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15 human years equals the first year of canine life
Year two for a dog equals about 9 more years for a human
And after that, each human year would be approximately 5 years for a dog.
On average dogs live for around 12 years, although many live for much longer
Mixed breed dogs live 14.45 years Purebred dogs live 14.14 years
Never Give to your Dog Medication or Supplements Made for Humans!
7 THINGS YOUR SENIOR DOG WOULD LIKE TO TELL YOU This article is proudly presented by WWW.OLDDOGHAVEN.ORG and Jaymi Heimbuch
Having a dog is one of the best things in the world, but it is not without its downsides. One of the worst aspects of having a dog as a family member is watching them age relatively quickly. They begin to slow down, they may gain weight more easily, their senses start to dull. An older dog's behavior will give you plenty of hints as to what he needs, but sometimes it helps to put it in words.
There are many more things to keep an eye out for as your dog ages, including good dental care to avoid gum disease, a diet that fulfills all of his unique nutritional needs, and watching for other common issues of aging from liver disease to diabetes to more difficulty fighting off illnesses. Though it may sound like a lot of work to care for your dog as he hits the senior years, such devotion has its own special rewards, including knowing that you have done everything you can for a companion that has been dependent on you from day one. If your senior dog could talk, here are a few things he or she would most likely tell you.
I can not see as well anymore. I can not hear as well either If you think your dog is starting to ignore you, you may actually find that he simply does not hear you calling, or he can not see the ball you threw in what you thought was plain sight. Often, owners do not notice the signs that a dog is losing his sight or hearing until the loss is severe. One of the signs may initially look like aggression - if a person comes up and touches the dog without the dog noticing the approach, the dog may react out of defensive surprise. This could also be because the touch caused pain in arthritic or sensitive areas, but we will get to that in a moment.
In the case of hearing loss, one of the ways you can prepare for a smooth transition to deafness is to start training with hand signals early. When your dog knows hand signals well, it won't matter as much that he can not hear what you are asking of him. And many dogs who are hard of hearing can still detect vibration, so you can get your dog's attention by using hand claps, knocking on a hard surface or some other noise-making strategy.
Vision loss is another problem with subtle signs. If your dog becomes more clumsy, can not find food or water dishes, does not want to move around as much, or is easily startled, a loss of vision could be the culprit. If your vet determines that the behavior changes are indeed due to weakening vision, there are some work-arounds that might help your dog. The ASPCA recommends clearing clutter from the floor, marking different rooms with different scents or with differently textured rugs so your dog recognizes which room he is in by smell or touch, blocking off dangerous areas such as pools, and keeping familiar things like furniture and food and water dishes in the same place.
I am a little more anxious now Senior dogs often have a harder time handling stress. Things that were not issues before may become so, such as separation anxiety - even to the point of being anxious at night because you are asleep and not alert to them, visitors entering the home, interacting with new dogs, new noise phobias or simply acting more irritated or agitated than usual.
Some dogs might become more clingy while other dogs might want to be left to themselves more often. Though much of this can be chalked up to dulled senses and increased pain, it is important to rule out medical issues for anxiety. If you notice anxious or more aggressive behavior, visit your vet immediately so your dog gets a full examination to make sure there is not a pressing medical issue at the root of the changes.
If it is indeed simply the effects of aging, you can help reduce your dog's anxiety by keeping floors free up clutter, taking more frequent short walks or playing games or food puzzles to increase his mental stimulation, allow him extra space away from strangers or stimulation when in public, keeping a consistent routine so he knows what to expect during the day, and continuing to work with separation training for when you are away or asleep! Most importantly, you want to be as patient as possible, since your dog can still pick up on your mood and that can add to his anxiety.
I get cold more easily now There is a reason why older dogs like warm cozy beds - it is not as easy to regulate body temperature. A dog who could handle hanging outside all day on a chilly day will likely need a sweater when out and a bit more time inside with a bed close to the heater. Helping your dog keep his body temperature up will help minimize joint and muscle stiffness, and even help him stave off illnesses since his body won't be focused entirely on staying warm.
Closely monitor your dog's environmental temperature and watch him for signs of being chilly. If your dog needs a little extra help staying warm, there are of course a huge array of sweaters for when your dog is outside. When indoors, you can help by putting the dog's bed close to a heat source, or providing a heating pad that can be plugged in to provide consistent warmth. Watch, though, that your dog is not getting too warm, especially if you are using an electric heating pad. Carefully monitor that the blanket is warm, not hot.
I can not move as well as I used to because my joints hurt Arthritis and joint pain are common problems for aging dogs. Whether it is an old injury that begins to flare up more often or arthritis that continues to worsen, joint pain can cause a number of problems for an older dog from difficulty getting into the car or down the stairs to being able to move around in cold weather. To stave off joint issues for as long as possible, it is a great idea to give your dog chondroitin and glucosamine supplements starting early, even as young as a couple years of age.
When joint pain sets in, anti-inflammatory pain relievers prescribed by a vet could be helpful. You can also provide ramps where a dog needs to climb stairs, take shorter but more frequent walks, provide opportunities to swim or have other non-impactful exercise, provide him with an orthopedic bed and elevated food and water dishes, and even simple measures like not calling him to come to you when he is lying down unless it is necessary.
I may have the same appetite, but I can not burn calories like I used to Obesity is one of the main health issues for older dogs, and it can cause myriad other health problems from exacerbating joint pain and breathlessness to causing heart or liver issues. The reason older dogs tend to become obese is not only because their energy level and activity decrease, but also because their general caloric needs shift. When humans age, our metabolism slows down and we need less food to maintain a consistent weight.
It is the same with dogs. Though they may act just as hungry and treat-crazed as ever, their body is not burning the calories the same way, so they gain weight. You may find it is time to shift to dog foods designed for senior dogs, which have fewer calories, more fiber and less fat, and extra nutritional supplements. You may find that you need to minimize the treats that you dole out throughout the day.
I get confused sometimes and may forget some of our old rules A loss of cognitive ability is common with aging. Your dog may forget simple things like how to navigate around an obstacle or even get lost in areas he is not familiar with or not recognize people he knows. He may have a harder time performing tasks or learning new tricks. In fact, he may forget behaviors he is known for a long time such as being house trained. Bathroom accidents may become more common.
No matter what, if your dog starts to act strangely or has behavior changes, have him checked out by a vet to be sure of the cause, which could be more than simply aging. But if it does come down to getting older, you can help your dog with medications and supplements as well as simply being more patient with him and helping him when he gets confused or lost.
I need a little extra care in grooming these days Older dogs often experience changes in skin, coat and even their nails. Their skin can become dry and their coat more coarse. A supplement of coconut or salmon oil with meals can go a long way to solving the problem. But the dog's skin can also become more thin, so injury may be more likely. It is important to take extra care when the dog is playing or out on a hiking trail that he is not hurt.
Meanwhile the dog's nails can become brittle. Your dog will need more frequent nail trimmings since he is not filing down his nails through activities, so it is important to take extra care with pedicures.
Because an older dog might not be as likely or as able to do his own grooming, you may need to increase how many times a week you brush out his coat and help him to stay clean. It is a great opportunity to bond with one another, as well as a chance for you to check for any new lumps, bumps or pains your dog may be having that might need to be checked out.
Our pets are family no matter their age. We love senior dogs just as much as when they were puppies, but some of us might be in denial when it comes to admitting that they have entered their senior years. And it can also be confusing knowing exactly when you should call your pup a senior, especially when that range is different for different breeds and sizes of dogs.
Ageing is the process during which structural and functional changes accumulate in an organism as a result of the passage of time. The changes manifest as a decline from the organism's peak fertility and physiological functions until death. As dogs age, their needs change. Paying attention to the side effects of aging will help you make your dog comfortable in his later years.
Physical and Mental Development A 10 to 12 year old dog, depending on his size and individual variation, is roughly the equivalent of a 60 to 90 year old person. A 13 to 15 year old dog, depending on her size and health, is roughly equivalent to a 70 to 115 year old person. At this stage, it is normal for your dog to spend more time sleeping and to respond more slowly when roused. By now, you have likely realized that your dog is slowing down. He may still enjoy a long walk, but he is not quite as zippy as he used to be. You might even notice that he sleeps more or takes a bit longer to rouse or respond to commands. Regular veterinary visits can help determine whether those changes are normal aging or signs of illness.
Is There a Set Range for a Senior Dog's Age? According to the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, the term "senior" can describe an aging pet, but the number of years a pet is considered to be "senior" varies. Identifiers such as weight, breed and the state of their organs can also help determine if your pet has reached old age. Though many old guidelines talk about seven dog years being equal to one human year, the size of the dog really depends on the extent to which you can follow that rule. For example, large dogs will typically age faster than smaller dogs. For a dog between 20-40 pounds, these guidelines are more effective, but it is not uncommon to see a geriatric Great Dane at age 7 or a Chihuahua in his 20s. In most cases, however, dogs can be considered senior between 5 and 10 years old.
The terms "geriatric" and "senior" also differ. While a dog may be considered senior, they are likely still healthy or just beginning to experience signs of aging. Geriatric animals are at the older end of the aging spectrum and often experience more health related issues. Aging in dogs varies from breed to breed, and affects the dog's health and physical ability. As with humans, advanced years often bring changes in a dog's ability to hear, see and move about easily.
Skin condition, appetite and energy levels often degrade with geriatric age, and medical conditions such as cancer, kidney failure, arthritis, dementia, and joint conditions, and other signs of old age may appear. The aging profile of dogs varies according to their adult size, often determined by their breed: smaller dogs often live over 15-16 years, medium and large size dogs typically 10 to 13 years, and some giant dog breeds such as mastiffs, often only 7 to 8 years. The latter reach maturity at a slightly older age than smaller breeds - giant breeds becoming adult around two years old compared to the norm of around 13-15 months for other breeds.
Signs of Aging for Senior Dogs There is a wide range of factors to help you recognize signs of aging in your pet - many of them similar to the signs of aging in people. Some of these factors may be more obvious, like an intolerance to exercise or limited mobility, while others are much more subtle. Your dog's behavior may also help indicate signs of aging. While cats do not always show that something is wrong until their issues become more advanced, many dogs are more demonstrative and vocal with their discomfort. Here are some things to keep an eye on:
Significant increase in water consumption or urination for no reason
Sudden weight loss or gain
Decreased appetite or failure to eat for more than two days
Marked increase in appetite
Repeated vomiting, or blood in vomit
Diarrhea for more than three days
Difficulty in passing stool or urine
Unexplained lameness lasting more than five days or lameness in more than one leg
Marked decrease in vision
Open sores or scabs lasting more than one week
Foul mouth odor or excessive drooling
Increased abdomen size
Increased inactivity or excessive sleeping
Abnormal hair loss, especially if accompanied by scratching or if in specific areas
Reluctance or inability to chew dry food
Blood in stool or urine
Sudden collapse or weakness
A seizure or convulsion
Persistent coughing or gagging
Heavy or rapid breathing while resting
Eating Patterns and Weight You will want to monitor your dog's eating patterns and body weight, as obesity can cause issues, including osteoarthritis and diabetes. A too-thin animal or dog that won't eat could be having dental or stomach issues.
Sleeping Patterns and Cognitive Health Sleeping patterns and cognitive behavior are also things to look out for. A dog that is not aware of his surroundings or has difficulty recognizing people may be experiencing early canine dementia.
Drinking Patterns and Urination A less obvious but just as important sign of aging is how much your pet is drinking and urinating. How much your pet is or is not drinking can be indicative of many problems, from endocrine issues to kidney disease. Urinary incontinence in female dogs may also be a sign of trouble. It is challenging to watch for, especially in multi-pet households, but should be monitored if possible. Monitoring your dog's urination and defecation on walks can be a useful tool. Even if both are normal, you may notice your senior dog being slower or more resistant to posturing.
Lumps and Bumps Being aware of your dog's overall body condition may also help you spot any abnormalities, like cancer. We are keeping animals healthier and healthier now, and as our pet population is graying, an eventual cause of death is cancer, especially in specific breeds. We need to be aware of lumps and bumps. Many dogs develop lumps and bumps while they age. Not every lump will need to be tested or removed, but keeping track of them can avoid problems. Lumps that are new, growing or are different from the other ones on your pet can indicate a problem.
Behavioral Changes If your dog does not respond to your commands, do not automatically assume he is being willful or disobedient. If he is becoming hard of hearing, you may just need to speak a little more loudly or start using hand signals. At this point in your dog's life, it is important to watch for behavioral changes.
Some are normal with age, but others may indicate health issues. For example, a dog who no longer likes to jump around or climb the stairs may have pain or stiffness in his joints. Mild-mannered dogs who start to show aggression may be signaling that they do not feel well or are even developing dementia. The causes of this type of symptom can be treated or medically managed. Therefore, it is important to note changes in your dog's behavior or preferences and communicate them to your veterinarian.
Pay attention to how your dog behaves around children. At this age, he may become less tolerant of young children, reacting negatively to sudden squeals or unpredictable movements. He may also begin to exhibit distress when you leave or be disturbed by loud noises such as firecrackers or thunderstorms. On the other hand, he may become less responsive to such stimuli because he is losing his hearing or vision. Sensory loss, however, means that he may startle easily and even react with aggression.
If you have other dogs in the household, watch for a shift in dominance. As a dog ages, his place in the hierarchy can change, resulting in conflict. That shift may be evident when the dogs compete for your attention, greet visitors or guard their food or toys. It is a good time to reinforce your position as the alpha dog. Your aging dog may have difficulty adjusting to the arrival of a new puppy.
He could find a young whippersnapper's high energy and playful attacks irritating and react aggressively. Watch for signs of dementia in your dog. He may start to forget commands or other trained behavior he grasped when younger.
A forgetful dog may seem to wander, even in familiar territory. Or he may have more accidents in the house. Accidents also can be a sign of a health problem. Do not dismiss behavioralchanges as simply part of getting older. They may be signs of medical complications. You and your dog's quality of life may be improved by seeking veterinary advice and treatment for changes in your dog's health or behavior.
Recognizing Common Diseases for Senior Dogs A very common and preventable disease that is prevalent in senior pets is dental disease. While it is not always a serious disease to have, it is one worth paying attention to and can change your dog's demeanor if treated early and effectively.
You can spot periodontal disease by smelling your dog's breath and regularly checking their teeth and gums for signs of bacterial infection, such as inflammation, reddened gums and tartar. Left untreated, dental issues can impact a dog's heart, kidneys and the rest of the body. If dental disease is causing discomfort, it may make your dog not want to eat, which can lead to all sorts of other problems - that is why your veterinarian recommends regular dental cleanings.
Kidney and liver disease can be an issue for both cats and dogs, as can heart valve disease. Endocrine issues, including those impacting the adrenal glands and thyroid, can also affect aging dogs.
Hypothyroidism can make older dogs feel lethargic and potentially gain weight.
Your dog's cognitive function is also a common issue, are they aware of their surroundings? Do they recognize their people? There are minor, natural declines in cognition as a part of the aging process, but as it advances, it can disrupt a dog's quality of life.
DOG vs HUMAN AGEING COMPARISON This article is proudly presented by WWW.VCAHOSPITALS.COM and Lynn Buzhardt
You watch your young pup bounce across the lawn. You see your old dog lumber slowly to the food bowl. You take a brisk run with your young dog close at your heels. You slowly walk to the mailbox and your old dog still lags behind. What a difference a few years make to your dog. You do not feel older, so why does your dog? Perhaps it is because what you and your dog consider "old" are vastly different.
Comparing your human age to your furry friend's canine age is rather complicated, but, simply put, one year to Fido is not one year to you. The most common theory comparing human and canine ages uses this equation: Dog years X 7 = Human years. This simple equation is only a rough estimate. A more accurate comparison of human vs. canine age takes into consideration the dog's size and breed.
Dogs develop more quickly the first two years of life, after which development levels out a bit. Smaller dogs age more slowly and have longer life spans. Larger dogs age more quickly and have shorter life spans. In addition, certain breeds enjoy more longevity than others.
When comparing size, small Poodles live longer than huge Great Danes. But when comparing breed, Great Danes outlive mid-sized Bulldogs. So the 7 to 1 ratio does not hold across the board. Another factor that skews age calculation involves the rate of canine development. Dogs develop more quickly the first two years of life, after which development levels out a bit. During the first two years, one dog year equals about 10.5 human years.
All of these calculations are based on the assumption that the average human life expectancy in developed countries is 80 years. The average life span globally is only 66 years. So the equations have to be altered according to geography. Complicated enough for you?
Complications in comparing dog age to human age are well founded. The old 7 dog years = 1 human year theory is inaccurate because the dog ages and develops more quickly the first two years of life. Plus the ratio varies with dog breed and size. Even the more accepted equation utilizing the 10.5 factor the first two years of the dog's life and 4 years thereafter has pitfalls because it does not account for size and breed.
The more accurate estimate of a dog's age in human years is calculated taking size and breed into consideration. This method either categorizes dogs as small, medium, and large or more specifically uses their estimated adult weight. What is consistent is the fact that dogs age more rapidly than their owners do.
Emotional Ageing To further complicate the issue, emotional maturity does not align with physical maturity. Emotional maturity occurs over an extended period of time. For example, a 21 year old human is considered an adult, but may not reach emotional maturity until age 40 or so. The same applies to dogs. Even though a nine month old pup may be socially and sexually active, full maturity is not achieved until age 3 or 4. That is why 2 year old Labradors still chew your favorite slippers!
When is senior status conferred? For humans, some people consider 55 year olds to be senior citizens. Others delay imposing that status until 65 years. Canine senior status varies, too. Small dogs are considered senior citizens of the canine community when they reach 11 years of age. Their medium sized friends become seniors at 10 years of age. Their larger sized colleagues are seniors at 8 years of age. And, finally, their giant-breed counterparts are seniors at 7 years old. So a Great Dane becomes a senior citizen far earlier than a Pomeranian.
With age comes lots of loss, but there is also a lot of fulfillment looking back on a life (human or canine) that was well-lived. So forget about the equations. The joy you share with your pet should never get old.
Much like most humans during their aging process, senior dogs may experience some of the same signs of getting old. Each dog, like each human, is different. An aging dog may experience changes in behavior, pack order dominance issues, or even aggression.
These social changes can come as a result of outward signs of a dog's advancing years or from health problems like dementia, pain, or factors related to worsening eyesight or hearing. Here are some general physical signs to watch for and some ways to help your dog adjust to seniorhood. You should know what to expect and how to help your dog navigate through its golden years.
Key points Take your dog to the vet if:
Your dog is eating less
Your dog is drinking more than normal
Your dog has smelly breath
Your dog has lost weight
there is stiffness, a limp or difficulty in jumping up onto things
you find any lumps or bumps, especially if they are rapidly getting bigger
Your dog is getting tired when out for a walk
Your dog has a cough
Your dog is having trouble passing urine or faeces, or is passing water indoors
Your dog has become dull, disorientated or is having trouble with balance
there are discharges from the vagina
1. Slowing Down, Arthritis, or Muscle Loss You may notice that your dog has been slowing down some with aging. This is not always the case but look for subtle changes in the way your dog gets up, lies down, uses stairs, and takes part in activities. Is there any hesitation or stiffness? Does a change in the weather - rainy or cold, make it worse? Arthritis is common in dogs as they age, particularly large breeds, and can occur in any joint, most commonly the legs, neck, or spine.
There are many different medications and therapies available to help ease the discomfort of arthritis. You should take the dog to see your vet if you notice these signs of slowing down. Mild loss of muscle mass also may occur with old age, but more severe changes are usually associated with disease. For example muscle atrophy in the head or belly muscles are seen with masticatory myositis and Cushing's disease, respectively, while loss of muscle mass within the hind legs can be associated with spinal problems.
2. Hypothyroidism Another potential cause of slowing down is hypothyroidism, an endocrine disorder common in dogs. This condition is easily managed with a thyroid supplement prescribed by a veterinarian.
3. Reduced Vision or Blindness Has your dog begun bumping into things, falling or displaying signs of eye discomfort - redness, cloudiness, etc? He may be suffering from vision loss or an eye disorder. Deteriorating eyesight is part of the normal aging process for dogs. Many dogs will develop a cloudiness in their lens as they age, and though this is normal, it does decrease the precision of their eyesight.
Even though it may be due to aging, take your pet to the vet to rule out treatable eye diseases such as corneal damage, dry eye syndrome or conjunctivitis. Cataracts can also be treated surgically. Loss of vision is usually irreversible, but there are certain things you can do to help your dog adjust. Ask your veterinarian for tips on handling senior dogs with vision loss.
Like deafness, many older dogs experience a gradual loss of vision. This is usually due to degenerative changes in the eye but can be caused by an eye disease like cataracts. If you think your dog is going blind, be sure to visit your vet. If the blindness is simply due to old age, nothing can be done to reverse it. Fortunately, dogs have other senses that help them adjust to the loss of their eyesight. Just be sure to take it slow with your dog, keep him on a leash at all times if outdoors, and try to avoid moving around the furniture in your house. Once your dog knows the layout, he will probably get around well using his other senses. Note: Sudden blindness can be an emergency!
4. Graying Around the Face Some dogs can start to go gray at a young age, but most will show a bit of gray starting at middle age, around the 5 to 6 year mark. Most graying happens around the face, but it can also appear on the chest or body.
5. Reduced Hearing Is your dog hard to wake up from sleep or does it become startled easily if you approach from behind? Hearing loss or deafness may be to blame. There is not a lot that can be done for age-related hearing loss, but a vet exam should be done to rule out other medical problems, such as an infection or a foreign body in the ear. If your dog has hearing loss, take extra care to protect it from hazards, such as cars and kids that it may not hear approaching. Dogs do learn and adapt well to hand signals for come, stay, sit, and so on. For this reason, it is a good idea to "cross-train" your dog early in life to recognize basic hand signals.
It is common for older dogs to lose their hearing gradually. Nerve degeneration in older dogs typically results in gradual hearing loss. Nothing can be done to stop the deafness, but much can be done to help the dog adapt. Many owners will at first mistake hearing loss for dementia, as dogs may display a similar type of confusion. Fortunately, deafness in dogs is fairly easy to handle. Because it does not happen overnight, it gives you time to adapt. Try specific methods for deaf dog training, like the use of hand signals. Soon, you will find that the hearing loss hardly affects your dog's day to day life.
6. Cloudy or Bluish Eyes As they age, a dog's eyes often show a bluish, transparent haze in the pupil area. This is a normal effect of aging, and the medical term for it is lenticular sclerosis. Vision does not appear to be affected. Lenticular sclerosis should not be confused with cataracts, which are white and opaque. Just like humans, a dog's vision can be affected by cataracts, and you need to consult your vet. As with hearing loss, be extra vigilant when your dog is around cars or other hazards that it may not see.
7. Elimination Issues As dogs age, they may suffer incontinence or indoor soiling, which may be attributed to the aging of their body and their ability to "hold it in" or cognitive problems or other health concerns. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out medical reasons for improper elimination. Be patient with your dog, take it outside more frequently, and speak with your vet about solutions that could work for your dog.
8. Increased or Strained Urination Increased urination or straining to urinate may be an indicator of kidney disease or urinary tract infection, both of which are more commonly seen in middle-aged to older dogs. Fortunately, urinary incontinence and strained urination can often be alleviated with prescription dog medication or dietary changes. Urinary incontinence quickly leads to uncomfortable urinary tract infections. Consult your veterinarian if you suspect a problem.
9. Bad Breath, Bloody Gums and Other Oral Problems If you have not been diligent on brushing your dog's teeth or bringing him in to the vet's office regularly for a professional cleaning, he is probably beginning to display the signs of oral diseases - bad breath, excessive drooling, gum inflammation and loose teeth. Dental hygiene, after all, is primarily about good maintenance. However, it is not too late to start. Take your dog to your veterinarian and discuss how you can resolve the issues and prevent them from occurring in the future.
10. Lumps, Bumps and Other Skin Problems Your dog may encounter skin and coat issues at any age, but he is more susceptible to them as he gets older. These may show up as rashes, lesions, swelling, lumps, dry skin or hair loss in dogs. But there are often things your veterinarian can do to help alleviate the symptoms, such as make dietary changes or even cure the underlying cause of the issue. Many dogs develop lumps under their skin as they age. Lipomas, or fatty growths, are common and benign - meaning they pose no problem for your pet. However, fatty growths and other more dangerous growths can look very similar, so it is best to have them evaluated by your veterinarian. Lumps are of increased concern when they are new, when they grow, or if they change shape, color or size.
11. Weight Gain or Loss Some older dogs have difficulty maintaining their weight and may need a dog food with a higher calorie content or better palatability, while other dogs tend to gain weight and may need a diet for less active dogs. Neither being overweight nor underweight is ideal for your dog. Overweight and obese dogs, for instance, have a higher incidence of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and even cancer. Discuss with your veterinarian when it would be appropriate for your dog to switch from an adult dog to a senior dog diet. Ask about the benefits of therapeutic diets, which can provide key benefits to help manage conditions commonly associated with aging dogs. In addition, devise an age-appropriate exercise routine for your senior dog with the help of your vet. A proper diet and exercise plan can be important in delaying the signs of aging and increasing your dog's longevity.
12. Difficulty Playing and Getting Around It may be hard for you to see your previously active dog having difficulty getting around the house or playing fetch like before, but joint issues such as arthritis are common in older dogs. Discuss with your veterinarian whether dietary changes, such as the addition of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids would be helpful. Dog ramps and orthopedic dog beds can also help you accommodate your senior dog's less-mobile state. Physical rehabilitation can also reverse some mobility losses and is a valuable tool for aging pets.
13. Dementia, Behavior and Memory Problems Changes in your dog's behavior may be a normal part of aging or a symptom of a disease like dog dementia - canine cognitive dysfunction. Therefore, you need to consult your veterinarian should he exhibit signs of confusion, disorientation, memory loss, irritability, unusual pacing or other personality changes. Some specific signs of canine cognitive dysfunction include staying awake or pacing at night, having urinary accidents and forgetting cues that he once knew.
Dogs can exhibit developmental changes as they age that are similar to dementia and Alzheimer's Disease in humans. The signs are subtle at first but can become very severe, resulting in poor quality of life. Signs of dementia in dogs include disorientation, confusion, pacing or wandering, standing in corners as if lost, going to the wrong side of an opening door, vocalization, withdrawal or not interacting with family as much, urinary and fecal accidents, change in sleeping patterns, restlessness, and more. Many of these can be symptoms of other diseases, so be sure to see your vet. There is no cure for dementia or cognitive dysfunction, but there are medications and supplements that may help in some cases.
14. Dog Panting Panting is one of your dog's primary methods to rid themselves of excess body heat - so it is considered normal most times when a dog pants on a hot day, or when they are being physically active or excited. However there are some situations in which panting can indicate another troublesome condition in your old or young dog. You can learn to recognize abnormal panting in your old dog if the panting: sounds different - is louder or raspier then usual, seems to take more out of your dog, appears excessive or occurs at unusual times. Abnormal panting in your old dog could be linked to one of the following physical or psychological conditions, so it should not be taken lightly: Fear or Stress, Pain, Heat stroke, Obesity, Poisoning, Heart Failure or Lung Disease, Anemia, Respiratory Illness.
15. Shaking Shaking is another behavior you might witness in your old dog. While it is common for dogs to develop tremors in their hind or front legs as they get older, shaking can also indicate that the dog is in pain, excited, nauseous, or suffering from a more serious illness. Old age, pain, poisoning, neurological disorders, excitement, kidney failure, and adrenal gland diseases can all cause shaking in old dogs. As in the case with panting, if you suspect that your old dog is shaking too much or abnormally, take a trip to your vet who will be able to complete a full health assessment of your dog.
15. Seizures Seizures in old dogs are not a typical sign of aging, and only a small percentage of dogs will experience a seizure at some point in their lives. Seizures can occur in dogs of all ages, and are triggered by a number of different causes. Causes of seizures in dogs: Environmental causes: for example, if your dog ingests a poisonous toxin. Illness: such as brain tumors, epilepsy, kidney disease, diabetes, or Cushing's disease. Genetic predisposition: certain breeds are more likely to experience a seizure than others. If your old dog seizures, it may mean he has been poisoned, or is suffering from a serious medical condition. It is best to consult your doctor to determine the exact cause of the seizure in your dog.
Symptoms of seizures in old dog - if your dog experiences a seizure, it will typically include the following behaviors: Collapsing - often falling to the side, Jerking or Stiffening, Muscle Twitching, Loss of Consciousness, Chewing the Tongue or Chomping, Drooling or Foaming at the Mouth, Urinating or Defecating. When it comes to old dog seizures, an early diagnosis is always best. Do not let the condition go untreated - at the first sign of a seizure, contact your vet. Your vet will perform a physical exam of the dog, and if possible, prescribe medicine to prevent and control the seizures.
16. Cancer Unfortunately, cancer is all too common in dogs. Though younger pets can get cancer, it is seen much more frequently in older pets. Different cancers cause different symptoms, so it can be easy to dismiss certain signs as simple old age changes. This is why routine wellness screening with your vet is so important. An exam, lab work or diagnostic imaging can pick up on something unseen by the naked eye. Cancer treatment options vary depending on the type of cancer and the stage. The sooner it is caught, the better the chance of survival.
17. Growths and Tumors Older dogs tend to get various lumps and bumps. These should be checked by a vet to rule out cancer. Fortunately, many growths are benign warts, moles, or fatty tumors. Generally, they will not need to be surgically removed unless they are bothering the dog.
18. Incontinence Old age changes to the organs, muscles, and nerves in the body can make it harder for your dog to "hold it" the way he used to. Incontinence can be a sign of many different diseases, so it is essential to have your vet rule some things out. If there are no other health problems found, you will need to adjust your schedule to let your dog out for "potty breaks" more often.
19. Obesity A dog can become overweight at any age, but the effects of aging make weight gain more likely in seniors. Obesity can cause or complicate health problems like arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes. To prevent obesity in older dogs, decrease food amount as your dog slows down. Also, make sure to keep up with exercise. If endurance is an issue, consider going for multiple short walks in a day rather than one or two very long walks.
20. Coronary Problems As dogs become older, they are more likely to develop heart problems. If you notice your dog having difficulty breathing, coughing, vomiting, or no longer enjoying a long walk, he could have heart disease, and you should ask your vet for advice immediately.
21. Gastrointestinal Problems Many senior dogs suffer from tummy upsets from time to time. However, issues such as kidney or liver disease can cause digestive upsets too, so always have your dog examined by your vet if tummy troubles persist.
22. Slower Digestive Transit Digestive transit slows down in older dogs. This is linked to reduced muscle tone in the intestine and a drop in secretion of digestive acids that help to break down food. This exposes the dog to constipation often followed by diarrhoea. These problems can be controlled with an adapted diet. Just like the rest of the body, the intestine starts to work less efficiently. Its digestive performance is reduced a little, it absorbs nutrients in lower quantities and it takes more time to adapt to a change of diet. A high-quality, easily digestible food minimises these effects.
23. Less Tolerance and More Irritability Your dog may act like a grumpy old fart at times, becoming irritated a lot easier than before. Patience tends to wear thin faster in older dogs. They may not appreciate a lot of rambunctiousness like kids jumping, running, and yelling. It is important that your dog has a quiet spot to retreat to whenever necessary, and that your kids and everyone else, know not to bother them when in that spot. However, changes in temperament like this can be seen with health problems like canine cognitive dysfunction or anything causing pain. Before you accept your older dog's crankiness as the new normal, make an appointment with your veterinarian.
24. Dental Disease Dental disease is a common problem for older dogs, which can have serious consequences such as tooth loss and infections that may spread throughout the body. It can also make it painful for your dog to chew, resulting in weight loss. The good news is that dental disease is preventable with proper dental hygiene, including regular brushing at home and a yearly cleaning at your veterinarian. And remember that yearly cleaning can help your dog live a longer life!
25. Thyroid Problems Hypothyroidism is common in older dogs. This disorder occurs when the thyroid glands are not producing enough thyroid hormone, which helps regulate metabolism. Signs of hypothyroidism can include a dull coat, hair loss, flaky skin, discolored patches on the skin, and weight gain for no obvious reason. It can be managed by giving your dog a synthetic thyroid hormone called thyroxine. They will likely need this medication for the rest of their life.
26. Reduced Activity Although there are plenty of stories of dogs over 10 years of age that still have the energy of a young puppy, the truth is that as dogs become older they tend to slow down.You may notice that your pet is not as eager to run around and play, or may choose not to jump up onto his favorite chair to sit next to you. While reduced activity levels are certainly a culprit of old age, the underlying root cause for decreased activity could be arthritis.
As dogs become older they are prone to developing the inflammatory joint disease, just like humans. Inflamed joints can make jumping and running painful for your pet. Luckily, arthritis in dogs can be fairly easily treated with the help of a veterinarian. If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from arthritis, a trip to the veterinary office can help tremendously. A vet will be able to determine if your pet does indeed have the disease, and can help prescribe vitamins, medication, or even physical therapy that can help reduce the pain and swelling within the joints.
27. Managing Joint Problems One of the most common complaints from owners of old dogs is obvious signs of joint stiffness first thing in the morning, especially in colder, damper weather. With joint function deteriorating with age, and arthritic changes occurring in one or more joints, weight control is even more important with carefully planned exercise to help ease most clinical effects. Your vet may tell you to try to maintain a constant level of daily exercise, as random strenuous activity often guarantees soreness the following day.
Safety First! Senior dogs may experience loss of sight and or hearing. If this is the case, you need to take extra care to keep them out of harm's way. Remove dangerous objects from their path, and use pet gates to create a safe space for your pet when you are not able to supervise. Use hand signals to communicate with a pet with hearing loss. And, if your senior dog has vision loss from cataracts, check with your veterinarian to see if surgery might reverse the problem.
What can you do to help your senior dog? Here are some tips:
1. Keeping your Older Dog Comfortable: Older dogs may need more rest. Somewhere quiet where they won't be disturbed in a soft, cosy bed away from draughts. They may need to go to the toilet more frequently. Incontinence or changes in how often they go to the toilet should be discussed with your vet. Make sure everything your dog needs is easily accessible so they do not have to go too far to find their water, food, toys and bed. Smooth, slippery floors can be difficult for older dogs to walk on, so put a rug or carpet down to give them something to grip.
2. Changing Needs of Older Dogs: Although they may be slowing down, senior dogs still need regular exercise and mental stimulation - walking them little and often will help keep their weight down and toys and puzzle feeders can keep them entertained. Wearing a coat when out and about can help keep them warm and dry. Gentle grooming can help you spend quality time with your dog which also gives you the chance to check for lumps and bumps, aches and pains. If your dog seems stiff or has trouble with things like getting out of bed and going upstairs, your vet may advise some treatments that can help.
3. Schedule regular visits with your veterinarian. Your dog needs to be examined at least yearly if it appears healthy, as many diseases are hidden and not apparent. Remember it is much cheaper to prevent disease than it is to treat it!
4. Ask for a body condition evaluation during each vet visit. Body condition is crucial to determining whether your senior dog is overweight, underweight, or at an ideal body weight. In fact, you should also ask your veterinarian to show you how to evaluate your dog's body condition at home.
5. Be Observant! Pay close attention to your dog's behavior, as changes in the way your pet acts can be a red flag for potential health issues. For example, if your usually greedy dog begins to go off his food, he could have dental issues or a gastrointestinal problem that requires veterinary investigation. When you see your dog every day, it can be easy to lose track of changes in your dog's mood, appetite, weight, and behavior. So that you do not lose sight of essential changes in your dog, start keeping a journal. You want to make sure you are being watchful so that you catch any mood changes your dog might have that make them more apprehensive or less social with people.
6. Feed your older dog a high quality diet. Also, learn to read the dog food label and choose a diet that is appropriate for your dog's age and lifestyle. Use food to keep your senior dog at his ideal body weight. Overweight dogs have a higher incidence of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, skin disease, even cancer. Your veterinarian can help you choose an appropriate diet for your dog, especially since overweight dogs must be fed carefully to ensure that all nutrient needs are met while still allowing for weight loss. For instance, specialized diets that are lower in calories as well as those that are high L-carnitine are available for obese or overweight dogs. A diet with a carefully chosen carbohydrate or carbohydrate blend can also help keep your overweight dog feeling satiated.
7. Consider fortifying your senior dog's diet with fatty acids such as DHA and EPA. They have been shown to be useful for dogs with mobility issues due to arthritis or other joint diseases. Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin are also beneficial for senior dogs.
8. Consider a special diet if your older dog has heart or kidney disease. For example, diets lower in sodium are sometimes advocated for dogs with heart disease, while diets which help control phosphorus, calcium and other electrolyte levels are given to dogs with kidney disease. Your veterinarian can help you choose the best food for your dog based on your dog's individual situation.
9. Take your dog to walks or travel. This will help him to stay active & happy!
10. Exercise your senior dog. It can help keep your older dog lean and maintain healthy joints and muscles. However, tailor your dog's exercise needs to his individual requirements. For a large breed dog, walking around the block is probably just getting started but for a tiny Chihuahua, a brisk walk around the block may be a long trek. If your senior is not used to exercise, start slow and gradually increase the intensity and only after you have consulted a veterinarian. Also, be careful with short-nosed brachycephalic dogs on hot days.
11. Provide plenty of toys and games, to keep your senior dog occupied. Food puzzles, for example, are not only useful for entertainment but for weight loss purposes as well.
12. Provide your older dog with special accommodations too. For instance, dogs with arthritis might benefit from soft bedding in the form of a special dog bed or towels & blankets on which to sleep. Ramps can be used to make stairs easier to navigate if they cannot be avoided. Even providing carpeting or rugs over hard surface flooring can help your arthritic dog gain his footing and make it easier for him to get around.
13. Choose the Right Diet! If your older pet is less active, he will need fewer calories. Try feeding fresh vegetables or high quality commercial treats, and limiting portion sizes at mealtime. Over half of American pets are overweight, and obesity contributes to many diseases and puts more stress on your dog's joints. Dogs with joint problems may benefit from supplementation with glucosamine or fish oils - there are even special foods to improve issues with joint disease or mobility. Pets with kidney or heart disease may also need special diets. Your veterinarian can design a weight plan that addresses your dog's specific nutritional needs and make recommendations if supplementation or a specialized diet will help.
14. Practice Proper Dental Hygiene. Dental care is just as important for pets as it is for us. Dental disease is painful and may make it difficult for your senior pet to eat. Ideally, you should start brushing your dog's teeth early, but if you have not, do not despair - you can still take action. The first step is a veterinary exam and professional dental cleaning. Then, schedule regular follow-ups and brush daily at home. If your pet won't tolerate you brushing its teeth, consider dental treats, dental diets or dental toys designed to help keep the teeth clean and healthy.
15. Accessibility. Elevate food and water bowls. Older dogs may develop arthritis or other joint problems, which can make it harder for them to get around. You can help by providing ramps to help them navigate around the house, get up on the bed, or get outside. Make sure litter boxes are easily accessible. Orthopedic pet beds, with or without heating elements, may help keep your pet comfortable and relieve pressure on the joints. Hydrotherapy and therapeutic massage are also effective therapies for dogs with joint pain. Consult your veterinarian for the latest treatments and therapies.
16. Mental Stimulation. Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks - it is a great way to keep them young at heart. Try enrolling in a basic training or tricks class with your senior pet. You can also give them "puzzle toys," which require them to actively figure out the puzzle in order to get the food treat inside. Keep plenty of toys handy, and engage them in lots of interactive play to keep their minds and bodies working.
17. Physical Contact. Nothing tells your dog that you love him like a good belly rub. As your pet ages, physical contact is more important than ever. Therapeutic massage is great for animals with joint pain, and equally enjoyable for those without. Pets that have a difficult time grooming themselves may benefit from extra brushing. Every moment you have together is precious, and increasing the physical connection between you will strengthen your bond immeasurably. Maximize every opportunity for bonding with your dog - you will both be glad you did!
18. Watch your dog's weight. Weight on the joints can contribute to arthritis, and it makes it harder for dogs to get up because they have more weight to lift. If your old dog is the proper weight, you should be able to feel the ribs with your fingertips but not be able to see them.
19. Consider a good harness. The "Help 'Em Up" harness (cost: $75 to $125), which helps you to keep on your dog all the time, has handles you can use to assist with standing up. The harness also keeps your dog safer. If they fall on the stairs, they could break or dislocate their hip, then you are forced into a surgery or decision that you were not yet ready to make or did not need to make.
20. Try acupuncture or cold laser therapy. Cold laser therapy uses light, not heat, to stimulate wound and injury healing. Acupuncture is more powerful than cold laser but it works on the same principle to alleviate the pain and the stiffness of arthritis.
21. Give daily massages. Massage relieves stress and aids muscle function and range of motion by lengthening tight muscles. Giving daily massages also lets your dog know that you still love him and he is still important. That is especially vital if the pet is depressed because he is not as mobile or can no longer participate in activities with younger household pets. It is such a little thing to offer, and 10 minutes of your time can mean so much to them!
22. Practice range of motion exercises. Moving your dog's arms and legs through motion can keep joint fluid from becoming sticky and make movement more comfortable. Gently extend - do not pull! Each leg five times while your dog lies on his side. Then turn him over and work the other side. You will find plenty of instructional videos for range of motion exercises and massage on YouTube.
23. Schedule Regular Wellness Exams. Most experts agree that senior dogs should be seen at least once every six months. During a typical wellness exam, your vet will ask a variety of health-related questions in order to build a snapshot of your dog's medical history. These questions often focus on your pup's regular behaviors and whether you have observed any recent changes that may indicate a developing health concern. During this checkup, vets typically check a dog's body for tumors, signs of pain, or arthritis. In addition, your vet will assess your dog's overall appearance and body condition, scanning his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth for irregularities as well as listening to his lungs and heart. A routine checkup may also include the following battery of diagnostic tests: Blood pressure, CBC (complete blood count), CHEM screen (liver and kidney function), Urinalysis, Thyroid function testing, Heartworm blood test, Fecal test.
24. Consistently Monitor Your Senior Dog's Health! Many of the illnesses that commonly plague senior dogs are obvious even to the untrained eye. So it is important that you monitor changes in your dog's health between regular vet visits. If any of the following signs present themselves, contact your vet immediately: Incontinence (sometimes evidenced by accidents in the house), Lumps, Constipation or diarrhea, Shortness of breath or other difficulty breathing, Coughing, Weakness, Unusual discharges, Changes in appetite, water intake, or urination, Stiffness or limping, Increased vocalization, Uncharacteristic aggression or other behavioral changes.
25. Minimise aches and pains with a comfy bed! While not all dogs will go on to develop arthritis as they age, it's important to make sure that your senior dog's joints are well supported while they rest to help minimise any stiffness or pain. A dense, supportive mattress or cushion bed will help your pooch to feel rested and ready to go when morning comes around.
26. Provide a better bed for your aging dog. Many young dogs happily sprawl out on the floor, even hardwood floors! and dream away. As your dog ages, though, he is more likely to become stiff from snoozing on such unforgiving surfaces. It is time to consider a super-thick orthopedic dog bed. A thick, warm bed provides a lot of joint support and comfort to an aching body.
27. Make your dog meeting other dogs to raise the activity level and bring on some games
28. Provide your dog with better protection from weather extremes. Discomfort with extreme weather may surface in your dog's senior years, even if he is never had a problem with heat or cold before. In winter, he may benefit from a fleece blanket and dog boots for snow or ice. Indoors, consider a Back on Track coat, which offers double the bang for your buck, helping to keep him warmer in the house and sending that warmth back into his achy body, helping with musculoskeletal stiffness. In the summer, be sure your dog can get into shade and has fresh, cool water. There are cooling coats and beds on the market - many of which do a good job, but a simple hosing can be welcome relief when h is hot indicated by panting with a very wide tongue. Be sure to hose the dog's underside, especially the groin area, wetting only his coat will do little to cool him and may even make him temporarily warmer. Kiddie pools can be great fun, too, especially for water-loving dogs like Labradors.
29. Spring for some supportive canine therapy:
Laser Therapy is a cost-effective way to put the bounce back in your senior's walk. With a class IV cold-laser device, your veterinarian can treat acute and chronic injuries, arthritis, muscle pulls, and other sources of pain. Laser therapy can also promote healing after surgery or an injury. As an overall therapy, the cost should is reasonable. Some clinics even offer package-session discounts. But shop around, as we have seen huge variations in cost among local veterinary clinics.
Hydrotherapy Even dogs who do not like water learn to love hydrotherapy, which may include swimming in a warm pool and underwater treadmill work. Benefits are widespread: relieving pain without stressing joints, building cardiovascular health and core strength, helping with proprioception and body awareness.
Acupuncture Acupuncture can give the dog a better sense of well being, especially with chronic problems. Veterinarians see success with acupuncture in cases of neurologic disorders, musculoskeletal problems, respiratory ailments, gastrointestinal problems, and more. Only very fine needles are used in acupuncture, and most dogs take to it very well, some even sleeping during a session.
Veterinary Physical Therapy Veterinary physical therapy (PT) is an excellent choice - if you can get in for an appointment. The field is exploding as demand is huge. Animal PT is all about helping the patient regain body function, just as it is in human PT. Under the direction of a veterinarian, a good physical therapist will focus on your dog's individual needs, offering a rehab program tailored to his problem. It may include physical therapy, hydrotherapy, therapeutic massage and exercise, joint mobilization, and more. With an active owner who maintains the required home therapy between sessions, PT can make a world of difference.
30. Add supplements to your senior dog's diet. There are a few supplements that are especially beneficial for senior dogs. Fish oil is widely recommended by veterinarians for its many benefits, including healthy coat and skin and joint support. For moderate arthritis, use dosages that are at the higher end of label recommendations. A combination glucosamine and chondroitin supplement is the most frequently recommended one for arthritic dogs. Do not wait until your older dog becomes stiff before trying it, though; these products work better as preventives than as therapies. Note: If your dog is allergic to shellfish, check the label, as many of these supplements are sourced from shellfish.
The trick is to ensure your dog consumes enough of the active ingredients to get the job done. The dosage varies with the dog's weight and the supporting ingredients in the product, but you want a generous "loading dose" - about twice the normal dosage to begin with, at least about 500 mg glucosamine and 400 mg chondroitin per 25 pounds of the dog's body weight, given twice a day. This jump-starts results, so you should begin to see improvement in a couple of weeks. At that point, you may be able to decrease the dosage and maintain the supplement's efficacy. Do not count on your dog's food to supply joint-support supplements, even if the bag label lists glucosamine or a similar ingredient. Compare the guaranteed dosage on the food label with the suggested dosage above - rarely do these foods contain enough of these ingredients to make a real difference to your dog.
Another supplement to consider is hyaluronic acid (HA), a major component of the lubricating fluid in your dog’s (and your own!) joints. It is the new kid on the block for joint support, and one that many veterinarians are excited about. Originally used as a joint injection, an oral supplement of HA increases the presence of HA and the synovial fluid viscosity, making movement smoother. Some veterinarians find that liquid HA supplements, like Trixsyn, provide faster, more reliable relief than powdered products, although both produce results.
31. Sleep Tips. Is your senior dog restless at night? That is not uncommon as dogs get older. It can be a sign of illness or pain, so check with your veterinarian to make sure there is not an underlying health condition or injury. When one of my older patients became restless at night, his dog parent attributed it to age, but it turned out to be a broken tooth. After a root canal, the dog began sleeping comfortably through the night again. For instance, sticking to a regular schedule, keeping evenings calm, and ensuring they have enough activity during the day may help your dog.
33. Managing Nails. Do not forget to keep an eye on the nails of less active older dogs, as they can easily become too long, even growing into their pads.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids The closest thing to a panacea, omega-3 supplements can positively impact every cell in your dog's body. Like humans, dogs cannot produce these fatty acids on their own, and must get them through diet. Omega-3s reduce inflammation throughout the body, benefiting skin, eyes, heart, bladder, brain, and joints. I recommend this supplement for my arthritic patients, those suffering from age related brain dysfunction, vision issues, heart disease, and skin conditions.
While omega-3s may be appropriate for dogs of any age, it is obvious why they are such a good supplement for seniors. Quality matters when purchasing supplements, so it helps to do some research. When choosing a brand, consider the sources of ingredients, concentration, and processing & quality control. Also, be sure to store the bottle properly, preferably in the refrigerator. Light, heat, and air can oxidize fatty acids, causing harmful free radicals to form, which gives the product a rancid, fishy smell. The only significant contraindication to note is that fatty acids can increase bleeding times, so we recommend stopping them a couple weeks before a scheduled surgery.
33. Support and Lifting Harnesses. If you live with a dog who needs a lift to get up off the floor, or assistance walking, chances are you have already done damage to your back, and you have jerry-rigged some type of system for helping your dog. Good news! There are dozens of excellent harnesses on the market. The two that we recommend are the GingerLeadSupport and Rehabilitation Harness, and the Help 'Em Up Mobility Harness. Both are of excellent quality and utilize patented technology to help dogs with weak legs have more freedom and mobility. The Help 'Em Up is a lifting aid that straps around a dog's legs and body, and can be worn all day. The GingerLead is a walking aid that is easy to put on and take off, but not intended to be left on a dog. For dogs that just need hind end support when rising or gaiting, the GingerLead is a quick on and off, ergonomic solution.
34. Neutricks, a supplement I discovered through the recommendation of colleagues, is a fairly recent addition to my arsenal and has exceeded my expectations. Neutricks utilizes apoaequorin, a unique protein from jellyfish, to protect brain cells against aging and support cognitive function. Apoaequorin is a protein our dogs' brains need for healthy function, but is diminished in the aging process. Cognitive dysfunction - senility is a bonafide diagnosis. It impacts quality of life for affected dogs and their people, because symptoms include pacing, restlessness, and inability to settle at night. These owners are often exhausted from the intense care their canine companions require, especially overnight. Neutricks starts to improve symptoms in about 8 days, often dramatically. This supplement is very safe and extremely well-tolerated. There are no known contraindications with any other supplements or medications.
35. Joint Supplements. There is significant scientific evidence that both oral glucosamine and chondroitin, the two most common ingredients in joint supplements, are absorbed as intact molecules and improve joint mechanics. These compounds increase the production of joint fluid and promote health of the cartilage that lines the joint surfaces. Glucosamine & chondroitin suitable when they are young to protect their joints, but these supplements are even more important for seniors with degenerative joint disease. There are several options when you purchase a joint supplement and quality varies significantly. But as with Omega 3 supplements, quality is key, so consult your veterinarian before choosing a joint health product. There are also other helpful compounds which can be present in joint supplements, such as MSM methylsulfonylmethane, avocado or soybean unsaponifiables (ASU), and herbs. You can ask your veterinarian's opinion on which product he recommends and why. Most products recommend starting with a "loading dose" for 4-6 weeks, and then reducing to a "maintenance dose." For my patients with severe joint disease, I keep them on the loading dose. It is not wrong to use human products on your dog but the dosing can be confusing. Overall these products are very safe, but can occasionally cause diarrhea.
36. Adequan Canine is a prescription polysulfated glycosaminoglycan (PSGAG) that works like oral joint supplements to keep the cartilage in your dog's joints healthy and intact. However, it penetrates much better than oral products. It is recommended for every arthritic patient and sometimes use it in my patients with cervical (neck) disc disease (IVDD). Veterinarians frequently use the product off label, dosing in a variety of ways - giving a loading dose followed by a long term maintenance dosing, or giving in a tapering dose. The labeled instructions are to give injections twice a week for 4 weeks in the muscle (IM). Many veterinarians teach clients to give the injections themselves at home under the skin (SQ). This is also off label, but clients are much more likely to comply with the prescription this way, as opposed to having to take their dog to the vet twice weekly. There is some debate in the veterinary community as to whether the product works better IM than SQ. I prefer the IM route of administration, but many argue that SQ works just as well. The biggest downside is cost. A four week course of administration, as per the company's directions, could cost hundreds of dollars. The upside is that it is extraordinarily safe, and markedly effective for most dogs, though not all. It has really become my go to recommendation for my "creaky" patients.
37. Orthopedic Beds & Pillows. Pillows and orthopedic beds can be very helpful for old, arthritic bones and joints. When you are 80 years old, would you rather sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor or on a plush mattress? Two popular styles of beds for senior dogs are memory foam and the "cot" style. Many people consistently report that when they invest in a high quality, supportive bed, their old dogs sleep more soundly through the night. Make sure to buy one that has a machine-washable, zip-off cover and excellent reviews.
38. Stairs & Ramps. Old dogs, old joints, old spines. For many of my arthritic patients, and especially those with intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), jumping up on things is suboptimal. Jumping down is much worse. I had one poor senior patient rupture a ligament in her knee when she jumped out of the back of an SUV in our veterinary clinic's parking lot before her acupuncture appointment. Jumping down, specifically landing, can jar the joints and spinal column and is a high risk activity for patients with IVDD. Steps & ramps to the human bed and couch, and ramps to get in and out of the car are practical tools which can prevent injury and facilitate your dog's mobility. You can find portable ramps to purchase at most pet supply stores, but if you want to make your own, here are step by step instructions for a DIY dog ramp which costs about $60 to make
39. ToeGrips for Dogs. Dogs use their nails for traction. On earthen terrain, they flex their paws and dig in their nails like cleats. But on hard floors, their hard nails can not get a grip. Young dogs generally compensate for their slipping. But due to muscular weakness, joint disease, and slower reflexes, older dogs often struggle to compensate. Slipping is scary for these senior dogs. This was a common issue for my patients. Another recommendation is to throw rugs and runners placed strategically throughout the home. But inevitably, the dogs would still go lie on cold hard floors and later face the challenge of getting up off those floors. Then a client presented me with the idea of using rubberized grips on dogs' nails. This inspired the launch of ToeGrips - nonslip nail grips which fit onto dogs' toenails to enable traction and confidence on hard-surface floors. Benefits include reduced risk of slip and-fall injury and improved mobility and stability. ToeGrips have transformed my patients' lives simply, naturally, and affordably.
Continue giving your Dog Love and Joy! Find ways to keep providing things your dog loves even if lack of mobility stands in the way. If they can not walk around the park, you can still bring them and sit down with them. Take your dog to favorite places to socialize if he likes other people or animals.
Your sweet older dog is a joy to be with, but as dogs age they usually go through changes. If you notice your older dog doing things a little bit differently, there is no cause for alarm. It is just some typical changes. Older dogs often spend a lot of time sleeping. You may have some questions about what is normal and what is not, so let's break down one of your dog's personality traits to give you some peace of mind. Although there are times where you might want to worry about changes, many of your dog's changes are just part of growing older. As dogs age, it is normal for their energy levels to decrease. They may not enjoy long walks or runs the way they did when they were younger.
Now they may spend more time relaxing as many as 16 to 18 hours a day. Not all of that time is deep sleep, however. Some of what appears to be sleep is simply resting or light napping. This sleep is essential for maintaining your elderly dog's energy levels and helps ensure that they can recover from more complex activities. An old dog that sleeps all day and night is not a problem. As long as there is no underlying issue with your dog's health, there is no reason that sleeping a little more is an issue. Keep an eye on the small signals so that you can get advice from your vet if something seems unusual.
It is perfectly normal for older dogs to sleep more than they did when they were younger. Puppies, like small children, may need extra naps and more sleep. Most adult dogs reach a point where they are often more content lounging around the house and returning to a cycle of naps. On average, most dogs spend:
20% of their time awake and moving around
30% of their time awake, but relaxing, and
50% of their time sleeping.
Older dogs spend more time relaxing and more time asleep, so do not be surprised to only spend a couple hours eat day with an active, elderly dog.
What is a healthy sleep amount for older dogs? The answer to this question will depend a lot on your individual dog. Larger dogs are considered seniors when they reach the age of 6 or 7, while smaller dogs won't reach senior age until they are 10 or 12. It is essential to watch your dog's behavior carefully because dogs sometimes try to hide it when they feel sick or in pain. Sometimes, you need subtle signals that they have taken a turn. The fact that they are sleeping is normal if it is not a sudden and dramatic increase in sleep.
What could too much sleep signal? If your dog is sleeping too much, it could be a sign that your dog is dealing with some pain. If a dog does not feel good, it could retreat and spend more time sleeping, trying not to make the pain worse. Take your dog to the vet to rule out common causes of pain, such as arthritis or chronic illnesses. Your vet can be an essential part of your future plans, helping you decide if your dog's behavior is out of the ordinary or a problem.
Signs of Sleep Problems for your Senior Dog If you are trying to decide what the problems are with your dog's sleep, keep these factors in mind.
Confusion - If your dog is sleeping during the day and behaving confused at night, that could be a sign of dementia. Cognitive degenerative disorders are somewhat common with senior dogs, and a vet visit can help you figure out how to move forward.
Sleeping through Serious Noise - Dog hearing loss could be one of the reasons your dog is sleeping more. A vet visit to assess your dog's hearing and eyesight is in order.
Avoiding Lying Down - If your dog falls asleep sitting up regularly or won't settle down to sleep, this could signal heart issues. Your dog is unconsciously managing these symptoms, and you will need to discuss with your vet to confirm if something is wrong and how to move forward.
Sleeping in Strange Places - Changing to an unusual area could mean your dog is reluctant to sleep due to discomfort or anxiety. It could also be a sign of degenerative cognitive disorders. What constitutes a "strange place" will depend a lot on your dog's previous behavior.
How to help your Senior Dog Sleep You may have to make some changes to your dog's sleeping situation to help encourage restful, restorative sleep.
Change beds - a memory foam bed can help remove pressure from aching joints and make it more straightforward for your dog to get comfortable.
Get Gentle Exercise - Exercise helps your dog get out energy but also encourages more restful sleep. It can encourage your pet to fall asleep in the evening and settle longer.
Head to the Vet - Your veterinarian could be a rich source of advice on how to help your dog sleep better. Sometimes medications for other issues can prevent your dog from sleeping.
HOW TO WALK SENIOR DOG This article is proudly presented by WWW.DOGTIME.COM and Mike Clark
Our senior pups may not move as fast as they used to, but they still benefit from regular exercise and walks. It is important to keep older dogs moving, even if they do not have the same physical abilities and needs that they did when they were younger. Weight gain contributes to stress on the joints and bones, which is especially harmful to seniors who suffer from arthritis.
Staying active can prevent obesity and increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the joints and muscles, which may reduce the effects of arthritis. Outdoor walks also provide dogs with an opportunity for mental stimulation, and that is important for combating the symptoms of dementia in aging dogs. Even though regular walks are great for dogs of all ages, there are some big differences when it comes to walking a senior dog.
1. Prepare For The Weather You probably already take precautions when it comes to the weather, no matter how old your dog is, but it becomes even more important when your dog gets older. Storms and pressure systems can affect the joints, as can extreme cold and heat. Symptoms of medical conditions can get worse in unusually dry or moist air. Make sure you are prepared for the weather, and take care of your dog's needs. Take a look at the forecast to get ready. If the weather is cold, dress them in appropriate gear. They may need extra warmth now that they are older. If it is hot, stick to the shade and take more breaks. If the weather is too much for your senior to handle, consider doing some indoor exercises, instead, and limit the outdoor time. Do not take bad weather as an excuse to skip exercise altogether, though.
2. Shorter, More Frequent Walks Young dogs might enjoy a nice, long walk to burn off energy, but seniors do not necessarily need to be worn out by physical activity. The point of exercise for your senior is to get the blood moving, the joints and muscles working, and the brain thinking. Walks should be short enough to avoid putting too much stress on the body. Going for shorter, more frequent walks instead of long walks will allow your senior to rest and recover, and it will probably help if they have to go potty more frequently in their old age. The length of the walk may depend on your dog's breed, size, and individual medical needs, so consult your veterinarian to come up with a good walk schedule for your dog.
3. Pay Attention To What Time It Is Maintaining a regular walk schedule is important for aging dogs, as they are less anxious when their routine is more predictable. Try walking your dog at around the same time every day. You can add more walks as needed, but keeping a schedule can reduce the symptoms of dementia and prevent anxious behaviors. It is also important to check the time because your senior may find it easier to walk during certain times of day. The temperature is usually warmer during the middle of the day when the sun is high and cooler in the morning or evening when the sun goes down. Depending on where you live, you may want to time your walks for when temperatures are most appropriate for your dog's needs.
4. Take Breaks And Bring Water Older pups especially need breaks during walks, and you should have some water handy for when they get thirsty. Many dogs do not know their own limitations, and even in old age, their excitement for going on a walk may cause them to ignore the fact that they need time to relax and recover. Take some breaks to stop and sniff for a while before continuing, and offer your senior some water, even if they do not show outward signs of being thirsty. Stopping to sniff can also be a great mental exercise. If your dog has a favorite spot, make it a point to stop there for a moment before you continue.
5. Walk On Easy Surfaces It can be hard to find a good place for dogs to walk that won't put stress on their bodies or create too much of an impact on their joints and bones, especially if you live in the city where there is a lot of concrete and pavement. It is best to stick to short grass or dirt as much as possible to soften the impact of steps if you can. Long grass or sand may seem like good choices because they make for softer steps, but it also takes more effort to walk through them, so your senior may get tired quickly. Sometimes paved surfaces are the only option: mostly in winter when softer ground is covered in snow or when the ground is too wet and muddy to walk on. If that is the case, you may want to limit outdoor walks and, instead, exercise inside where there is softer flooring. You can find orthopedic shoes or booties for senior dogs, but check reviews before you decide to use them.
6. Make Sure They Eat Right And Get Medical Attention There are plenty of supplements and foods that can help reduce inflammation and the effects of arthritis on dogs, and there are several dietary changes you can make to combat symptoms of other medical conditions, such as allergies, that can be especially stressful to seniors. Talk to your veterinarian or nutritionist about creating an appropriate diet for your senior that will help prevent weight gain that can worsen arthritis, and make sure your dog is getting the supplements they need to ward off other conditions that affect older dogs.
Also, talk to your veterinarian about any medications your dog should be taking to address any symptoms that prevent them from exercising. If your dog has trouble moving, see if hydrotherapy or acupuncture might help get them back on their paws. These steps will make sure that your walks are helpful to your dog, rather than causing more harm than good.
7. Take Special Needs Into Consideration Some senior dogs may need assistance when getting around. They may need wheelchairs or other devices to help with mobility, or they may need special boots to prevent injury if they drag their paws. If your dog has a lot of trouble even walking short distances, it may be worth it to discuss how to keep them moving with your vet.
Even if your dog can not walk very far, they may enjoy the fresh air and new smells that come with being outside, which will help keep their brain working and provide mental stimulation. There is no harm in bringing along a wagon or stroller so your dog can still enjoy the outdoors without the physical stress. Some people may give you funny looks or judge you for walking your dog this way, but do not pay any attention to them. You are doing what is right for your best friend, and that is all that matters. Let your dog walk for as long as they are able to do so comfortably, but do not deny them the pleasure of being outside if that is something that they enjoy.
8. Listen To Your Dog One of the most important things you can do is to listen to what your dog is telling you. Even though they can not actually speak, they can still say a lot with their body language, and you will have to pay attention. If they show signs of discomfort, such as limping, slowing down, or refusing to move, it means you need to stop, rest, regroup, and address their needs. If they show signs of needing a break, such as panting, drooling, or whining, you should pull over and offer them some water and a chance to catch their breath. You may need to take them home right away if they are not able to continue the walk. Know your dog. If they show signs of stress, it is time to stop. What other tips do you have for walking senior dogs? Do you take your gray-faced pup for regular walks every day? Let us know in the comments below!
While older dogs may not be able to handle a vigorous hike like they used to, older dogs should still engage in regular activities that stimulate their body and mind. Some activities such as training sessions and therapeutic exercises are particularly useful for helping dogs adapt as they age. As with our own bodies, exercise benefits old dogs in many ways, keeping muscles toned and minds clearer. Making the time for even a gentle walk around the block every day will keep the muscles from atrophy, and the sights and smells will keep an old dog's mind stimulated and engaged in the world around him.
Be sure to keep your dog on leash or within your sight if you take her to the park, on an easy hike, or even on your own property. Hearing loss is very common as dogs age and your dog may not realize you are calling her. Old dogs can easily become disoriented in unfamiliar areas, and with a loss of hearing or diminished sight, can wander too far without meaning to and become lost.
Do not be disappointed if your older dog is not interested in the same activities that she enjoyed as a youngster - you will enjoy exploring new activities appropriate for her age. For example, off-leash dogs parks are very popular, but your older dog may not enjoy the rough and tumble play of the younger dogs. For some dogs, the social aspect of going out may still be important. Even if the dog park is no longer an option, you might want to take your dog for a visit to a coffee house or pet store. For dogs that are not as social - stimulating their minds by including game scents in their toys or simply adding variety to their play sessions.
Place a small portion of your dog's meals in food puzzles that can be rotated on a regular basis, or scatter kibble in the yard for your dog to find using his nose. Rotate toys frequently to help prevent boredom. Play new games with your pooch to keep him busy and encourage interaction.
Hydrotherapy has many benefits for all dogs, but can have an especially dramatic effect on senior dogs, providing a painless, fun means of exercise and movement. The water provides buoyancy, which diminishes the stress on the joints, allowing the dog to move without pain.
Training sessions are another activity that an older dog may benefit from and enjoy. Positive training can be a bonding experience and fun for both you and your dog. If you have just adopted an older dog, some brush-up or maybe totally new training sessions are a great way to establish a healthy relationship. Extra treats used for training can cause weight gain, so using food for motivation should be monitored and regular meals adjusted accordingly. Also you should perform a vet check before class starts. If a dog is uncomfortable with a particular position or movement due to pain, it is not something that they will enjoy doing, and training will be frustrating for both of you.
Many older dogs love to engage in learning and enjoy the attention from you as well as the social aspect of dog training classes. Training activities can also help you and your dog adjust to new care practices as she ages. You may, for instance, need to train your dog to use a ramp or accept ongoing medical or health maintenance treatments. Even dogs with hearing loss can be taught readily with hand signals instead of voice commands. Invent your own signals or use American Sign Language to teach your dog words like dinner, walk, car, bedtime and outside.
Training is not the only activity that can both prove stimulating for your dog and help your dog adjust to aging. For instance, you might want to incorporate therapeutic exercises such as swimming or walking on an underwater treadmill.
Do not forget that although your dog is slowing down, he still needs to be engaged mentally and physically. As dogs get older, their hind limbs become weaker and they may have issues like arthritis or other types of muscular and joint pain. Senior dogs benefit from more appropriate low impact activities like swimming, hydrotherapy and walking. If you pick the right activity, it will help your dog have a happier and healthier old age! So here are the best ways to keep an elderly dog active, happy & healthy:
Introduce new Toys and Activities For an older dog, a new toy is not just fun and exciting - it can also offer your dog mental stimulation and encourage more interaction.
Explore New Places Whether it is taking your dog to a new place to play, a dog park or even walking a completely new route, the novel experience of a different location can help provide your dog with mental stimulation.
Meet New Dogs As long as your dog does not show signs of aggression or anxiety, the chance to interact with other dogs will help keep your dog socially active.
Teach New Tricks The old cliche is not true - you can teach your old dog new tricks. Asking your dog to learn a new command will test his or her brain against a new challenge.
Give Time and Attention Your dog needs just as much care and attention as he or she did as a puppy. When you give the time and care your dog deserves, you can both enjoy the years you have together.
Playtime is essential for your senior dog. Not only does he enjoy fun and games, he needs them to keep mentally and physically fit. An active dog is a happy dog. Senior dogs still need exercise to stay healthy, fit and mentally sharp, not to mention that playing with your senior pup and giving him your undivided attention will nurture your bond and help him thrive in his golden years. Even though your dog's puppy years are far behind him, his need to play is still strong.
Playtime provides senior dogs with mental stimulation, keeps their cognitive skills in good shape, and helps them maintain a youthful personality. It is important to engage your senior dog in mentally challenging, age appropriate play. Here are our picks for the best toys and games for senior dogs. Older dogs have reduced activity level and it is easy to overwhelm their aging teeth and joints. Playing also helps prevent weight gain as the metabolism slows, and keeps your senior's brain active, helping to stave off dementia! Besides, just because your pooch is aging, does not mean he can not still enjoy a good toy!
1. Gnawsome Squeaker Soccer Ball Combining a unique spiky texture that is good for his gums and a squeaky sound Richie loves, this versatile and easy to clean toy is great indoors or out. Made from BPA-free rubber, it can stand up to heavy chewing and is also perfect for a game of fetch. As an added bonus, the popular soccer theme has the kids playing with the dog now more than ever. Score! Price: $4
2. Chuckit! Indoor Roller This tire-shaped toy is designed specifically for indoor play. With a durable multilayer construction and a textured chenille fabric cover, the soft toy rolls along the floor just begging to be pounced upon. While the shape makes the Chuckit! a bit awkward for Richie to carry in his mouth, he nevertheless loves chasing the toy around and I like not having to worry about broken lamps. Price: $6
3. Kong Senior Dog Toy Made from all natural rubber, the Kong has a hollow middle that can be stuffed with kibble or peanut butter for hours of canine fun. Turns out the rubber may have been too rough for his aging mouth and gums. Designed specifically for older dogs with softer rubber than the original, the Kong Senior Dog Toy is gentle and comfortable to chew, yet still satisfying. You can throw it in the dishwasher for easy cleaning. Price: $12
4. Trixie Mad Scientist Turn Around Interactive Dog Toy For exercising your dog's brain! Place treats in the three beakers, then cover with the lids with holes. The treats are released once your canine gamer figures out how to flip the beakers and balance them upside down. This toy is a bit cumbersome to store. We consider it the doggie version of the Sunday crossword he just needs to stick with it and eventually he will figure it out. Price: $16
5. Frisco 2.5" Tennis Ball with Rubber Sleeve This ball does not just bounce - it squeaks. Even better, it features a knobby, bumpy rubber sleeve that adds a texture Richie can not resist and that is gentle on his teeth and gums. The 2.5" diameter is the right size for him, and the non-abrasive felt around the ball is easier on his mouth than a traditional tennis ball. Price: $3.50
6. Frisco Soft Squeaking Sloth Dog Toy A springy, stretchy construction, stimulating squeakers inside the head and body; and internal crinkle paper for an extra dose of fun. It is perfect for playing, chasing, carrying, tug of war, and snuggling. What more could a pup ask for? Not much. The toy is virtually indestructible to begin with. Plus, as far as dog toys go, the sweet little sloth is pretty darn adorable. Price: $7+
7. Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel Interactive Puzzle Toy For a more interactive indoor adventure, consider this puzzle featuring six adorable squeaky squirrels. Dogs have a challenging time retrieving squirrels hidden in a fabric tree trunk base. It is available in small, large, and extra large. You can buy more squirrels separately. Customers recommended supervising the use of this product to delay squirrel destruction. Though some reviews noted the puzzle does not hold up against aggressive chewing, others love how much fun their dogs have with it. Price: $15
8. ZippyPaws Skinny Peltz No Stuffing Squeaky Plush Dog Toy Featuring a raccoon, fox, and squirrel, these lightweight squeaky toys are sure to provide hours of fun. Best of all, there is less mess - these cute woodland creatures are stuffing free. Measuring 18 inches long, the large size is recommended for medium sized dogs. A small size is available for smaller dogs. This set is Amazon's top choice for squeak toys for dogs. While some reviewers called the animals indestructible, others noted that the toys fell apart quickly. Many customers felt they got a good deal for the price. Price: $9 (3 pack)
9. Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Dog Brick Puzzle For a toy that provides mental stimulation and physical engagement, try this game complete with three ways to play - dogs can flip, slide, and pull bricks apart to reveal treats. With 20 treat compartments, this is sure to keep your dog busy for hours. The plastic toy comes with removable bone pieces but compartments can be filled with both wet and dry food. Owners appreciated the easy-to-clean puzzle for keeping their dogs entertained. Negative reviews say the compartment lids are easily destroyed and the puzzle was easily solved. Price: $18
10. Multipet Duckworth Duck Your dog will love fetching, playing, and cuddling with this soft and squeaky plush duck. The 14 inch length makes it perfect for any sized dog and can be ordered as a set of two. The Multipet Duckworth Duck is Amazon's third favorite bestseller for dog plush toys. Purchasers boast that the oversized toy is long-lasting. However, repeat customers complained they received smaller ducks of lesser quality than what is advertised. Price: $8
11. Playology Pebble Chew Made in the USA, Playology's Pebble Chew uses natural ingredients and protein scents to encourage active playtime. This chewable toy is made with non-toxic, BPA-free, and lead-free foam, comes in bacon, beef, and chicken flavors, and is easy to clean. Several users reported that the toy's odd shape made it bounce, creating a fun game of fetch for their dogs. There are few critiques — a couple of users noted a lack of interest in the product or pieces breaking apart. Price: $15
12. Bird Ball The Bird Ball is the same size as a tennis ball, but brings new life to the old game of fetch! Each ball is two different contrasting colors making it easier for senior eyes to locate. There are 12 unique holes that create whistling bird chirps when it is thrown so dogs can track the sound!
13. Flying Disc Disc-loving seniors do not have to retire just because they have dental problems! The Flexible Flying Disc is made of soft but durable natural rubber to prevent pain or injury. Remember, jumping can be tough on old joints, so be sure your old buddy does not overdo it!
14. Nina Ottosson Puzzle Games & Toys Brain exercises are just as important for 14 year old dogs as they are for 14 week old puppies! Nina Ottosson began designing puzzle toys for her own dogs to improve both their physical and mental health after she had children. Her toys are designed for all ages and intelligence levels so you can choose the best match for your old buddy!
15. Fresh Mint Scented Brushing Ball This intricate chew toy is made of durable rubber, infused with mint scent, and covered in nubs and spikes to help grind away plaque on teeth and gums. The more your senior pup chews and plays, the cleaner his mouth will look and smell!
16. Hear Doggy Plushies Dogs love the satisfying squeak they get when playing with their plushies, but as they age, hearing loss can cause them to lose interest in their favorite squeakers. The products created by Hear Doggy operate at a high frequency that is only audible to dogs. The toys are designed to give owners relief from incessant squeaking, but many dogs with partial hearing loss retain the ability to hear these higher frequencies, making Hear Doggy toys a great choice for senior pups!
17. Booda Tail-Spin Flyer Dog Frisbee Playing Frisbee is a lot of fun for dogs. It could also be hard on your elderly dog's arthritic joints and weak teeth and gums. Any toys thrown to dogs to catch should not be hard or heavy as they can cause damage to front teeth. Booda Tail-Spin Flyer Frisbee is flexible, lightweight and is designed to avoid injury. Jumping and running involved in playing Frisbee and fetch can be too strenuous for your dog. Make sure to monitor his behavior during play. If he is showing signs of fatigue, take frequent breaks.
18. Zogoflex Hurley Dog Bone While regular dental checkups for your senior dog are important, bones are more definitely more fun for them. Hard bones and hooves are responsible for many broken teeth. To go easy on your older dog's teeth and jaws, give him the Zogoflex Dog Toy from West Paw Design. Made from extremely pliable Zogoflex material in the USA, the Hurley is 100% recyclable and buoyant. It comes in three sizes: mini, small and large and bright colors.
If your dog has very few teeth (or no teeth), as is often the case with senior dogs, it's still important for your dog to have some toys of his own to play with. While dogs with no teeth may not "play" with toys in quite the same way as other dogs, they still like (and need!) to interact with play things on a regular basis. Following are 10 types of dog toys that are best for dogs with no teeth:
1. Talking dog toys Dogs without teeth may naturally shy away from traditional dog toys, but they will always be intrigued by talking dog toys! The most enjoyment comes from dog toys that make sounds on their own, without any provocation/interaction from the dog required and that make sounds in irregular patterns & unusual tones. Talking dog toys typically run on batteries, for years of fun play.
2. Motion-activated toy dog balls They roll around on their own and make noises, which continues to pique your dog's attention. For dogs, the thrill of the chase is often better than mouthing on these types of toys, which is perfect for dogs with no teeth. Bonus: these toys react differently on hard floors vs carpeted floors, so your dog's playtime will never be the same twice.
3. Long and thin plush dog toys These are soft and they come in various styles that dogs find intriguing. For dogs with no teeth, it's not about the squeakers that are often found inside these dog toys. Instead, it's about the allure of playing with something that's very long, or oddly shaped and very soft. Some plush dog toys are motion-activated as well, for added entertainment value. Dogs with and without teeth enjoy 2 unique versions of these dog toys: unstuffies and stuffingless plush toys.
4. Treat dispensing dog toys As your dog pushes these toys on the floor with his nose, dog treats/kibble fall out. This is a very rewarding form of play for dogs. It challenges your dog and motivates him to play longer. For dogs with few teeth, you will want to use smaller & softer dog treats inside these toys, or your dog's own kibble. Many interactive dog treat toys can be set to dispense more or less treats every time the toy rolls over. Perfectly round treat dispensing balls are typically the easiest for dogs to get the treats out of. And some even have a built-in timer, to reload and begin dispensing dog treats every 15 to 90 minutes.
5. Toys with lots of floppy parts Dogs enjoy this type of toy because of the unexpected motion that results from the protruding arms and legs as your dog is playing with it. As your dog shakes it around in his mouth, the floppy parts gently tap his head, face, and neck which prompts more play. For the ultimate in floppiness, consider a soft octopus dog toy or dog toys with extra long arms and legs. These dog toys are typically soft with few, if any, hard parts on them, which is perfect for dogs with no teeth. Some even make unusual noises!
6. Shaker dog toys Regardless of the shape, it's the sound of these dog toys that captivates your dog's attention. The shaking beads inside create noises similar to baby rattles which piques a dog's natural instincts to chase and play. Here's proof that dogs like rattles, bells, and shakers. Round shaker dog toys, similar to balls, have an even greater appeal since they continue to roll and make noise on their own. For dogs with few teeth, I especially like the ChuckIt Indoor Shaker.
7. Plush interactive dog toys Dogs like puzzles too. Dogs without teeth enjoy the soft puzzle toys best. The idea is to stimulate your dog, challenge his mind, and prevent boredom. Puzzle toys are a great opportunity for you to interact with your dog as well. These dog toys are similar to baby toys where the child is encouraged to put shapes into the correct spaces. Yep, there's a plush interactive dog toy like that!
8. Soft & bouncy toy dog balls The softer the better. The bouncier the better. For dogs with few teeth, toys similar to these would be the best: ChuckIt Indoor Ball lightweight and bouncy, Hear Doggy Toy - Angry Birds Plush Balls With Sound Chip - makes sounds when squeezed and rolls unpredictably, Kyjen Fleecy Clean Ball.
9. Nose-activated dog puzzles With these types of toys, your dog uses his nose more than his mouth to “play”. As a bonus, with interactive dog toys your dog is also learning and being rewarded for solving doggie puzzles. If dog treats are involved, choose smaller & softer dog treats as rewards for dogs with few teeth.
10. Squeaker mat dog toys These are a great option for dogs that aren't typically motivated by toys and those with no teeth. Why? Because they have so many squeakers inside them, your dog will "accidentally" bump into fun times with one of these dog mats lying around. And teeth aren't required to make sounds. Your dog's nose alone will active a squeaker. Also, while rolling around or just lying down, your dog's own body will likely activate a squeaker.
Benefits and Considerations Since you are reading this article, you probably have an older dog of your own, and you understand that even though our pups age, they still need a bit of fun and exercise in their lives. They may not be able to do flips in the air catching Frisbees anymore or soar over an agility jump. But when you watch an older dog do something they enjoy, you get to see a bit of spark come back into their eyes, and you realize they can enjoy life just as much as they used to, it just may need to look different now. When you are playing with an older dog, you need to consider some things you may not have thought about when they were 3 years old:
Your dog's bones might be more fragile, making them prone to injury
Their energy level will probably be lower, requiring forms of exercise that fit that need
Their muscles will probably be weaker, which also means your dog could be less coordinated
Their eyesight might be diminishing, making visual games like fetch harder
They may have nerve issues or arthritis that cause pain with too much movement
Your dog's hearing could be diminishing
Their mental capacity could be decreasing
Their joints might be painful or prone to injury due to hip dysplasia or a loss of cartilage
Their digestive system may be more sensitive, or they may require a certain diet or calorie amount.
Each dog will be a little different. Yours might have excellent hearing and eyesight still but could have hip dysplasia or spinal problems
That is why it is important to know your dog and their health status. With this information in mind, you can decide which games for senior dogs best fit their needs and interests.
Games that require exertion, like fetch or chase, may no longer be appropriate for your older dog. But there are still lots of ways to play together that are suited to his physical condition. One of the best is hide-and-seek. This game can take many forms, depending on your dog's interests and health, but the basic rule is the same - your dog needs to find something he can not see.
If you want to be the one hiding, put your dog in a "stay" and then find a place in the house or yard out of your dog's sight. Next, call out to your dog to "Find it." In the beginning, you may need to call his name or make other encouraging noises to help him figure out the point of the game. When he finds you, reward him with a treat, toy, or cuddles, whatever he finds most rewarding. Start by hiding close by, in easy to find locations, then gradually make your hiding spots trickier. Even if your senior dog is hard of hearing, he can still participate by using his nose to track you down.
The hidden object can also be a toy or treat. Start by placing the object in an obvious location and giving the "Find it" cue while you point at the object. Once your dog begins to catch on, you can start using farther locations and placing the object out of sight, like behind a piece of furniture or on top of a chair.
Another twist on hide & seek involves placing the treat or toy within the folds of a blanket or towel, so your dog has to sniff it out and use his paws and nose to uncover it. Or wrap it in a tea towel. To add an extra level of difficulty, tie the ends of the tea towel together in a loose knot. Although your dog may need extra accommodations when you are choosing or modifying a game, there are lots of options.
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
Comfort comes first! If you have an elderly dog, it is best to go for a mobile dog groomer. This way your dog will be from from just outside your door, this will minimize the undue stress on your senior dog. Make sure you take your dog to a reputable groomer, after all does not your best friend deserve the best? Should my senior dog still see the groomer? Yes, indeed. While regular grooming is vital for every dog, this is especially important when your dog gets older.
Regular grooming sessions will not only make your senior dog comfortable, these sessions are also great to note changes in your dog's health. Groomers will be able spot any underlying health issues visible on their skin and coat. Grooming your senior dog regularly can prevent severe matting to their coat. A matted coat can make your elderly dog feel miserable and stressed. Regular bookings with your local groomer will be much appreciated by your dog and our Groomers especially love taking care of the older doggos.
Older dogs need grooming just like younger dogs, more so even. Older dogs can experience dry skin and skin conditions, like yeast infections, more frequently. Regular grooming to prevent and discover conditions and address them as necessary is required. Remember that an older dog may experience physical discomfort moving--take your time to find out what is comfortable for the dog. Make sure you recognize deficiencies in hearing and sight that can make a dog anxious and change their behavior. Move slowly and be gentle and patient while grooming your older dog.
Brushing In between appointments, remember to regularly brush your dog. Many older dogs find it hard to stand for longer periods. When your dog is having an afternoon nap this is a perfect time to gently brush him, while they are lying on their sides. If your dog looks restless, take a break and continue to groom after. With age your dog's skin might grow elastic so be gentle when you are brushing them. These are just a few grooming tips to make your elderly pooch grow old and grey happily and comfortably.
1. The Adjust Methods Method
Keep it short! Keep sessions short to avoid overtiring a senior dog or prolonging the use of sore joints during grooming. Having multiple short sessions daily, instead of one long one, may work better for an older dog. Keep an eye on your older dog for signs of discomfort, anxiety or impatience. Adjust techniques, like using a softer brush, or ending the grooming session early, if your dog indicates discomfort or distress. Incorporate brushing into petting time, or at feeding time, when your dog is distracted if necessary. Allow your dog to lie down and groom one side only, wait and groom the other side when your dog makes it available at a later time, for example.
Massage Massage your older dog with your hands or a grooming glove. Apply natural oils to compensate for dry skin if present and distribute while massaging gently.
Be prepared! Have equipment like nail clippers, brushes and sprays readily available so you do not have to unnecessarily prolong grooming sessions in order to get the tools you will need.
Move Gently Manipulate your dog's joints carefully and slowly to get under the limbs and reach his belly. Remember, joints and muscles can be sore in an older dog.
Do not Startle Move slowly and talk reassuringly to an older dog that is experiencing sight and hearing loss so as not to startle or confuse the dog.
2. Take Special Steps Method
Clean Ears Check older dogs' ears daily. Older dog can easily get imbalances in natural yeasts and bacteria, resulting in infections in the ear. Use ear cleaning solution and a cotton ball to wipe out the ear canal and surrounding area daily.
Bathe Appropriately Bathe older dogs regularly, weekly or biweekly, to remove dead skin, address dryness, and prevent yeast infections and other skin conditions. Use warm water for baths and help your dog into the bath by lifting gently or providing a ramp or steps. Reassure a visually impaired dog that can not see what is happening clearly. Use a soothing oatmeal shampoo or moisturizing shampoo and conditioner to address dryness or an appropriate medicated shampoo to address any skin condition. Massage your older dog gently. Use a washcloth to avoid eyes and sensitive areas.
Keep Warm While Drying Rinse well, pat dry with a towel. If you are air drying, ensure there a warm place for your dog to dry. Avoid blow drying, which can dry out older dogs' skin, burn your older dog, or cause him distress from the noise.
Clean Teeth Check older dogs' teeth and brush regularly. If teeth appear to be experiencing disease, get professional dental care.
Care for Feet Clip hair around your dog's feet and keep nails short, so that your older dog has good traction. Injuries from slipping on floors can be more likely and serious in older dogs and short hair and nails on the feet increase traction.
Caution & Considerations Older dogs may have mobility issues. Move limbs and manipulate joints slowly and carefully. Watch for signs of discomfort and adjust as necessary. Invest in gentler grooming equipment like grooming gloves and softer brushes if your older dog becomes sensitive. Take time and patience, and groom when your dog is feeling up to it. Be flexible. Get prompt veterinary care for any conditions you suspect or discover while grooming your older dog. Move slowly and talk to your dog if he has sight or hearing loss so as not to startle him while grooming.
It is not just puppies that love the excitement of training, or the emotional bonding you enjoy when they learn new skills. Adult and senior dogs can also enjoy and benefit from ongoing training, especially if life changes a bit. A well-trained older dog, for example, will make your house move a lot easier, or set an example for a puppy that has just joined the family!
Senior and adult dog training allows you to strengthen your bond together, have fun, and helps your dog stay physically and mentally exercised. And once they have learned the basics, you might be surprised by what else you can teach them.
A well-trained adult dog is also a much safer dog, and they will be more fun to be around for other people. If your dog gets overexcited in public or when a visitor calls it can cause a bit of a scene, but with a little training your dog will be the best-behaved person in the room! Almost every dog can be taught basic obedience and much, much more, regardless of type of breed, experience or age.
Training Senior Dogs It turns out that you can teach an "old" dog new tricks - in fact, training senior dogs is just the same as training adult dogs! Challenges are important to keep dogs sharp at any age, and learning new things is vital for maintaining good cognitive function. Think of the brain as a muscle, if it is not exercised, it can become weaker.
And whether you are starting with an untrained veteran rescue dog, or just teaching new exercises to your older family dog, they will relish the time spent learning with you. Correctly motivated and rewarded, they will be a willing student, and if you have known each other for years, so much the better: older dog training with someone they love can be as comfortable and enjoyable for your dog as chewing their lifelong favourite toy! Here are some tips to help make teaching an old dog new tricks a little easier:
Evaluate Your Pet: Does your dog have any health issues or cognitive dysfunction that will make it hard to perform the task you want to teach? If your reason for training is to address a behavioral problem, could an underlying health problem be to blame? For example, an older dog who is started soiling the carpet might have bladder problems that need to be treated rather than a refresher in house training. Talk to your veterinarian to make sure your dog is healthy enough for training.
Exercise First: For dogs who are easily distracted and have a hard time paying attention, a walk or a game of fetch prior to the training session will help them release pent-up energy, so they can relax and be more focused.
Reward Them: Giving your pup their favorite dog treat each time they do what you want will create positive associations between the command and the desired outcome. If your pooch does not respond well to treats, or if you are watching their weight, reward them with lots of praise and petting, or give clicker training a try.
Ignore Undesirable Behavior: It may sound counterintuitive, but calling attention to your dog if they get distracted, lie down, wander off or refuse to cooperate will only serve to reinforce that behavior. The best thing to do is ignore it, reposition your pooch, and try again.
Take Breaks: It is easy to get frustrated when your dog does not seem to be catching on, and it is very likely your old pup feels the same way. When this happens, stop the training and try again the next day.
Be Patient: Remember that older dogs need twice as much time and twice as much exposure than younger dogs to learn a new behavior.
Practice, Practice, Practice: Your old dog needs consistent practice to learn a new skill. Skipping a day will only make it harder for your old friend. Keep going for as long as it takes, continuing to reward with treats and praise when your dog gets it right.
Unless your dog suffers from dog dementia, which might make learning impossible, there is a good chance they will pick up the trick eventually. Even after they do, daily practice will help ensure that they retain the new skill. Despite the old adage, teaching an old dog new tricks is possible. Training an older dog simply takes time and repetition along with a whole lot of patience and love.
Special Considerations for Training Senior Dogs As with reward-based training for all ages of dog, ensure that any food rewards count towards your dog's daily food allowance. This is especially important for senior dogs as they have a slower metabolism and can be prone to putting on weight - you want them to stay in peak condition, which means making sure they get the right balance of nutrition. When training older dogs, cater for any specific health requirements your friend might have.
If your dog suffers from arthritis, for example, do not overstretch their joints with too much physical work and be careful not to train them on slippery wooden floors. Your senior dog wants to please you and keep having fun, so they may be unwilling to tell you when they have had enough for one session.
Be careful not to over tire them, as they might continue stoically doing their best to please you even if they are ready for some water and a bit of a nap! Training an older dog demands a lot of concentration and possibly physical exertion and this can be very tiring. Short but frequent training exercises are far better for him than occasional marathon stints, and they are more exciting, too.
How Much Exercise should an Older Dog Get? What limits senior dogs, though, when it comes to exercise?
Osteoarthritis limits their exercise and mobility levels
Congenital issues such as hip dysplasia, as well as elbow dysplasia
Rheumatoid arthritis can limit mobility
Lyme disease can also limit mobility if insufficient care and early diagnosis have not been given
Sometimes the anterior or posterior cruciate tears, this can occur when a dog twists and turns when playing, often occurring when a dog's weight is higher than his ideal body weight
Decreased heart function, maybe you have noticed your dog gets more winded from exertion and does not walk as strongly as he used to.
1. Senior Dog Exercise Program Exercise your senior dog for shorter periods, 2-5 times per day, as moving more frequently is more helpful: keep them moving! It is also more effective to keep the exercise the same every day. For example: For a 10-year-old dog you could walk 15-20 minutes twice per day, however for a 14 year old dog, you could walk 5-10 minutes, four times per day. Consider cross fit training, such as strength, balance, and flexibility exercises for the core and hind legs.
Hill work, individual leg lifts, and one squat at the start and end of each walk is sufficient. Exercise plans should be adjusted to your dog. Your dog should feel better, move better, and have a better normal daily function when done with exercises. If they are more lame, sore after resting or change transitions or posture for the worse, following exercise, then adjust the plan to suit. We need to make allowances and adjust play, remembering to permit your dog to rest at times, during exercising.
2. Check With Your Vet Before Changing Your Exercise Routine When it comes to exercising a senior dog it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with your vet before changing their routine. It is a good idea to write down your questions and concerns before the appointment to make sure you do not miss anything. Your vet will be able to access your dog's condition and help you come up with an exercise routine that is suited for your dog.
3. Give Your Dog a Warm Up One of the most important parts when it comes to exercising your dog is to start with a warm up. Dog can be really stiff in the morning due to his arthritis, so before the venture out on our morning walk - take a few quick laps around the yard to help loosen him up. If your dog has any mobility issues such as arthritis start your exercise routine with a 2 or 3 minute walk around the yard to help get them moving.
4. Enjoy A Daily Walking Routine Together A daily walk is recommended for all dogs, and senior dogs are no exception. Your older dog might not be able to go on a four hour hike with you anymore, but they can still enjoy a nice stroll around the neighborhood. If things start to get a little mundane you can make your dog walk more fun by letting your dog be the navigator or taking regular sniff breaks. If your dog is out of shape or has any mobility issues remember to take it easy by sticking to flat surfaces - such as a neighborhood walk versus a hilly trail and increasing your distance over time.
5. Take It Slow When Starting a New Routine When it comes to exercising a senior dog remember to take it slow when starting a new routine. Like us, our dogs can over exert themselves when exercising, and that is especially true for dog's that are out of shape to begin with. Remember to take it slow and increase their activity over time to help avoid injuries.
If you are starting a new walking routine with your dog start on a flat surface and slowly increase the distance and pace over time. If you are adding in some new activities to their routine - such as swimming or a game of fetch keep track of how long they are active for, and whether or not they are showing any signs of discomfort afterwards.
After a few sessions you will have a pretty good idea of how much activity they can handle, and you can start building that up over time. When it comes to adding exercise to your senior dog's routine remember to take it slow. Endurance & stamina are built up over time. Progressive increments can help your dog avoid injuries & over exertion.
6. Stick To Low Impact Exercises 80% of dogs have arthritis by the time they are 8, so managing canine arthritis is something many of us will have to do at some point in our dogs lives. It is not a diagnosis anyone is happy about, but it does not mean all the fun activities you once enjoyed are over. Low impact exercises, such as walking and swimming, are great for dogs with mobility issues such as arthritis.
If your dog has any mobility issues stick stick to low impact exercises such as swimming, walking, indoor games and gentle play sessions. Those types of activities can help keep your dogs muscles strong while being easy on their joints. Dogs with mobility issues should avoid high impact exercises such as jogging or intense games of fetch that rely on running and jumping.
7. Add Some Mental Exercise To Your Dog's Routine One way to keep your dog active in their older years is to supplement their exercise routine with some added mental stimulation. Simple nose work games such as find the treats or a quick game of hide and seek will keep your dog's brain engaged while also encouraging them to be active indoors. Throughout the day add in a few extra games and activities for your dog to enjoy indoors.
A few easy ways to give your dog some more mental stimulation is by using a food dispensing toy, a stuffed Kong, playing a game of hide and seek or letting them sniff around and explore while out on your daily walk. Add in some mentally stimulating games to your dog's routine to help keep them fit and active. Using food dispensing toys, playing nose work games and letting your dog take "sniff breaks" on walks are good examples of some of the mentally stimulating activities you can add into your dog's routine.
8. Watch For Signs of Pain in Your Dog When starting any new exercise routine with your dog be sure to watch out for any signs of discomfort or pain such as limping or wanting to stop or slow down. If your dog exhibits any signs of discomfort give your dog time to rest and adjust your routine as needed.
Dogs do not typically whine or cry when they are in pain, so it is important to keep track of their body language and behavior when starting a new exercise routine. If you have any questions or concerns consult with your veterinarian, they will be able to point you in the right direction when it comes to accessing what level of activity is appropriate for your dog.
9. Be Consistent With Your Routine When it comes to exercising your senior dog remember to be consistent, a 20 minute walk each day is better than a 2 hour walk on the weekend. Dogs that do not get regular exercise are more likely to injure themselves over dogs who get regular exercise every day. And when I say be consistent I do not mean you have to do that exact same thing everyday, although if it is enjoyable there is nothing wrong with that, it is more about keeping track of the intensity and amount of exercise your dog gets everyday.
The routine itself can be mixed up to keep things fun and interesting. You can take a new route for your daily walk or play fetch at the park rather than in the backyard. If doggie brain games are part of your routine alternate them, play find the treats on Monday, hide and seek on Tuesday and trick training on Wednesday.
10. Have Some Massage Time After Exercise A nice 10 minute dog massage can help soothe your dog's muscles after exercising by decreasing stiffness and pain, lowering blood pressure and improving circulation. Using a flat palm, use gentle and slow strokes - it will suit any older dog. It is an easy way to help her calm down and relax after exercising.
11. Find a Routine That Works For Your Dog When it comes to exercising a senior dog finding the right balance is key. If your dog is used to going for a 20 minute walk each day try adding an extra 5 minutes to the routine, or add in a quick gentle play session every evening. Keep track of your dog's behavior afterwards watching out for any signs of pain or discomfort, and slowly increase their activity over time.
For dogs with mobility or joint issues such as arthritis you will want to stick to low impact exercises such as walking and swimming. Write down how much exercise your dog is getting every day, and adjust as needed. If your dog is showing any signs of discomfort slow down a bit and readjust. And as always if you have any questions of concerns do not be afraid to check in with your veterinarian.
12. Aids To Assist Daily Activities Provide aids like ramps or steps to aid your senior dog getting in and out of vehicles, and on and off furniture. Harnesses are very useful for humans to help our senior dogs get up and down and get through their daily exercise routines. Remember to keep them warm or cool, away from stairs, and off slippery floors, too. Just because your dog is older, it does not mean they should slow down or be left at home because they can no longer get into the car. They can still work, compete, and can get onto furniture with some modifications by using aids.
13. Doggy yoga and Pilates Some people like the idea of doing Pilates or DOGA with their senior pet, but you need to check this with your vet! A vet will advise whether these exercises can improve your dog's health, contributing to longevity and increasing immunity against infectious diseases as some people believe: some say it helps to improve the bond between dog and owner. Dogs certainly love to stretch - it is a great tool to help maintain mobility for your dog as he ages. These motion exercises like stretching can help your senior dog to preserve function and also decrease pain. Here are5 types of stretches you can work with your dog to do.
14. Cooling Down After a Work Out Research has repeatedly shown that warmup and cooldown sessions improve athletic performance. Just as important to your dog's athletic health is what you do with your dog after her intense exercise. As we said earlier, muscular cooldown and contraction begins as soon as your dog stops working. Post activity, chances are his heart and respiratory rates are still high, and he may be panting. If your dog's been running, just slow to a normal walk and gradually allow the dog to slow further. The cooldown period can be as little as 5 minutes, just watch for signs your dog is returning to normal.
For example, her panting should slow down, slow down some more, and unless it is hot outside, she should begin to breathe with her mouth closed. Offer her some fresh, cool water to keep her hydrated, and then you can start some gentle massage. Describing how to do static stretches is beyond the scope of this article, but if you already do static stretches on your dog's front legs and shoulders and rear legs & hips, make sure you attempt these only during this cooldown phase, when the dog's muscles are warm and fully pliable.
Always use gentle, steady pressure, staying within the dog's comfort level. If he objects, you are pulling too hard or in an improper direction. It is wise to work with an experienced person the first time you use these stretches, as you can cause harm, too. Remember that you are not just influencing the limb you manipulate - consider all the muscles, tendons, and joints that are connected to it, as well.
OBEDIENCE TRAINING FOR SENIOR DOGS This article is proudly presented by WWW.FIDOSAVVY.COM
In principle, training older dogs is exactly the same as training young puppies. The only difference is that you will need an extra helping of patience because more mature pups and adult dogs may take a little longer to pick up new behaviors and learn new skills. This because dogs are creatures of habit and the longer they have spent with "bad" habits the more ingrained they are going to be.
It means you need to allow Fido a bit of extra time to "UN-learn: those old bad habits - such as peeing on the rug or jumping on visitors, as well as learning the new, more acceptable behavior. The good news is that he is perfectly capable of learning just about anything you want him to. Good potty habits, obeying basic obedience commands, and having nice manners are the most important things to work on at first.
Training an older dog properly includes helping him to learn good manners and basic obedience. A disobedient dog who jumps on everyone, refuses to listen to you, pulls on the leash and generally acts like a brat is no fun to be around and it is not much fun for him either. Obviously a puppy learns more quickly and is easier to control than an "teenage" pup or adult dog. But as long as you are patient, firm but loving, consistent and determined, you can teach your dog to "shape up". For obedience training, "Sit" is usually the first lesson, followed by "Down", "Stay" and "Come", which is actually the most important one, but the most difficult to teach and enforce. Check out these basic dog commands and see step-by-step guidelines to teaching each one:
Use only positive, rewards-based training techniques - this means encouraging Fido to succeed in his lessons and rewarding him when he does. If he fails, do not punish him! Simply start at the beginning again. Puppies have very short attention spans, but one of the advantages of working with older dogs is that they can concentrate for longer. Other than that the principles are the same. Set aside some time each day to work on his lessons. Do not try to fit teaching 4 different commands into one session.
Work on one, maximum of two, commands in any one lesson. Do several repetitions of each and always end on a positive note with your dog being successful. If you are trying to teach something new and Fido just can not "get it". End the lesson with something he DOES know how to do, and reward him lavishly. Training sessions should be fun for him, with praise and treats.
A short playtime at the end also helps him let off any "head of steam" he is built up while concentrating, and helps you bond with each other by having fun. It takes time to build a relationship with your dog. If you have had him since he was a pup but somehow just never got a handle on the training side of things, you are ahead of the game in that you already KNOW this dog. You know his quirks, personality, strengths and weaknesses. Plus you have a bonded relationship already. This helps.
LEASH TRAINING FOR SENIOR DOGS This article is proudly presented by WWW.FIDOSAVVY.COM
The biggest difference between leash training a puppy and an adult dog is the strength of the pulling he is going to do. A 10lb pup is not going to attempt to wrench your arm out of it is socket the same way a 50lb or 100lb dog will. Other than that the principles are the same. Leash training an older dog should not be a tug-of-war, or a battle of wills, and if you get the right equipment it won't be.
Most adolescent puppies and older dogs have strong neck and shoulder muscles, and you might be surprised at how effectively even a small dog can haul you around the block. The key to getting control is to use a training collar or harness.
No, not one of those electronic, pulse or shock collars, but a metal choke chain or prong collar. Used correctly these are NOT dangerous, or cruel! In fact you are much more likely to hurt the dog, even do him long-term damage, if you drag and yank at his neck while he is wearing a normal collar. If you need something a bit stronger choose a prong collar rather than a chain "choke" collar as the latter can cause damage to your dog's neck or throat if he pulls hard against it.
This may sound counter-intuitive when you compare the two collars visually but prong collars correct effectively with very little pressure on the neck and also work on long-coated breeds, but choke chain collars tend to be somewhat ignored, especially by large strong dogs, and therefore there is a lot more pulling force against the neck. This is also especially true if you are not experienced and are not using the collar and leash optimally. There are also several different types of halters and harnesses that work really well. Here are a few options you might want to check out:
No-Pull Dog Harness HALTI Headcollar Gentle Leader Head Collar
When you are using a training collar there is a right way to give a leash correction, and a wrong way. The right way is by giving what is called a "pop" on the collar at the same time as giving a verbal correction. The "pop" is a short, sharp tug on the leash that tightens the collar for a moment, then releases it right away. This gets your dog's attention, but does not hurt him.
If you are using a prong collar you can make the "pop" shorter and less sharp because the prongs need less pressure to be effective than the chain does. When you are using a harness or halter, this does not apply. Gentle firm pressure and a good grip on the leash is usually enough. Try starting your leash training an older dog at home. In your own yard if possible.
You hold the leash in your right hand but with your dog on your left side, the leash should run across the front of your body with your left hand holding it at thigh level or thereabouts. Have your dog sit or stand if he is not following the "sit" command just yet by your left leg. Do not allow him to pull forward until you are ready, if he lunges give him a gentle "pop" on the collar, or tug on the harness and tell him "no, wait".
Once he is still - even if it is just for 10 seconds, then you step forward and tell him "Let's go"! You are not aiming for a long walk here, just a few yards of calm is fine. If he pulls, yanks, twists and lunges, stand still and use the collar pops and verbal correction to bring him back to you. Only move forward when he is stopped pulling and is still. Fido will soon figure out that if he pulls, you stop, so he will try hard to slow down.
CRATE TRAINING FOR SENIOR DOGS This article is proudly presented by WWW.FIDOSAVVY.COM
Let's start with crate training, because living with an adult dog who isn not housebroken makes life a real challenge and, when you want to house train an adult dog, using a crate is the most practical way to go about it. It is also the most effective. The good thing about working with an adolescent pup or adult dog is that he will have good control over his bladder and bowels. This makes housebreaking a whole lot less time-consuming.
However, if you are house training a senior dog who has any incontinence issues or bladder weakness then you are going to need to give him more frequent potty trips, and possibly make other adjustments. Crate training is so effective, because it works by using your dog's natural instinct not to soil his den - in this case it is his crate. The vast majority of dogs will try very hard to "hold it" while confined, even if they really NEED to go. But do not take advantage of this and make your dog suffer, and also do not dawdle when you do let him out. Put on the leash and get him outside right away!
Crate Training Guidelines For Adult Dogs
1. Choose a crate that is easy to clean to begin with
2. Have dog urine stain & odor removing products to hand
3. Follow a predictable daily routine
4. Crate your dog whenever you can't be supervising him
5. Do not allow a new dog free access to your whole house
6. Give him at least four potty breaks per day
7. Be calm but upbeat when encouraging him to "perform"
8. If he does not "go" outdoors, be extra vigilant once back inside
9. Put a couple of indestructible chew toys in the crate with him
10. Learn how to recognize the difference between whiny complaints and true separation anxiety.
HOW TO POTTY TRAIN OLDER DOG This article is proudly presented by WWW.AKC.ORG and Hilarie Erb
Adult dogs bond just as readily as puppies do, and one of the benefits is that housetraining is often a much easier process for them. Some reasons why an older dog might not be house trained: No one ever bothered to train him, They may never have lived indoors, They may have spent a long time in a place where they could only go on concrete, paper in a pen, bedding in a crate, etc.
An adult dog's ability to "hold it" for several hours is what can make the process easier than it is for a puppy. This does not mean that you should force her to do so, however. Give her plenty of opportunities to learn by frequently taking her outside to the place you want her to use. Reward generously with treats and praise when successful.
Adult Dog Potty-Training Routine Establish a firm routine, including feeding meals at regular times. Pick up the dish 10 to 15 minutes after putting it down, empty or not. Do not use the free-choice feeding method in which food is left down at all times. This will help to keep her system on a schedule. Use a leash and go outside with her - do not simply let her out into the yard by herself and hope for the best. Trainers often hear about dogs who have accidents indoors just after having been outside. They are not trying to annoy you, probably you just did not stay out long enough. Dogs sometimes need a little time to sniff around, exercise, and check things out before relieving themselves. The more chances she has to do her business outside, the faster she will learn what is expected.
Take her out first thing in the morning, after breakfast, after dinner, and a few times throughout the day and before bedtime. If she does not go, bring her back inside and immediately put her in her crate for 10 minutes before trying again. Do not let her loose indoors if she has not eliminated outside! About that crate: it is a wonderful tool for house training. Any time you cannot supervise your dog, he should be in a crate or pen, or in a smaller room behind a baby gate.
You can also keep him near you with a leash. Gradually, over a few weeks, you can allow a little freedom, 10 or 15 minutes after he eliminated outside. There may be an accident, but do not punish the dog. If you frighten or punish him, he might become afraid to potty in front of you and will sneak off to do it somewhere else. If you catch your dog having an accident, say something to get his attention, but do not yell or make such a loud noise that you scare him. Then take him right outside so he can finish. Clean up with enzyme cleaner and try to be more observant of your dog's behavior.
How to Know When Your Dog Has to Go? You might see pacing, whining, circling, sniffing purposefully, or leaving the room. These mean: take me out right now! Not every dog will give you a signal such as barking or scratching at the door. You can train these behaviors, but if you learn to recognize the signs and respond quickly, she will probably figure it out and start "asking" because you get up and let her out right away when she does these things.
Your dog may have a hard time adjusting to eliminating on grass or dirt because he is never gone on a surface other than concrete, for example. Try taking him in the car to a quiet park. In your own yard, maybe you can have a friend's dog come over to help your new friend get the idea. Most dogs will usually go in a spot where other dogs have already gone.
Be extra patient. Your canine companion wants to do the right thing and he just needs a little help from you to figure it out.
It is been said that you can not teach an old dog new tricks. However, you can socialize them. When it comes to socializing adult dogs, a different approach may be required, since older dogs have already established their personality and have had a variety of life experiences: both good ones and potentially bad ones. And, chances are, if you adopt an adult dog, you do not fully know what they have experienced or where they came from. Socializing an adult dog can take a little bit longer than a younger pup, but it can be a rewarding experience for you and your dog.
The degree to which you and your dog enjoy success with socialization depends on his own temperament and the amount of time and energy you are willing to commit to the process. Whatever your dog's age, you can practice socialization with him to modify his behavior and help him overcome his anxieties, making him a more stable, trustworthy, and happier canine companion in the end.
Ideally, puppies are socialized in their first year by being exposed to as many new experiences as possible. Dogs are most sensitive and receptive between this time frame, so the earlier that you get your dog socialized with other pups and humans, the better. When socializing older dogs, especially larger, stronger breeds, try using a harness rather than a collar. While proper leash techniques are the best way to control your dog, a harness may reduce pulling.
The Challenges of Socializing
an Older Dog
Because of the way the brain develops, dog socializing gets harder as a dog gets older. During early puppyhood, dogs are open to new experiences. With proper early socialization, most puppies will grow up to be comfortable in a wide variety of situations. But if puppies do not get good early socialization, or are predisposed to anxiety due to genetics or other factors, they can grow up to be fearful adults. Since the adult brain is less flexible, it takes more work to address adult dogs' fears and anxieties. Still, you can socialize most older dogs with the right help.
Enroll in a dog socialization class, where there are other dogs present, but the environment is more controlled and less stressful. Dog socialization classes allow your dog to be in close proximity with other dogs while being around new people. It is also a good first step before visiting a dog park, where the atmosphere can be frenzied.
Observe other dogs at the dog park, but do not go in the enclosed area. Watching other dogs interact - without having to do any interacting: can be a beneficial experience for your pooch. Having a physical barrier, like a fence, creates a controlled situation, where your dog is never forced to engage with a strange dog.
Praise them for positive interactions, like not reacting to new dogs or being afraid of people. The goal is to create a positive feeling around social behaviors. If you are at the dog park and another dog approaches, reward your pup if they do not react negatively.
Do not overwhelm
your dog with the
"meet and greets"
or doggie play dates.
Introduce one new person each week and be encouraging with each new encounter. The same is true for meeting new dogs. One on one encounters help keep stress levels low. And a good walk with a comfortable distance in between the dogs can create a positive situation for socialization efforts.
KNOW YOUR DOG'S LIMITS ! It is always important to watch your dog for signal's she is had enough of socialization training, but it is of utmost importance when you are socializing an adopted adult dog. Your biggest challenge when training an adult dog is identifying and correcting pre-existing problems. Throwing a needy adult dog willy-nilly into a difficult social situation is tantamount to diving into the deep end of the pool when you have never had a swimming lesson. An adult dog can not be "let loose" to somehow figure out socialization with unfamiliar dogs.
The dog may react by avoidance, standing close to her human, and even growling and snapping at energetic dogs who come too near. And though this is often identified as abnormal behavior, it is not. The mistakes you make trying to socialize your dog, even with honest, good intentions, can backfire and produce an overly shy or aggressive dog. With your adopted adult dog, it is best to tackle basic obedience one on one. Then continue this training in the presence of another dog or a person, slowly expanding the size of the group. During this time, try to recognize the signs that your dog is over or under "threshold."
Dog trainers use the word "threshold" to describe when a dog crosses from one emotional state to another. "Over threshold" means a dog is too challenged by a situation. "Under threshold" means she is within her comfort zone. If you have ever witnessed a dog transition from a state of relative calm to aroused beyond control, you have seen her going "over threshold." When you are in a training or socializing exercise with your adult dog, test her with food to determine whether she is in her comfort zone: if you offer her a treat and she will not take it, she is likely over threshold.
Alternately, choose a challenge you believe is firmly beneath her threshold: are you willing to bet money she can do it? If not, your challenge is probably pushing her past her threshold. Your first exercises with your unsocialized adult dog should keep her within her comfort zone, and may even require one on one basic obedience training with a private instructor, before you attempt to introduce her to other dogs and people in a group setting.
DESENSITIZING YOUR DOG
Desensitizing is the process of teaching your dog to be less sensitive towards things in their environment. Many of our clients come to us because they dream of having a dog they can take anywhere who will remain calm and be friendly. This is where desensitization is important. If you have a new dog or puppy, we highly recommend you take them to coffee shops, bars or restaurants with outdoor patios or to outdoor areas with plenty of activity. This process helps your dog become well-adjusted, calm and confident no matter their surroundings.
When your dog has a specific problem shows fear of tall men in hats or skateboarders you can design exercises to desensitize him to the thing that frightens him. Choose a goal: relax at a safe distance from the skateboarders. Once you have arrived at the anxiety-inducing scene, ask your dog to execute a task down or stay, for example and generously reward him with food if he succeeds, taking care not to "bait" him with the food. Then quit while you are ahead - do not allow the situation to escalate. Call him back to you, and take your leave. If he has poor recall, use treats to reel him in.
Monitor your Attitude It is important to keep in mind that dogs sense your emotions and if you seem stressed out or nervous about an experience, so will your furry friend, too. Through body language and tone, you should remain calm and confident. Do not play into your dog's fearful or nervous reactions. If you comfort them when they are frightened, you will teach them that there is a reason to be fearful. Your dog feeds off your reactions and attitude, so be calm, collected and act as though the situation is not a big deal.
Puppies vs. Adult Dogs Off-leash play is beneficial to puppies learning behavior cues, but the same practice can have detrimental effects on adult dogs. While there are exceptions, when dogs reach social maturity between ages one and three, they often no longer enjoy playing with large groups of unfamiliar dogs. They may either attempt to avoid the dogs, stand close to their human family, or even growl and snap at boisterous young dogs that come too close to them. This behavior is often misidentified as abnormal, when in fact it is quite common.
Setting up Playtime
for your Adult Dog If your heart is set on social time with other dogs, start by introducing your dog to one dog at a time. Invite a friend to bring her gentle, easygoing dog on a walk with you and your dog. Allow a polite distance between dogs while they get accustomed to each other. If both dogs appear relaxed throughout the walk, allow them to sniff each other briefly. Keep leashes loose and each interaction short. If either dog appears to be tensing up, call the dogs apart with pleasant, relaxed voices. If both dogs' bodies appear loose and tails are wagging, consider an off-leash session in one of your fenced yards with leashes dragging, using the same short sessions and reinforcement for relaxed behavior.
Revisit Training Basics Dogs actually like to be told what to do, as long as they understand what is expected of them. Review the basics like sit, lie down, get off the sofa, go to your kennel or bed. Practice these cues regularly, every day. Ask him to "do" something he knows like sit, shake while out on a walk and you spot something in the distance that might upset him. It gets his attention on you and distracts him from whatever stress trigger you have identified.
Provide Irresistible Motivation Treats, toys, praise - make sure it is really enjoyable for your dog. We are all willing to work a little harder at something outside of our comfort zone if there is a worthy reward involved. Do not be afraid to use treats heavily - just keep the pieces small and truly yummy. A positive experience associated with something "scary" can work wonders in changing a dog's emotional response for the better.
Set up an encounter with something New or Scary Get a friend to wear a hat, or ask a skateboarder to ride by slowly. If you can not get volunteers to help, go somewhere where you can keep a safe distance as you train. For example, you could stand 100 feet from the dog park fence to let your dog see other dogs, but not close-up.
When your dog notices the new thing, Praise and Feed Treats Bring along treats your dog adores. When your dog notices the new thing, praise or say something cheerful - "What a nice man in a hat!" and then give your dog a treat. Feed treats as long as the new thing is there, and stop as soon as it is gone.
Follow your dog's lead, but keep a Safe Distance! Let your dog decide if they want to move closer to the new thing or not. Starting from far away, stand next to your dog and watch their body language. Are they stepping forward, stepping away, or standing still? Follow their lead. Ideally, your dog will move toward the new thing in a slow, curvy path, so that they get closer but not very quickly. One important note: Some dogs scare themselves by getting too close to new things. If your dog is dragging you straight to the thing, they are not calm. If they refuse treats as they move closer, that is a warning sign, too. If your dog seems excited or agitated in other ways as they approach the new thing, move them away and feed treats from farther away for a while.
Repeat with as many new things as Possible Over time, you should notice that your dog seems more relaxed, or even looks to you for treats, during each new encounter.
Stick to just One New Thing at a Time If your dog finds new things stressful, three new things will be more stressful than one. Avoid situations with too many new things. Choose situations where only one new thing is in the picture.
Stay Calm and Relaxed We can not always calm our dogs down, but it's easy to accidentally rev them up. If you are agitated, your dog is likely to get stressed, too. Take a few slow, relaxed breaths or roll your shoulders if you feel tense. If you can't calm down, lead your dog away from the new thing.
Watch for and Respect Signs of Stress A dog's body language lets you know when the dog is experiencing stress. If your dog is yawning, showing the whites of his eyes, licking his lips, panting more, turning his head or body away, hiding behind you, or showing signs of aggression such as growling, that means he is uncomfortable. Create distance between you and the new thing.
Use Calming Aids to help your Dog Feel More Relaxed There are a variety of calming aids that can help reduce your dog's anxiety. One long-term calming aid my clients like is the Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Calming Care Probiotic Dog Supplement, a powder you add to the dog's meals. Two other options are VetriScience Composure Dog Chews and Nutramax Solliquin Calming Soft Chews, which can be used daily or on an as needed basis. Another option is the Outward Hound Collar Buddy Dog Collar Accessory, which contains calming essential oils. Before using any of the above products, consult your veterinarian, especially if there are also cats in your home. Cats are sensitive to some things that are safe for dogs.
Let people know your Dog Needs Space! Being petted by strangers is a terrifying experience for some dogs. Let people know your dog is anxious about strangers using the Dogline Unimax Multi-Purpose Do Not Pet Dog Harness. This walking harness says "DO NOT PET" in big letters on both sides, so people can read it from a safe distance away.
A new puppy can bring life and energy back to an old, cranky dog. Many owners hope the well behaved old dog will also help teach the new puppy the rules of the household. Both of these reasons for this timing are wonderful, if it works out. But sometimes it does not. When this scenario does not work, it is torment for all concerned: you, your old dog, and the puppy.
Your Old Dog's Physical Health Before bringing home a puppy, in fact before deciding to get a puppy, take a realistic look at your old dog. A puppy is going to be a whirling dervish of energy and your old dog must be able to deal with it. If he does not feel good, he may be grumpy towards the puppy and even mean. When I was thinking about adding a puppy to my family, I took my old dog Bashir in to our veterinarian and had her do a complete physical examination, including blood work.
When his veterinarian said he was in extremely good shape and still active on a daily basis - playing, retrieving, long walks, and hikes, and make sure you feel that physically he could handle a puppy. If your old dog has some health challenges, find out if there are treatments to help those issues.
Talk to your veterinarian and find out what your dog's future health will be like as he ages with this issue. Is he going to feel bad? Will he be uncomfortable or in pain? Will he be progressively more inactive? Use this information as you decide whether this might be the right time to get a puppy.
Your Old Dog's Mental Health As dogs grow older they can suffer from some mental health issues not unlike people, including dementia. If your dog seems confused, gets lost in his own home or backyard, forgets who your are, or is otherwise unlike himself, talk to your veterinarian prior to deciding to get a puppy. If your old dog is suffering from canine dementia, which is a progressive problem - it will continue to get worse, postpone bringing home a puppy as doing so now would be unfair.
Some older dogs tend to get fearful as they age. Arthritis and hearing loss, in particular, can cause anxiety. After all, the dog does not understand the changes happening to him. If the anxiety can be alleviated, with pain medication for the arthritic dog for example, then a puppy might be okay. However, if the issue causing the anxiety is unknown, postponing the puppy until the old dog has passed away might be the kindest thing to do.
Other Things to Consider The best big brother or sister to a puppy is a healthy, active, well socialized, well trained, friendly older dog who has already had some exposure to puppies throughout his life. An older dog such as this can help you raise the puppy, help you teach the puppy, and will be a good role model. Obviously, not all older dogs have all of these characteristics, although certainly some do, so again, take a realistic look at your old dog. Is he well socialized to other dogs and puppies? Will he be friendly towards your puppy? Or will he be grumpy or perhaps even nasty?
An older dog who is not friendly, potentially nasty, or who scares a puppy could affect the puppy's future relationships with other dogs for the rest of his life. Does your old dog have some bad habits you'd prefer your potential new puppy not have? If your old dog has housetraining issues, barks way too much, or has other issues, keep in mind that he could potentially be a bad role model that your puppy will emulate. Try to change those undesirable behaviors with lots of training before bringing home a puppy. Your choice in a puppy must also be evaluated.
If there is going to be a big size difference between the two you will have to play referee. A larger puppy, as he grows up, can take advantage of a smaller older dog. A large puppy will bite, bounce, on, chase, and otherwise torment the smaller dog. A smaller puppy will be less torment to most older larger dogs but the larger dog could potentially harm a significantly smaller puppy with even a paw swipe. Just think about potential actions, behaviors, and possibilities before making a decision.
When You Bring Home a New Puppy Many older dogs will be upset, jealous, or even angry with a new puppy, especially if the older dog has been an only dog. It is going to be important to make sure the older dog gets lots - more than normal, of attention to alleviate potential hurt feelings. And do not wait to see if he is got hurt feelings - start giving him extra special attention the moment you bring the puppy home.
A good way to do this is to have some special treats or toys and teach him that the puppy equals special treats. Do not give him treats or petting when the puppy is put away - to your dog that will mean the absence of the puppy equals special treatment. Instead, we want him to think the puppy equals good stuff. Feel free to interfere if the puppy is tormenting your old dog.
If your old dog is trying to nap, eat his dinner, or chew on a toy, remove the puppy or distract him. Once in a while, take the puppy to another room to play with him. Let your old dog have some peace. If your old dog tries to teach your puppy how to be a good dog, let him as long as his corrections are appropriate.
Growls, strong eye contact, and flipping the puppy over on his back are all fine. Sometimes the growls and rumbles will be loud and the puppy's squeals will sound like he is being killed. That is ok. As long as there is no blood and the corrections teach the puppy and are not constant - then all is well. Gauge your reactions and whether to step in and interfere, on both your old dog's actions and the puppy's reactions.
Start with Some Soul-Searching A lot of people are under the misapprehension that dogs are pack animals, but that is just not true. Dogs are social animals, like humans. That does not mean they always want to be around other dogs. Her own pet is more than content being the only dog in the house. It is important to have a sense of whether your dog shares those introverted proclivities. If your dog has not spent a lot of sustained time around other dogs, consider borrowing a friend's pup for a weekend or arranging well-monitored playtime at a dog park or other off-leash area to get a better sense of how it behaves in social settings.
Play a Little Hard to Get There are so many dogs in need, it can be tempting to jump into a new relationship based on a photo or sad story. But it is imperative to know whether or not that dog's temperament is a good match for your existing canine. Ask questions of the rescue organization or shelter, oftentimes, words like energetic and devoted can be codes for behavioral issues. If a trial period is possible before adopting, take it. The worst thing that can happen to a resident dog is for them to live in a house where it is violent - it is like telling your partner you have rented out a room to Hannibal Lecter, but do not worry, he will not use our bathroom.
Take It Slow - Super Slow! There is a reason blind dates usually take place over dinner and a movie. Brief, activity-driven interactions build comfort and prevent us from going too far down a bad road. Take your resident dog and new dog on "parallel walks," where the dogs are close enough to smell and observe each other but not interact physically. Back at home, use crates and baby gates to keep the dogs separated for all but limited, supervised interaction.
Solve Your Resident Dog's Bad Behaviors First A new, younger dog is going to look to your resident dog for guidance. If your current dog barks at other dogs on the street, he will teach those behaviors to the new dog. If your resident dog bolts every time you open the door or tears apart the house whenever you leave. If you are working on issues with your current dog, especially aggressive behaviors - now is not the time to add to the family.
Be an Advocate A new interloper in the house is a big and often unpleasant change for even the most social dogs. Some resident dogs may become possessive and aggressive, others may grow increasingly meek and anxious. The trick is to be ready to respond. Be open and compassionate as well as ensuring safety. Separate them to give a peace.
Avoid Playing Favorites The key to success is to make sure both dogs get individual time with you, either on solo walks or during play sessions. During training time, use a baby gate to separate two rooms, and use that barrier to your advantage. Straddle the gate and train both dogs on either side. It is a good way to help them learn not to be jealous with one another. Or train one dog on one side while giving the other dog a favorite toy or chew treat to enjoy. A dog can learn really quickly that positive interaction is almost dependent on the other dog being around.
Know the Warning Signs That sounds like a no-brainer, but a lot of pet owners do not know the early signs of anxiety or aggression. One of the most common misconceptions is that dogs are happy whenever they wag their tail. You need to look at the face and see what is going on there - a fixed lip, or panting are all examples of discomfort. They are subtle, so familiarize yourself with charts like Sophia Yin's downloadable poster on fear and aggression in dogs. Too often, by the time a person has identified that there is a problem between the dogs, they are five days too late.
Remember Those Childhood Car Rides When a new puppy enters the house - in many causes people punishing the wrong dog. That is just going to make the resident dog more anxious and stressed, while it gives the new one permission to take more advantage. It is OK for the resident dog to scold or correct the puppy when things start to escalate: a dirty look, a warning bark, or a quick growl are all useful feedback for the younger dog. Just be ready to step in if that warning is not heeded.
Make De-Escalation Fun Even the best behaved dog can get overstimulated and lose impulse control or start ignoring cues from other dogs. When a play session starts to get heated or one dog looks like he is making bad choices, it is time to reroute everyone's energy and focus. Interrupting picnics, in which you call both dogs into another room, ask them to sit, and reward them with treats while they stay, could help a lot here. Do not underestimate the value of teaching even simple skills, like attention and eye contact.
The more skills they have, the better they are set up for success. And you always want their attention returning to you. If a picnic is not working, tether the dogs so that they are in the same room but can not physically interact with one another. This also teaches the puppy he can not necessarily get access to every toy or human he wants.
Do not Let to Go It Alone! We know to take our dog to the vet when he is sick, but too few people know to consult with a professional when a dog is in distress. We recommend to work with a certified trainer who specializes in positive-reinforcement training from the start of any new relationship - both with your resident dog and your new dog. If problems start to arise, contact your veterinarian for advice or additional referrals.
Every dog is different! The best thing you can do is come into the situation knowledgeable and ready to help them find a new normal that feels safe and secure.
Noise phobias are a common complaint by dog owners and as we head into the July 4th weekend and the thunderstorm-filled summer months, we wanted to discuss noise phobias in our senior patients. Some senior dogs show improvement in noise phobia as their sense of hearing diminished, but for many senior dogs their anxieties and noise phobias can become worse. A new study published in Frontiers of Veterinary Science found that dogs responding with fear and anxiety to loud noises could be hiding musculoskeletal pain. The underlying and often untreated pain could then be worsened when a startling noise occurred, causing the dog to jump or tense.
These sudden movements could then incur extra pain on joints and areas that are already inflamed and sore. Dogs quickly link the loud noise and the painful response and therefore become even more anxious to avoid a scenario like that again. In this study, when dogs were treated for underlying pain, their fearful behavior was much improved. Many dogs can have an innate fear of loud noises, such as fireworks, thunderstorms, jet planes, gunshots, loud cars, and motorcycles - however, if an older dog begins to develop this fearful behavior as they age it is important to have a veterinarian assess whether or not it may be pain related.
There are also several options for treating noise phobias in dogs with and without a secondary pain reaction. Calming nutraceuticals like Composure, can be helpful, as well as Thundershirts, essential oils, and in severe cases prescription medications like Trazodone or Sileo. The key to all of these treatments, however, is to ensure that the pet is pain-free before trying to calm and to use these tools before the true fear sets in- ideally 60 minutes before any known triggers.
Calming music and treat puzzles and distractions can also help condition pets to adapt to loud noises. If you have tried the over the counter options for treating noise phobias and your dog remains fearful, we recommend discussing this with your veterinarian to see if stronger supplements (Composure Pro) or medications would be indicated.
BEST FOOD FOR SENIOR DOGS This article is proudly presented by WWW.AKC.ORG and Caroline Coile
A long life is the result of good genes, good care, and good luck. While a few 4 leaf clovers never hurt anyone, chances are it is a little late to worry about good genes once you have welcomed a dog into your heart. That leaves good care as the one thing you can control now. And a big part of good care is good nutrition. As dogs age, their nutritional requirements change and evolve.
Obesity, arthritis, and cognitive and appetite loss are common problems for seniors. However, there are issues when it comes to feeding your senior dog. It is partially because senior dogs vary so much in their individual needs. That may explain why commercial foods for seniors vary so widely in nutrient levels. You should be aware of just a few important factors that apply to most senior dogs:
Protein Restrict is Off Do not Restrict Protein! This matter is widely misunderstood. Many people still believe senior dogs should eat less protein. We now know the opposite is true. Healthy seniors need more protein, not less, in order to fuel muscle. Loss of muscle mass is a major problem in older dogs. Some seniors lose so much muscle they can no longer walk unassisted.
Older dogs need about 50% more protein to maintain muscle mass compared to younger ones. But, diets formulated for adult maintenance diets often do not have enough protein to satisfy these needs. Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, recommends 28 - 32% protein on a dry-matter basis for healthy older dogs, especially in those cases where weight loss is needed.
Calories Does Matter Consider Calories. Younger seniors tend to be overweight. But, very old dogs tend to be underweight. Calories in senior foods varied widely, ranging from 246 to 408 calories per cup. So, the same senior food may be a great choice if your dog needs to lose weight.
But it may be a bad choice if they need to gain weight. Do not forget that the time to consider calories is well before old age sets in. Two benchmark studies conducted by major dog food companies Purina and Waltham both found that restricting calories throughout life improved longevity and reduced illnesses. Essentially, good care for senior dogs starts in youth.
Organ Health Feed For Organ Health. Other factors to consider are senior dog health problems such as heart and kidney disease. For both conditions, you will want a low-sodium food. Sodium levels in senior foods ranged from 33 to 412 mg/100 kcal. For kidney disease, you will want low phosphorous, but that is not even mentioned on any label.
The 2011 study found phosphorous levels varied by threefold in the senior foods they examined, but were on average higher than their representative adult maintenance food. Prescription diets are available for heart, kidney, and other diseases that take into account these nutritional needs. However, even those foods may have wide ranges of nutrients.
Any dog food manufacturer should be able to provide these numbers to you on their website or with a simple phone call. While you are at it, ask them about the credentials of the people formulating their foods. If they can not provide either, that is clue number one that you should find another product.
The Supplements Add Supplements. Some senior foods include supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin in an effort to combat osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, the evidence that these supplements actually work is limited. However, they won't hurt, except maybe your wallet. On the other hand, omega-3 fatty acids probably play an important role in senior diets because they may help combat both osteoarthritis and especially cognitive losses. If you are adding your own to your dog's diet, aim for the amount of EPA and DHA combined to be in the range of 700 to 1,500 mg. Build up starting at the low end and cut back if your dog has any diarrhea or vomiting.
Palatable Food Make Food Palatable For Senior Dogs. There are practical aspects of feeding your dog to consider, too. Senior dogs may have dental problems that make chewing difficult or uncomfortable. These dogs should first be treated for whatever problem they have, but if that is impossible or unsuccessful, consider wetting their food or feeding them canned or soft food. Simply feeding a smaller kibble size may help if you are feeding dry food. Senior dogs may be uncomfortable bending down to the food bowl or standing for long periods to eat.
Try serving their meals on a raised platform or encourage them to eat lying down. Very old dogs often lose their appetite. Warming the food can increase its aroma and may help stimulate the appetite - cooling it may make it less nausea, inducing in queasy dogs. At some point you may have to abandon your goal of a healthy balanced diet and just feed him whatever he will eat. The "wait until he is hungry enough" tactic does not work in seniors because their "hunger mechanism" may not be working correctly.
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