Would your senior dog benefit from New Zealand green lipped mussels

Would Your Senior Dog Benefit From Green Lipped Mussels?

Would your senior dog benefit from New Zealand green lipped mussels

Are green lipped mussels the next “great thing” for our senior dogs? Let’s take a look and see!

What are they and are they really green?

Green lipped mussels (or GLM) are a type of mussel found only in New Zealand, and the shell is rimmed in green.


  • Natural inflammatory
  • would your dog benefit from New Zealand green lipped musselsReduces pain
  • Protects joints
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Strengthens bones
  • Helps in repair of cartilage
  • Preventative

What makes green lipped mussels so powerful?

Just like fish, green lipped mussels contain Omega-3 fatty acids, but it is the combination of fatty acids, minerals and antioxidants found in the mussels that makes them so powerful.  

How much to give

There is no set answer for this one, as the amount of GLM that will be beneficial for your senior dog depends not only on his or her size, but also the severity of the condition. The amount given may also have to be increased or decreased depending on the results you see…or don’t see.

Here are some suggestions to help get you started 

Speak to your vet and ask his opinion

Follow the recommendations on the label of the brand you purchase

In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, significant improvement was seen in dogs given the following amounts –

  • Dogs weighing less than 25kg/55lbs – 450mg per day
  • Dogs weighing 25-34kg/55-75lbs – 750mg per day
  • Dogs weighing more than 34kg/75lbs – 1000mg per day

How to administer green lipped mussels

While it is often suggested the most effective way is to sprinkle it onto your dog’s food, the study I mentioned above suggests dogs showed significant improvement whether it was given that way, in a treat or as an ingredient in dog food. The fact it is helpful in various forms, increases the likelihood you will find something your dog will accept.

How long until I see results?

Natural supplements tend to take longer to have an affect than medications, so it may take several weeks for you to notice a difference.

Side effects

There don’t seem to be any concerns about side effects, although there is a very slight chance your dog could be allergic to shellfish. If you see any symptoms such as your dog scratching, upset stomach, difficulty breathing or lack of interest in food (possibly due to nausea), please call your vet immediately.

Are all green lipped mussels supplements created equal?

Not all supplements are created equal, and green lipped mussels are no exception. It’s important to understand the manufacturing process in order to choose the best brand. Heat destroys the nutrients naturally found in the mussels, so if they are steamed open you want to stay away from that brand. Look for cold extracted instead.

There are also many supplements that contain GLM but it’s not always easy to determine how much it actually contains, or the manufacturing process.

You may want to start by checking with your local health food store, and speaking with a knowledgeable salesperson.

Are GLM better than anti-inflammatories?

It depends what “better” means to you. When the “right” medication is found and dosage determined, then they absolutely do help with the pain associated with arthritis. By the same token there are often side effects that come with these drugs, and may be experienced by your dog.

More and more pet parents are looking for natural alternatives, and GLM are definitely worth looking into.

Keep in mind not every drug or supplement will be effective for every dog.

Are other supplements for mobility needed?

There is no definitive “yay” or “nay” answer to that question, but more a matter of the severity of the pain your dog experiences, and what will work best for him or her.

You may find you are able to reduce the amount of pain meds, or eliminate them completely, once you’ve started GLM

Some dog parents find the greatest effect when taken with glucosamine/chondroitin, while others add fish oil as well.

What the studies show about efficacy

Evaluating Complementary Therapies for Canine Osteoarthritis Part I: Green-lipped Mussel

Effect of a diet enriched with green-lipped mussel on pain behavior and functioning in dogs with clinical osteoarthritis

Improvement of Arthritic Signs in Dogs Fed Green-Lipped Mussel (Perna canaliculus)

Always check with your vet

I always advise checking with your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet, and that includes the addition of supplements. In my case because Red had chronic pancreatitis, it was critical I kept an eye on the amount of oils in her diet and that definitely included fish oil.

If your vet isn’t as familiar with alternative therapies as you would like, bring an information sheet with you. If he still isn’t able to offer you the advice you seek, a visit to a holistic vet may help. If you do end up with a second vet, communication between all parties is key for the safety of your dog.


Do you give your senior dog green lipped mussels? What condition are you treating? Do you see any positive results? Sharing helps others so please leave a comment below, or on my Facebook page.


I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.


*There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you purchase anything I make a few pennies…literally. That money helps me help homeless animals through donations and fostering, as well as keeping this blog running.



How to choose the right pet stroller for your senior dog

How to Choose the Right Pet Stroller For Your Senior Dog

How to choose the right pet stroller for your senior dog

If I had to choose one thing that has made a huge difference in my life and the life of my senior dog, I would have to say it’s a pet stroller. Although we would never have left Red behind on a day trip (unless we had a pet sitter), having the dog stroller made it a lot easier to include her. I highly recommend every senior dog parent purchase one, but it turns out our stroller had another use I never could have foreseen.

Almost 2 years ago my dog Jack became paralysed quite suddenly, meaning within the span of just a few hours. During his recovery he was only allowed 5 minute walks, but I also wanted to make sure he wouldn’t get bored or start feeling depressed. With the permission of the neurologist I took Jack out every day in the stroller, making sure we stopped in to see some of his favourite humans along the way.

He’s now fully recovered, but when he’s running around on a hot day he’ll often take a break by lying underneath it in the shade it creates. He has also been known to hitch a ride part of the way home until he gets his second wind!

You may have already started looking for a pet stroller and become somewhat overwhelmed by the number of styles and options available, or you have yet to start because you haven’t a clue where to begin. Either way I’ve got you covered.

I’m going to be discussing the various features you’ll find in a pet stroller as well as things to be aware of, to help you choose the best one for your senior dog. The more features it has, the more beneficial it will be.  

How to choose the right pet stroller for your senior dog


Weight the stroller can accommodate

Do follow weight guidelines, as the frame has to be able to offer enough support. If your dog is at the recommended weight or even just below it, I would play it safe and buy a bigger size.  

Size dog it can accommodate

what features should you look for when choosing a dog stroller

Weight and size are 2 different things. While the stroller may accommodate your dog’s weight, not all dogs who weigh the same have the same measurements!! I suggest measuring from his nose to his tail, and his width, then check the interior dimensions of the stroller.

How does it look?

Helping you choose the best pet stroller for your senior dog

Nothing wrong with having a nice looking stroller if that’s important to you, so it’s good to know there are various colours and prints to choose from.

Ease of folding

foldable is a great feature when choosing the right pet stroller

You will absolutely want your dog stroller to fold for ease of storage and ease of use. Most need two hands to fold it, some just one.   


Be sure the stroller you choose is sturdy and can accommodate the size of your dog. The last thing you want is to be miles from home with a broken axle or a cracked wheel, and a 40lb dog you couldn’t possibly carry.

Handle height and placement

Is the handle height comfortable? If not is it adjustable? Some have the option, others do not. Placement refers to how far the handle sticks out, and if it’s far enough so you don’t kick the back wheels when walking, especially at a faster pace.

How easy is it to push?

How to choose the best pet stroller for your senior dog

Pushing an 8lb dog on a paved path is one thing, but what about an 85lb dog over rough terrain? Too much hard work, and no one will benefit. How easy will it be to jog or do off road walking with a dog inside? A lot of that will be down to the weight of the stroller itself and the type of tires.

Multiple uses

Sometimes a stroller is just a stroller, but other times it can also be a bike trailer, car seat or even a pet carrier.

Folding canopy

features to help you choose the right pet stroller

A canopy is an important feature that will protect your dog from the sun, rain, even bugs. Having one that folds means options – keep it open so your pup can enjoy the beautiful weather and have a great view, but when it becomes too hot, it offers shade while still allowing him to see.

Viewing port

important feature for a senior dog stroller

I love this feature and it’s one my pet stroller has. There is an area on the canopy that is mesh with a Velcro flap, which not only provides an extra source of ventilation when the canopy is closed, it also means I can check on my dog easily without stopping. No need to open the entire canopy, or walk around to the front of the stroller.

Amount and quality of mesh   

thick quality mesh is an important feature when choosing the right dog stroller

More mesh means more breathability, and a better view for your dog if he’s too small to see out the top or if he’s lying down. Pay attention to the sturdiness of the mesh, too thin and he can claw it and tear it.

Enclosing the stroller

choose a pet stroller that can be fully enclosed

I would say most strollers have the option of completely enclosing it, and I like that for a couple of reasons. One being added protection from the weather, the other for safety to prevent him from jumping or trying to jump out. When open the canopy attaches to the stroller with a zipper or non-zip option.  

How many points of entry

rear entry is a great feature in a pet stroller

Some strollers have one way to put your dog in and that’s through the top, others also have a rear zippered entry. This is particularly handy if you have a bigger dog, or you are unable to lift him. If it’s low enough to the ground your senior dog may be able to walk right in, but if he can’t a small step will help.

Safety tether

safety tether is a great feature when choosing the right pet stroller for a senior dog

A leash attached to the stroller, it’s a great safety feature should your dog get anxious and try and jump out, or so excited he can’t wait to get out. Depending on who is in the stroller I may keep hold of the leash, but I also use this clip as an extra safety measure.  

Tires and wheels

important features when choosing the best dog stroller for your old dog

Not all tires are suitable for all terrains, plastic being perfectly fine for smooth pavement, while air filled better for rougher and uneven surfaces.  

Fixed wheels or swivel? My stroller has swivel wheels which is fine for pavement, malls and other smooth surfaces, and good for turning corners and manoeuvrability. Fixed wheels are best for jogging and off road. Many strollers have wheels you can let swivel or fix into place.  

Rear locking wheels

rear locking wheels on a pet stroller

An excellent safety feature to stop a stroller from rolling, you simply engage and disengage with your foot. Perfect for public transport, stopping for a chat, parking the stroller while walking the dog, or even while loading and unloading your pet.

Storage basket

storage basket is a great feature on a dog stroller

For me a storage basket underneath the stroller is a must have, so check the size before you buy. On day trips we do take a knapsack, but having the basket means quicker access for things like – an extra sweater, human and canine water and snacks, sun hat, sun tan lotion….

Parent tray

parent tray is a great feature on a pet stroller

Most strollers have it, although configurations may differ. It’s super convenient for items you want to keep close to hand such as water bottles, keys, phone, treats…  If you like to keep a water bottle within easy reach, check the depth of the holder. Mine is perfect for a small bottle of about 8oz (250ml) or so, anything bigger and it will fall out if we walk on rougher terrain. It’s not a huge deal although slightly inconvenient. I put it in the canopy when it’s closed but when it’s open I have to put it in the storage basket.  

Latch to keep pet stroller closed

latch to keep pet stroller closed is a very handy feature

Trust me when I tell you it’s a much needed feature. This latch is affixed to one part of the frame, and once it’s folded you click it onto the other part and it keeps the stroller closed. Unfortunately ours was lost (I don’t want to blame anyone, but it wasn’t me!!), and believe me it’s a nightmare without it. I should really try and find a replacement.

Rain cover

Some pet strollers come with it, most don’t, mine didn’t. The good news is they can be purchased separately because they are handy to have should you get caught in a rainstorm. Even if the stroller fabric is water resistant, if the rain is heavy enough it will get in through the mesh windows.

How to choose the right pet stroller for your senior dog – conclusion

If you have a senior dog who isn’t able to walk too far or join you on day trips, then you definitely need a pet stroller. It can be as basic or fancy as you like, and they come in a wide variety of prices to suit most budgets. Now that you see how wonderful they are, you don’t have to leave your old dog at home, or stay home because you don’t want to leave him alone. It can absolutely be a life changer…for both of you!


Sharing helps others so please leave a comment below, or on my Facebook page.

I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.


*There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you purchase anything I make a few pennies…literally. That money helps me help homeless animals through donations and fostering, as well as keeping this blog running.

How to make moving day stress free for senior dogs

How to Make Moving Day Stress Free For Senior Dogs

How to make moving day stress free for senior dogs

Moving is stressful no doubt about it, but did you know it’s up there with job loss, marriage, divorce and death?

I have moved a lot, but that’s what happens when you have wanderlust, and most of that moving was done with dogs and cats in tow. Yes they were usually seniors!! I’ve moved apartments in the same city, moved to different countries and even continents. Needless to say I’ve learned a few things along the way, so I thought I’d share my words of wisdom.

Naturally I’m focusing on senior dogs as I write, but these tips will work no matter how old or what type of pet you share your life with.

They know!

How to Make Moving Day Stress Free for Senior DogsI find it incredible how animals have an uncanny ability to sense when something is up, and I have witnessed it enough times that I know it to be true. What’s most amazing to me is how they seem to know you’re going to move even when it’s just an idea…before the M word has even been uttered.

I don’t even have to bring a box into the house for them to start acting all weird!

Then the disruption starts

  • That schedule you’re so proud of is but a distant memory
  • Meal times may turn into “whenever I remember” (okay not really but you know what I mean!)
  • A walk is “squeezed in”
  • Evenings snuggling up on the couch are nothing more than a happy memory (for humans and pets!)

I’d like to think I’m being a bit melodramatic, but as moving day nears it’s not an uncommon scenario.

Yes it would be great if schedules could be followed, but that’s not entirely realistic so the only thing we can do is the best we can do. Don’t beat yourself up, you’re doing a great job.   

The good news is there are ways to minimise a move’s effect on our animals, which I believe to be particularly important if they are elderly and/or have anxiety or other health issues.


stress free moving with your dog

Here they are, in no particular order 


Get your dog used to seeing boxes and suitcases a good couple of weeks before you’ll start packing them, by leaving them out for him to explore. If possible bring them in one or two at a time. Don’t make a big deal about them, and when he starts to sniff around and he’s calm reward him with a favourite treat. It will get him used to seeing them before the commotion starts.

Have a support system. Make arrangements for your dog’s care when you’re too busy or you need to get him out of the house because potential buyers will be dropping by. Ask friends, family and neighbours if you can call on them, perhaps even at the last minute. Connecting with a dog walker or two is a good idea, as is checking out day care facilities should you need a safe place for a few hours.

Do what you can to stick to their schedule of meal times and exercise. Many old dogs are sensitive to changes in schedule, particularly those with dementia or anxiety for example, and that can be a stressor in itself. If your dog is on medication it is even more important to watch that clock! If at times you need a hand call on that support system. Having said that you need a break, so going for a walk with the dog is a de-stressor for you as well.

I know from experience there are times a realtor will call with a last minute request to show your home. Keep a knapsack packed with water, bowls, treats and a favourite toy so you can grab and go.

Double check that microchip and tag details are up to date, and have a tag with your new contact details made and ready to use.

Start playing a CD of dog calming music now, I mean rightnow…okay when you finish reading!! When you find the ones he relaxes to, those are the ones you will play while packing because it will remind him of the relaxed state he felt. The two that work best for my dog are Through a Dog’s Ear and Relax My Dog. There is a 13 minute sampler of the first on Youtube so you can try before you buy, and the second has hours of free music to play. Through a Dog’s Ear is Red’s favourite!

An open house is not a place for a senior dog, or any pet for that matter. If you won’t be hanging either around then no problem, you and your dog can enjoy a day out. If, however, you want to be a part of it call on your support system.

Put him in doggie daycare for a couple of hours and see what he thinks. If he likes it you now have a place to take him when you’re busy, or he needs to be out of the house.

All the dog stuff should go in a clearly labelled box so when you reach your new home, you can unpack it first and get him settled right away.

If possible ask the realtor to come by with buyers during your dog’s walk time. It allows him to stick to his schedule as much as possible, and the less often he sees strangers traipsing through his home the better. Obviously it won’t always be possible, and you certainly don’t want to miss out on a sale, so for those times call on your trusted support system.

Pack up your dog’s favourite bed, crate, toys and blankets at the last possible moment. You want him to feel safe and comfortable for as long as possible.

If you will be driving to your new home and it’s quite a long distance, I recommend you keep a harness on your dog throughout the trip. If he’s never worn one before, now is the time to start getting him used to it. Rest stops can be hectic and new surroundings frightening, so don’t take a chance of him panicking and slipping out of his collar.

Pack a separate bag just for your dog of all the things you’ll need during the trip, trust me it’s easier than rooting around yours. Don’t forget –

  • Medical records
  • Pet passport/paperwork if crossing borders
  • Medication for the trip plus a few days extra
  • Food for the trip plus a few days extra
  • Large bottle of water
  • Favourite toy
  • Blanket
  • Food and water bowls

You may also want to play that dog calming music during the drive but a word of warning – be careful because it may relax you so much you’ll fall asleep…I’m not kidding. When I play Through a Dog’s Ear for Red, I end up snoozing and that’s on the couch!

If you’re moving out of your area, find out where the nearest 24 hour emergency hospital is. I also recommend starting a search for some possible vets you’ll want to check out when you arrive. Having some contact numbers is a wise precaution should your dog be feeling unwell after the journey.  


moving to Spain with dogs in the car

Not all tips will be relevant as so much depends on how you’ll be travelling and where you’re going, and as before they are in no particular order. 

If your senior dog is suffering from anxiety and takes comfort in your presence, try and keep him with you even through the upheaval. Of course you’re the best judge so if you don’t feel it’s a good idea, reach out to one of your support group until you’re ready to go. Even if they just take him for a walk in the neighbourhood it can help keep him calmer.

As soon as your start your journey, put the new dog tag on the collar. Until you reach your destination I would leave both of them. I prefer laser engraving as the letters and numbers are a lot clearer than regular engraving, and they last longer. 

It would be wonderful if you could keep to your dog’s schedule during the actual move, but depending on how you’re getting to your new home, that may not be possible. If you’re driving you could plan rest stops around the same time as feeding and walking times, but no one can expect you to be bang on schedule. Of course if you’re flying, especially if your dog is in cargo, that just won’t be possible.

Have one person responsible for watching the dog when the movers are there. Not possible? Put him in a crate in a room no one has to go into. If a crate is not an option, ask a neighbour if you can bring him over or put him in doggie daycare for a few hours.

Some rest stops are crazy busy, but if you have to stop for gas you have to stop for gas.  Some turn offs are quiet areas with nothing but a bathroom if that, so aim to stop there when it’s time to feed and walk the dogs. If “busy” is the only option, park as far away from other cars as possible, and try and find a quiet spot. Make sure the harness is on and do the best you can!

Have his favourite bed, blanket and a couple of toys with him in the car. If he’s flying, you can put his blanket in the crate. 

Keep your dog well hydrated throughout the journey. If he’s flying in cargo, half fill the water container then freeze it. Staff will add water before the crate is loaded onto the plane, so the melting ice should give him enough to drink during the flight.

Don’t forget car safety whether that means a crate, carrier/travel bag or seatbelt.  

If the weather will be cold, don’t forget to pack him a sweater and coat.

Some cuddle time is definitely in order during the car ride, so you may have to spend time in the back seat with him.


stress free moving with your dog

Exciting! Overwhelming! Where do I even begin! Perfectly natural reactions when entering your new home. Don’t worry everything will fall into place.

Your dog’s routine and schedule resume the minute you walk through the door. He may be in unfamiliar surroundings, but at least his schedule will be familiar.

I don’t recommend you give your dog free access in your new home right away. It’s unfamiliar, strange and can be unnerving. Accidents in the house are not a good start, and with the door opening and closing he can easily get out and lost in a new neighbourhood, never mind country. Keep him with you, on a leash, until things settle, and he will feel comforted being close to you.

Set up a corner for your dog right away with his favourite bed, blanket, and toys. Show him the water bowl, plug in the Adaptil if it worked and play the calming CD. 

When you have to go out, block off your dog’s area until he has settled in. The smaller space will help him feel safer. If he’s been crate trained even better. What about leaving the crate out with the door open so he has a hidey hole to escape to!  

Don’t wash the dog’s blankets quite yet. Familiar smells may put him at ease and help him settle faster. I’m stating the obvious by saying if he’s peed all over it/them, this suggestion doesn’t apply!!

Resist the urge to throw a housewarming party right away, or spend evenings out establishing a social life. Of course you want to settle in and make friends, just be sure to spend time with your dog as well.

When first walking in your new neighbourhood aim for quiet times at first. If you live in the heart of a very busy city there’s not a lot you can do, unless you find a less busy time of day. Use the harness!!

Keep doing the activities your dog loved! If you used to enjoy going to a local café and sitting together outside watching the world go by, keep up that fun tradition.

Avoid doing the things your dog hates right away. For example, if he hates taking a bath, don’t throw him (I don’t mean that literally!!) into the tub on your first day in the new home. That’s bound to cause tons of anxiety, and maybe even create negative associations.

Be mindful about leaving him out in the yard alone while still getting settled, unless there’s no way he can get out. Some dogs may try and escape back to their old homes, even if they don’t yet realise they’re in a different country!!

If possible, try not to go back to work or start your new job the next day. Help your senior adjust, and especially if he has dementia, he’ll be even more confused if left alone in a totally strange environment.


I may have mentioned some of these stress busting tips above, but I wanted to create this section specifically to highlight some of the options you have to choose from. Not every suggestion will work for every dog, it’s likely going to be a case of trial and error.

Anti anxiety medication

There are medications your vet can prescribe to take the edge off, but sometimes you have to play around with dosages until it works. It goes without saying, although I’m going to say it anyway, don’t do that without guidance from your vet.

If you prefer something more natural keep reading…

Relaxing music

When my senior dog Red started pacing and not settling for hours, and before I realised it was dementia, I was struggling to find something to calm her down. I discovered a cd called Through a Dog’s Ear, and it was remarkable. Within seconds of playing it she would relax and fall asleep. It is engineered to help relax anxious dogs, no matter the cause, and it’s absolutely worth a try. There is a 13 minute sampler on Youtube so you can see if it works before you buy.

The second thing I tried for her was called Relax My Dog, again on Youtube and there are several to choose from. Some of them last for hours so you don’t have to spend a dime.

A word of caution – if you’re playing it in the car, be careful it doesn’t make you drowsy. When I play Through a Dog’s Ear for Red I usually end up having a snooze it’s so relaxing, but I’m on the couch so there’s no worry.


According to the Oxford Dictionary pheromones are “A chemical substance produced and released into the environment by an animal, especially a mammal or an insect, affecting the behaviour or physiology of others of its species.”

Naturally calming, there are several products that mimic those produced by animals, and they are available as plug in diffusers, sprays, wipes and collars.  

Rescue Remedy

A Bach Flower remedy, it is used for animals who are fearful, anxious or have been through a traumatic experience. Three or four drops in your dog’s drinking water or a couple directly on his tongue is what’s recommended. Do your research to determine what’s best for your pup.


Easy to administer, I’ve used Valerian for my senior.  A combination of Skullcap and Valerian is even more soothing.


Massage can go a long way to calm an anxious dog, and the great thing is it can be done anywhere anytime. My dog Jack loves a good massage, and after a few slow and gentle motions he’s fighting to keep his eyes open.


An anti anxiety wrap, the Thundershirt is a tight fitting garment that wraps around your dog’s body and calms him, much like swaddling does for a baby.

A few final thoughts

air travel with dogs

I have done my fair share of moving with dogs and cats, all seniors with the exception of one dog. Twice I moved to a new home in the same city, so it was as simple as putting them in the car for the short drive. Once it was a drive to Spain from England with two dogs, one of them my golden oldie Red. Mostly it’s been animals flying in cargo.

When rehoming isn’t an option, you do the best you can to make their journey as stress free as possible. Will there be an adjustment period? Of course, and don’t be surprised if your dog seems out of sorts for a few days, and that includes being off his food. If this persists, or something doesn’t seem right, please take him to the vet.

Best of luck on your new adventure!!



**Was your new home in the same city or out of the country? How did your senior dog handle the journey? What steps did you take to help? Has he settled in? Sharing helps others so please share your experiences below or on my Caring for a Senior Dog Facebook page.**


I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.


*There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you purchase anything I make a few pennies…literally. That money helps me help homeless animals through donations and fostering, as well as keeping this blog running.





JEM and the misfits post header image

JEM and the Misfits – A Lifesaving Initiative

JEM and the misfits post header image

I recently added a new section to my website called Senior Dog Lifesavers. As the name suggests, it is dedicated to highlighting the work of the kind and compassionate souls who rescue senior dogs.

A few weeks ago while searching for lifesavers to feature, I came across a woman named Julie Docherty (or Jem as she is called!) who rescues Chihuahuas. I had to reach out to her and ask if she was interested in participating, and happily she said yes.

I hope you find her story as inspiring as I do.

When did you adopt your first senior dog?

MoMo from JEM and the Misfits

My first adoption was in 2011 with MoMo, who just happened to be a senior. I have more information (and a video) on mywebsite discussing the details, but I fell in love with MoMo from a picture and made the remarkably easy adjustments to bring him into my life and schedule, which included a lot of travel at the time. Momo was a champion travel partner back in the day, and I feel because he was older (and wiser), he was more easy going, relaxed. MoMo just loves people and was a hit everywhere I took him. It was incredible to me that a dog could be so loving to humans, after coming from a situation where they had failed him in so many ways. I’m not traveling as much anymore (which allows me to have 4 dogs and a cat, currently) but MoMo continues to be my champion people person seven wonderful years later.

JEM and the Misfits

When most people are looking for puppies, what made you want a senior?

Once meeting MoMo, the concerns that he was a senior became very secondary. I had never really considered rescuing a senior. I was very naive to the fact that so many senior pets were being dumped in shelters. With the support of the rescue (Tiny Loving Canines) who had pulled him from the shelter’s euthanasia lineup, I was nervous, yet excited to bring MoMo home. We bonded quickly. He still had a few health issues which needed addressing, namely his eye with a ruptured cornea. A graft surgery to save the eye ultimately didn’t take and it had to be removed. I was disappointed about this news, but quickly realized there was nothing that would stop me from loving him.

For me, a senior pup was a perfect fit. Yes, MoMo has taken his share of medications and needed some medical care, but puppies still seem so much more work to me. Nothing is getting chewed in our house (none of the pups have teeth left!) and there is no need for long walks to burn off energy. It’s mostly naps and cuddles here.

How many senior dogs have you saved?

JEM and the misfits

MoMo has had quite a few “siblings” since he’s been with me. I’ve tried fostering pups, but find myself getting irrevocably attached really quickly. I’ve had a handful of success stories, but mostly I discover their homes are with me. So, including MoMo, I’ve personally had 8 senior rescues at various times since 2011. My exception was bringing home a 2 year old Chi I named Frida Kahlo. She had been dumped in a shelter with broken leg bones which had gone untreated for some time. When I got her, I had a friend in mind who I thought she would be the perfect match for. After a year and a half of rehabilitation on Frida’s part, and a little convincing of my friend, the two are now inseparable. This experience with a younger dog helped me to recognize that it was seniors I enjoyed working with the most. Oh, and another exception was made 2 years ago when I brought home Rosita Bonita, a 2 week old kitten found on the streets. She has been raised by her Chihuahua grandparents so I often refer to her as a Cathuahua.

People often ask me “Why just Chihuahuas?”. The truth is I love all animals and all dog breeds, I just especially love how Chihuahuas look, and endlessly get a kick out of such big personalities residing in the smallest of packages. Additionally, Chihuahuas are the second most euthanized breed in America, and in California they are the most euthanized, so the need for homes is great. From careless breeding practices to people not understanding or respecting the commitment of this often long-lived breed, heartbreakingly high kill numbers exist.

Choli from JEM and the Misfits

Where do you find them? Are people calling when they have an old dog to rehome?

I’ve been involved with rescues since bringing MoMo home and that is how my pups have found me. As our social media platform has grown, people are reaching out to me about finding homes, but I myself am not a rescue and when I can, I try to redirect them to rescue groups in their area. This new responsibility is always a bit difficult for me, since I’m hearing directly about dogs who have been given up on. I wish I could take them all.

Lady Paloma Linda from JEM and the Misfits

What reaction do you typically get from friends, family, people you know when they hear you adopted an old dog? And then another old dog?

My family, especially my fiancee is very supportive of me and I’m really grateful for that. I have many friends who are involved with rescue who “get” me, which is essential to have on those challenging days. I also have friends without pets who consider me a crazy Chihuahua person, but in the nicest possible way. I have complete respect for people who love animals, but recognize their lifestyle is not suitable to be a responsible pet owner.

When the Misfit family expands and I see bemused looks on peoples faces, I enjoy being an example to them of what is possible with a change in perspective. I think for too long attitudes of animals being disposable has existed. If I can get someone to examine what their values are from seeing what I’m up to, then that feels like a win. I like to think of Jem and the Misfits as being ambassadors for senior rescue. Our goal is to spread the joy of senior rescue. I realize it’s not for everyone, but I’ve experienced it as a wonderful enrichment to my life and I’m excited to share that.

Manzana from JEM and the Misfits

Have you noticed a difference in attitude towards seniors since you started saving them?

I feel social media in general is helping to increase compassion for animals. Historically, pretty much anyone would pause to watch a video of baby animals. Now it seems like stories of animal compassion, specifically towards special needs and senior pets, are gaining momentum too. Several featured stories about us have more than 10 million views. I’m not sure if there is a way to measure, but my guess is that senior rescue is becoming more popular. I hope it’s true! One of my favorite kind of comments on our accounts is when people tell me they have been moved to adopt a senior.

What has been the toughest background story of one of your dogs?

Like most dogs who end up in shelters, my pups all have stories of hardship and neglect. Often I found myself wanting to explain in detail to people what had happened in their past, because I was appalled anyone could treat these loving souls that way. I felt their stories needed to be exposed. While I think it’s really important for people to hear how poorly animals all around us are being treated, I’ve recently learned the value of being careful not to speak about it around my dogs. They don’t need to hear me retell their horror stories, and now that they are happy in their new life we have created a new story together.

That being said, all my pups have arrived to me (via their rescue groups) after having been “holding on by a thread”. MoMo was emaciated, flea-infested with a painfully damaged eye, Choli arrived to me on a pillow because he couldn’t really stand (he was debilitated from severe dental disease), Paloma was bald and skinny, having been dumped after she stopped producing puppies for a breeder.

Their resilience with love and encouragement and good nutrition is a beautiful thing. It’s my honor to be part of this rehabilitation process and help them create their new story.

What is the biggest challenge you face?

My biggest challenge is something that the pups help me with every day. It’s to stay in the moment. It’s easy to get down, feel overwhelmed, hopeless, or sad about a health challenge with the pups, the reality that our time with be limited, or simply by the sheer numbers of suffering animals out there. Their futures can be scary to think about, their pasts have been heartbreaking, but there is peace and cuddles, joy in the present moment with them, and it’s such a gift. They aren’t dwelling anywhere else but the present, and it’s a beautiful reminder to me.

Do you rely on donations to help you care for them?

Since we are not a rescue but a self-funded home with a sanctuary feel, I’ve felt a little uncomfortable receiving donations. Our social media response, however, has made me rethink this and already we’ve had some generous friends send gifts which have been used to help us buy supplements and supplies. We now have a PayPal account set up to receive donations under jem@jemandthemisfits.com

26 money saving hacks for senior dog owners

26 Money Saving Hacks For Senior Dog Owners

26 money saving hacks for senior dog owners

The love of my life is my senior dog Red who is approximately 17, although I really have no idea how old she is. Okay I know I should say it’s my husband but, to be fair, he’d probably say his is our other dog Jack!! We’ve been together almost 9 years (Red, not my husband!!), and I can’t even imagine how much I’ve spent on vet bills. Of course she’s worth every penny, but that doesn’t mean sometimes I wouldn’t like to spend some money on myself!

The biggest money saver for me is buying medications online, but there are a lot more things to do than just that.

Keep in mind how important preventative care is for your senior dog’s health. Preventing issues is cheaper than treating conditions.

These tips are perfect for all pets, all ages!!

Watch your dog’s weight

overfeeding your dog wastes money and compromises senior dog health

If your senior dog is overweight because you’re feeding him too much, you’re wasting money. If it’s because he’s not getting walked, start walking him. Either way his health is being jeopardized because fat dogs are more prone to things like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease… and with those conditions come expensive vet visits and treatments. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight in no way guarantees he will always be perfectly healthy, but it does certainly help.

Buy in bulk

26 Money Saving Hacks For Senior Dog OwnersWhether you make your own dog food, dog treats or throw in some veggies to make his diet more appetizing, buying ingredients in bulk can save you quite a bit of money.

Don’t skip vet visits

It is recommended that senior dogs see the vet twice yearly, even if you’re sure there’s nothing wrong. Blood and urine tests can pick up issues before your dog even exhibits a symptom. Treating anything in the early stages is not only obviously better for your dog’s health and wellbeing, it makes financial sense as well. 

Find low cost clinics in your area

One of the main reasons for senior dog surrender is a pet parent who cannot afford the vet bills, and that is heartbreaking to me. Low cost does not mean low quality care, it just means there is an option for those who qualify to use this service. Veterinary schools sometimes offer clinics at a lower fee, as do some shelters.

Compare vet service pricing

You may be surprised at the wide range of pricing vets charge for the same tests, so while you’re looking for that “great” vet, discuss costs as well. Be sure to ask about their senior dog wellness checks, what’s involved, and how much they cost.   

Please don’t be fooled into thinking expensive automatically means superior, sometimes it means you’re helping pay off expensive medical equipment. I’ve had horrible experiences in a state of the art hospital, and met the most incredible vet at a husband and wife clinic.

I have to add this even though it’s obvious – please don’t base your entire decision on cost alone.

Regular exercise


26 hacks to save you money when caring for a senior dog

Why is all this good you ask? A bored dog with too much energy will get frustrated, which can lead to destructive and even aggressive behaviour. Money is spent on training, not to mention replacing your favourite shoes, and instead of saving money you’re wasting it when all he needed was a walk…or three!!

Make your own Pill Pockets

Most of my dogs are good about taking pills. They know I hide them in their favourite foods but they just don’t care. They’re excited about what they’re getting to eat they’re not bothered by my deception.

Of course they can’t all be like that can they? I have had a couple who knew exactly what I was doing, and would never let me get away with it. That’s when I discovered Pill Pockets. They can get costly if you need to use them every day, so why not save money and make your own!

I came across this super easy recipe – All you do is mix 1 tablespoon of milk, 1 tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter and 2 tablespoons of any type of flour. Use a chopstick to create the hole and refrigerate or freeze.

Make sure the ingredients are safe for your dog.

Buy generic

If you can find the same medication in generic form, why not? It can save you a significant amount of money, but check with your vet to make sure the ingredients are what he needs.

Create an emergency pet fund

At the end of every day take out all the pennies, dimes, nickels or quarters (whatever denomination you like) and put them aside for unexpected vet bills. The balance will grow quickly, and those extra dollars could mean the difference between paying your bill, and incurring interest on a credit card.

Buy online

In many cases, there are massive price differences between a product purchased from your vet and one bought online. Whether that’s a brand of food, medication or supplements.

A lot of online retailers offer a coupon code for first time buyers, be sure to take advantage of those savings.

If your vet recommends something your dog needs now of course buy it, but take the opportunity to shop around for cheaper elsewhere, and take notice of delivery charges. If you’re looking for a prescription medication don’t forget to factor in the cost of your vet writing one for you…unless yours does it for free.

Make sure the company you buy from is reputable, and the drugs dispensed are what they claim to be.

If you’re in the States, check out some online Canadian companies because you can find huge savings. 

Make your own dog treats

Homemade dog treats are a money saving hack for senior dog ownersThere are lots of great reasons for making your own dog treats and they include:

  • The obvious money saving feature
  • No preservatives or additives, just “real” ingredients
  • If your senior dog has restrictions on what he or she can eat, it can be very challenging finding readymade treats. Making your own means they will no longer be left out.

Check out these Pinterest links for some great recipes.

Recipe One

Recipe Two

Recipe Three

Pet insurance

Although I think finding the right pet insurance is a minefield, and the cost of insuring an old dog can be costly, it’s still worth looking into. Be sure to ask a lot of questions about pre-existing conditions, waiting periods etc…

One thing I always recommend asking after a neighbour of mine told me this story is if, for example your dog has an ear infection in one ear, will they cover it if it happens in the other? Sounds crazy but her insurance company wouldn’t!!

Buy store brands

Just like many of us buy supermarket and drug store own brands to save money, you may be able to do the same with pet supplies. Ingredient lists are often similar and you’re not paying for fancy packaging or huge marketing budgets.

Make your own jerky

Does your dog love jerky but it’s costing you a fortune keeping him supplied? Make your own and here are a few recipes to get you started.

Recipe One

Recipe Two

Recipe Three

Groom your own dog

bathing your own dog is a great money saving hack

Whether that means wash, cut and blow dry or just a nail trim, doing some or all of your dog’s grooming can keep more money in YOUR wallet.  

Do you have a pure breed?

It seems Labs, Retrievers and Shepherds are more prone to arthritis. While that in no way guarantees they will be affected, knowing they have an increased likelihood means you can take preventative measures now…even though your dog is older. Giving him glucosamine or New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels for example, could make a big difference down the road and huge savings as well.

Join rewards programs

If you have favourite stores you like to shop at, ask if they have a loyalty or rewards scheme. Whether that means having a card stamped or receiving coupons in the mail, it’s another way to save money.

I’ve mentioned to my vet he should have a loyalty program – having a card they stamp with every 10th visit free, 5th for me!! Needless to say he didn’t go for that idea!

Don’t buy cheap toys

You know the expression “you get what you pay for?” While I know not every bargain will break when you get it home, it’s important to be careful with toys. If it falls apart quickly you’ll end up spending more because you’ll have to buy the better quality one anyway. If it can be chewed and swallowed you’ll have expensive vet bills, not to mention a potentially deadly situation on your hands.

Make your own dog toys

For the “DIYers” and “crafters” out there, why not make your own? Here are some ideas your dog will love.

Dog Toys One

Dog Toys Two

Where do you buy your bones?

If your dog loves his bones, how much is that “love” costing to satisfy? Ask for bones at your local butchers or supermarket meat counter. They’ll be cheaper, healthier and possibly even free!

Preventative care

Compare the cost of flea and tick medication, versus what’s involved in ridding your home, and dog, of fleas. What about the financial and physical toll a positive heartworm test can have on an old dog, who may already have health issues?

Hire a house sitter for free!

The next time you’re thinking of going away and aren’t able to take your senior dog, how about looking into Trusted Housesitters. This company connects you with people who are traveling who will look after your pets at no charge, in exchange for free lodging. I don’t have any experience with this company, that’s something you will have to investigate, but it is an option to explore.  

Barter for pet sitting services

What service can you offer in exchange for free pet sitting?   

Dilute your dog shampoo

Dog shampoos are so concentrated you can often dilute them, saving you a ton of money. Some brands are so helpful they even list the dilution ratio on the label!!

Make your own dog bed

If your senior dog is anything like mine, what she found comfortable a few months ago, is no longer to her liking today. She also prefers having 2 or 3 different types to choose from, depending on her mood.

Quality dog beds can be costly, especially if one isn’t enough, so how about making your own? There are tons of DIY projects on Pinterest to suit every ability level, even mine which actually is not even measurable it’s so bad!

Here are a few to have a look at –

Dog Bed One

Dog Bed Two

Dog Bed Three

Free senior dog care advice

I spend an awful lot of time at the vet’s office, and rely on him to help me care for my senior dog Red. I also know that sometimes going to the vet and paying for a conversation isn’t necessary. I am certainly not recommending you replace professional advice, what I am saying is there are many instances where watching a Youtube video created by a professional, or joining a Facebook group like mine (Senior Dog Care Club) can provide you with the answers you seek…or at least give you a starting point.

For example, if your dog is experiencing anxiety there is a lot of helpful advice out there, and you’ve saved a consultation fee. I do recommend you check with your vet once you’ve found some products you’d like to try, but that can usually be done by leaving a message with the staff or sending an email, both at no cost.


What money saving hacks do you have? Sharing helps others so please leave them in the comments section below or my Facebook page Caring For a Senior Dog.  

I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.


How to build your own dog ramp

How to Build Your Own Dog Ramp

How to build your own dog ramp

Thankfully the weather where we live is FINALLY starting to improve, the dogs can go for longer walks and I can start planting flowers.

Except for a random three days it was pretty miserable, but those three days got all my neighbours out and going DIY crazy!!  

My new neighbour created a whole garden, complete with paving stone lined paths and wooden boxes she built to hide things she didn’t like the look of. She wasn’t going to let some heavy rain stop her, so she put up a gazebo in order to keep working.

Others have been building decks, fencing, planters and so much more.

Watching all this constructing going on has in no way inspired me to learn how to do it (I’m happy to remain an observer), however it did inspire me to write this article.

Dog ramps

I’ve written about them before in the mobility section of my website, because along with the pet stroller they are a marvellous invention. Whether your dog is too big to lift, or you have mobility issues that make even picking up the tiniest dog difficult, a ramp is a wonderful thing.

They are available in lots of different sizes, and can be put alongside a bed and used for getting in and out of cars, suv’s trucks and vans.

With so much selection you’re probably wondering why I’m even talking about building your own. After all, you can get a reasonably priced one delivered straight to your front door!

Reasons to build your own

  • You or your loved one may be looking for a new project
  • You have an awkward space standard ramps don’t fit
  • The inclines on store bought ramps are too steep
  • You can build one to your exact specifications
  • Your dog is quite unsteady and you’d like higher sides to protect him from falling

My experience with ramps

How to build your own ramp for dogsThe first time I used a ramp was when a neighbour gave me a wooden one she no longer needed. It folded, which made storing and transporting very convenient, and was carpeted so the dogs were steady. I used it next to the bed because that’s where our dogs sleep, and they can’t jump up on their own.

The second time was out of necessity.

We had adopted a puppy mill rescue who, literally, had no idea how to use stairs – she would fall up them or fall down them. I knew the best thing for Saffy would be a homemade ramp so I started “mentioning” it to my husband. When she hurt her leg (don’t worry she was fine!) he finally started building, and even though Saffy is no longer with us, poor baby, we still use the ramp and it’s perfect.

Are you handy with a …. (whatever tools you use to build a ramp!!)

If you’re handy or are keen to learn, it could be a really fun project to start. If you want it built but are unable to do it yourself, for whatever reason, hire someone to do it for you. If you’re going to hire someone, I speak from experience when I recommend you do a lot of shopping around…unless of course you know someone who could easily knock one up for you.

When I first started looking I called companies that specialised in ramps, but boy were they crazy expensive! Local builders also wanted a fortune because they wouldn’t build anything less than a super duper jaw dropping ramp. Hey I get it, pride in craftsmanship and all that, but all I needed was a simple ramp! It didn’t have to hold 300lbs of weight and last a century!!

Things to consider

Before you head out to your local home improvement store, you’re going to need some questions answered first.

Indoor or outdoor use

  • Getting on and off the couch? In and out of bed? A car? Replacing steps to your front door?
  • Naturally with outdoor use come other considerations like non-skid surface, materials that will hold up to the elements…


  • How long and wide does it need to be? Don’t forget to factor the degree of the incline into your calculations.


  • Ours is made of wood, with rubber non stick squares nailed on top. Is there another material you’re thinking about?


  • Does it need to fold for storage?
  • Raised sides to prevent your dog from falling sideways off the ramp? How high would you like the sides?
  • Fixed or portable?

Types of tools

Do you have the necessary tools or do you have to borrow or buy? How much would they cost?

Questions answered…now what?

How to build your own dog rampYou’ve answered all the above questions, and you’re ready to go ahead with this “build your own ramp” project. Do you create your own plans? Wing it? Follow instructions/watch a video?

My husband decided what he wanted to do, had a plan in mind that he knew not to bother sharing with me, and just got on with it. Not a written plan in sight! If that’s the direction you want to take, have fun I’m sure it will be gratifying to create something from a vision in your head.

If you need, or prefer something a bit more structured, here are some detailed plans you’ll want to have a look through. You may find “the” perfect ramp in the bunch, or you can mix and match to create the one that best suits your needs.

Build your own dog ramp

I found Pinterest to be the best source of plans, so here a few links I hope you will find helpful.





I would love to see your finished product, so by all means send in a picture and I’ll be happy to post it.



I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.





Tips for traveling in a caravan with your senior dog

Tips For Traveling in a Caravan With Your Senior Dog


Tips for traveling in a caravan with your senior dog

Have you been caravanning for years and just welcomed a new senior dog into your life? Or have you had a dog for years and are about to embark on your first senior caravan experience? Either way you’re setting off on a new adventure and this article will help make it amazing!

I say caravan but of course these tips apply to motor homes as well!

Is it really a good idea to bring an old dog?

Before we even get started, it’s important to determine if bringing your old dog is a good idea. You may not be able to answer that question yet, perhaps you’ll have a better idea by the time you reach the end of this article.

Tips For Traveling in a Caravan With Your Senior DogAre you bringing him purely because you’ll be miserable without him, or is bringing him along the only way you’ll agree to take a break? Do you not trust anyone to look after him because he needs specialist care? Hey, I’m with you on all these reasons!!

You’re not a caravaner

I’m not a caravaner either, but if you want a vacation and want to bring the dog with you it’s not a bad compromise. Perhaps a short test trip with your pup, even just overnight, is a good idea.

There may be some sacrifice involved

Bringing your dog along will be fun, and you’ll be more relaxed having him with you, but it doesn’t mean some sacrifices won’t be made. If you’re not comfortable leaving him in the caravan while you go out, then the dinner in that restaurant you’ve had your eye on probably can’t happen. Bright side? They may do take out!

What kind of activities do you want to take part in at your destination? If your plan is to move little and relax much and your dog feels the same way, you’re in luck. What if you decide to check out those hiking trails but your dog’s arthritis is acting up and he isn’t able to join you?

Keeping your senior dog safe on the road

Keep your dogs safe during car travelWhile in a moving vehicle your dog must be restrained, whether that’s with a harness and seatbelt, in a carrier or crate. I use a Sherpa bag  for my sweet old girl Red, a harness and seatbelt for Jack.

Crate training

If you will be leaving your dog in the caravan while you’re out, putting him in a crate may make him feel safer and you better, knowing he can’t get up to any mischief while you’re gone! If your dog has never been crate trained, you’ll need to do that in advance. Waiting until you arrive at your destination and just opening the crate door expecting him to walk right in, isn’t the best recipe for success.

Having said that, the crate isn’t the right thing for every dog. Since Red’s dementia has progressed, she hates being confined and would literally have a freak out if I put her in a crate. That’s why she can’t fly anymore. Sad!

How’s your dog’s recall…and I’m not referring to memory!

dogs off leash while hubby fills up the water buttWhen your dog is off leash, how good is he about coming back when called? If it’s more of a “he comes when he feels like it” you may want to brush up on that part of his training. Even if you have no plans to let him run free, accidents happen and if he does get away, having good recall means a better chance of him coming back.

Start small before going large

Although traveling with your dog can be a ton of fun, if you’ve never done it before, at least not like this, you might want to consider taking a short trip first. So many new sights, sounds, experiences and smells can be unnerving, and given how much most senior dogs need their routine, it may be a rough adjustment.

What about sleeping in the caravan overnight, even if it’s only parked in your driveway! If that goes well find the closest campsite and try that next.

Before you bed down for the night, take your pup for a walk to burn off some energy, it will help keep him calm.  

Build your list

As soon as you decide you’re going, get yourself a notepad and start jotting down anything and everything your dog could possibly need. Keep it handy, so each time something pops into your head you can add to it.   

Where are you going?

Staying local? Traveling across the state? Across your country? To another country?  

Traveling abroad

If your trip will take you to foreign lands, be sure to check their requirements for bringing dogs into the country pet passport for traveling with petsand do it as soon as possible. There can be extensive paperwork involved, not to mention waiting times, so the sooner you start researching the better. You do not want to arrive at customs and find out your dog is not allowed in because you “missed” something. Trust me, I’ve travelled a lot with my animals and telling an animal control officer or border guard “I didn’t know…” will never work.

If your travels will take you on a boat or ferry to reach your destination, be sure and find out if animals require a reservation. There is a limited number of pets allowed and spaces book up quickly.

Finding dog friendly campsites

It goes without saying you’ll need to know, in advance, which sites are dog friendly. It’s as easy as doing an internet search for “dog friendly sites CITY/STATE/ COUNTRY.” Pet policies should be listed, but even if they are I recommend contacting the site directly to clarify. Things may have changed and the information not kept current.  

Here are some questions to ask

  • Is there an extra charge to bring a dog? Is it per day or per stay?
  • Is there a limit to the number of dogs?
  • Size/weight/breed restrictions?
  • Are there “no go” areas where dogs are not allowed?
  • Must they be kept leashed?
  • Can they be left in the caravan or motorhome?
  • Is proof of vaccinations required?
  • Is it a particularly crowded and noisy time of year? Lots of activity could frighten your senior, so wait for a quieter period, see if there is a less popular section you can park or go somewhere that isn’t kid friendly (if you’re not bringing kids of course!)

Finding dog friendly things to do

Just as important as finding a dog friendly site, is knowing how dog friendly the surrounding area is –

  • Any fenced in dog parks?
  • Hiking trails?
  • Are there cafes and restaurants that allow dogs?
  • What about beaches?
  • Can dogs join you inside attractions?
  • What about inside stores?

Check your insurance policies

Does your car/caravan/motorhome insurance cover your dog? If not can he or she be added?

What about your pet insurance? Does the policy cover your pup no matter where he is, or just in his hometown? What about accidents caused by someone else?

Does any policy cover a holiday that must be cancelled due to pet illness or injury?

Get your dog used to the caravan before you start your vacation

If your senior dog has a harder time with change then she used to, why not get her used to the caravan before you go. Let her sniff around it, open the door so she can poke her head in, take her inside and give her some favourite treats. Why not sit on the couch for a bit with her, read a book and play some relaxing doggy music?

What to pack for your dog

There’s a pretty standard packing list for dogs of any age, but when it comes to traveling with older dogs, especially if there are some health issues, you may find you have a few more items for the suitcase.

**They are in no particular order**

Collar and id tag

Okay not technically something that is packed, but important to have in case the unthinkable happens and your dog runs off. Check all information is up to date, and have your dog microchipped as well please!

In the event of spotty cell phone reception, an additional tag containing contact details of your destination (and/or next one if you’re on the move) is a safety precaution worth considering.

GPS collar

Being in unfamiliar territory can be unsettling, accidents happen and your dog may wander and lose his way. It’s even more terrifying if your dog has vision and/or hearing problems. A GPS collar will increase the likelihood of your dog returning to you safely and quickly.


Even if your dog does not typically wear a harness, I recommend putting one on him when traveling. If he gets scared it is way too easy to get out of a collar, and even if you’re sure nothing freaks your dog out I would get one anyway.  


If your dog spends more time off leash then on, you’re going to want to make sure you add it to your packing list. It’s a safety precaution in strange surroundings, not to mention it’s likely the caravan park you go to will have leash laws you must observe.  

Special needs

If your dog is nervous or needs more space these days, there are vests, harnesses and leashes with “messages” for others to see.

Mobility aids

If your dog typically requires a bit of help, or you’re concerned you’ll be doing a lot more walking than usual and Rover (okay Spot!) won’t be able to keep up, here are a few items you may want to include.

  • my senior dog in her pet strollerRamp to get in and out of the caravan
  • Stroller for walks
  • Sling for extra support
  • Booties for rougher terrain
  • Carpet squares, yoga mats or something similar if your caravan floor is bare and slippery

A current photo

Having a current photo means no time is wasted getting the word out, should your dog go missing.

Food and water bowls

If your dog has gotten fussy about the bowls he’ll use, bring yours from home. If he’s not bothered, than the ones you choose are of course up to you. You may want to buy some to keep in the caravan/motorhome or use disposable (sorry I know that’s not very environmentally friendly!).

If your dog is having trouble reaching his bowls, perhaps now would be a good time to try a raised bowl.

I always bring a foldable/collapsible bowl with me because they’re perfect for day trips. They take up no room in a knapsack, purse or even a pocket and you’re never caught without. I also always carry a bottle of water because Red is so much thirstier these days.

Non spill bowls for water are handy while you’re on the move.

Rubber mats for under the bowls

Rubber mats are perfect for protecting your flooring from spilled food and drink.  

Bring bottled water

Although campsites have drinking water on site, I only use it for filling water butts. For everything else, including the dogs, I bring a supply of bottled.  

Flea and tick treatment

Find out in advance the flea and tick situation where you’re going, and if your dog’s current products offer the right level of protection. If it is a concern, there are plenty of indoor/outdoor sprays available, some with natural ingredients.  

Dog food and treats

Obvious I know, but in the excitement of packing sometimes the thing we need the most and don’t write on the list is the thing we forget to bring!

Have a supply that will last you the length of the trip…and longer just in case you’re having such a great time you can’t bear to leave. It’s particularly important if your senior dog is on a special diet. Food extras – If you’re like me, I add some home cooked food to my senior dog’s diet so I make sure I bring enough to last. Yes you can buy chicken anywhere for example, but I’m very particular about the type I buy so I bring a supply.  

Medication, supplements and extras

Don’t forget all medications, supplements, anti anxiety medications, pheromone diffusers and plug ins, the Thundershirt

Bring more than you need, and don’t assume you can replenish at a local vet and health food shop. Assume you can’t!

Bed and blankets

traveling with your senior dog in a tourerDon’t expect to have your dog sleep “wherever.” Bring his bed so he has a comfortable spot and a couple of blankets in case it gets chilly.

A favourite toy

Traveling can be stressful on some animals, and many senior dogs can have a tough time in strange surroundings. If they have dementia they may be even more confused. Bringing some of his favourite comforts from home, including some much loved toys will offer comfort.


Brushing your dog is such a great bonding experience, there’s no reason you shouldn’t continue it while on your travels. If it’s not something you typically do, now is the perfect time to start. If for no other reason you’ll cut down on the amount of dog hair you find inside!


Bring a raincoat when caravanning with your senior dogDrops in evening temperature, an unexpected rainstorm or caravanning in the winter means a sweater, coat and raincoat are must haves as far as I’m concerned. My senior dog Red has become a lot less tolerant of the cold as she’s gotten older, and wears a sweater most of the year, indoors and out. I never leave home without them!


If your dog is prone to burning in the sun, don’t forget to bring some protection.

Medical records

If your dog has health issues or been treated for an illness recently, bring his medical records. I always have a copy stored on my email as well as a hard copy.    

Vaccination records

Some parks may want proof your dog is up to date on vaccinations, and if travelling further afield, proof of rabies is always required.   

First aid kit

A very handy item to have in your home, car, cycle bags, boat, motorhome and caravan. Ready made kits contain the basics and usually include a booklet outlining what to do in case of various emergencies, or assemble one yourself.

List of local vets and emergency hospitals

A first aid kit means you can attend to your dog immediately, but it won’t help in every situation. Red can take a turn rather quickly, so you can be sure I know where the local vets and emergency hospitals are, with numbers on paper and programmed into my phone. Precious time can be wasted while you search.  

Poop bags

As responsible dog parents, we never leave the house without a good supply of poop bags. Bring more then you think you’ll need, because re-stocking may not be as easy as you’re used to.

Pee pads

If you use them at home you’ll use them while away. I always say I should have bought stock in a pee pad company I use so many of them!! I cover the caravan floor in them at night just in case.  

Doggie wipes

So handy to have, especially if it’s damp or muddy outside. A lot less fuss, a lot more convenient to use than a towel and water, and a great substitute if you don’t have access to either.

Stake in the ground

A stake in the ground with a rope attached to your dog’s collar or harness will give him the chance to lounge in the fresh air in safety.


Towels…and lots of them!

Muddy paws are an issue when caravanning, it’s the nature of the beast. For me the nightmare is when it’s been raining, I’m wearing a raincoat and wellies, carrying Red who is squirming like crazy because she doesn’t like to be held for too long because of her dementia, trying to fit through a narrow door, while grabbing the towel and drying her off without me stepping off the doormat.

Conversely if you have dogs that love to swim you know they’re going to roll around on your couches to dry off…right!!

Yep you need lots of towels! Microfiber are a good option as well because they take up less space.   


An easy way to wash the mud off your dog, or just hold him under one of the faucets on the site like I do.

Carpet squares or mats

Where would I be without mats by the door!  

Blankets or sheets

Perfect for covering seating areas…even if it’s dry outside.

Cleaning supplies

In addition to your standard cleaning supplies, carpet and air fresheners make a good addition.  

Life jacket

If boating is on the agenda, or even just a possibility, bring a life jacket. Your dog may be a first class swimmer, but can get into trouble in unfamiliar or rough waters.

Making your caravan dog friendly

Counter surfing

At home I never have a problem with counter surfing because my dogs are too small to reach! In the caravan it’s a different story. Once Jack is on the couch it’s a very short hop onto the counter. Be careful what you leave out – food, sharp objects or anything else they can get their paws on that may cause harm.

If you have a dog that’s suffering from chronic pancreatitis like Red does for example, you’ll have to be extra careful because counters in caravans are a lot easier to access than at home.

Water bowl

In such a confined space it can be a challenge finding the best place to put the water bowl. After finding the “ideal” spot, I stepped in the water so many times I had to move it to another ideal spot.  

If your dog drinks a lot more these days and you have room for a second bowl that’s great, if not get a bigger bowl.  

Where to put the dog bed

caravan holidays with dogsI have 2 dogs and 1 bed. Our dog Jack sleeps with us at night, and Red sleeps in her bed on the floor. During the day both prefer the couch.

When choosing the perfect spot think –

Vents – you don’t want them blocked with a bed or blowing hot or cold air on your pup all night.

Middle of the night pee breaks – yours not theirs! Be sure the bed is not in the path between your side of the bed and the bathroom.

Removable, washable seat covers

Blankets and throws can move and be pulled down, but removable and washable seat covers will save the upholstery from dirt, mud and sharp claws!

Don’t feed the morning of departure

Unless you know your dog travels well and has no problem with car sickness, it’s best to lay off the food before you go. Wait until you get to a rest stop for a decent break then feed him.

You will still need to have fresh water available at all times.

Stop frequently

The sooner you arrive at your destination the sooner you can plug in, fill up and chill out…and who can blame you. You want that relaxation time to start asap. For the sake of the four legged travellers it’s best to stop regularly, every couple of hours or so to let them pee, poop and stretch their legs. Don’t forget a snack if they haven’t eaten, and to keep them well hydrated. 

take a break while traveling with your dogI have to be very careful and keep an eye on the clock because Red eats 5 meals a day. If she’s sleeping I don’t wake her, but if she isn’t I make sure she sticks to her feeding schedule as much as I can. She also drinks a lot more nowadays so I give her water during the drive, even though it may mean a few extra pee stops. They only take a second so very little time is lost.    

During those breaks keep your dog on a leash and harness, and open the door slowly. While there are quiet rest stops, those with gas stations and restaurants tend to be noisy, and can be unnerving.

Getting your pup settled in

Once you arrive at the site, get your dog settled in as quickly as you can. Set up his bed, take out his favourite toy and give him a treat. You want to make him as comfortable as you can in his home away from home, so pay him lots of attention.

Sticking to a schedule

One of the most important things you can do when traveling with your senior dog is to try and stick to their schedule as much as possible. The familiarity of a routine will give comfort in the unfamiliar. I know it isn’t always possible, especially if you’re driving, so try and schedule your stops around their usual meal times and bathroom breaks.

Keeping them entertained when the weather is crap

Sorry to be so blunt but it’s true. During our last trip there were days when all the rains in the heavens were beating down on us. If you and your pup are happy to put on the wet weather gear and hit the road, fantastic, but if you aren’t…Some of the same activities you do with your senior dog at home can be done while away, with modifications when needed. If mental stimulation is not something you’ve been doing, now’s the perfect time to start.

Here are some suggestions –

Bring an interactive puzzle toy with you and challenge him to figure it out. Mental stimulation is as important as physical exercise, and did you know it can help expend energy?

Treat dispensing toys will keep him busy, even for a short time. Want it to last longer? Stuff a Kong with some peanut butter, chicken, doggy ice cream anything your dog loves and put it in the freezer.  

Teach him a new trick and brush up on old ones.

How about some homemade games? Turn 3 cups upside down, put a treat under one when your dog isn’t looking then say “find it” or words to that effect. As he’s searching use your chosen words so he will associate the cue with the action. Or take a muffin tin, put treats in a few of the spaces, then place a tennis ball on top of each section and let your dog find it.

These are just a few ideas, but I’m sure you can come up with lots of other great boredom busters.

Leaving your pup alone

Some pet parents are okay going out and leaving their pup in the caravan or motor home, while others wouldn’t dream of it. I’ve done it but my old caravan had an extra security option with a handlebar that could be moved across the door and locked. Our current one does not, so I am not comfortable leaving them.

In addition to safety considerations there’s weather as well. We know how quickly the inside of cars and vans heat up, and how even a couple of minutes can be deadly for our pets. Parking in shade and leaving the windows cracked open on the safety latch are unlikely to be much help, so it’s safer to take them with you. In the winter leaving the heat on should be enough…unless it breaks down for some reason.

My husband says I’m negative, I say I’m cautious!  

Vehicle breakdown cover

Did you know some roadside assistance companies may have restrictions on towing vehicles with pets on board? You might want to check if your policy does and if yes what, if anything, can be done in the event of an emergency.

The end of the road

Well we’ve come to the end of this post and I did my best to cover everything I could possibly think of. If I’ve missed something I would be happy for you to leave a comment below and I will add it.

Tips for traveling in a caravan with your senior dog – conclusion

If like Red your dog can no longer fly, or you don’t like the idea of flying with a senior dog or any pet for that matter, caravanning is certainly an option. A road trip is a lovely way to explore…and you don’t have to leave your best friend behind.


I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.


*There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you purchase anything I make a few pennies…literally. That money helps me help homeless animals through donations and fostering, as well as keeping this blog running.



Things you should never say to a senior dog owner

Things You Should Never Say to a Senior Dog Owner

Things you should never say to a senior dog owner

I currently share my life with two dogs, but the absolute love of my life is a 17ish year old Chihuahua/Min Pin named Red. She found me while I was volunteering at a shelter in Florida, and decided I was going to be her person. I must admit I fell in love with her quite quickly as well. She was blind with bulging eyes, weighed a whopping 18lbs and was so obese her stomach touched the ground.

We have been together almost 9 years, and other than when I’ve been on vacation, every day has been spent together. I see her as a family member, not just a “pet.”

I love her more than I can express, and cannot imagine my life without her…that doesn’t mean I am in denial. She has quite a few issues that are being well managed, but our biggest challenge is her dementia, which has Things you should never say to a senior dog ownerworsened. I would never keep her “around” if she was in any sort of discomfort, my main priority being her quality of life.

With that being said, we can get on to why I decided to write an article about things you should never say to a senior dog parent.

It’s simple really

While caring for a senior dog is good for the soul, at least it is for me, caring for one that has health issues has its challenges. We’re dealing with enough we certainly don’t need anyone, whether they are complete strangers, close family or friends, offering their snarky opinions and unsolicited advice.  

Wow your dog is so old!!

Complete strangers have felt compelled to comment on my dog. I don’t know why, I’ve never asked for their opinion, yet they seem to want to give it to me anyway.

The most common thing I hear is “wow your dog is so old.” It’s true it’s not a horrible thing to say, after all she is old, it’s the fact that they choose to say anything that is none of their business annoys me, and of course the extremely obnoxious fashion in which many of them express their feelings pisses me off.

Why make a big deal out of a stupid comment from an ignorant person

You may think I’m blowing this out of proportion, but you would be wrong. It gnaws at me because it is part of a wider feeling society has towards the elderly…whether they have 4 legs or 2. That attitude can be found in the Things you should not tell a senior dog parentveterinary profession as well, which to me is appalling having witnessed it myself on several occasions. How many pet owners have put their animals down because it was “suggested,” for no reason other than a number on a calendar?

It’s sad and it’s widespread

When I decided to write this, I became curious about what, if anything, other senior dog parents have experienced. What better source to go to than my Facebook group, Senior Dog Care Club. The members are such an amazing group of people, kind and compassionate, and they shared some of the comments made to them. I was encouraged to read how many of them set the commenters “straight.”

Only by responding can we help people see not only how insensitive they are being, but we can help change perceptions. Why does a senior have less value than a youngster…human or animal?

***I have not included the names, only the comments***

Some nasty and insensitive comments  

“You should just have him put down now because he’s becoming such a hindrance”


“Why are you spending money on that dog, she’s going to die soon anyway?”


“That thing is still not dead yet?” (from this member’s brother)


“Since taking in a senior dog with a number of issues, I have started feeling kind of alienated with most people that I knew before. I get looks and snappy side remarks when I share details, e.g. how costly vet treatment can get. For instance, I have gotten comments like “think about what all you could do if you hadn’t made that decision”; or “wasn’t that kind of short-sighted to take in this dog, now look at all the difficulties you have.” I even had a therapist tell me it is my own fault if I feel overwhelmed sometimes, since I made a conscious decision for “this problematic dog.”


“When I had to make the decision to have my wee dog put to sleep 5 weeks ago I was devastated, and the so called spiritual healer was very insensitive by saying these things happen!! As if I had lost the button off my coat needless to say they no longer are a part of my circle I dropped them like a hot stone.”


“You can’t just keep spending money on an old dog it’s a waste”


“When I’ve told people about vet visits and they ask how much, they then have said “Guess how much a needle costs? It’s a lot cheaper than what you just spent.” As in euthanasia would’ve been better… WTF?!?!? People are horrid!”


“I don’t get a lot of comments luckily. I have had one “friend” tell me that my dog needs to go ahead and die already when she saw all the medicine I have for her.”


“Maybe it’s time to let him go”


“A friend of my husband’s said “he’s not worth it… just take him out back and shoot him” I was devastated! That’s was the most horrible thing to ever say to me. My husband lost it on him… and I banned that idiot from ever coming over to my house”


“People ask me if I’ll get another dog! ………I have to reply “I’ve still got this one”!


“When Tootie first went blind I told my Dr. and he said “did you have to put her down?” I laughed and said why, there’s nothing wrong, would you want someone to put you somewhere?”


“My husband went to a new Dentist. He mentioned that our dog was sick and she offered to sell him a puppy. Never went back and a couple years later she went out of business.”


“Dang I thought she would be dead already….my reply is I thought the same about you 😊 guess we both are wrong huh”


“He should have been put down long time ago, he must feel miserable”


“I love my boss, but yesterday I told her I was exploring surgery for my otherwise healthy 12 year old Great Pyrenees for his Laryngeal Paralysis and she said, ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea at his age’. I let loose and explained to her that age is not a disease. She apologized”


“My baby is 18, and is starting to have hip problems. She also has had teeth removed. Two people keep telling me I need to start thinking about putting her to sleep, and go ahead & get a new puppy. She is old, and she will be with me as long as possible. She loves life! And no, she needs my full attention now, so no new puppies, at present!”


“I’m going to have work done on my house, upper addition for master bedroom. I commented to a friend of many years that I probably won’t use the upstairs bedroom right away because Ginger has trouble on stairs. She said, “that dog won’t be alive by the time it is finished.” Probably she will not but that was a crummy thing to say”


“Just put him to sleep”

What do you think?

Things you should never say to the owner of a senior dogIf you share your life with a senior dog or have done in the past, particularly if he or she was ill, you know how tough things can get. You want support, encouragement and understanding, particularly from those around you.

It’s incredibly sad to know, most of these comments have been made by family and friends, from people who should be there to offer the most support.


Have you been on the receiving end of similar words? How did you react? Share them in the comments section below.


I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.




Important things your senior dog wants to tell you

20 Important Things Your Senior Dog Wants to Tell You

Important things your senior dog wants to tell you

I talk to my dogs, I tell them what I’d like them to do, and I ask them questions. Whenever I do this while I’m on the phone with my mother she always laughs, and asks if they understand what I’m saying. Of course they do is my standard reply, and it’s the truth!! When I tell her the dogs are telling me something, she laughs even harder.

We never grew up with any pets, so living with animals is something foreign to her. It’s tough for her to grasp the fact they can understand what we’re saying, and they have lots to say in return.

So what are the important things YOUR senior dog is trying to tell you? This list comes straight from a very trustworthy source – the love of my life Red.

I may be old but I still want to enjoy my life

I don’t know why so many humans think just because we’re old we’d rather lie around on our beds all day. How boring is that!! It’s true many of us do it, but a lot of the times it’s because we’re bored out of our minds and don’t swimming is great exercise for a senior doghave the energy to move. Take me out for walks, play with me, and don’t leave me behind while the rest of you are out having a great time.

We both need exercise

I know just hearing the word makes you tired, and after working all day you want to sit yourself down and relax. Hey I hear you, I’m happy lying next to you on the couch, but the less active I am, the less active I become. You and I are going to get fat (you’re always complaining your clothes don’t fit!!) and sick. Not to mention our brain cells will start to die without some mental stimulation.

I still love to eat as much, but my metabolism isn’t what it used to be

You know what I’m saying, because the same thing happens to humans. I already mentioned the need to move our butts more, but I think it’s time to check my portion sizes, or find a better food for me that’s filling but less fatty.

I don’t need a treat every time you look at me!

Is it guilt or because I’m so darn cute? Whatever the reason, it really isn’t necessary to give me a treat every time you see me. Maybe if I did something to deserve it… but otherwise get your hand out of the treat jar!

I feel the cold more than I used to

I admit I always thought sweaters and coats were for sissies, but now I think it’s time you went shopping. It’s an activity you love so there’s no real effort is there! I beg you not to dress me up in dresses or ridiculous outfits, let’s my senior dog Red wearing a sweaterbe practical about this. A sweater in the house would be great too!

Could you also check the temperature in the room I’m sleeping in? Make sure the central heating is on, or at least add a heater so I can stay warm.

Oh yeah two more things – a nice fleece blanket on my bed would be great, because if I’m chilly I could always wrap myself up in it. A self-warming mat for the bed would be helpful too thank you!

I can’t see or hear you as well as I used to

It’s true I may have ignored you at times in my youth, but that’s because I was perfectly happy doing what I was doing and if I’m honest, you were being a bit of a buzz kill. Unfortunately that’s not the case anymore, it’s because I can’t hear you as well. How about training me with hand signals, this way I’ll still understand what you want me to do, and it will be fun to do some tricks again. Of course I may still ignore you at times because I’m busy!

If you’ve noticed me starting to walk into things, maybe stumbling, or even lifting my legs like a prancing pony when I walk, it’s because I’m starting to lose my sight. I would appreciate it if you didn’t just assume it’s a natural part of the aging process and let things progress. Please take me to the eye doctor not the vet, because as great as he is, he’s no expert in the field and perhaps something could be done to save my sight.

It would suck if I couldn’t see you anymore!

I’m not an idiot!

You know all those dog forums and Facebook groups you belong to, looking for tips on how to disguise all those disgusting medications you’re trying to give me? I hate to break it to you but you ain’t foolin’ me! I know they’re in there, and sometimes I spit the food out because I’m pissed you’re not being honest. Other times I give in because I know how hard you’re trying.

Sometimes I’m in pain

I hate the thought of slowing down and not being able to chase everything in sight, but we’re all getting older and I’m not immune to that condition called aging.

If you see me struggling to get up, not walking as far or as quickly, or lying in bed more than is normal, assume I’m in pain and get me some relief! I’m not wild about drugs but if it helps bring them on, but I would appreciate some natural solutions as well. Old doesn’t mean I shouldn’t still be able to move around.

Take me for shorter walks, some swimming would be great, and if there is a stroller that suits my body shape, one of those would be helpful. We can still enjoy going out, and I get to take a break when I need to without cutting our excursions short.

My world revolves around you

my old dog Red wearing a sweater in the houseI know you have friends, family, hobbies, a career, responsibilities and your new found hobby of knitting that is taking time away from everything in your life, but all I have is you. I know you have to leave me sometimes but my whole world revolves around you, and I love you no matter what, and that includes the days when you’re moody and maybe even a little less patient with me. You are my bestie, and I like to think I’m yours too.

I rely on you to adapt to my changing needs

If you notice I can’t jump onto the couch easily anymore buy me some stairs, and if I’m not seeing as well, make sure those kids don’t leave anything in my path. I have to rely on you to adapt to my changing needs. That also means taking me to the vet more often so he can catch something before it becomes too serious. What can I say, I have a lot of things still left to accomplish!

Don’t get mad at me for your mixed signals

You can’t get mad at me for begging at the table, when you’re the one who oh so casually puts their hand under the table during dinner and slips me some chicken. When I bark for more you yell at me. What’s up with that?

I need some personal space!

I am beyond grateful for the amazing care you take of me, and I know there are times when you have to make a lot of sacrifices. I know you want that purse but you spend the money on me instead. Having said that, sometimes 20 Important things your senior dog wants to tell youyou drive me nuts!!

It’s true I’ve told you I don’t like to be left alone too much, but once in awhile could you stop staring at me? I know you watch to make sure I’m still breathing and I know I worry you, but if you don’t get me a bit of alone time, even just a few minutes, I will have to report you as a stalker.

Sometimes I get confused

Cognitive changes happen, even dementia happens and believe me it’s not fun. I may forget my housetraining and have an accident, I may start wandering aimlessly, or even seem to not know who you are. Take me to the vet and if he thinks it’s dementia make sure you leave there with drugs and suggestions for natural treatments. I know for sure they’re out there and they can help.

I may need some help eating or even finding my bowl, so hold it up for me and help me.

You may have to cover your floor with pee pads, and I know it will give you a migraine but it’s for me!!

I’m starting to feel some anxiety and fear now

Whether it’s because my senses are failing me, I’m experiencing some pain or some other aging related issue, whatever the reason I am feeling a bit more anxious or frightened now.

There are ways you can help me though

  • Prepare a quiet space for me to go to if the house gets too noisy
  • my senior dog Red wrapped in a blanketPlay games with me and give me puzzles to figure out to help keep my brain functioning
  • Cover your beautiful slippery floors with some rugs or yoga mats. It’s very disconcerting to be sliding all over the place and not being able to get my footing
  • Sit with me on the couch and wrap me in a blanket because it will comfort me
  • If you have to leave me alone could you get someone to stay with me for company?
  • Valerian, Skullcap and Valerian, calming music, a Thundershirt and a plug in pheromone diffuser could help me feel less anxious.

I am a great listener

I never told anyone there were times you would hug me and cry when you were sad, and I didn’t mind getting all wet because all I wanted to do was be there for you. Always remember I’m still here for you, and I can comfort you as well as I ever did.

I still need to be pampered

No matter how old I get I still need a bath, I need my nails cut and if my hair grows, I need a trim. Remember, you’re not the only one who wants to look good! I would love for you to brush my hair while I snuggle next to you, but if you could buy a soft brush that would be great.

Sometimes I need a nap

I’ve caught you napping on the couch plenty of times, and I may need a nap on occasion as well. I appreciate you keeping me active, believe me I do, but make sure you schedule in some down time.

Please don’t abandon me because I’m old

Important things your senior dog would like to tell youI know many of my brothers and sisters from other mothers are being left in shelters when they get old. Please don’t do that to me. I’ve loved you ever since the day we met, and you should love me until the day I have to say goodbye.

Don’t deprive yourself of another dog

Don’t say you’ll never adopt another dog because it’s too heart breaking to say goodbye. So many of my senior dog pals weren’t as lucky as I was, so please give them a home in my honour…and memory

Don’t fall apart when I’m gone

I know you’re going to cry and blubber, crawl into bed and pull the covers over your head and disappear for awhile. I understand, we had such an incredible bond and I couldn’t have asked for a better home. Take the time you need to grieve, but not too much!! I will be over the rainbow bridge playing with all those who got here before me, and ready to greet those who will come after me. Celebrate how lucky you were.

Oh here we go with the waterworks. I knew my mom would blubber like an idiot when she wrote this last paragraph!! I asked her to do me one little favour, help me write this list, and now she’s in a state, hugging me so hard I can’t breathe.



I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.






How to choose the best toothbrush for a dog

How to Choose the Best Toothbrush For a Dog

How to choose the best toothbrush for a dog

Do you know how to choose the best toothbrush for a dog? Do you even brush your dog’s teeth?? If you don’t you’re not alone, a lot of pup parents either don’t realise how important it is, aren’t sure how to do it, or can’t get near enough to their dog’s mouth to try!

This post is just about choosing the best toothbrush, but to learn more about the importance of brushing

Read this Canines and Cavities: The Importance of Oral Care in Dogs 

Read this  Bad Breath in Dogs 

Things to consider before you buy

The size of your dog – bigger dog, bigger teeth, bigger brush. Having said that you may find your dog is so easy going you can easily brush his teeth, and do a great job with a smaller head.  

The temperament of your dog. For example, if your dog won’t be thrilled or will be moving around a lot, it’s possible a finger brush can come off and get swallowed. This doesn’t mean it will happen, I’m just giving you How to Choose The Best Toothbrush For a Dogsomething to think about!!

The head on a doggie toothbrush is angled differently, made specifically for the shape of a dog’s mouth.  

Make sure it’s comfortable for you to hold. The handle on a human brush tends to be shorter so it could be a harder reach, particularly if you have a large dog.

The bristles should be quite soft, a human baby toothbrush may be fine.

Buy doggie toothpaste (or make your own), but NEVER use the human kind.

Getting your dog used to a toothbrush

Some dogs will let you do anything, including coming at them with a foreign object and sticking it in their mouth!! However if your dog is like mine that’s never going to happen.   

Here are some tips to help you get best results –

  • Do it when he’s tired after a long walk so he’s calmer
  • Choose a quiet spot
  • Depending on the size of your dog, and of course the position he’s most comfortable in, hold him in your lap or sit next to him
  • Rub your finger, a soft cloth or even a flat cotton pad over the outside of your dog’s teeth. You don’t want to stick your finger in his mouth right away in case he decides to show you how much he doesn’t like what you’re doing!! Start with just a few teeth and take it from there
  • Once he’s comfortable, put a tiny drop of toothpaste on your finger and let him lick it off. Don’t be discouraged if he hates it, there are a few flavours you can try. Now you’re ready to put some of the paste on the cloth, and gently rub it on the outside of his teeth and gums
  • Once he’s loving it, okay tolerating it, you can try using a toothbrush. If he resists all attempts and you’ve tried all the styles, carry on using the cloth. He will still benefit from it
  • It is important to do this “training” very slowly and gradually. If you rush he may not let your near him again, so take your time and don’t move on to the next step until he’s totally comfortable with what you’ve been doing
  • Be sure to give lots of praise, whether that’s a healthy treat or a favourite toy, whatever motivates him

How to brush your dog’s teeth

Rather than me trying to explain it in words, this video will do a much better job!

How often to brush

Ideally you’re going to want to do it every day, but if that’s not possible for whatever reason, then the next answer would be as often as you can.

Will your dog still need a professional cleaning?

Even if you’re doing a great job, it’s still likely your dog will need a cleaning done by your vet. Speak to him (or her) about how often he recommends, but be sure he has a good look in your dog’s mouth during routine appointments.

Okay let’s talk toothbrushes!

Toothbrushes for dogs come in a few different types, styles and sizes so there is one to fit your dog’s mouth.

Single head toothbrush

Like the name suggests this style has one head.

Double ended

This style has a head on either end – one large and one small. Perfect for brushing different sized teeth…on the same dog!

Double headed
 This style allows you to brush both surfaces of the tooth at the same time.

Electric toothbrush

Yep, an electric toothbrush! Before going anywhere near your dog with it, turn it on to check the noise level because too loud could scare him. Find out the return policy before you purchase.

360° toothbrush

This style is designed to brush teeth from every angle.

Finger toothbrush

This toothbrush fits over your finger, and is made of silicone or microfiber.

Which style toothbrush for what size dog?

It’s an interesting question, so I did some research. I know what I’ve tried and ultimately felt the most comfortable using, but I was curious about what others were doing and found an awful lot of conflicting advice.

For example, I’ve read comments from people who believe a finger toothbrush is best for large dogs, while others thought it was a very bad idea because too much of your hand has to go into a dog’s mouth. See what I mean?

Here’s how I chose  

I have a blind almost 17 year old Chihuahua/Min Pin named Red, and she weighs about 8lbs or so. She may be tiny but she can fight! I looked at the options and decided to try a long handled, double ended toothbrush. I liked the tiny head but couldn’t find a brush with just that size, plus I figured the long handle would keep me safe!! I bought the cheapest one I could find in case I ended up not using it, and it turned out to be a great strategy! My dog Red went ballistic every time I tried, so now I use it for cleaning around the burners on the stove!

Let me clarify. There was nothing wrong with the toothbrush I got, I’m just dealing with a dog that clamps her teeth shut and nothing opens them, so the long handle didn’t give me the control I need.

I read somewhere about using a flat cotton pad wrapped around a finger so I tried that. Although it didn’t go brilliantly I was at least able to get my finger on her teeth, so that was progress. I then started putting toothpaste on it and at least achieved something. Although it was a good solution for the short term, I found it would sometimes get caught on her teeth even though the pad itself was flat, nothing like a cotton ball. Because of that I decided to buy a finger toothbrush suitable for puppies and kittens.

I love the finger brush style because I have a lot more control than I do with a long handled brush, which can easily slip with a squirming dog and hurt them. I’ve even had some success getting into her mouth and rubbing it on her teeth. Yes it’s still an epic battle but it’s definitely the right type for us.

Some options for you to consider


How to choose the best toothbrush for a dog – conclusion

I can’t say enough about how important good oral hygiene is for a dog’s overall health, so I hope you find a toothbrush that works for both of you. If brushing is impossible, it’s good to know that dental chews, bones, water additives and dental wipes are all options that can help.


I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.



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