NSAIDs is that owners are often afraid to use them daily as directed - they try to only use them when the dog's pain becomes more apparent. Many of these drugs are designed to be used on a daily basis to prevent pain, rather than used reactively to treat pain after it is already present. Because arthritis is not going to go away and be "cured," NSAIDs will often work much better if used daily or as directed by your veterinarian.


Due to their high abuse potential, drugs like oxycodone or hydrocodone for dogs are not usually prescribed, although they can be very effective. If your dog has intractable pain, the use of these drugs may be warranted, and you should ask your vet about hydrocodone for dogs, as well as other opioids. There is only one opioid that is commonly used to treat chronic pain in dogs, and that is tramadol. By itself, it is minimally effective for mild to moderate pain, but it works very well in combination with NSAIDs. It has a low dependence potential and is very safe. By combining NSAIDs with tramadol, you can also minimize the risk of side effects, because you can use the lowest possible dose of NSAIDs.

Other Therapies
Although acupuncture and massage therapy may be helpful, there is not much evidence that they work very well as stand-alone treatments for chronic pain. I believe these should always be used in combination with other therapies. There are some exciting developments on the horizon, however. There are large clinical studies using stem cell therapy, which is showing great promise for canine arthritis. Gene therapy is being used experimentally right now, and only time will tell if it will prove to be helpful. Cannabis is also being examined, and extrapolations from human studies indicate it may be very effective in dogs. In fact, there is a medical cannabis product made specifically for dogs with cancer. If you want to consider its use, be sure to learn what the laws are in your state.






This article is proudly presented by

Humans are not the only species who can benefit from a good massage. This luxury can and should be extended to our furry companions, who can experience great relief by way of dog massage. Massaging your dog does not require a special certificate or extensive knowledge, either - virtually any pet parent can perform effective, yet gentle massage techniques on their fur baby as a part of their regular dog grooming routine.

Learn how to give a dog a massage, and you will be ready to give your dog the best treat of all relaxation and rejuvenation. Rubbing an area is not massage, and is annoying to most dogs. Stroking in the direction of the hair growth, all of the way to the dog's paws is relaxing and beneficial, stimulating lymph and helping decrease the buildup of toxins.

The Benefits of Dog Massage
A dog massage does not just feel good - it can also provide a host of health benefits for your pup, both physically and mentally. Dog massages can improve the health of your dog by increasing circulation, relaxing muscle spasms and muscle tension, correcting muscle imbalances, improving posture and gait, and promoting relaxation. A dog that is in physical balance is likely to be in emotional balance, so massage can provide many layers of benefit for your dog. Massage for your dog can improve his connection through his body, so that he is more aware of where his body is in space, and more able adjust to shifting environmental factors or emotional stresses.

Beyond the physical and emotional advantages of performing massage therapy on your dog, this gentle treatment is also a surefire way to strengthen the bond you share with your furry companion.

Massaging your dog helps create a sense of calm and connection between the two of you, they can feel your intention when you focus on them, and pay attention to what you are feeling and how it is affecting them. The gentle touch and focused attention characteristic of a dog massage also helps pet parents have a more intimate understanding of their dog's body, allowing them to detect any issues that need to be addressed.

When to Massage Your Dog?
All dogs can benefit from a massage. In fact, the best time to introduce dog massage techniques is when your pup is young, healthy and active. Young dogs are still developing their immune system, and massage is a great for encouraging its growth and strength. This is also a good age to create a hands-on bond with your dog and to teach them how to relax and enjoy life.

If your dog suffers from certain medical afflictions, a dog massage can be especially beneficial for their health. Dogs with osteoarthritis, those undergoing chemotherapy and / or radiation, or dogs in general postoperative recovery can get relief through this gentle, focused treatment. Massage can be beneficial for many specific ailments such as arthritis, lameness, muscular injury, sports and overuse injuries, and some systemic diseases, but often medically therapeutic massage is best left in the hands of experts.

How to Massage Your Dog?
An easy way to give your dog a massage is with the help of some dog grooming supplies. Mr. Peanut's Hand Gloves grooming mitt has soft, flexible rubber tips that gently massage the skin and promote good circulation, while simultaneously removing dirt and excess hair from the coat. The FURminator Long Hair deShedding Edge is a great way to gently massage your dog's coat and remove the undercoat and loose hair. And dogs love the feeling of the KONG Dog ZoomGroom dog brush, which removes hair like a magnet while stimulating and massaging the skin.

The gentle touch keeps your dog engaged, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stress for a happier and healthier dog. When stroking your dog, make sure to include the ears, tail, legs and paws. Many dogs hold emotional tension in their paws, and it is important when doing a massage for your dog that you include gentle work on the pads of the feet and between the pads. Although dog massages designed to treat certain medical ailments are best left to the professionals, Sullivan notes that there are certain techniques that you can try at home:

Effleurage Massage
This dog massage technique is the most commonly used in animal therapy, and is utilized to calm the tissues and warm up the body. Effleurage is used to affect the fluid dynamics at a superficial level. It is a good technique for initiating touch. Simply place your flat hand over your dog's skin and move over the muscles using a light pressure.

1. Create a calm atmosphere for your pet

2. Place your flat hand over your dog's skin

3. Move your hand over the muscles using light pressure

4. After about two to three minutes, move to another area like your dog's ears, tail, legs and paws

5. A relaxing dog massage will help calm your pet and help the two of you bond

Tapping Massage
(a form of tapotement)

Tapotement is a gentle, percussive stroke that engages the central nervous system and stimulates atrophied, as well as healthy, muscles. This technique is best to use when you need to get your dog's attention, or in combination with other strokes. Tapping involves the drumming of your fingers on a specific area of the body, and you can perform this on your pup by lightly placing your fingers on your dog's skin and tapping them each individually, like drops of rain. Keep in mind that each dog will react differently to the procedure, as some dogs may find it stimulating, while others find it sedating.

1. Get your dog's attention by drumming your fingers on a specific area of your dog's body

2. Lightly place your fingers on your dog's skin

3. Tap each finger individually

4. Move to other areas of your dog's body, like the ears, tail, legs and paws, if he finds it pleasing and seems relaxed

5. If your pet seems stimulated, instead of relaxed, consider switching to an effleurage dog massage



This article is proudly presented by

Marc Smith
Paulette Jolliffe
Victoria Regan

There is no cure for osteoarthritis - once the cartilage is affected, the change is permanent. But there are many therapeutic treatments that can slow the progression of arthritis and keep the affected dog ambulatory with reduced pain.

Canine rehabilitation facilities can be found nationwide, offering physical therapy exercises, hydrotherapy, laser treatment, chiropractic care and acupuncture, all of which have been shown to greatly improve mobility. Research has shown that canine massage can decrease pain and discomfort, encourage relaxation and tension release, reverse muscle atrophy, relieve pain from arthritis and hip dysplasia, increase circulation and even boost immunity!

Canine massage not only helps relieve pain in your dog but it is also shown to increase the bond you have with your dog. It will also help with desensitization to touch and to top it off, it will build trust in your canine relationship! Massage therapy can work hand in hand with these modalities to minimize the degenerative effects of OA.

Massage therapy and stretching treatments were also provided, giving relief to sore muscles that had been working hard, and helping increase her flexibility and mobility. Recently, canine massage therapy is getting more recognition as an effective healing tool, and is one treatment that can really enhance an arthritic dog's quality of life.


1. Regular massage can help slow down the degeneration of joints.

2. Reduces muscular tension, which helps relieve some of the aches and pains associated with arthritis.

3. Stimulates circulation and helps drainage, which is very important because it feeds tissues and muscles that have been damaged by joint degeneration. Constricted muscles and tissues around the joints are loosened, allowing further reach when stretching the limbs, plus increased range of motion, flexibility and mobility.

4. Remove toxins. Provides some sweet quality time to bond with your best friend.

5. It breaks up adhesions that tend to form in the connective tissues of a stiff, arthritic dog.

6. Gentle manipulation of the tissues and muscles reduces pain, inflammation, muscle spasms and stiffness.

7. Prevents adhesions of muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

8. Maintains muscle mass while decreasing pain.

Unfortunately canine physiotherapists and acupuncture for your dog can be expensive, and not everyone can afford these types of services for their dog. Also not every dog enjoys or can mentally handle physiotherapy or acupuncture, due to anxiety or fear of an unfamiliar person manipulating and working on their body.

Doing canine massage yourself not only saves you money but also may dramatically increase your dog's quality of life. A dog which is stiff and sore will not be able to do much exercise, and as our dogs get older their walks tend to get shorter, usually due to arthritis and muscle pain. Pain and discomfort can even trigger or worsen behavioural issues.


1. Before you start: know the signs of discomfort in your dog! You must know where in the body the arthritis pain originates. Where is the arthritic pain? Is the pain in the knee, carpus, hip, shoulder or back?

You can gauge how much pressure to use by observing your dog. If your dog lifts their head, looks at the spot your massaging, moves away from your hands or you, or just generally seems uncomfortable, then decrease the pressure your using.

Other pain signals are, licking, panting, whining, yelping, excessive yawning, withdrawing away from your hands, ears pulled back or widened eyes. Also do not hug or lean into your dog when massaging them, as this will make them feel uncomfortable and trapped, which will trigger stress.

2. First help your dog get comfortable. Create a calming environment with little distractions. Have your dog lay on their bed and relax, it may take your dog a bit to relax at first, especially if you have a wiggly puppy. You should do canine massage after a walk or in the evening after your dog has been exercised, to ensure a better chance of calmness.

3. Make sure you are calm and present! If your mind is wandering or running at 100 kilometers a minute, and all you can think about is the house work that needs to be done or stressing about work, then your dog will pick up on your tension and stress. In turn it will be harder for your dog to relax. So make sure you are present and in the moment, calm and focused strictly on your dog and the time that you have chosen to spend with them. This will also help with the bond and trust building that is achieved through canine massage.

4. Once your dog has settled, you can start with some light and slow petting. Pet your dog and gently lengthen their limbs. You may even want to talk to them in a calm voice or even sing to them. Remember this is your time to bond and connect with your dog.

5. Consistency is key! To really make a difference, you need to massage your dog at least two to three times a week. Session should last 10 to 15 minutes- longer if your dog is a large breed. Massage should be done in a peaceful, calm setting.

6. Do not overwork any one body part, as this can lead to further inflammation. If your dog shows discomfort or cannot stay still, begin with shorter sessions and gradually increase duration over time. Early morning and evening are the most beneficial times to massage an arthritic dog - after an active day or in the morning when they are stiff or uncomfortable.

7. Massage around - not directly on the achy joint and on the surrounding muscle with long strokes or a gentle kneading motion. Also include the entire spine to encourage blood circulation to all parts of the body.

8. If your dog resists a particular spot on the body or certain massage techniques, move on to something that feels good. Deep tissue massage for injuries or pain relief should only be administered by a certified canine massage professional. If your dog's joints appear inflamed after a massage, wrap a cold towel around the area to soothe any pain and decrease inflammation. If inflammation persists, consult your veterinarian.

by Victoria Regan

There are thousands of different massage techniques but some basic ones that you can try with your dog include the following below:

Where to massage? - Neck, shoulders, hips, back and legs.

You can start with - a belly rub to calm your dog down.

Face massage - Rub between your dogs' eyes and around their forehead. This will relieve stress and encourage them to relax and lay their head down.

Long flow-like gliding strokes all over (Effleurage) - Similar to petting but with more pressure, this type of contact encourages blood flow to the tissues and muscles. It also encourages your dog to relax their body. Start at your dog's head or neck and work your way down. Keep in mind that some dogs do not enjoy their paws being touched, if this is the case for your dog, then skip the paws in order to decrease a stressful response.

Rubbing or Pressing - Use your full hand & palm to rub and press. You do not want to "dig in" with your fingers as this can cause to much pressure in one spot. If your dog has hip dysplasia, use less pressure around the joint spaces and hips.

Softly twisting the skin - This increases circulation to the space between the skin and muscle and encourages blood to rush to this location.

Massage along the spine (Petrissage) - You can do a soft kneading motion on both sides of the spine and work your way from tail to neck. This is especially good for dogs who are long and short, such as dachshunds and corgis. These breeds often has a middle spine which experiences less support, due to their unique body shape.

Squeezing - If your dog is comfortable with you touching their legs and paws, then you can gently squeeze their legs and paws and give them a nice foot rub. If you have paw wax this is a great time to apply paw wax to the pads of their paws, which will help with cracking paws too.

by Marc Smith

Start by petting your dog all over, then focus on the area you wish to massage.

Continue to stroke the area with a very light amount of pressure. This will increase the circulation in the muscles.

Be sure not to massage directly on your dog's painful joints but instead focus on the areas around the painful joints.

Next, lightly knead any tight muscles.

Do not overwork a muscle.

If your pet begins to resist in a certain area, move on to another area that feels good to him.

Alternate between periods of kneading and periods of lighter pressure to encourage circulation throughout the massage.

To finish the massage, soothe your pet into a state of total relaxation by petting him all over, and be sure to give him a treat for good behavior!


After your pet has just eaten - wait at least two hours after eating. If your pet is sick they may not want to be touched - just be sure to listen to their signals- they will let you know! Avoid massaging the back and belly of a pregnant animal. Just after intense exercise. Wait until your dog has a chance to cool down and rest.





This article is proudly presented by
Mike Clark

Did you know that dental care can extend your dog's life? Caring for our dog's teeth should be a no brainer. After all, we brush and floss our own teeth on a regular basis, visit a dentist whenever possible and spend considerable dollars in repairs when something goes wrong, so why are not we this diligent with our dogs?

Dogs with regular dental care live an average of 2 years longer when compared with dogs that do not. In fact, dental disease can potentially impact your dog's major organs - heart, kidney, liver, lungs and even bladder. The reason this infection creates such health risks is that being at the gumline means that it can very easily enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body causing problems.


While dental disease can start even in their youth, it is often the case that dental problems come to the forefront when our dogs reach their senior years. This in part is due to years of build up, but it is also because older dogs have diminished immune systems and may be less capable of fighting off the effects of this bacteria. Pain in the mouth caused by gum disease can prevent dogs from eating and affect their appetite.

Bacteria can make its way from the gums into the bloodstream and affect the heart, kidneys, liver, and important bodily functions. For a senior dog whose immune system may already be compromised or not work as well as it used to, that can be disastrous. Keeping your old dog's teeth and gums clean can improve their overall health, help ward off diseases, and reduce pain. What are the signs of oral and dental disease in dogs?

Bad breath

Bleeding gums

Swollen, red gums

Yellowish-brown crust on teeth near the gum line

Chewing on one side of the mouth

Dropping food from mouth during meals

Decreased appetite

Slow weight loss

Licking teeth and lips excessively

Pawing at the mouth

Rubbing face on ground


Snapping and snarling when patted on the head

Disinterest in favorite chew toys

Do Dogs Get Cavities?
Dogs do get cavities, but they are far less common in canines than in humans. Plaque and tartar are among the biggest concerns in dog dental health because they lead to gum disease and its dangerous complications.

Bad Breath
The most obvious sign that your dog's teeth need attention is odor. Since our pets are not supposed to have bad breath, this is often an indication that bacteria is accumulating in the mouth.

Dental disease in older dogsWhen plaque hardens it becomes tartar. While plaque can be brushed away, tartar cannot and may require dental cleaning to remove. Red gum lines or discolouration of the teeth can also indicate problems. In dogs, 28% of the time the mouth looks normal, but problems are found on x-rays! X-rays show that two thirds of the tooth is under the gumline and cannot be seen. What this really means is that every pet should have a veterinary oral evaluation and dental cleaning every year, before problems are seen. Almost 3 of every 10 dogs of all ages with healthy looking teeth have painful problems under the gumline.

Behavioural Changes
Additional signs that dental disease may be present can be seen in changes in the way your dog eats; do they favour one side, are they actually chewing or just gulping down their food? Are they drooling or dropping food? Or are they showing a lessened appetite? All could be signs of a painful mouth. Another sign that dental care may be required is a reduced amount of energy. Most times owners assume that since their dog is older, there is a natural slow down, but many times this lack of energy is caused by dental disease and the flow of bacteria throughout the body wearing them down.

Does my dog feel pain from dental disease? The short answer is YES. One only has to think of how we feel when our teeth are affected to understand what our dogs must be going through. The difference is dogs are much better at hiding it. As the dental problems slowly escalate they manage to cope with the incremental pain and go on. Most times we won't even know there is a problem until it becomes severe. It is our job as pet owners to understand and watch out for the signs so our dogs do not have to grin and bear it.

What steps can I take to improve the dental health of my senior dog?
While regular brushing and other at-home care is recommended to help reduce the risk of dental disease, once present, the primary treatment method is dental surgery. When a dog is older, the challenge of treating dental disease escalates and many fear the risks associated with anesthesia. However, with proper testing such as blood work, x-rays and even ultrasound you may be surprised to find that your dog can in fact safely undergo the surgery. Bacteria and infection in the bone is doing more damage to the organs than anesthesia would do to the animal. If our dogs would allow us to take x-rays of their mouths, and perform the necessary dental work like we as humans are able to do, then anesthesia would not be required, but unfortunately this is not the case.


1. Talk To Your Vet About Professional Cleaning
Many owners of senior dogs worry about any procedures where their pups have to be put under anesthesia, and that is necessary during a full dental cleaning. If that is a concern for you and your senior, talk to your veterinarian about your dog's health and whether the risks associated with anesthesia are worth the benefits of a full dental cleaning. Modern anesthesia and veterinary practices before cleanings are the safest they have ever been, but there are always things that can go wrong during any procedure. Here are a few concerns you should talk to your veterinarian about so they can fully explain the risks of anesthesia for dogs:

Bad reactions to anesthesia

Lowered blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and blood oxygen

Aspiration and acid reflux

Longer recovery time

Depressed organ functions

Tracheal irritation

Making sure that your vet has a complete and up to date medical history for your dog, including any conditions that currently affect them and medications they take, will help to determine if anesthesia is safe. Before any procedure that requires anesthesia, your dog must get full blood work and a medical examination.

A full, professional dental cleaning is the best way to make sure your dog's teeth and gums are as clean as possible, and it is the only way to ensure that harmful tartar and plaque build-up below the gum line are properly dealt with. For all the benefits for your senior dog's health that come with a professional teeth cleaning, it is usually worth taking the risks of performing the procedure, however, only you and your vet can decide what is right for your dog.

Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleanings
There is another option of anesthesia-free dental cleanings for dogs. This option may seem appealing because it is cheaper and does not come with the risks of anesthesia, however, these procedures are mostly cosmetic and usually do not include cleaning under the gums and polishing the teeth. It may be a better option than nothing if your dog can not have anesthesia, and maybe some professionals who offer the procedure are more thorough than others. Again, you must discuss this option with your vet. Your dog is an individual with unique needs, and this article cannot take the place of the personalized care your veterinarian is capable of. There is no one size fits all solution for every dog.

2. Train Your Senior To Be Comfortable With You Touching Their Mouth
If you are going to provide proper dental care for your senior dog and check regularly for signs of gum disease, your pooch will have to be fairly comfortable with you touching their mouth. If they are not used to it by now, do not worry. Contrary to popular belief, old dogs can learn new tricks, and your pup can learn to relax when you poke and prod around their chompers.

That said, it can be very tough if your dog already experiences pain in their mouth from gum disease, and they may be protective of sensitive areas. Training can be slow, but this is important. What kinds of things put your dog at ease? Do they like being rubbed behind the ears, or being talked to in a soothing voice, or having a comfort item nearby? You should use whatever it takes to help them stay calm, and then you can start slowly.

Maybe give them some pets on the head at first and move your hand to their chin. Let them know you are at ease, too, as they can pick up on your emotions and have a negative response. Hand feed them treats to show your dog that they can trust that your hands won't harm them. You can try dipping your fingers in chicken broth if it helps. Practice lifting their lips to expose the teeth, and then move on to touching the teeth directly. Building trust will help reduce anxiety and help your dog stay relaxed when you touch their mouth, but it takes time and will probably not happen in a day.

If you absolutely cannot get your dog to comfortably open wide for you, you may want to ask your vet or a behaviorist for some advice. It is possible that your dog is in too much pain or is too anxious to let anyone near their gums or teeth, and while a professional cleaning should reduce that pain, the guarding behavior may not disappear right away. Do not give up! Your vet can help.

3. Brush Your Senior's Teeth At Home
Once your senior dog has had a professional cleaning as recommended by your vet, you should keep up with vet visits every six months, especially once your dog has reached old age. Your vet can take a look at your dog's teeth to keep up with oral health needs and give you advice. They should also be able to instruct you on how to brush your dog's teeth at home. Make sure you have the right tools. is not the same as human toothpaste, and under no circumstances should you use human toothpaste for your pup. are sometimes finger coverings that have short, rubbery bristles. These slip over your finger so you can brush your dog's teeth.

Other look similar to human brushes with bristles on the end of a piece of plastic. These are sometimes a better option if your dog has a smaller mouth or if they nip from time to time. Your vet can tell you how much toothpaste to use based on your dog's needs. Put the toothpaste on the bristles of the brush as you would do for your own teeth. Start at the front of your dog's mouth and work back, brushing in soft circles. Try to get the backs of the teeth if you can, but if you can not, do not worry too much. Your dog's tongue does a fairly good job of keeping the backs of the teeth clean. Most canine toothpaste can be safely swallowed. Just follow your vet's instructions.

4. Chewing Can Keep Teeth Clean
If your veterinarian determines that your dog's teeth are healthy enough, consider getting your senior some. Chewing is mentally stimulating for your pup, but it can also help strengthen their jaw muscles, remove some debris from their teeth, and provide a bit of flossing action to clean some of the harder to reach areas of their mouth. Hard food can also help with this, but you must make healthy decisions about nutrition for your dog. Not all foods are created equal, and your vet or nutritionist can guide you. Some types of bones are designed to help keep your dog's teeth clean, and you should discuss them with your vet. Bones provide younger dogs with similar benefits, but they may not be appropriate for older dogs with sensitive teeth.

5. Adjust Your Dog's Diet
You should be following your vet or nutritionist's guidelines for a healthy diet when it comes to your senior, but if you are relying on the same old kibble you always have, you may not be providing your senior with what they need. An inappropriate diet can contribute to the cultivation of harmful bacteria in the mouth. Your dog's diet should primarily be meat-based and include few grains or corn. Unfortunately, these products are often used as filler in kibble, so read your labels. An appropriate diet will help keep your dog's mouth clean, help their immune system function properly to fight off bacteria, and prevent other dangerous medical conditions.

6. Watch For Signs Of Gum Disease
Once you have cleaned your dog's teeth and picked up good habits to keep them that way, you must always stay vigilant. Check your dog's teeth and gums for any symptoms of gum disease and consult your vet if your dog is showing any of the following signs:

Worsening breath odor

Pawing or rubbing at the face

Acting defensive or wincing when touched around the mouth

Loss of appetite or reluctance to eat

Redness or swelling of gums

Brown color on teeth

Frequent bleeding from the gums

Staying aware of your senior dog's dental health will help you make appropriate decisions about their oral care. It will also let you know when you need to seek professional advice. If you keep your dog's mouth healthy, you will likely see improvements in other aspects of their overall health and happiness. It is not always easy to stay on top of your senior's oral hygiene. However, it will help your senior dog stick around longer and provide you with several more years of unconditional love.


This article is proudly presented by
Dr. Deb M. Eldredge
Caitlin Ultimo

1. Coughing Caused By Allergies
Some senior dogs will develop seasonal allergies that lead them to cough. Our Australian Shepherd, Tia, coughed for about two weeks every fall. I gave her allergy medications, and in about three weeks the cough would go away. Dogs with allergies tend to feel fine otherwise. They do not have a fever or miss any meals and may cough on and off during the day. Dogs with an allergic cough tend to cough up some mucus or clear fluid, if anything at all.

Some older dogs with allergies will also do what is called a "reverse sneeze." Instead of expelling air like a regular sneeze, the air goes internally very quickly. At first it may seem like your dog is choking or having an asthma attack. Reverse sneezing is more common in toy and small breed dogs. Brachycephalic dogs with shortened muzzles like Bulldogs are also prone to this.


Think of it as a small spasm in your dog's throat. Any irritant can cause this - cold air when your dog goes outside, dust, excitement or pulling on a collar. You can generally stop the reverse sneeze by gently putting your hand over your dog's nose. Our Corgi, Flash, would reverse sneeze when she was very excited. There is no health problem from this even if it sounds scary to you.

If, however, your dog coughs frequently during the day or consistently coughs at certain times of day or after certain activities, you need to look into the cause of the cough. Coughing in an old dog can be a sign of an underlying health problem. Most coughs in old dogs are due to problems in the lungs or the heart. Infectious causes are possible, but often the cough is a result of aging and wear and tear on those organs.

2. Canine Influenza Coughs
By the time they have reached senior status, most dogs have built up some immunity to most infectious coughs. Even if they have not had a case of kennel cough syndrome themselves, they have probably been exposed to dogs who have and built up some immunity that way. The primary exceptions are the two types of canine influenza now found in North America. In 2004, H3N8 canine flu virus was isolated from sick dogs in the United States. With no previous flu virus around, virtually all dogs were susceptible. As is typical of respiratory infections where disease is spread by coughing and sneezing, dogs who were out and about being social were the most likely to be exposed and get ill.

Think of a dog training class or a day care situation to be similar to your office. One person coughs, and you all get sick. In the case of your dog, one dog coughs or sneezes and every dog exposed to the droplets expelled can potentially get sick. There is now a vaccine for H3N8 flu and most dogs have had some exposure, so they have at least a minimal amount of immunity.

Then, in spring 2015, a new variant of the canine flu showed up starting in Chicago. This is an H3N2 flu virus from Asia. Suddenly our dogs were potentially being exposed to another new pathogen. Luckily, most dogs handle getting canine flu of either variant well. Even old dogs, as long as they are healthy, seem to handle this illness.

A few senior dogs, especially ones with underlying heart, lung or immune problems, may go on to develop a secondary bacterial pneumonia. Those dogs may need hospital care, with intravenous fluids and antibiotics. Often in these cases, any coughed up discharge will change from clear or white to discolored and thick.

3. Coughing From Heartworms
An infectious cause of a cough that can affect any age dog is heartworm infection. Dogs acquire heartworm through the bite of an infected mosquito. This disease spreads from dog to dog but only with the mosquito intermediary. Heartworm larvae, called microfilaria, live in your dog's bloodstream. The adults set up housekeeping in the lungs and heart. Left untreated, heartworm can kill your dog. Dogs with heartworm tend to lose weight and will often cough and have decreased exercise tolerance. Heartworm is diagnosed with a blood test.

This is definitely a problem where prevention is key. Treatment involves potentially toxic drugs and a long, quiet recuperation as your dog's body deals with disposing of the dead but internal heartworms. There are excellent preventive medications for heartworm. Heartworm is a regional and seasonal disease to some extent, because it requires a mosquito carrier. Your veterinarian can guide you to the proper prevention schedule for your dog. Snowbirds need to remember that while mosquito season may end up North, there will still be active mosquitoes down South!

4. Collapsed Trachea Coughing
Some dogs will cough after drinking water. This may be from a collapsed trachea - a condition where the cartilage of the trachea is weak and does not support the rigid structure that is ideal for moving oxygen down to the lungs. A collapsed trachea is more common in toy and small breed dogs and may be present from early on in life or get progressively worse over time. Medical and surgical options for treatment are available. Part of the care for this condition is the use of a harness in place of a collar to prevent further trauma to the trachea.

5. Coughs From Laryngeal Paralysis
Laryngeal paralysis may also cause coughing, panting or choking after a drink. In this case, the nerves and muscles working the larynx to shut it when your dog eats or drinks have basically worn out. With the larynx not always closing to a tight seal, your dog may inhale water or food. This could lead to aspiration pneumonia, though many dogs simply cough.

There are surgical treatment options for this and some medical treatments that will help minor cases. Older sporting dogs, especially Labrador Retrievers, are prone to this problem. There are many theories for why dogs develop laryngeal paralysis. It may be associated with other aging problems of muscles and nerves. It may be related to trauma from collars earlier in life. Any direct trauma to the larynx could cause this. Dogs with collapsed tracheas or laryngeal paralysis tend to have a difficult time during hot, humid weather. They benefit from having air conditioning. Exercise should be limited in hot weather, as well as excitement.

6. Coughs From Pneumonia
Bacterial and fungal infections can hit dogs of any age - leading to pneumonia. Dogs with pneumonia of any underlying cause will act ill. They will have a fever, generally a "wracking" cough and may not want to move around or eat. Your veterinarian may need to take radiographs (X-rays) to diagnose the pneumonia and do some bloodwork or tracheal washes and cultures. Dogs with pneumonia tend to have a "wet" cough and may cough up discharges that are thick and discolored. Diagnostics are important to find the "villain" behind the pneumonia, so treatment can be accurate and specific. Medical therapy, such as antibiotics, along with oxygen and fluids for severe cases is important.

7. Cancer Coughs
Cancer can cause a cough in an older dog. Primary lung cancer is quite rare in dogs. It is primarily seen in dogs exposed to environmental contaminants, such as secondhand cigarette smoke. If you smoke, consider quitting for your dog's sake if not your own. The lungs are a frequent site for cancer to spread or metastasize to, though. For example, a dog with bone or breast cancer may have cancer spreading to the lungs. Radiographs are the common way to diagnose cancer problems. Treatment will vary with the type of cancer.

8. Coughing Because Of Heart Problems
One of the most common causes of coughing in old dogs is a heart problem. The exact type of heart problem will vary with the individual dog. Toy breeds and small dogs are prone to congestive heart failure and valve disease. Toy Poodles and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels tend to have heart problems in their old age. Large and giant breed dogs are also prone to some heart problems, including cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle. Doberman Pinschers, Boxers and Old English Sheepdogs are breeds that come to my mind right away for senior heart problems. There are often common features for a heart-related cough.

If there is any discharge, it tends to be white or clear. You might notice that your dog coughs more at night when he lies down. Actually you may notice coughing any time he lies down - day or night. Some dogs show a blueish tinge to their gums instead of the normal pink. You might realize your dog is much less active than previously. Some of that slowing down may be due to other factors, such as arthritis, but it is important to rule out a cardiac cause. Dogs with severe heart disease often lose their appetite and will lose weight.

Diagnosis starts with a thorough auscultation - listening to internal body sounds. Your veterinarian will evaluate your dog's heart and lung sounds with a stethoscope. Next, radiographs may be taken. Generally multiple views will be evaluated to rule out lung disease and cancer. An EKC, or electrocardiogram, will check out how your dog's heart is beating. Another possibility isan ultrasound to evaluate the heart muscle and action. Believe it or not, dogs can be fitted with pacemakers if their heart problem is due to an irregular beat.

However, for most heart problems in senior dogs, medical therapy is the ideal treatment. Just like people with heart problems, your dog may be put on a diuretic and a special diet and then medications to help the heart function more efficiently. Most of the heart medications used in people were originally studied in dogs, so turnabout is fair play!

Diagnosis Needed!
As you can see, a cough in a senior dog can have many causes. Most of these coughs are treatable once you have determined the exact cause. You should not give any cough medications, including human over the counter ones, until you have consulted your veterinarian. There are cases where a cough is helpful and suppressing it may harm your dog. Switching to a harness from a collar helps most dogs. Plan your exercise: in type, amount and time.

Your senior canine may be happier with a 1-mile stroll in place of a half-mile run. He may need to back off on some of his performance sports, maybe doing one agility run a day versus two. On hot, humid days, your coughing senior dog is best off where it is cool and dry. A room with an air conditioner is perfect. If respiratory illnesses are "going around," consider leaving your pet home and not going to training class, an event or doggy daycare. Luckily, most senior dog coughs are treatable, and while your dog may never be "cured," you can control symptoms and make him comfortable.


This article is proudly presented by
Julie Buzby

Diagnosing the cause of shaking in an older dog can be tricky. Shaking or trembling in senior dogs can be caused by a very long list of conditions, but a handful of diagnoses rise to the top of the list. Here are the most common reasons senior dogs shake:

1. Excitement
Even an older dog can still get excited when his family comes home! Sometimes this excitement seems to exude right out of the dog's pores and shaking or trembling ensues. Along the same lines, it is also possible for senior dogs to experience trembling and shivering when they are about to enjoy their favorite treat or play with their favorite toy. Some senior dogs shake or tremble when they are excited. For example, an old dog may shake with excitement when greeting a family member.

2. Medications or Toxins
Several medications can cause tremoring as a side effect by altering the balance of neurotransmitters in the nervous system. Though the mechanism for causing shaking is different, toxins can do the same. Common offenders include chocolate, xylitol, and pesticides. If you ever suspect that your dog has gotten into a known toxin in your home, grab the box and take it with you to the vet to facilitate diagnosis and treatment.

3. Addison's Disease
Even though Addison's is most commonly diagnosed in 4 to 5 year old dogs, dogs of any age can be affected. Addison's disease makes our list because if left untreated, it is a life-threatening condition. Dogs with Addison's can appear very sluggish and experience vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, loss of appetite, shaking, and hair loss. The symptoms are often vague, nonspecific, and come and go. Dogs with Addison's do not produce enough cortisol - a hormone made by the adrenal glands that helps dogs respond to stress and regulate blood sugar levels. If your dog has clinical signs mentioned above, contact your veterinarian. She will likely recommend blood and urine testing to screen for Addison's disease and other illnesses.

4. Cold (hypothermia)
If your dog suddenly starts to shiver while out in the yard and the mercury has dropped, then he may simply need a sweater! Dogs can shiver and shake due to the cold just like humans. To prevent this, make sure your dog has warm bedding and protective clothing during the cold months of the year. Cold temperatures may cause a dog to shake. In this case, a cozy sweater may be the solution.

5. Nausea
Nausea can be caused by numerous health conditions - infection, poisoning, liver disease, and kidney disease, to name a few. A nauseous dog is not necessarily a vomiting dog. More subtle signs of nausea include: lip smacking, shaking, panting, excessive swallowing, drooling. If you are concerned about your dog showing signs of tummy upset, contact your veterinarian. Depending on the history and exam findings, your vet may recommend blood and urine testing to identify a cause. Routine lab work is especially important in senior dogs in order to detect disorders as early as possible, such as chronic kidney disease.

6. Neurologic Disease
Dogs with certain brain diseases can develop tremors and sometimes even seizures. Infection and inflammation of the central nervous system may be difficult to diagnose on routine testing. For this reason, your veterinarian may recommend referral to a veterinary neurologist for evaluation and more specialized testing. Neurologic disease always has to be on the rule out list when a senior dog suddenly starts trembling or shaking, but it is important to remember that it is only one of many reasons for this symptom.

7. Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS)
This tremor-causing condition can occur in any size and color of dog, but it is also known as white dog shaker syndrome, because it is diagnosed most commonly in small, white breeds, especially the Maltese, the West Highland White Terrier, and the Bichon Frise. The tremors can be localized to the head or generalized - affecting the entire body. While the cause is unknown, there are some theories suggesting that the immune system plays a role. Steroid medications like prednisone are prescribed for treatment. While GTS mostly affects young dogs, because dogs have lifelong signs, older dogs can manifest symptoms too. Small dogs may shake due to a condition called GTS or white dog shaker syndrome.

8. Pain
If your older dog shivers or shakes, especially in the hind end, he may be exhibiting one of the signs of pain due to canine arthritis. Dogs can also experience generalized pain due to infection, injury, and even dental disease. A painful dog may shake or shiver.

9. Idiopathic
The term idiopathic comes from Greek roots and literally translates as "private disease," but we use it commonly in medicine to mean "of unknown cause." There are many idiopathic conditions in veterinary medicine, ranging from seizures to vestibular disease. The term can be associated with tremoring in older dogs too. Unfortunately, idiopathic old dog tremor syndrome is like all idiopathic mysteries a diagnosis of exclusion. In other words, veterinarians rule out everything else and then are left with idiopathic disease as the fall-back explanation. If your senior dog exhibits shaking hind legs and the problem has not developed into progressive neurologic disease and your vet has ruled out other common diagnoses, then you may be left with this diagnosis, which is not bad news. It is considered a benign condition.

10. Anxiety and Fear
Like people, dogs can shake when they are afraid or anxious. Some dogs can be afraid of loud sounds like thunderstorms or fireworks. For senior dogs, problems like vision loss due to cataracts and hearing loss can alter their confidence and personality and make them more likely to tremble. It is common for some dogs to shake out of fear or anxiety. For example, some dogs tremble during thunderstorms.

11. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
Another cause of shaking in older dogs is canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD). Dogs with CCD can become more anxious and restless, especially at night.

This article is proudly presented by
Dr. Sullivan
Mike Clark
Ken Tudor

Blindness can occur in dogs, and it can seem scary, especially when it happens suddenly. Here is some information to help you navigate the situation and keep your dog comfortable and happy.

What Causes
Blindness in Dogs?

Some causes of blindness are the result of issues within the eye, while others can be systemic or affect other parts of the body as well as the eyes. Why senior dogs are particularly vulnerable to eye problems? Some disorders are a result of aging and wear and tear.

Cataracts, retinal degeneration, for example, are often age-related degenerative conditions. Older animals have had more opportunity to sustain injury to the eyes, which can lead to long-term complications like glaucoma. Some eye diseases are a result of systemic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cancers - all of which are more common in the elderly. Here are some common causes of blindness in dogs:

Infections or Inflammation (viral, bacterial, fungal)

Cataracts (can be caused by diabetes mellitus, toxins, genetics, or other diseases)


Retinal detachment (can be caused by high blood pressure, kidney failure, or other diseases)


Sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome (SARDS)

The most common eye issues seen in senior dogs:

1. Calcific corneal degeneration: Some older dogs will start to mineralize the surface of the cornea in one or both eyes. These deposits are gritty and uncomfortable in the beginning, then portions of calcified cornea can slough leading to deep ulcers. These are very slow to heal, in some cases they do not heal at all. The areas of sloughing are thinner than normal, and in extreme cases the thin spot can rupture, leading to loss of fluid from inside the eye.

Calcific corneal degeneration can be seen with certain diseases - Cushing's disease and kidney failure, but can happen as a consequence of aging alone. It typically develops in dogs 14 or older. It looks like white spots on the surface of the cornea, and often it is not noticed until an ulcer develops and persists beyond normal healing time, at which point the patient makes their way to an ophthalmologist. If caught early this can often be treated and maintained with drops to remove minerals from the corneal tissues.

2. High blood pressure: In addition to causing cognitive changes, high blood pressure can also cause ocular problems, particularly in dogs 10 or older. Dogs suffering from high blood pressure may develop one or more observable signs, including:

Acute onset of blindness

Ocular hemorrhage (bleeding inside of the eyeball, or globe)

Dilated pupils

Retinal detachment

Abnormal eye movements (nystagmus)

How You Can Maintain Eye Health for your dog?
Basically be aware that eye problems can worsen very rapidly in pets, so if a change is noted seek attention quickly. Signs of a problem include increasing cloudiness, squinting, discharge - a new onset of tearing, mucous or especially yellow or green, infected-looking discharge, bulging or sinking in of the eye in the orbit, or a decrease in vision. You want to feed a balanced diet and keep the hair around the eyes trimmed short enough to be able to keep it from irritating the eyes, as well as letting you see the eyes clearly enough to notice a problem early.

Groomers often are the first to notice an eye problem in longer-haired breeds. Some age-related conditions: senile retinal degeneration and age-related cataract development in particular can result from oxidative stress, a fancy name for the wear and tear of everyday life, such as sunlight, UV exposure and time.

Antioxidant supplementation can help prevent this type of damage if your dog's diet does not contain enough to do the job. Check with your vet about specific supplements and dosages. These will not help with conditions that are a result of other types of damage, such as diabetic cataracts, inherited retinal diseases or glaucoma.

7 Ways to Keep the Light in Your Blind Dog's Life

Blindness is devastating for humans who prize their independence. Dogs, however, are lucky in that they are used to depending on others, us, for help. Even better, there are a lot of things you can do for your blind dog to make life easier all around:

1. Do Not Move the Furniture
If you were thinking of redecorating, now is not a good time to do it. Keep the furniture, as well as food and water bowls, where they always have been.

2. Draw a Scent Map
Dogs rely more on their noses than their eyes to experience the world, so use that sense to aid navigation. Tracerz, for example, produces markers made of essential oils and wax specifically for this purpose.

3. Put Bells On
The Blind Dog Rescue Alliance recommends that you wear bells so your dog will have a clue, other than scent, of where you are. Bells work well with other animals in the house, as well.

4. Give him a Halo
A new product, called the Halo Vest, places a bumper between the dog and any obstacles. It is billed as the white cane for the blind dog.

5. Learn from Others
Many people and dogs have gone through what you are experiencing. Do not go it alone. You can find help and advice through are support groups, such as, as well as online resources and books, such as Living with Blind Dogs by Caroline D. Levin, R.N.

6. Stay Put
Dogs who once loved being out and about may become happier homebodies. If you must take your blind dog to a strange place, be extra vigilant and keep things as familiar as possible, by bringing along her bed, toys, and other reminders of home.

7. Remember what is important!
Vision is a key sense for humans, but it is not the main event for dogs. Scent and hearing play bigger roles in how they experience the world, and that is just considering the physical senses. Dogs are masters of empathy, so do your best to keep your spirits up, not matter how you feel about your dog's blindness. Remember, they never have to look at your face to know what you are feeling.

As author Antoine de Saint-Exupery so eloquently put it in The Little Prince: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye." How perfect is it that the author chose to have those words delivered by a fox?

Sudden Blindness in Dogs
Blindness in dogs can progress slowly or have a sudden onset. However, in some cases, blindness that may have occurred over time can appear to be sudden to us upon diagnosis. Blindness is usually not detected until both eyes are affected because dogs are typically able to adapt to only using the healthy eye. Since a dog is so used to their home surroundings, pet parents may not notice that their dog's vision is deteriorating. It is not until the dog is navigating a new environment that pet parents see signs of blindness, such as:

Walking along the wall

Leaning against their owner

Bumping into things

Blindness can also be temporary or permanent. It is important to talk to your veterinarian to get more information about your dog's specific reason for blindness.

9 Ways To Help Senior Dogs Who Are Going Blind

If your dog is quite familiar with your home and their general surroundings, then the symptoms of their vision loss may be hard to spot. If you notice that your senior dog is bumping into things more, having trouble finding things, hesitating when getting onto or off of furniture, suffering from worsening anxiety, or showing signs of aggression or fear when being approached, then they may be experiencing vision loss. The good news is that there are many ways you can still give your senior a great quality of life even if they are going blind.

1. Don't Panic!
Some dog parents grow very upset when their senior dog starts to go blind. They think that life will be too hard for their old dog if they lose their vision and consider putting them down. If you are having those thoughts, do not panic. Your senior can get along just fine without their vision. Dogs map the world mostly through their sense of smell, and many dogs' other senses get stronger when they lose the ability to see. Your old pup can still get several more years of healthy, happy living without their vision. Blindness is not a death sentence for senior dogs by any means, and it is quite manageable if you make certain adjustments and follow the advice of your vet.

2. Go To The Vet First
Speaking of your veterinarian, you should make an appointment with them as soon as you spot symptoms of blindness in your dog. Blindness can be caused by medical conditions, genetics, or injuries, and many of these causes are treatable. Sometimes blindness is a symptom of an underlying condition that can be caught earlier if you see your vet. There are also certain cases where vision can be fully or partially restored, and there are other cases where vision loss can be slowed or prevented from getting worse. Before you take any further steps, make a vet visit.

3. Focus On Auditory Training And Commands
If you have used hand gestures and other visual cues as part of your dog's training, it is time to start moving away from that. Instead, you should rely on verbal commands, and you may want to switch over to clicker training, as these tactics will use your dog's sense of hearing, rather than vision. You may also want to teach them a command like "Careful" or "Slow" to let them know that they are approaching a wall or object. If you are worried about the "you can not teach an old dog new tricks" cliche, fear not. That is totally a myth. Seniors may need more patience, and they may need more breaks while training, but they are certainly capable of learning new things.

4. Keep Your Home Clean And Organized
If you tend to set things on the floor, or if you have kids who like to leave toys or backpacks lying around, it is time to get organized. A blind dog can easily trip or knock over things that are on ground level, and they could injure themselves, especially if they already have difficulty getting around due to conditions like arthritis. A clean home is a much safer home for dogs who lose their vision, and seniors in particular will benefit from your organization.

5. Try To Keep Environment Consistent
Blind dogs often feel much less anxious when they are in a consistent environment where they can be comfortable in knowing where everything is. If their beds, food bowls, toys, and other items are in the same spots, blind dogs can find them more easily. Keeping furniture in the same spot will help prevent them from bumping into things, as well. Senior dogs prefer a consistent environment, too, especially if they suffer from the early stages of dementia. A predictable environment will help greatly reduce anxiety for your blind senior.

6. Block Off Dangerous Areas
If there are any dangerous areas that your dog might be able to get to, you should gate them off or make sure they are blocked in some way so your pup does not get hurt. Stairways or banisters with wide gaps are very dangerous indoor areas, but there are outdoor dangers, as well. If you allow your blind dog in your yard, make sure to fence it off and block access to pools, ponds, rocky areas, or other hazardous spots. You may even want to keep your dog on-leash and accompany them, as it will prevent accidents and give them comfort and confidence to know that you are nearby and protecting them. Always supervise your senior.

7. Get Toys That Work With Other Senses
Even though your dog is older, they can still benefit from play sessions. There are toys that are more user-friendly for blind dogs. Toys that have squeakers, bells, or other noise makers will help your senior find them, and scented toys can let your pup sniff them out. Treat dispensing toys are another option that can keep your blind senior's mind active. Just because your pup can not see does not mean they can not play.

8. Take Approaches Slowly
Blind dogs tend to get a bit more apprehensive when they are approached. If you want to wake your blind senior, you may want to let your presence be known by saying their name aloud, then allowing them to smell you before touching them. You should also work on establishing a verbal cue like, "Say hello," or "Greet," to let your dog know when another human or dog is approaching. Inform whoever wishes to greet your dog that your pup is blind and needs to take things slowly. Give your dog a chance to sniff the newcomer, and if your pup seems fearful, turns away, or shows disinterest, move on. Let your senior make decisions about who they want to meet, and go slowly.

9. Buy Or Make Helpful Devices
For example, Muffin's Halo, which is a ring that attaches to a harness and stops blind dogs from crashing into things. Or cut a sock and fashioned it into a little helmet that left dog's ears and face uncovered, but rolled into a cushion on top of his head. It both softened his impacts and gave him a buffer to slow down because he learned that something was in front of him when he felt pressure on the cushion. Of course, that did not stop him from getting stuck behind furniture, but it let him run without injuring himself. As you live with your blind senior dog, you will find products or invent your own to help your pup. There is no perfect solution for every blind senior's needs, but you will adapt, and your veterinarian can always give you advice. Be patient, consider your dog's needs, and roll with the punches. Your blind senior can have plenty of time left with you and live a great life.

What Is SARDS?

SARDS is a permanent form of blindness that occurs suddenly. It is most often diagnosed in older dogs, with the median age being 8.5 years, and 60-70% of dogs with the condition are female. Dachshunds and Miniature Schnauzers are particularly afflicted. Pugs, Brittany Spaniels, and Maltese breeds also show a predisposition for the condition.

Reason of SARDS in Dogs
The cause and retinal changes associated with SARDS are unknown and poorly understood. The cells of the rods and cones of the retina suddenly undergo programed cell death, or apoptosis. Inflammatory, autoimmune, or allergic causes have been suspected but not confirmed. The lack of inflammation associated with the condition and the poor response to treatment as an immune-related disease suggest a nonimmune-related cause.

Symptoms of SARDS in Dogs
Prior to blindness, many dogs will have difficulty navigating around the house and yard. They may bump into things or show caution in their movements. About 40-50% of dogs with SARDS also have increased water consumption, increased urination, increased food consumption, and weight gain. These symptoms persist after the onset of blindness, especially the change in food consumption. Since these are the same symptoms associated with a hormonal condition called hyperadrenocorticism, or Cushing's disease, a link with SARDS was speculated. Actually, studies indicate that few SARDS patients have Cushing's.

Quality of Life for a Dog Affected With SARDS
A survey of owners whose dogs are affected with SARDS indicates that the majority perceive the quality of their dog's life as good. Owners also reported that their dog's ability to navigate both the house and the yard were moderate to excellent. And 40% of owners reported moderate to excellent navigation even in new and unfamiliar surroundings. Of the 100 dogs represented in the survey, only nine owners reported that they thought their dog's quality of life was poor.

This article is proudly presented by
Ann-Marie Fleming
Christina Lee

Firstly, when an older dog starts going deaf it is not painful, unless of course there is an ear infection involved. Second, a good rule of thumb in noticing your senior dog might be going deaf is if you notice that your dog is not reacting to door bells, other dogs barking, sirens or things your dog has always reacted to in the past but is not reacting to now.

Another sign your older dog might be going deaf is if you feel your dog is sleeping heavier than normal and does not wake up to noises in your home.Deafness in Senior Dogs Your dog may also seem startled when you try to wake him up from a deep sleep.

If you suspect your hearing dog might be going deaf then try standing behind your dog to test the dog's hearing by clapping your hands or jingling a set of keys. If your dog's ears do not move, twitch or the dog's head does not turn towards the sound you are making, then there is a good chance your older dog has probably gone deaf. If you think your senior dog has gone deaf, then you need to see a Veterinarian as soon as possible to rule out an ear infection.


The good news is older deaf dogs are very easy to train with regards to learning sign commands. In fact, they are probably already reading many of your visual cues. It is important for dog owners to incorporate hand gestures in their dog's training so that all the dogs in the family learn commands by voice and hand signals. This way if both auditory and visual commands are used when the dogs are being trained, it won't be such a big deal for an older dog to make the transition from hearing to deafness as the dog ages.


If you find your senior dog has gone completely deaf and you haven't already been training with sign commands, then by all means go back to using a treat based positive reinforcement training, using treats, toys or praise as a reward along with a sign command. Once you get started, you will be amazed at just how fast your senior dog will actually catch on to your new training methods when using sign commands. For more information and valuable tips on training with sign commands, visit:



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Weight loss is generally viewed positively by owners and vets. In fact, most owners find themselves seeking out low-calorie dog foods to promote weight loss when their older dogs start packing on extra pounds. However, some owners have the opposite problem, struggling to have their dog keep weight on.

There are some occasions in which weight loss can indicate a problem - particularly when it occurs in older dogs. Most geriatric animals lose a little muscle mass as they age, so a bit of weight loss is not necessarily unusual or cause for concern. Except when it is. The trick is to determine when your older dog's weight loss is normal and when it indicates a health problem.

Symptoms and Illnesses that Can Cause Weight Loss in Older Dogs

There are a variety of different issues that can cause your senior canine to lose weight. Accordingly, it is important to visit your vet anytime your dog loses a significant amount of weight โ€“ usually defined as 10% of their normal body mass. Only a veterinarian can determine the cause behind your dog's weight loss, and provide you with an accurate prognosis. Weight loss is most troubling when it occurs over a short period of time. Some of the most common causes of weight loss in elderly pups include:

Dental Problems
Failing teeth, gum disease, and other dental problems are common in older dogs. These types of problems can discourage your dog from eating and lead to weight loss. Your vet can help treat most oral health problems, although you should do your part to treat such problems proactively, which may help make it easier for your dog to eat again.

Anxiety or Depression
Just like people, dogs suffering from emotional disorders, such as anxiety or depression may stop eating as much as they normally would. Fortunately, these types of problems are often easy to treat with a bit of extra love and attention.

Kidney Disease
Kidney disease is a pretty common problem for older dogs, and among other symptoms, it can cause your pup to drop a few pounds.

A condition in which the thyroid fails to function, hypothyroidism can make it difficult for your dog's body to digest his food efficiently. This means that he will only benefit from a reduced percentage of the calories in his food, which will lead to weight loss.

There are a variety of different cancers that can afflict dogs, and their symptoms vary widely from one type to the next. Many cancers produce visible lumps or sores, but plenty of others do not, which further illustrates the need to visit the vet when your dog loses weight quickly.

Heart Disease
Heart disease is a fairly common problem for older dogs, but it can usually be treated medicinally. Heart disease often causes a chronic cough, as well as lethargy and excessive sleepiness, so be especially vigilant about observing your dog's behavior as he ages.

Intestinal Disease
Dogs with poorly functioning intestines are unable to digest and absorb their food properly. This can lead to weight loss, even if your dog still exhibits a normal appetite.

Liver Disease
Liver and to a lesser extent, gall bladder disease can occasionally cause sudden weight loss. Keep an eye out for yellowing eyes or skin, as these can indicate jaundice โ€“ another symptom commonly associated with liver disease.

Your dog would need to be pretty dehydrated to lose 10% of his body weight, but it is possible. In principle, this is a pretty easy problem to treat, but it can be challenging to coax some dogs into drinking more. You may find it helpful to offer your pooch a few ice cubes, as dogs often like to chew them. Pedialyte is another way to help dogs rehydrate quickly.

Diabetic dogs are unable to use glucose to fuel their body like healthy, non-diabetic dogs do. Instead, their body must turn to other energy sources, such as the protein and fat in their bodies. This can lead to a net loss in weight for your dog. Diabetic dogs often need a special food, specifically formulated to meet their nutritional needs.

Packing the Pounds on Your Senior Dog

You will always want to work closely with your veterinarian any time you make substantial changes to his care regimen or diet, and if your vet identifies a specific medical problem, you will obviously want to provide the suggested treatment. But some of the best ways to help elderly, but healthy, dogs regain a bit of weight include the following:

Switch to a diet or feeding schedule that provides more calories
You may want to look at a food formulated for all life stages, as these foods often provide more calories and protein per cup than those formulated exclusively for senior dogs or adults. If your dog still exhibits a strong appetite, you may simply find it easier to provide a little more food than normal.

Reduce the amount of exercise your dog gets
Exercise is very important for good health, but you may need to trim your dog's exercise just a bit to help him regain his original weight.

Consider supplementing your dog's diet with a probiotic
Probiotics - beneficial bacteria that live in your dog's digestive tract are sometimes helpful at improving the intestinal function of dogs. Some dog foods are fortified with probiotics, but you can also add powdered probiotic supplements to your dog's normal food.

Add a tasty topper to your dog's regular food
Sprinkling a little shredded cheese or stirring in a teaspoon or two of olive oil can help increase the caloric value of your dog's food and improve its palatability, which may encourage your dog to eat more enthusiastically.

Make sure you are supporting your dog's mental and emotional health
If your dog's weight loss is the result of anxiety, depression or another mental ailment, you will need to take steps to help him feel a little better. You may be able to accomplish this by simply spending a little more time with him, but if that does not improve his mood, a consultation with an animal behavior therapist may be necessary.



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Jenna Stregowski

There are many reasons a dog can become overweight. The obvious culprits are improper diet and lack of sufficient exercise. A dog recovering from an illness or injury is usually required to remain sedentary and is therefore at risk for weight gain.

It is also important to know that weight gain may be a symptom of some hormonal disorders, such as hypothyroidism or Cushing's syndrome. Finally, genetic predisposition is a big factor. Certain dog breeds are simply more prone to obesity than others, such as Karelian Bear Dogs, English Bulldogs, Beagles, Dachshunds, Pugs, Dalmatians and Cocker Spaniels - just to name just a few.

Health Risks of
Obesity in Dogs

Canine obesity is dangerous because it can lead to a great number of health problems. It may also adversely affect an existing health issue. The following diseases and disorders may be caused or exacerbated by obesity:

Cardiac Disease

iabetes Mellitus

Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Orthopedic injuries - such as cruciate ligament rupture or patellar luxation


Respiratory Disorders

Various Forms of Cancer

How To Tell If Your Dog Is Overweight
You can often see the telltale signs of obesity in a dog, but sometimes it sneaks up on you. Gradual weight gain is not as noticeable when you see your dog daily. A friend or family member who is not often around your dog may notice a weight change. Other warning signs are exercise intolerance and apparent laziness. These could indicate a weight problem or other health issues. In any event, it is best to visit your vet if anything seems amiss. Also, be sure your dog goes to the vet for a wellness exam every 6-12 months. This is the best way for your vet to detect changes before there is a serious problem. There are some basic things you can do at home to evaluate your dog's weight. Contact your vet if you suspect a problem.

1. Running your hands along your dog's ribcage, you should be able to palpate the ribs covered by a thin layer of fat. The inability to feel the ribs is a sign of an overweight dog.

2. Looking at your dog from the side, you should be able to see the upward tuck of the abdomen. An overweight dog will have very little or no tuck.

3. Viewing your dog from above, there should be a moderate narrowing at the waist just past the ribcage. A straight or bulging line from the ribcage to the hips indicates an overweight dog.

It will be helpful to weigh your dog regularly. Do this ideally every week or two. If you do not have the right scale at home, you can just stop by your vet's office for this. Many vet clinics have a scale in the lobby, so you can just run in and check the weight, free of charge. For most dogs, the traditional diet and exercise plan does the trick. However, some dogs may have trouble losing weight for specific health reasons. Before starting a weight loss plan for your dog, be sure to see your vet. You might even find out that there is an underlying problem contributing to your dog's obesity.

Exercise for Canine
Weight Loss

Your dog is going to need more exercise to lose weight. If you do not already walk your dog daily for a specific period of time, start now. Schedule times to play fetch or tug-of-war. If you have an exercise schedule, increase the frequency and difficulty if possible. This will be good for you, too. The most important thing is to make a commitment to a plan and stick with it.

Your dog is at your mercy. Most dogs just want to interact with their owners, especially in the form of exercise. They also tend to enjoy training in the form of games. One great way to boost your dog's weight loss plan is to get involved with a dog sport. One option of many is a sport called agility. When you and your dog get involved in a dog sport, you can work with experts who want your dog to succeed but will not push him. In addition to losing weight, your dog will have a new skill and plenty of mental stimulation.

Many dogs will be happy to be getting more exercise and attention, and they will joyfully await their scheduled exercise sessions. However, dogs that are extremely overweight and out of shape may pose a challenge. Some dogs will simply stop in the middle of a walk, refusing to continue. This is probably because they are winded and or in pain. To be safe, stay close to home and keep a slower pace.

These dogs benefit from several short walks a day rather than one or two long ones. Do not push your dog too hard or it may lead to injury or exhaustion. Some dogs cannot exercise as needed due to an illness or injury brought on or worsened by obesity.

Consult your vet for recommendations. You may find that physical therapy with a canine rehabilitation practitioner helps. Remember that canine weight loss can take time. Be patient and consistent. Most of all, try to stay positive. You and your dog can do this!

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Canine seizures in older dogs occur due to the same reason, changes in electrical and chemical signals in the brain. There is a normal pattern of neurological activity that occurs within the brain of dogs. However, when many brain cells get excited all at once and cause changes in the brain activity, it may lead to canine seizures. The causes depend on the age of the dog.

No matter how old your dog is, when they have a seizure, it is a terrifying experience. As your dog ages, health issues tend to crop up more frequently and you spend more time worrying about them. Despite appearing to be life-threatening, most seizures do not affect dogs long-term. But it all depends on what is behind the seizure. Dog Seizures happen for a variety of reasons, regardless of a dog's age. The age of your dog, though, can help you determine why he is having seizures.

Know Your Dog's History
If your dog begins having seizures late in life, the cause is generally not genetic predisposition to Idiopathic Epilepsy. However, if you adopted your dog when he was older, the condition may have been present throughout his life and is reappearing for the first time in your presence. If you adopted your dog, try to learn about his medical history from the rescue or family. If you have had your dog since he was a puppy and seizures are just beginning to arise in his older years, an underlying medical issue is the most likely cause. Whenever your dog exhibits odd behavior or seizures, it is wise to seek veterinary advice.


Dogs Under 8 Months of Age
It is not just older dogs, but young dogs too can experience seizures. They can occur due to developmental disorders, encephalitis, meningitis, hypoglycemia, portacaval shunt, parasites in the intestinal tract, and due to idiopathic epilepsy in dogs. Seizures due to idiopathic epilepsy occur very rarely.

Dogs between 8 Months and 5 Years of Age
Dogs in this age group experience seizures mostly due to idiopathic epilepsy, trauma, meningitis, neoplasia, hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, toxins, etc.

Dogs Over 5 Years of Age
There are many causes of seizures in older dogs that includes dog cancer, tumor, degenerative disorders, hypoxia, hypoglycemia, trauma, meningitis, acquired hydrocephalus, electrolyte disturbances, hypothyroidism, etc. Other causes may include toxicity due to ingestion of poison like lead, traumatic impact, heart disease, etc. Infection of the central nervous system or organ failure may also lead to canine seizures.

Common Types of
Seizures in Dogs

The sight of your dog writhing around on the ground and foaming at the mouth is a scary sight. But it is important to know what a seizure is, and why your dog reacts the way it does. A seizure is caused by abnormal electric activity in the brain. Neurons "misfire" and send signals to the body that result in seizures. During a seizure, your dog may look like he is suffering, but he is unaware of what is happening to his body.

That is why he may seem confused after the seizure has concluded. The reasons why this abnormal brain activity happens though, are less clear. Different types of seizures originate from different parts of the brain, and have slightly different outcomes. It can be difficult to determine which type of seizure your dog suffers from, but the following are the most common types of seizures in dogs.

Grand Mal
Grand Mal seizures are the most serious types of seizures, generally lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes. They affect the entire body, as neurons misfire throughout the brain.

Focal seizures are the result of abnormal electric activity in a concentrated area of the brain, and generally affect only one side of the body. Focal seizures last only a few seconds.

Psychomotor seizures are rare but unique. Your dog will exhibit identical behavior each time he has a seizure, whether it us running in circles or rubbing his paws together.

Idiopathic Epilepsy
Idiopathic Epilepsy is the most common cause of seizures in dogs. This condition is genetic, passed down through family lines. Idiopathic Epilepsy is more common in certain breeds, including Beagles, Keeshonds, Golden Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers, among others.

Causes of Seizures
in Older Dogs

The culprit behind most dog seizures is Idiopathic Epilepsy. But when seizures arise later in a dog's life, they are more likely caused by something else. Idiopathic Epilepsy normally reveals itself early, and continues throughout a dog's life. In fact, most seizures start between the ages of 6 months to 6 years of age. If your dog did not start having seizures until much later in life, it could be due to more serious health problems, including:

Brain Tumor
Liver disease or failure can result in seizures, but seizures are not normally the first sign of liver problems. Before your dog gets to the seizure stage, he will exhibit numerous signs of liver issues, including abdominal swelling, vomiting and diarrhea, jaundiced skin, lethargy, and even personality changes.

Liver Disease
Psychomotor seizures are rare but unique. Your dog will exhibit identical behavior each time he has a seizure, whether it us running in circles or rubbing his paws together.

Kidney Disease
Like heart disease in humans, kidney disease in dogs is the main cause of dying of old age in dogs. In the advanced stages of kidney disease, canine seizures can present themselves. Aging takes a toll on the kidneys, so it is common for older dogs to develop kidney disease. The chronic kidney (renal) disease is usually a gradual process that begins as renal insufficiency and progresses to full renal failure.

There is no cure for this disease, but there are fortunately many ways to treat it, prolonging quality and quantity of life. The sooner kidney disease is caught, the more that can be done to slow the progression. Early kidney changes may be picked up on urinalysis. Signs of kidney disease include increased thirst and urination, loss of appetite, nausea, and lethargy. Starting dogs on a prescription kidney diet can be very effective.

Diabetes itself does not cause seizures in dogs, but if your dog is being treated with insulin for the disease, and overdose can cause a seizure.

Cushing's Disease
Caused by a lesion in the pituitary gland at the base of the brain, advanced Cushing's Disease can create larger tumors that put pressure on the brain and lead to seizures.

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In fact, epilepsy in dogs is one of the most common long-term neurological canine disorders. A chronic condition that causes dogs to have repeated seizures, epilepsy can be a source of great distress for owners, particularly if it is the first time you are witnessing this disorder in your beloved pet.

However, with proper education, treatment, and a keen level of awareness, you can help to preserve your dog's health and quality of life and minimize certain triggers along with your vet's guidance and supervision. For most dogs, epilepsy is a lifelong disease requiring a regimented routine of care and treatment as prescribed by your veterinarian.

A canine seizure is the result of abnormal electrical activity in the brain which leads to sudden but short-term disturbances in your dog's behavior and physical movements.

Epilepsy, also known as status epilepticus, is a general term for neurologic abnormalities that cause recurring seizures and can last for longer periods of time. These seizures can be caused by trauma, toxins, brain tumors, infections or issues with your dog's blood or organs. Your dog may or may not lose consciousness with these types of seizures. If your dog experiences more than one episode of seizures, he may be diagnosed as epileptic.

There are a variety of causes for dog epilepsy, such as brain tumors, toxins, low blood sugar, problems with specific organs, and more. Types of epilepsy are generally classified by the causes. Although there is such a variety of causes, sometimes we do not know the causes of seizures.

Those types of seizures are called idiopathic. Some breeds have a higher predisposition for the condition. Certain types of seizures are also genetic in nature and therefore hereditary. As a result, most experts recommend against breeding dogs who have been diagnosed as epileptic, as the trait can be passed along to offspring.

Signs That Your Dog
May Be Epileptic

If you believe your dog may be suffering from canine epilepsy, it is crucial to make an appointment with your vet immediately for a complete physical evaluation, particularly if it is the first time he or she has had a seizure. Once your dog's physician has conducted a thorough examination, including bloodwork and other tests, he will consider whether or not your dog has had at least two separate seizure episodes more than 24 hours apart.

Because certain signs can be symptomatic of other diseases or underlying health conditions, it is important to provide your vet with as much information about your dog's condition as possible during your visit. Some primary symptoms of dog epilepsy include:

"Paddling" of the legs (as though he is treading water)

Collapsing or falling down to one side

Excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth

Frenzied barking or whining

Head shaking

Incontinence (loss of normal bowel/urinary control)

Irregular seizure attacks that commence and finish suddenly

Loss of consciousness

Marked mental/behavioral changes

Mild convulsions (such as twitching and jerking motions)

Muscle twitching and spasms (especially noted in the face)

Signs of panic, bewilderment, or confusion, dazed or "far away" look

Stiffness of the extremities

Teeth chomping, chewing

Temporary loss of vision

Uncontrollable shaking and tremors



Epileptic attacks with symptoms that appear similar each time

In addition to recognizing the signs and symptoms of epilepsy in dogs, it is helpful to speak candidly with your vet and ask any questions you might have about preventative care, medication, treatment, therapy, diet, and even possible dog epilepsy triggers. Knowing what a dog seizure looks like and how to react can be invaluable moving ahead when it comes to managing your dog's epilepsy.


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Dr. Melinda J. Mayfield-Davis

Similarly to us humans, dogs' health and strength tend to deteriorate with age. Senior citizens and senior dogs alike struggle with mobility and may need more support to get up and around. However, just because mobility in senior dogs declines over time, does not mean their quality of life has to too.

If you notice your dog is slowing down with age, you will want to do everything you can to make their life easier and more comfortable. Do not worry, you do not have to give up those joyous trips to the park or treasured evening strolls with your canine. This guide to senior dog mobility will explore the various measures you can take to help keep your dog merry and moving in their old age.

Why Mobility Matters?
Did you know that loss of mobility is one of the foremost causes of euthanasia? Unfortunately, many people are not aware of adjustments they can make to accommodate older dogs, and opt to put their beloved companions out of misery rather than see them slow down and suffer. But let me let you in on a little secret: senior dogs do not have to suffer. While it is indeed heartbreaking to watch your once agile pup grow old and labor to get around, challenges in mobility are not necessarily a cause for despair. Senior dogs can and should still live fulfilling lives, even though they may have more difficulty moving.


When given appropriate treatment and care, a dog's life can be extended rather than cut short in the face of mobility problems. Making even the smallest of changes to assist mobility in senior dogs can improve an dog's overall wellness and lengthen its lifespan. A greater understanding of the kinds of mobility problems geriatric dogs experience and a willingness to make changes to address these problems can help your fluffy friend thrive during the golden years.

Is Your Dog Struggling with Mobility?
Most dogs are considered to enter old age beginning around 6-7 years. Noticing signs of loss of mobility around this time and understanding their underlying causes are the first steps to rectifying the challenges elderly dogs face. Before deciding what actions you need to take, you need to know what specific mobility issues your dog struggles with.

Signs and Symptoms
Being able to identify symptoms will help you find the most targeted solutions to your dog's mobility issues. Here are some telltale signs of mobility problems in senior dogs to look out for:

Walking slower or Limping

Struggling to Sit and Stand

Slipping when Getting Up or Walking Around

Exhibiting Pain or Stiffness

Shifting Weight on to Front or Back Legs

Favoring a Limb

Hesitating to Engage in Previously Normal Activities

Showing Trouble Jumping and Climbing

Common Causes of
Mobility Issues

The above are indicators of a whole host of different mobility-related health issues in senior dogs. If you find your canine is exhibiting one or more of these symptoms, you may want to visit the doggy doctor. Getting a diagnosis from a vet can inform what kind of mobility aid your dog needs. The possible causes of loss of mobility include intervertebral disc disease, general bone degradation, and side effects from heart disease, digestive disorders, or sickness in organs. To better understand what your dog is experiencing, the following list describes some of the common causes of decreased mobility:

Arthritis - Arthritis is one of the most common mobility issues faced by dogs across breeds. It is a degenerative joint disease that causes inflammation and discomfort. Oftentimes, it is a result of a lack of joint lubrication that slowly wears down cartilage. Over time, this may lead to bone friction and severe pain.

Hip Dysplasia - Hip health and strength are crucial to movement throughout a dog's lifetime. However, hips are susceptible to developmental issues as well as over-exercise. A lack of attention to these sensitivities can lead to abnormal hip socket formation, known as dysplasia. This condition can impact mobility and cause bone and joint pain. Another important factor to note here is that hip dysplasia is highly correlated to genetics. Be sure to ask breeders or rescues of any history of hip dysplasia.

Degenerative Myelopathy - This disease of the spinal cord comes with old age. The onset tends to be in a dog's later years and is caused by nerve and spinal cord degeneration that, in turn, impacts coordination and limb strength. While not painful, progressive weakness in a dog's rear and hind legs can hinder balance and present a handful of mobility obstacles.

Cruciate Ligament - This type of ligament injury occurs either when the cruciate ligament is partially torn or entirely ripped. Damage in this ligament between the femur and tibia affects a dog's knees and can be crippling. While this damage is not always permanent, ease and range of mobility are limited during the healing process.

Muscle Atrophy - Atrophy is a fancy way of saying loss of muscle mass. It is often related to the onset of disease or reduced exercise in a dog's later years. It is observed more in hind legs than front legs. When muscles waste away, dogs have more trouble supporting themselves.

Treating Mobility
in Senior Dogs

When it comes to mobility, vets and pet experts recommend that dog owners combine a variety of approaches for best results. While different conditions may at times require different treatments, there are a surprising number of simple remedies and accommodations that can help with symptoms of decreased mobility in senior dogs across the board. A comprehensive treatment plan for senior dog mobility usually involves both "at-home" lifestyle changes and professional medical care.

The importance of making small environmental changes and adjustments in everyday activities is often overlooked as a means of managing pain, providing comfort, and affording self-sufficiency to senior dogs. However, if you are not paying attention to your elderly dog's daily needs, you may end up causing them even more physical stress. For example, neglecting a little thing like nail trimming can have detrimental effects on mobility.

The difference between comfort and discomfort can come down to something as small as nail-cutting. Like regular nail trims, the following quick fixes to everyday mobility obstacles are easy, low-cost, and highly effective. Simple solutions like these can help with senior dog mobility problems caused by a range of geriatric conditions:

Slipping and Sliding
Slick surfaces like laminate floors, tiles, glossy wood, and more present a problem for elderly dogs just trying to get around. A lack of traction makes household surfaces like these hard to grip, which may cause a dog to skid and stumble. If your senior dog is slipping and sliding around, you may want to invest in one of the following:

Rugs - There are a variety of different options for different spatial needs, from big rugs to carpet tiles and rug runners.

Paw Grip Socks - Little socks or booties with rubber soles create paw traction and can reduce slippage. They can be taken on and off.

Toe Grips - These rubber bands worn around a doggie's nails also help them grip the floor and can stay on for weeks.

Climbing and Jumping
Many elderly dogs have trouble climbing and jumping. As they age, dogs may have more difficulty getting into cars, reaching couches and beds, or getting up the stairs. Making big leaps without the necessary strength and balance makes a dog more prone to injuries that further exasperate mobility.

That is why ramps, pet steps, or stair treads are great options for senior dogs. They offer a more gradual, safer way for dogs to reach elevated surfaces. With products like these, senior dogs also do not have to be picked up, which allows them to remain independent and active. To manage pain and ensure stability, senior dogs will often require support. Whether resting, eating, or walking, they will likely need extra reinforcements in order to be comfortable.

Sleep Support - A dog experiencing physical stress and mobility problems should not have to lay on the cold hard floor. Inflammation, soreness, and aches and pains can all be aggravated by hard surfaces. Luckily, special foam beds and orthopedic cushions provide senior dogs with a place to lounge pain-free.

Suppertime Support - If your dog has back or neck issues, you might want to consider getting a tray to slightly elevate their bowls. Additionally, putting a mat in front of food and water bowls keeps dogs with weaker limbs or coordination issues stable while chowing down.

Support On The Go - Harnesses take the strain off of a dog's limbs by providing a way to help lift them when getting up, climbing, or walking. They are especially helpful for dogs with hip dysplasia, arthritis, and leg weakness. They support a dog's weight and take the pressure off the joints. For dogs with paralysis or more severe mobility issues, doggie wheelchairs are also an option.

Old Dog Behavior - Senility, Irritability & Anxiety

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Are you noticing your older dog is having trouble with navigating around the house? Is your dog more nervous when people come over, or during thunderstorms? Are you seeing grouchiness or irritability with a housemate dog? There are various behavior changes we can see as our dogs age. Often this is due to brain aging, but may be worsened by other health problems. The most common older dog behavior problems are:

Anxiety or fear of noises, children, housemate dogs

Aggression towards other dogs, children, being petted

House soiling and accidents

Confusion - can not find the door to go out, can not find owner when called, pacing and wandering in the home

Compulsive behaviors - licking objects, floor or self, pacing continuously, digging in furniture excessively

All of these behaviors reflect aging changes in your dog which is affecting the brain chemistry. Pain causes lots of behavior changes. Humans do not interpret correctly when their dog is showing pain because it is different than when humans show pain. Also when dogs have arthritis and chronic pain they do not cry or limp at first. Instead they avoid being around active dogs or people.

If they cannot get away from these things, then they may become grouchy or attempt to bite. This is how they are guarding their body from being bumped into or touched. Often, we see a friendly older dog snap when a younger dog has come to visit. That younger dog may have been jumping on or around this dog causing the older dog to have to move more aggravating pain troubles.

Old Dog Behavior - Senility, Irritability & Anxiety

Aggression in an older pet that was usually very calm is a red flag for body pain or problems. Get your pet to the veterinarian to screen for kidney, arthritis or other health problems. Much more is known now about reducing pain in pets with medications, supplements, massage therapy, diet, acupuncture, chiropractic and even laser therapy. A management plan for these dogs is essential to prevent pain and some of the behavior that comes with it. Do not let the medications, diet or other help lapse.

Anxiety, fear and compulsion problems can also arise in our geriatric dogs. Often these have a root cause in a source of inflammation in the body. It can also be the very first signs of Cognitive dysfunction syndrome. This is one of the most difficult problems in older dogs to figure out. Often a visit to a veterinarian behavior consultant is needed to help your pet. The same blood and urine tests are needed to screen for internal problems. Often, I prescribe a combination of anti anxiety medications with products to help improve liver and kidney health.

If you are seeing changes in your older dog's behavior, please do not wait and just assume they are old or lazy. Your pet cannot tell you what is going on, and a visit to a veterinarian who is knowledgeable about both behavior and aging changes can help you out. The longer you wait, the more damage may be going on.




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Michael John Scott
Arden Moore

Owners of older dogs are all too frequently faced with a beloved pet that seems to have issues with memory loss and confusion. Thanks to advances in commercial pet food and veterinary medicine, our dogs and cats are living longer. Surveys indicate that more than 18 million dogs are at least 7 years old. But with longevity can come the onset of age-related conditions, including cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS), the dog and cat version of Alzheimer's disease or dementia that develops in elderly people. Fuzzy memories can affect any breed, but these symptoms occur more frequently in dogs over age 8 and cats over age 10.


Not all dementia has an anxiety component to it and not all anxiety in older dogs is from dementia but the two often go together. So what causes dementia in older dogs?

There are four main causes of dementia or cognitive dysfunction syndrome:

1. Free radical formation Free radicals harm healthy cells in the brain.

2. Hypoxia to the brain In other words there is not enough blood getting to the brain.

3. Alterations in neurotransmitters There is too much or not enough of certain necessary neurotransmitters in the brain. You need neurotransmitters to have your neurons or brain cells function together.

4. Neural infiltrates such as B amyloid and lipofusion These infiltrates destroy healthy brain tissue, similar to alzheimer's disease in people.



Pets with memory loss may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:

Disorientation and confusion. Does your pet wander aimlessly, get lost in the house, or stare at the walls?

"Forgetting" himself and you too. Does your pet seem to forget his name, walk away while you pet him, or stop greeting you when you come home?

Sleeping difficulties. Is he waking in the middle of the night? Is he sleeping more during the day?

Housetraining lapses. Does he urinate or have bowel movements in your home minutes after being outside?


Unfortunately, CDS in many dogs and cats goes undiagnosed, because their owners just assume that old age, and not a medical condition, is what's causing the unusual behavior. Even within a veterinary clinic, the condition is generally tricky to diagnose. Veterinarians must rely on a senior pet exam that includes performing blood and urine tests and taking a detailed behavioral history to rule out other possible medical conditions.


Until a few years ago, veterinarians lacked any medication to control the clinical signs of CDS and extend the quality of life in afflicted dogs. In late 1998, the FDA granted approval for Anipryl (selegiline hydrochloride), a medication that's marketed by Pfizer. To test the effectiveness of Anipryl, 641 dogs ages 8 or older from 236 veterinary clinics across the US were recently studied. Owners were asked to evaluate their dog's overall actions after being on the medication for 1 month and then 2 months. By day 60, 77% of owners reported improvement in their dogs, says Sharon Campbell, DVM, a veterinarian board certified in internal medicine, who manages research for Pfizer. Currently, there is no other approved medication to treat CDS in dogs. In the past, the emphasis has been on making sure that puppies get all their necessary vaccinations, but both pet owners and veterinarians need to pay more attention to the needs of our senior pets.


Anti-aging Advice
You can't stop the number of birthdays your pet has, but experts say you can take steps to keep your dog or cat feeling youthful even as they approach their senior years.

Consult your veterinarian
Select the right commercial food that meets your pet's nutritional and health needs. Remember that the diet may need to change as your pet ages. Also, be sure to schedule a geriatric exam when your dog turns 7 and your cat turns 8.

Keep your older dog mentally stimulated
By playing a game of hide and seek with food treats in various rooms of the house or playing a game of "go fetch the biscuit." Toss a toy mouse, or encourage your older cat to play with a toy feather wand to hone her natural stalking skills.

Reinforce basic commands
By having your dog "sit" before getting a treat or "come" when you are in one room and he is in another. Take your older dog for shorter but more frequent walks on smooth surfaces that aren't jarring to his joints. Vary the route to expose him to new surroundings.



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Michael John Scott
Adam Feuer

Dementia and anxiety are some of the most frustrating and painful problems I see in older dogs and can be very difficult to deal with. Be gentle on yourself and your dog companion and try to find a healthy way to work with these problems for everyone in the household.


In Traditional Chinese medicine or TCM, anxiety in older animals is caused by too much heart fire related to the kidneys becoming deficient as your dog ages. Kidneys are considered to be the water element and as we age the kidneys get deficient and water in the body system decreases to a point that it allows heart which is a fire element to flare too much and cause anxiety especially during the heart peak hours of 11pm - 1am.


According to TCM, another issue is that older animals can become what is called yin deficient. Yin holds the yang at night so we can sleep. If there is not enough yin, the yang is not held and sleep doesn't happen. Sometimes these problems are reversible but even when they are not, there are things you can do to help prevent the problem from getting worse and help with symptoms.


Here is a list of some things that can help your older dog with dementia or anxiety. Please check with your veterinarian to come up with a plan that is safe for your dog.

1. Walking is the most important thing you can do for your older dog. Walking just ten minutes twice a day can significantly increase brain blood flow and reverse symptoms of dementia from hypoxia. Plus it can help prevent muscle atrophy and help with arthritis.

3. Fish Oil and other antioxidants help prevent and repair free radical damage and stimulate brain function. In addition Fish Oil also help with arthritis and dry coat problems in older dogs. I dose Fish Oil at 500mg per 40 lb of dog. Extra vitamin B and E can also help these dogs.

4. SamE helps increase dopamine function in the brain, stimulates brain function and works as an antioxidant. It also helps with joint pain and liver function which many older dogs have problems with. I dose SamE at 500mg per 50lb of dog.

5. Remove any compact fluorescent or fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent lighting can cause a high pitched hum that humans can not hear but dogs and cats can. Older dogs loss their high frequency hearing last so even almost deaf dogs can still hear very high frequency noises. In addition fluorescent lighting can affect brain function and can cause headaches. See The danger of compact fluorescent lighting.

6. Get rid of the dry food. Many older dogs do better on home cooked food or canned food. I don't recommend switching an old dog to raw food if they have not been on it before. From a Chinese medicine view, dry food is too processed and dry for an older dog who already is kidney deficient.

7.Wearing a T-shirt, Thundershirt, or Anxiety Wrapcan help your older dog if they have problems with anxiety. It sounds weird I know, but it actually does work. It is based around the ideas from Tellington TTouch of using an ace bandage. See the article Put an ace bandage on my dog?. Wearing the shirt enhances your do's sense of their own body and makes them feel more confident in their movements and behavior. You can use a snug fitting human T-shirt, a Thundershirt, or an anxiety wrap. I have found however that if your dog has a lot of arthritic pain the anxiety wrap is too hard to put on, so try the Thundershirt or a T-shirt in that case. This is also an idea that can work in young dogs with anxiety.

8. Melatonin can help old dogs sleep at night. Sometimes older dogs can get confused between night and day and end up sleeping all day and then pacing and panting at night. This can make it very hard for us humans to sleep also. Giving Melatonin in the evening can help regulate night and day for these guys and get everyone a better night's sleep. I dose Melatonin at 3-4mg per 50lb of dog.

9. Small meals more often and right before bed are sometimes better for these older dogs. A small meal of wet or cooked food right before bedtime can help get these dogs through the night and help them sleep better.

10. Acupuncture can help decrease anxiety especially at night time by treating the yin, kidneys, and heart fire. In addition acupuncture can help with arthritis pain, weakness, and kidney function and help your dog age more gracefully as they get older. I often combine acupuncture with Chinese herbs for these dogs.

11. Reiki can help to relax older dogs and calm anxiety. Reiki is a nice calming way of helping improve health and well being as animals age.

12. Rescue Remedy and other flower essences can help with anxiety and fear. Flower essencesare homeopathic in nature and very safe for older animals. Rescue Remedy is the best know but there are many lines for treating a variety of behavior and emotional issues.You can dose flower essences by putting 3-4 drops in your dog's drinking water every time you change their water. It is ok to use flower essences in the water even if other animals drink from the same dish.

13. Other herbal medicationsare out there for helping with anxiety in older dogs. I recommend consulting with a holistic veterinary to decide on what is right for your dog.Many of the most calming herbals like valerian or kava kava can be very dangerous if used incorrectly or in the wrong animal. To use Chinese herbs correctly you should consult with a veterinarian with a background is Chinese herbal medicine or Traditional Chinese Medicine.

14. Western Drugs are always an option. There are may drugs that help with anxiety and can be given if the natural alternatives do not work or are not enough. There are also drugs out there that help with dementia such as Selegiline (Anipryl). Most of the western drugs like the herbs are not cure alls but can help make things better.

15. Some dogs are anxious because they are painful. This is an important thing to rule out before assuming there is a dementia component.If your dog is not on pain medication have them evaluated by your veterinarian. If they are on pain medication talk to your vet about increasing the dose or trying something else if there may be a pain factor. Dogs ca not always tell us when they are in pain and pain certainly can cause sleep disturbance and anxiety.

16. Talk to your dog about the change in their position in the house. Many dogs especially the herding breeds take their job of watching the house very seriously. As they get older and can not do it the way they would like to anymore they can become quite anxious. Explaining that your accept them in their old age and making changes to help them, can ease anxiety. See the article Love me for who I am today.

17. Take care of yourself! This is very important when you are caring for an elderly or sick animal. To be a good caregiver you need to be healthy and well rested.If you have a dog that is anxious at night and you are not sleeping consider putting them in a different room than you sleep in, crating them if they are ok with crating, or finding another solution. If you get sick because you are not taking care of yourself you will not be able to care for them.It may seem mean to kick them out of your room but it is kinder than letting them sleep with you and being a grumpy caregiver. I had to do this with my old dog Jake and it actually ended up with us both sleeping better. Before we slept in separate rooms, his anxiety made me anxious, which made him more anxious and by the morning we were both a mess.

Natural Remedies for Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
Quite a few herbs and nutritional supplements can be used to help dogs with dementia. They include:

Choline Choline is an organic compound, classified as a water-soluble essential nutrient and is usually grouped within the Vitamin B complex. Natural Remedies for Dog Dementia Choline is a "building block" needed to produce the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, responsible for mediating brain functions such as memory, intelligence and mood. A deficiency in acetylcholine is believed to be a contributing factor in senility in general and Alzheimer's disease in particular. A clinical study has found that choline supplementation was effective for reversing signs of cognitive dysfunction in both dogs and cats. Recommended dosage is 50 to 100 mg daily for a 50-pound dog.

Ginkgo The herb ginkgo is widely considered as an "antiaging herb". It has proved effective in treating Alzheimer's disease in both people and canine. Ginkgo enhances both long-term and short-term memory in puppies and senior dogs alike.

Rosemary Rosemary is another effective herb that can help prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain. In addition, rosemary is an important antioxidant.

Bacopa Commonly known as Waterhyssop, bacopa is an Ayurvedic herb and has been used for a long time in India as a brain tonic to enhance memory and concentration.

Gotu Kola TThis is a traditional herb of both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, and has antioxidant properties that can protect the body from damage by free radicals. It is particularly useful for memory problems and stress-related disorders.

Vitamin B6 TVitamin B6 has antioxidant properties because it inhibits free radical production.

Resveratrol TResveratrol is a type of polyphenol. Polyphenols are antioxidants that protect cells against damage from free radicals and therefore have anti-aging properties.

Coconut Oil TCoconut oil has been proven to improve brain function in older dogs and humans. The medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) in the oil provide a good energy source for the brain and can improve cognitive function and learning ability of dogs.

Fish Oil TFish oil - such as salmon oil, is beneficial for older dogs as it is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, the "good fats" that have anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce cholesterol and prevent blood clots.

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The majority of pet parents of senior dogs will, at some point, encounter the same problem: old dog diarrhea. While dogs at any age can suffer from the occasional bout of diarrhea, the situation can be especially concerning when it comes to senior dogs who may be struggling with other medical issues. There are many reasons why an older dog could potentially struggle with senior dog diarrhea. But do not panic if, for example, your 10 year old dog has diarrhea: Fortunately, there are several ways to address this embarrassing, messy, debilitating and often uncomfortable problem.

Types of Dog Diarrhea
First, dog diarrhea is divided into three main categories: large bowel diarrhea, small bowel diarrhea or a combination of both. The affliction is then further categorized into chronic diarrhea, acute diarrhea or intermittent diarrhea. This is important because different diseases cause different types of diarrhea, need different types of tests and require different types of treatment.

Small Bowel Diarrhea
Small bowel diarrhea develops in the small intestine. A dog who is suffering from small bowel diarrhea can have copious amounts of diarrhea a couple of times a day, but there is usually no straining or increased urge to defecate. These dogs may vomit, lose their appetite or suffer weight loss. If there is blood in the stool, it will be black or tarry-looking.

Large Bowel Diarrhea
Large bowel diarrhea comes from the large intestine, which is further down the intestinal tract, and includes the colon and rectum. In contrast to small bowel diarrhea, dogs suffering from large bowel diarrhea have increased urge to defecate and usually pass stool more often. The stool may be covered in mucus and if there is blood in the stool, it is bright red. There is usually no weight loss, vomiting or loss of appetite observed with large bowel diarrhea.

Acute vs. Chronic vs. Intermittent Diarrhea
Large or small bowel diarrhea is classified as acute if it lasts less than 2 weeks. An old dog with chronic diarrhea would suffer from the infliction for more than 2 weeks. Intermittent diarrhea can occur in the large and small bowel, and it comes and goes.

Causes of Senior Dog Diarrhea
The intestinal tract of elderly dogs can be sensitive and react poorly in many circumstances. That is one reason why easily digestible senior dog foods, such as Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food are a good choice for older dogs. Old dogs often have health problems or are on medication, which can upset the balance of the body and cause diarrhea. Any disease that affects the body can also cause diarrhea. If your old dog has diarrhea that appears to be acute and large bowel in origin, this condition is called colitis, and causes can include:

Eating garbage or spoiled food

An adverse reaction to fatty food, drugs or toxins

Parasites like whipworms

Bacterial infections

Inflammatory conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Irritation from passing foreign bodies

Irritable bowel syndrome from stress

Systemic illness, such as liver or kidney disease

Acute small bowel diarrhea can also be caused by the above conditions. If your old dog has diarrhea (small or large bowel) that appears to be chronic or intermittent, causes can include:

Infectious diseases

Small intestinal dysbiosis

Food responsive disease

Inflammatory bowel disease

Systemic illnesses and cancer

Senior Dog Diarrhea Treatment
Most cases of canine diarrhea are self-limiting, that is, nature takes its course and it clears up on its own in a day or two. If the diarrhea does not clear up within 2 to 3 days, then it is time to get the veterinarian involved. If you notice that your dog has diarrhea all of a sudden, do not panic! Remember that many times, diarrhea resolves on its own. You can help your dog by feeding a bland diet, such as cooked white chicken and rice or Under the Weather Rice, Chicken & Pumpkin Flavor Freeze-Dried Dog Food, for a couple of days until the diarrhea resolves.

If time and bland food are not curing your senior dog's loose stool blues, it is time to get the vet involved. Before any treatment is instituted, your veterinarian will want to get a history from you, conduct a physical exam of your dog, and run some laboratory tests.

Tests can include a fecal exam for parasites - bring fresh poo with you, bloodwork and urine tests. Treatment for the majority cases of diarrhea in older dogs includes monitoring, medication, maintaining hydration and feeding morsels that help the digestive tract.

As the pet parent, it is your responsibility to make sure your dog eats the right food, takes all their medications and drinks adequate amounts of water. It is up to you to ensure that the recommended therapy is working, your dog is getting better and the diarrhea is resolving. Know what your dog's normal stool, energy and appetite looks like to help you recognize when something is not right.

Medication may be prescribed to resolve the diarrhea, reduce pain and intestinal spasms and address any root causes, such as parasites or microbiome imbalances. Give all medications as prescribed and until finished, even if the diarrhea resolves before the round of medication is completed.

Maintaining Hydration
Diarrhea is a leading cause of dehydration in senior dogs. If your dog is very dehydrated, your veterinarian may give your dog subcutaneous fluids or intravenous fluids. At home, make sure to provide fresh, clean water at all times. You can also increase fluid intake by feeding canned food or adding water to dry food.

Helpful Food Morsels
Guts afflicted with diarrhea need to heal. You can help move the process along by exchanging your dog's regular dog food for grub that is gentler on their sensitive stomach. Think: bland, easily digestible dog food. Hill's Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Low Fat Original Flavor Pate Canned Dog Food or Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat Canned Dog Food are both good dog foods for older dogs who have diarrhea, and are often prescribed by veterinarians. Feed bland food until several days after diarrhea has resolved to promote maximum healing of the gut. If treatment does not appear to be helping your dog, let your veterinarian know right away.

You may need to take your dog in for multiple rechecks and further laboratory testing or imaging studies, such as an abdominal ultrasound or X-rays, if therapy is not working. Patience is helpful: Just like in humans, if your dog's gut is chronically inflamed, it can take some time and testing to figure out what is going on.

How to Tell It is an Emergency?
Reasons to take your dog to the vet immediately include:

Diarrhea is explosive and bloody or tarry

Vomiting that does not stop

Swollen appearance to the abdomen or belly

Fever above 103 degrees Fahrenheit

Your senior dog is medically fragile due to other health conditions.

If you notice that your dog develops diarrhea after taking a medication that is prescribed by your veterinarian, call your veterinarian immediately to report it and get recommendations.


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Georgia Simpson

Have you noticed that your dog takes longer to get up in the mornings or is slower on her walks? This may not just be due to the unwillingness to bear the icy outdoor temperatures. Joint aches and pains caused by arthritis are often exaggerated in colder temperatures. Arthritis is a painful joint disease that can impact your dog's mobility and quality of life.

For instance, your dog may have difficulty jumping up on the couch, going up and down the stairs, hopping into the car, or just getting up from a lying position. Although arthritis can not be cured, it can be managed with medications. You can also make changes around the house to accommodate an arthritic dog. Arthritis refers to inflammation of the joints and in most cases a sign of "wear and tear" in older dogs. Our precious pooches can be pretty tough so will often try to hide signs of pain. If you have noticed they have slowed down on walks or are finding it difficult to climb stairs or even limping this may be due to arthritis.



1. You can help your furry friend by keeping her warm at night with a pet safe heat pad or hot water bottle, and always ensure she has a soft bed to sleep on.

2. Say no to pudding and hot chocolates! Excess weight or "winter pounds" as I like to call it will lead to extra strain on the joints. Try and ensure your dog remains at a healthy weight.

3. Joint supplements such as Glucosamine given daily can also help with reducing signs of arthritis. Glucosamine is found naturally in the connective tissues of our and our pooch's bodies. It helps with cartilage formation and repair.

4. Muscle massages can be very helpful. This can be done by yourself or by canine massage therapists. Massaging muscles will help to reduce muscles surrounding affected joints from atrophying (shrinking in size from lack of use). Just like the effects on us, massaging can also help to reduce the stresses of the day.

5. Warm compresses on joints will aid in reducing pain. A compress can be applied to the joint for 10 minutes each time. Make sure the compress is not too hot! Heat enhances circulation so more nutrients reach those achy joints.



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Most people have never heard of Idiopathic Vestibular Disease (IVD), also known as "old dog disease" or "old rolling dog syndrome." It is a sudden, non-progressive disturbance of balance most common in senior dogs. If you have never heard of it or seen it happen, it can be quite frightening, but rest assured, IVD is typically harmless.

What Is Idiopathic Vestibular Disease?
If your senior pet suddenly begins to walk in circles, has an unsteady gait, seems dizzy, or holds its head tilted to one side, Idiopathic Vestibular Disease may be the cause. The word Idiopathic indicates a condition that comes on spontaneously and has an unknown cause. Vestibular refers to the balance and coordination system within the inner ear of mammals including dogs and humans. IVD is very frightening for dog parents as its symptoms are similar to those of a stroke or brain tumor. Luckily, IVD is far less serious and usually gets better on its own with time and minimal treatment. It is also painless for your dog.

The Vestibular System
Just like in people, a dog's vestibular system is responsible for maintaining a sense of balance. When something goes wrong with this system, it is like being drunk on a rocky boat. Dogs with IVD will have some combination of the following signs:

A head tilt

An unsteady gait, loss of balance, or falling over

Circling in one direction

Eyes rapidly moving from side to side, known as nystagmus

Sudden vomiting

If you witness any of these signs, your dog should see a veterinarian for a neurologic and otoscopic examination. The dog in the following video has a severe case of IVD. Notice the tilted head, unsteady gait, and loss of balance. You can also see her eyes moving rapidly from side to side (nystagmus).

An important thing to note is that these symptoms are not unique. Idiopathic Vestibular Disease and other more serious illnesses often present in similar ways. These include strokes, brain tumors, inner ear infections, inflammatory diseases, and sudden bleeds into the brain.

Diagnosing IVD
Veterinarians typically recommend blood work and a blood pressure check for dogs showing vestibular signs. MRIs can also be done to evaluate the inner ear and brain. This allows for the best evaluation of disease but is often not pursued due to cost. Evaluation should include both ear canals since inner ear infections are a possible cause of vestibular disease. The inner ear (pictured below) is something you cannot directly see during an exam because the eardrum covers the view. However, if there is inflammation in the outer ear and eardrum, there is a good chance inner ear disease is present as well.


Caring For A Dog With Vestibular Disease
If clinical signs are so severe that the dog cannot walk, your vet may recommend supportive care with IV fluids and anti-nausea medications. If clinical signs are mild, pets can often be managed at home with nursing care and over the counter meds for motion sickness. Help Em Up Harness which proved to be a lifesaver in helping get the large dog outside during the worst of his dizziness.

What Is The Long-Term Prognosis For Dogs With IVD?
Idiopathic Vestibular Disease has a very loose rule of thumb: If there is gradual or complete improvement within 72 hours, it is most likely IVD. If there is no improvement or if there is a progression of symptoms, the cause could be something more serious, such as a brain tumor. In this case, an MRI is recommended. With idiopathic vestibular disease, slow but steady improvement and a return to normal or almost normal is typically seen in 7 to 14 days. For some dogs, a head tilt will persist for the rest of their lives.




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Managing incontinence in a dog can be frustrating. You keep finding and having to clean up dog pee in the house, and you may even start to feel angry or upset. Understanding the causes and seeking treatment can lead to the best outcome for your dog.

What Is Incontinence
in Senior Dog?

Incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine. So if your dog is incontinent, it means that they are not even aware of the fact that they are urinating. This incontinence occurs often in places where pets are resting - like in their bed or on the couch, and it tends to be a normal or large amount of urine.

What Causes Urinary Incontinence in Dogs?
There are many causes of incontinence in dogs. The first thing to note when you find urine in inappropriate places is where the pee is located and how much urine there is. It is important to watch your dog when they are urinating to gather clues as to the nature of the problem. Several medical conditions can result in inappropriate urination or urinary incontinence in a dog:

Urinary tract infection

Uroliths (urinary bladder stones)

Excessive drinking of water (which can be caused by diabetes mellitus, hyperadrenocorticism or Cushing's disease, diabetes insipidus, and kidney failure)

Spinal cord disease or damage (inflammation, trauma, pain, vertebral abnormality, paralysis, cancer)

Ectopic ureters and other anatomic abnormalities (a physical defect in the tubes that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder - most commonly found in young dogs)

Weak bladder sphincter (reduced sensitivity of receptors in the sphincter)

How Can You Tell Dog Incontinence From Inappropriate Elimination?
Other conditions can look like incontinence in dogs but may be caused by a different issue. Most of the following instances of inappropriate elimination are voluntary urinations in which the pet is aware, but loses control.

Submissive or excitement urination: This is a voluntary urination that has a behavioral component. Submissive urination often involves a small amount of urine and only happens when your dog is near a person or excited about an event.

Lack of proper house-training: Some dogs have not been consistently and positively trained to eliminate in appropriate spots. This can look like a normal amount of urine, and it tends to happen near a door or somewhere away from where your dog eats, sleeps, and plays.

Cognitive changes: Older pets can experience cognitive changes that alter their ability to recognize appropriate places to urinate. You will find a normal amount of urine in any place throughout the house.

Pain: Pain can lead to inappropriate elimination as well, as some pets find it difficult to posture or physically move to the correct location. Sometimes this can look like your dog is dripping urine as they try to make their way outside.

How Do You Treat Dog Incontinence?
If you find urine around the house, or you suspect urinary incontinence, you need to take your dog to the vet to discuss the details of your observations. The doctor will perform a physical examination to note changes in your dog's body, as well as some diagnostic tests. This usually starts with urinary testing - a urinalysis and urine culture and blood work. These tests can decode many medical causes of the changes in urination. Other tests may be required depending on the results of these tests. Once your vet understands more clearly what the medical condition is, they can address it specifically:

Urinary Tract Infection: Antibiotics are used to clear a urinary tract infection.

Bladder Stones: Diet and medication can help with some bladder stones. Pain management can be started if indicated. Many urinary bladder stones require surgical intervention.

Diabetes and Cushing's Disease: Urine issues caused by diabetes and Cushing's disease can improve when you address the primary condition.

Ectopic Ureters: Surgery is commonly indicated if ectopic ureters are found.

Weak Bladder: Dogs are started on medication or they may require surgery.

Urinary Incontinence Caused by a Weak Bladder
Let's talk more specifically about the details involving weak bladder sphincter incontinence. The medical term is urethral sphincter mechanism incompetence (USMI). This condition is the most common cause of urinary incontinence in spayed female dogs. Often, they are mature or middle aged when the incontinence starts. Dogs weighing 15 kilograms (33 pounds) or more are seven times more likely to develop urinary incontinence. Several breeds have urinary incontinence more commonly.

These include the Bearded Collie, Boxer, Collie, Dalmatian, Doberman Pinscher, English Springer Spaniel, German Shepherd Dog, Irish Setter, Old English Sheepdog, Rottweiler, and Weimaraner. Multiple factors are thought to play a role in USMI, including abnormal bladder positioning, estrogen deficiency or decline, obesity, genetics, or changes to vaginal support structures. Studies show mixed results about the timing of spaying in relation to this condition.

Treatment for Weak Bladders in Dogs
We initially try medication therapy for dogs experiencing USMI. Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) is a drug we commonly trial - it is well-tolerated by many pets and has been widely used in veterinary medicine. This medication can have some side effects (high blood pressure or elevated heart rate), so we monitor these pets closely after starting medication. Estrogens can increase the number or sensitivity of the receptors in the urethra. Sometimes we can use testosterone in males. Often, these medications do not need to be given as frequently as other medications. However, these drugs can also have side effects on the bone marrow, so we monitor blood work once starting one of these medications.

Surgical therapy can be considered if dogs do not respond to medical therapy. Surgery can include a procedure called colposuspension, or injection of bulking agents such as collagen into the urethra, or stem cell therapy. Many dogs respond well to therapy. These pets can have a good quality of life and enjoy many normal activities with their families. Typically, once starting medication, a dog will remain on a lifelong dose. Sometimes a dose change or addition of a second medication is required. Dog diapers can be effective tools to help to manage cleanliness, but you will need to carefully monitor for urine scalding or skin infection. This can happen if urine is sitting against your dog's skin for too long. This moist environment can be uncomfortable for your pet or allow for an infection to develop.



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You may be surprised and disheartened if you learn that your dog has diabetes. But with proper care, your beloved pup can live a long and healthy life. There is little or no evidence to suggest that dogs get Type 2 diabetes, although cats can. Dogs can and do develop Type 1 diabetes.

Just like in human beings, this form of the condition is marked by a lack of insulin, the hormone that keeps blood sugar in check. When an animal or human has diabetes, their muscles have trouble converting glucose into energy. An excess of glucose builds up in the blood, causing a state of hyperglycemia. If left untreated, this will develop into severe health problems. Diabetes can manifest in many different symptoms you may have already noticed in your dog.

Dog Diabetes Symptoms

Constantly Hungry or Thirsty - Often, diabetic dogs will show an excessive need for food and water, along with increased urination.

Surprising Accidents - Partially because of the increase in urination, diabetic dogs who have previously been housetrained may start to go to the bathroom inside again.

Weight Loss - If your dog is eating normally or even chowing down more than usual, but still losing weight, this can be a sign of diabetes.

Vomiting - In later stages of diabetes, dogs may vomit or even stop eating completely.

Lethargy and Depression - Another late stage symptom, your dog may be diabetic if you notice that he or she seems unusually lethargic or depressed.

If you have witnessed these symptoms in your dog, or have other reasons to believe your dog has developed diabetes, you should schedule an appointment with your vet immediately. Through medical tests, your vet will be able to determine whether diabetes is present.

Causes of Diabetes in Dogs and How to Treat It
Diabetes is still a subject of investigation for veterinary science. Doctors are not quite sure what causes the disease, although female dogs and obese dogs are at a higher risk. Diabetes is also common in older dogs, beginning to develop at any time from 6 to 9 years of age. Genetics, certain hormone therapies, and pancreatitis are also suspected causes of the condition.

Specific breeds have higher instances of diabetes, such as Australian terriers, schnauzers, dachshunds, poodles, keeshonds and Samoyeds. Juvenile diabetes is prevalent among golden retrievers and keeshonds. Treatment for diabetic dogs will vary widely depending on the size of your dog, other health conditions, and the severity of each individual case. In general, a combination of insulin with a modified diet and exercise is enough to manage your dog's blood sugar.

Most cases of diabetes in dogs will require regular doses of insulin. Severe cases may require short hospital stays while glucose levels stabilize. Once your dog's specific dose of insulin is determined, your vet will show you how to administer it at home. Current insulin delivery systems include pens, syringes, pumps, jet injectors, and inhalers. Be aware, though, that if you have pet insurance it may only cover one specific option.

Diet and Exercise
It is important to keep your dog's blood sugar at a healthy level. One of the best ways to do this is keeping your dog trim with daily exercise and a well-balanced diet. Your vet will probably lay down strict dietary restrictions for your dog. He or she will regulate calorie intake based on your dog's activity level and size. Though researchers are still working on the ideal diet for diabetics, high fiber foods are usually recommended. Fiber slows down the sugar intake levels in the blood and helps your dog feel fuller after meals. Because of this, your vet may recommend a high fiber brand of dog food. Prescription dog foods or homemade recipes are also a possibility. Whatever your vet recommends, make sure you follow his or her plan closely.

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Mychelle Blake

Canine parvovirus is a deadly disease that can strike fear into the hearts of new puppy owners. Though it is often thought of as a "puppy disease" it can strike dogs of any age. While parvovirus is not as common in older dogs, they are by no means free of risk of catching the disease. Adult dogs who get parvo may be better able to survive the disease but without treatment a fatality is not impossible. It is important to make sure your dog is properly vaccinated to avoid parvo altogether. If you are unsure whether your dog needs the vaccination, speak to your veterinarian and discuss your options, including titer testing.

Risk of Parvovirus
to Adult Dogs

Parvovirus affects puppies more often than adult dogs because they lack immunity. According to Veterinarian Dr. Jeff Werber, parvo is mostly an issue for, Dogs that do not have immunity, either from mother's immunity, which is called passive immunity, or from vaccinations or from the street. Nursing is important for developing immunity because, especially in the first 36 hours of nursing, puppies are getting the colostrum in the mother's milk which contains critical antibodies. However, is it possible for adult dogs to get parvovirus.

How Adult Dogs Get Parvovirus
Adult dogs who have not been vaccinated and have not developed a natural street immunity to the disease, or who have immune systems that are compromised, can get parvovirus if exposed to enough of the virus. In any disease there is always a battle between immunity, in other words the antibodies and the load of the antigen. If the antigen load is higher than the antibody protection, then the dog gets the disease. It all depends on what we call the challenge dose, which is how much virus the dog is exposed to and whether he has enough antibodies to beat it.

Differences Between Adult and Puppy Parvovirus
Both the symptoms and treatment of parvovirus are the same for adult dogs and puppies. Adult parvo is probably not, as serious as parvo in puppies but, You still have to treat it, regardless. Just as with puppies, the treatment of parvo with adult dogs is largely supportive care and protection against secondary opportunistic invaders. Fluids, plus vitamins or additives in the fluids, and antibiotics to protect against secondary viral infections. Despite the risk, the immune system of an adult dog is probably stronger than a little puppy's, therefore as long as you can keep them supported and hydrated and control the vomiting, an adult dog should do a little better than a puppy.

Vaccinated Adult Dogs and Parvovirus
A dog that has been vaccinated against parvo could still potentially get the virus although they may experience a less intense form of the disease. No vaccine can be said to provide 100% complete protection, and this is particularly true if the virus strains change. Some dogs may not properly process the vaccine at the time it was given and therefore their immune response does not develop as it should to provide protection. This can happen due to the dog's health at the time or due to receiving a higher than normal amount of antibodies when nursing from their mother. If the amount is too high, it can actually cancel out the effects of the vaccine.


If you have an older dog that has never been vaccinated, it is still possible to vaccinate them for parvovirus as long as they are healthy. The vaccine issue is not a function of age as much as body condition and health." A dog that is younger but very ill would be a bad candidate for vaccination because you would be giving them the antigen of a disease just when they are body's immune system is already compromised - this is defeating the purpose of the vaccination. On the other hand an older dog, even a senior dog, that is healthy could be safely vaccinated and benefit from the protection afforded by the vaccine.


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Dogs do often smell. It is a part of their hygiene. Many dogs smell when they have stepped outside for play or have foraged for food inside the dust-bin, however, there is always a difference between funny smell and stink. Although common in many dogs, stinking is not noticeable until they have been diagnosed with different physical ailments.

Stink is one of the earliest signs of underlying pet healthcare problems. Bad smell is more common in geriatric dogs who often encounter age-related diseases and ailments such as bowel disorder, cancer, oral disease, and anal sac problem. t is essential that you keep track of how your dog smells over the time to ascertain there are any underlying physical problems with them. Once you begin noticing unusual smell or stink, you should immediately consult your veterinarian.


Dental Disease
Dental problem is common in many elder dogs. You should take elderly dogs to the vet every six months, so any underlying problems can be figured out before it gets serious. Depending on the dental problem, your dog might require tooth extraction, gum surgery, or a thorough cleaning. By the age of 3, 70% of cats and 80% of dogs have some form of gum disease. Periodontal disease is common in dogs from a young age.

It becomes more prevalent in elderly dogs. Periodontal disease begins when bacteria in the mouth combine with food particles to form plaque. Within days, minerals in the saliva bond with the plaque to form tartar resulting in a deteriorating gum line. It produces toxins that lead to bone and tissue damage.

While a slight odor is normal for pets, stinky breath indicates deteriorating oral hygiene. Sometimes the underlying dental infection or cancer can cause smelly breath. Another problem specific in dogs is Gingival Hyperplasia, the overgrowth of the gums that can harbor food residue and produce a rotten smell. Boxers, Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels, Collies, and Great Danes are more prone to this oral disease.

Urinary incontinence, also known as lack of bladder control, is more frequent in elderly dogs. The aging dogs are more prone to weaker bladder and bladder infection. Over time, the muscles of the urinary tract system start to weaken in elderly dogs. Without bladder control, urine leaks onto a dog's fur, which leads to odor over time, unless given frequent baths. The condition has been seen occurring more frequently in senior spayed females than male dogs. Certain breeds are predisposed to urinary incontinence, including the springer and cocker spaniel, Old English sheepdog, and Doberman pinscher. If you begin noticing foul smells in your dog, you should certainly take them to the vet. Once diagnosed, your vet will prescribe medication to strengthen your dog's sphincter muscle for better urine control or offer hormonal therapy. Sometimes it could be the sign of kidney disease.

Kidney Disease
Bad breath (Halitosis) is not always caused by poor oral hygiene, sometimes it could be deteriorating kidney problems. Pets with kidney disease are unable to eliminate toxins from the bloodstream, which build up over time and create an ammonia-like odor to your dog's breath. A metallic odor to their breath could also be a sign of kidney disease. Kidney disease is a frequent occurrence in elderly pets. Dogs diagnosed with kidney diseases are often thirsty. Excess water consumption and increased urination, dull coat, appetite loss, and mouth soreness are few of the symptoms of underlying kidney disease. When you notice the earliest signs of kidney diseases, you can consult your vet who will prescribe a special kidney diet. For chronic kidney diseases, a kidney transplant is a more common solution.

Elderly dogs are more prone to diabetes. Diabetes mellitus or Diabetes in general is a common disease in middle-aged and older dogs. It is a complex disorder of carbohydrate, protein, and lipid metabolism in dogs. It can be the result of a relative or absolute insulin deficiency or of peripheral cell insensitivity to insulin which is characterized by high blood glucose concentrations such that the renal threshold is exceeded. Elderly dogs are unable to produce enough insulin or are not using insulin properly. The body fails to use the food they eat for nutrients. Over time the body will begin to weaken. It is an endocrine disorder. One of the effects of diabetes is a condition called ketosis when the body is forced to burn its fat supplies. When your dog is creating ketones, their breath will have a distinctive odor, which some say smell like nail polish remover, while others say the odor is sweet.

Skin Infection
There are many reasons for skin infection in dogs. Secondary bacterial infections from constant scratching, dogs with wrinkly skin, and allergies are often the major reasons for skin infection. Incessant scratching can lead to a bacterial infection which can give off a putrid odor. Dogs with wrinkly skin, such as English bulldogs, Shar Pei's, or pugs, are more prone to developing skin fold dermatitis when two skins come close in contact. It creates a warm, moist environment perfect for an overgrowth of surface microbes which can produce toxins that cause irritation and inflammation. Allergy is one of the major reasons for skin infection in dogs. It often manifests in itchy skin allowing bacteria to enter through breaks in the skin, leading to a stinky infection.

Anal Sac Issues
Anal sacs issue occurs because of anal sac infection or impactions. This often leads to a nasty smell. Anal sacs are two small glands located on either side of the dog's rectum. If untreated, it can lead to anal sac rupture and forms an abscess which can also create quite a stench. Common signs of anal sac issues are when they drag their bottom on the ground, scooting, and licking of anal.

Flatulence occurs when your dog eats something it is not supposed to. On occasion, your dog's diet may simply not agree with their gastrointestinal system, and a food change is in order.

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Whether you have recently brought home a pet or considering the idea, one of the most important decisions you will ever have to make is getting it spayed or neutered. Removing the ovaries of female dogs or removing the testicles of a male dog will not only improve the dog's behavior considerably, but it will also keep them close to home as well. A lot of people often wonder if it is still possible to get their older dogs neutered.

Neutering is generally performed when the pet is younger but it is also not uncommon to do it on dogs that are of more advanced age. While there may be possible side effects to the procedure on an older pet, there are many instances when it is the right course of action to take, especially when used as a treatment for a condition or to prevent illnesses. Another thing that can cross your mind is if it is indeed possible to have your dog spayed while they are in heat. Spaying dogs in heat might sound uncommon, but it actually is not a unique case.

Benefits of Neutering
Older Dogs

When it comes to older dogs, neutering is no longer just done as a plain solution to population control. Most people are not aware that there are instances when neutering is done before any disease develops to help prevent the condition from developing into something more life-threatening. For instance, neutering can be effective at preventing certain forms of cancer among canines including prostatic diseases, uterine infections, prostatic enlargement, as well as a whole host of behavioral issues.

Although it is quite preferable for veterinarians to perform the procedure when the dogs are younger, even older dogs can be safely and effectively neutered provided that proper planning is laid out ahead of time. Older dogs will experience different benefits compared to what puppies would. But there are various reasons that it should be doneโ€” mainly to address potential medical issues and risks. There are also cases when neutering has to be performed as an emergency procedure, especially after a health problem has developed.

Possible Side-Effects of Neutering Older Canines
Generally, if there are side effects to neutering an older dog, it will be minimal. It is important to understand that proper care after the operation has been performed is crucial to senior dogs. Just like how things are for humans in their advanced years, surgeries and hospitalizations are going to take a much heavier toll on older dogs compared to younger ones.

So, if you are an owner of an older dog that has to go through neutering, make sure to shower them with extra TLC. You may also need to coax them to eat after surgery and they may also need you to get them up or down the stairs after the procedure. Dogs are expected to experience complete recovery within 10-14 days from the time the procedure has been performed. The rest period must be strictly imposed at least for the first few weeks, pet parents have to be extremely careful with overly active dogs as they may delay the healing process as a result or worse, could experience complications.

If there are medications that have been prescribed by the veterinarian, pet parents need to see to it that they are administered appropriately at the set time to hasten the healing process. Pain medications also have to be administered on time and on schedule even when the pet does not seem to appear in pain. Remember, pain prevention is always easier than treatment. Besides, your dog can not really tell you if it is in pain or not, so being proactive with their medication intake will help ensure that they are set right down towards the path of healing.


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1. Senior dogs at shelters need homes just as badly as younger dogs. Many older dogs were once owned and loved by someone. For whatever reason, they were given up and abandoned in a shelter and are in need of a home. Just like puppies and younger adoptable dogs, they make loyal and loving companions.

2. Adopting an older dog may save its life. Many people are quick to adopt puppies and younger dogs, often overlooking dogs over the age of five. Shelters are overcrowded and unfortunately, older dogs are among the first to be euthanized if they are not adopted in a timely manner. By adopting a senior dog, you are not only providing it with a better life but are also saving it from being put down.

3. Older dogs are not necessarily "problem dogs" as many tend to think. Senior dogs lose their homes for a variety of reasons, usually having nothing to do with their behavior or temperament, but more due to the fact that their owners are unable to keep them for reasons including: the novelty of owning a dog wearing off, allergies, death of a guardian, a new baby, loss of a job, a move, change in work schedule, and various other lifestyle changes. These dogs need homes just as badly as young adoptees do, and make wonderful household pets.

4. Older dogs usually come trained and understand at least basic commands. Most older dogs are potty-trained and have mastered the basic commands such as "sit," "stay," "come," and "down." Adopting an already trained dog will save you a lot of time and energy that you'd normally have to dedicate towards training a young dog.

5. You can teach an old dog new tricks. Dogs can be trained at any age and older dogs are just as smart as younger ones. Older dogs have a greater attention span than a puppy, which make them easier to train.

6. Older dogs are calmer and less energetic than younger dogs. An adult dog has graduated from the puppy stage and has an established demeanor and temperament, which will give you an instant idea of how it will fit into your household. Older dogs have all their adult teeth and are out of the energetic puppy phase, which will result in less destruction to your home. Many of them do well with young children as they have a lower energy level and have possibly lived with them in their past homes.

7. Older dogs make instant companions. Unlike a puppy, which requires leash training, etc. an older dog is ready to accompany you on a long walk and already knows how to play fetch. An adult dog will make a great workout partner, a loyal companion, and a late night snuggle buddy.

8. You Could Save an Older Dog's Life! Dogs can not stay at shelters forever. Depending on the type of shelter senior dogs are in, especially kill shelters, it is hard to say how long the shelter can keep them or what happens to them once their stay is up. When you adopt a senior dog, you may just be saving the life of a pooch the shelter was ready to give up on.





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Dr. Phil Zeltzman

When it comes to love, the phrase "age is just a number" often comes into play, and the same should go for the animals who are being considered for adoption. Just because a dog is not a cuddly puppy anymore does not mean they have any less devotion to give. Let's discuss the common misconception that all senior pets at shelters are problematic. Some people assume that if they are still in a shelter at their age, then there must be something wrong with them, but that could not be farther from the truth. Common reasons most senior pets are in shelters include:

Abandonment by a moving family

Their owner has passed away

A family member became allergic

A new baby in the family

Even though numerous people are passionate about their senior pets, there remains a lot of myths associated with adding an older pet to the family, making them appear less desirable than younger animals to adopt.

1. Senior Dogs Do not Play
Senior dogs do, in fact, play! Let's not forget that there are puppies who are born and do not enjoy playing around because, just like human's, pets have their own personalities. A calmer, wiser and more collected pet may be right up the alley of a slower-paced family, a laid-back couple or a relaxed single looking for a new friend. Some breeds, including the sporting group, can even maintain their stamina well into double digits.

2. An Older Dog Will not Bond with New Owners
The benefits of adopting a senior pet outweigh the cons. Older pets are just as likely to bond with new family members. The affection or love you receive from your furry friend is not measured by their age but by the love in their heart. The great thing is, with a senior pet, what you see is often what you get. Most older pets are already set in their personality traits, with pups, you run the risk of maybe assuming you are adopting a laid-back animal puppy only to find out that they are always jacked up like they got into 3 or 4 cups of coffee. If you click with a senior pet when you meet, then you can consider it love at first sight.

3. You Can not Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
Some senior pets may have more self-control than younger animals. Combine this with a bit less energy, and it could make it easier for them to focus and learn at a quicker pace, potentially saving you time on training. Some senior pets may have already been trained if they lived with a previous owner who put in the work before placing them in a shelter. This means you may be adding a well-mannered friend to the family immediately.

Training Your Senior Dog: How to smile or yawn, How to ring a bell, so you know to open the door for them, How to walk backward, How to roll up into a blanket. These are just some of the tricks that senior dogs excel at over younger pups. Here their experience and age become a benefit. These tricks are solely for senior pets because they take a longer time to learn so the pet must be patient and more self aware. If you are shopping around for a pet that will impress your friends and family, a senior pet is defiantly the way to go.

4. Senior Dogs have more Expensive Vet Bills
Whether your animal is young or older, no one plans on their pet getting sick or injured, but the reality is that pets are just like us and unpleasant things can happen to them! This is why it is important to plan ahead for their well-being. One way to do this is to provide pet insurance for your dog or cat. Pet Insurance helps you be ready for accidents or illness regardless of your dog's age, and it won't break the bank. Since Prudent Pet has no age limits on policies like other insurance companies may have, we are an ideal match for your older furry friend.

5. My Dog is too Old for Anesthesia
Please do not let your neighbor, your friend or the internet tell you that your dog is too old or sick for anesthesia. And do not be afraid to seek out an expert on the topic. Keep in mind, if your dog is that old, surgery is probably not being recommended for merely cosmetic reasons. Your veterinarian is probably talking about it because of a life or death situation, or a serious quality of life issue.

A thorough physical exam and blood work should always be performed before anesthesia. In older dogs, it may be wise to also take chest and belly radiographs, as well as an ECG to be safe. Some dogs may need to be stabilized prior to anesthesia, which may mean fixing blood work abnormalities, giving IV fluids, or giving a blood transfusion prior to anesthesia and surgery.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials
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Bernard Rollin

The Final Destination
Noone lives forever. That is the painful fact that you will have to deal with one day when your senior dog reaches the end of his life. Making that final decision on your dog's behalf is the hardest call you will ever have to make, but it is also the ultimate responsibility that goes hand in hand with pet ownership. Always be guided by your vet when it comes to making the final decision to end your dog's life. Never be tempted to try to unfairly prolong the life of your beloved pet, to save yourself the pain of losing him. Your dog's quality of life must always be your priority.

How to manage the decision to euthanize
Here is my suggestion to anyone who is thinking about getting a pet: when you first acquire it, create a list of everything you can find that makes the animal happy - eating a treat, chasing a ball, etc. Put the list away until the animal is undergoing treatment for a terminal disease, such as cancer. At that point, return to the list: is the animal able to chase a ball? Does the animal get excited about receiving a treat? If the animal has lost the ability to have positive experiences, it's often easier to let go. This strategy can be augmented by pointing out the differences between human and animal consciousness. As philosopher Martin Heidegger has pointed out, for humans much of life's meaning is derived from balancing past experiences with future aspirations, such as wishing to see one's children graduate or hoping to see Ireland again. Animals, on the other hand, lack the linguistic tools to allow them to anticipate the future or create an internal narrative of the past. Instead, they live overwhelmingly in the present. So if a pet owner is reluctant to euthanize, I'll often point out that the animal no longer experiences pleasant "nows." In the end, managing euthanasia represents a major complication of the augmented status of pets in society. Ideally, companion animal owners should maintain a good relationship with their general veterinary practitioner, who has often known the animal all of its life, and can serve as a partner in dialogue during the trying times when euthanasia emerges as a possible alternative to suffering.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

Terminal Illness and End of Life Decisions
If you are told that your dog has a terminal illness, follow these steps when making end-of-life and dog euthanasia decisions:

First, collect information on the illness and the latest treatments from your Veterinarian. Do some research online to see if there are any drug trials or studies being conducted by any of the Veterinary Research Hospitals

Have a conversation with your Veterinarian about options. Be sure to ask about any symptoms and how they will progress. Ask what can be done to manage those symptoms in order to maintain an acceptable quality-of-life for your dog.

Another approach is to rate your dog's quality of life on a scale from 1 to 10, which is different for any dog. For example, if a dog no longer can do his or her favorite things like chase a ball or play, that would lead to a lower score.

Check the dog quality of life scale here, to do your own dog euthanasia and end-of-life evaluation.

When using a quality of life scale, use it on a day when a dog is experiencing an average level of symptoms. Taking the test when a dog has had 3 to 5 bad days could unnecessarily depress any scores.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials
Palliative Care
Palliative care is designed to reduce or relieve the intensity of uncomfortable symptoms. Sometimes medications can be used to control problems such as urine that dribbles, panting or appetite loss. Alternative treatment options can also bring some relief including supplements (SAMe, omega-3 fatty acids), acupuncture, laser therapy and massage. Pain medications can also bring some relief, including injectable pain medications. And don't forget faith and prayer. Personally I believe dogs most definitely have souls, and I believe that God cares for all animals and I have no qualms about praying for guidance in reference to my pets as well as humans! You love your dog, and you are doing the best you can to make sure that he doesn't suffer and has the chance to pass peacefully from this life to the next. It's a very personal decision and one you are putting a lot of thought into, so once you have decided, try not to second-guess yourself. Trust your decision-making process and do your best to be calm and accepting, your emotions will spill over onto your dog so make it easier for him/her by being easier on yourself.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

If you have any doubts, or if you feel you are not getting the answers, then be sure to seek a second opinion. Even hearing the same diagnosis from multiple sources affirms that you did the best you could for your dog.

Do not avoid the inevitable. Better to have a plan and to think things through even if wrong.

Download the quality of life survey at the bottom of this page. Take the survey as a decision making aid.

Spend more time with your dog and celebrate his or her life. Capture the moments in pictures and words as best you can while you still can.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

When it is time, discuss what to do with your dog's remains. Going through the process to make this decision for an old or sick dog is a long and painful experience. The answer to the question of "When is the right day?" Should always be when you ask

"Am I keeping him alive for me and not for him?"

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

There is no right answer when it comes to making end-of-life decisions, only what makes sense for you and your family. Below, some points to consider. Your dog doesn't experience time the same way you do. In fact, animals have no sense of the future at all. To the animal mind, there is only present quality of life," There is no point in buying your pet a few more weeks if it comes at the cost of pain and suffering at least not from your dog's perspective. Often, dog owners project their own feelings onto the animal and of course you want him to live forever. But as much as your dog feels like a part of you, it is his experience that is most important.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials
Weight all the costs
It sounds callous: How do you put a price on a family member? You may feel guilty that you can't spend every cent to save your pet. But paying for more surgeries and treatments that are unlikely to help will only offer you a temporary feeling of action, especially if old age is the main culprit. When you look at treatment options and interventions, find out if they will give him a good quality of life for a long period of time. Treatments themselves can be painful, and you don't want to put a pet through stress unless there's a good chance it will make a difference. Don't beat yourself up if you opt out of exorbitant procedures. It's perfectly OK to set a limit on how much you can afford.

Think about the whole family's well-being How much can your family take physically and emotionally? We had turned our lives upside down for Buddy. In his last months, only one of us could leave the house at a time, which was stressful, as was staying up all night with him. Were we crazy to do that much? Were we horrible not to do more? In the end, there is no right or wrong. We all do the best we can, in every way, for our dear friends. Check with your vet to find out about local pet grief support groupsonline or in your area.




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