Natural Instinct raw food for senior dogs

Feeding Raw to Older Dogs


feeding raw to older dogs

Dogs and cats have evolved to eat meat and bone. The structure of their jaws, their teeth and their digestive system have not changed at all since the days that they would hunt and scavenge for their food, which is why it makes sense to continue to feed them raw meat and bone, just as nature intended.

Natural Instinct is a Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (“BARF”) for dogs and cats providing a balanced nutritional and delicious diet. Their products are all made in Surrey using human grade ingredients. They work hard to provide as safe a product as possible, which is a process that starts on the farm with the selection of healthy animals and involves the all important deep freezing process. Recipes are made using 100% British meats and the freshest fruit and vegetables (for dogs only) and are free from artificial additives, colours, preservatives, fillers or grains.

What are the benefits of feeding your dog Raw Ingredients?

Despite the many years of domestication and the evolutionary changes that have occurred as a result of this, the domestic dog is still designed to process and benefit from a raw meat and bone based diet. The dog’s dentistry for Natural Instinct raw food for senior dogsexample is designed for nipping, tearing and crushing/macerating meat and bone and has no side to side grinding ability that is needed for plant fibres. The gut is short and the stomach small with strong acid which is adapted to high meat and bone based diets and not for the breakdown and fermentation of high starch and plant fibre based diets. Even though the domesticated dog largely uses humans to supply their food, they have never learnt to cook and never get excited about a field of corn… other than when a rabbit is running through it!

What are the health benefits of feeding raw dog food to an older dog?

The health benefits of feeding high quality balanced raw dog food are the same for an older dog as they are for a young or middle-aged dog.  Well-formulated raw dog food is the biologically appropriate food for dogs with no processing, no artificial preservatives or colourants and no hidden ingredients. 

With increased heath issues relating to the human diet such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes people are now taking more care about their own diets and are eating “cleaner”.

Pets are such an important part of the family and owners are following the principles for their own diets for their pets – feeding as nature intended, free from artificial additives, colours, preservatives and fillers.

The benefits of feeding a raw diet are endless and include:

  • A shiny coat
  • Fresher breath
  • Healthy skin
  • Healthy digestion and bowels
  • Strong bones, teeth and joints
  • Stools reduced and easier to clean up
  • More resilient immune system
  • Dense muscle structure
  • Lots of energy


We receive numerous testimonials from customers saying how uncomfortable skin, coat, teeth and joint conditions have been resolved following a transition to Natural Instinct. Problems relating to digestion, breath and aggressive behaviour have also shown improvement. Increased health and vitality, as well as an alleviation of IBS and colitis have also been named.

Why is it important to change a dog’s diet as they get older?

As dogs’ age they may be subject to more wear and tear issues such as arthritis and the geriatric animal is more likely to have less efficient organs such as the kidney, liver and immune system, so the food needs to be adapted to these potential changes. Many of these things lead to a reduction in the level of exercise and activity, which also changes the dogs’ calorie requirement. It is very individual just as it is in humans and this is where routine health checks in old age to check organ function can be a great help in assessing the dietary needs of your dog.

Natural Instinct offer a Senior recipe for Dogs

Natural Instinct’s Senior recipe is made using human grade chicken and bone, together with the freshest apples, carrots and butternut squash, spinach, sea kelp and Scottish salmon oil, the Senior recipe is suitable for dogs who feel their age or have joint and mobility issues as it contains additional supplements. The addition of Vitamin C helps support the immune system and the added Glucosamine and Chondroitin help aid aging and stiff joints. Chondroitin is a natural substance found in a dog’s cartilage and, when paired with glucosamine, has an even more beneficial effect on a dog’s joints.

How should older dog owners transition their dog to a raw diet?

Firstly owners of older dogs need to fully assess the health status of their dog and know any individual requirements e.g. an older dog prone to pancreatitis will need lower fat formulations, arthritic dogs will need higher glucosamine content and will need particular attention paid to not becoming overweight due to their reduced activity levels so may need less than the average feeding rate. Our advice for those who do wish to convert is to slowly transition over a 2-week period and support the dog with probiotic during this period (Natural Instinct offer a Zoolac Probiotic Paste). The body needs time to adjust to a completely different diet and this may take longer in older animals – slow is best to allow adjustment to take place and prevent constipation or diarrhoea during the switch over period. In geriatric animals or very sick animals it may not be appropriate to convert them from a processed to a raw diet if they are currently stabilised on the diet that they are on. 


For more information visit their website and



I have no association with Natural Instinct, financial or otherwise. I approached them to write this article, as it is a diet I am interested in including more information about on this website.

ThunderShirt for dogs product review

ThunderShirt for Dogs – Product Review

Thundershirt for dogs review

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • Your senior dog has dementia and can’t stop circling or pacing
  • You are about to start campaigning for a ban on fireworks
  • The sound of rumblings in the sky sends you into a panic
  • ThunderShirt for Dogs Product ReviewYour dog is left out of family fun days because he can’t handle a car ride
  • It’s a wrestling match trying to take him or her to the vet
  • Your dog is destroying your home when left alone
  • You can’t find the “off” switch when he starts to bark

Don’t worry because help is finally here!

My dog Red has been living with dementia for over two years, and until recently her condition has been stable. Unfortunately her treatments are no longer working and I’ve been searching for an alternative…preferably drug free! I came across this anxiety wrap called a ThunderShirt, and with an over 80% success rate, backed by science and a 100% money back guarantee, I was intrigued and had to learn more.

Get more information and buy now on >>>

Features and Specifications

  • Easy to use, no training required just put it on your dog
  • Available in 7 sizes
  • Over 80% success rate
  • Claims are backed by scientific support and customer feedback
  • Rated most effective solution for anxiety by vets in a 2011 survey
  • Safe to leave on your dog for extended periods of time when needed
  • Made from a thin, breathable fabric
  • Can be washed in cold water on regular cycle using regular laundry detergent, and hung to dry
  • Money back guarantee

If you like supporting companies that do good in the community, then you’re going to love this next feature. Thunderworks, the company that created this product, donates ThunderShirts to adoption organisations around the country. Selections for recipients are made monthly. How fab is that!

Get further details and buy now on >>>

Customer Feedback

“I’ve spent a fortune over the years on plug ins, pheromone sprays and prescription medications and nothing has helped with LuLu’s anxiety. I put this shirt on her and no more panting and pacing, she lay on the sofa next to me all night!”

“My dog has had dementia for the past 2 years and it’s been a struggle trying to find something to calm him down. He’s anxious all the time – paces, circles, barely rests. I am on a tight budget, I don’t sleep well and I was feeling desperate so I ordered one. I had to try it 2 or 3 times before Charlie started to relax, but the difference in him now is incredible. He’s like a new dog. Thank you, thank you!”  

“This was a great choice for our big move! We had a 7 hour car ride with my senior dog who has quite severe anxiety if she’s in the car too long. It worked like a charm and she slept most of the way.”

“ThunderShirt absolutely 100% works.”


The only “drawback” is there is no guarantee it will work for every dog, but they never claim it will. With its’ high success rate in treating dogs for a wide range of anxiety issues, and personally knowing many people who have seen amazing results, I highly recommend giving this product a try.

Buy now at >>>

When you have a dog that suffers from anxiety, no matter the cause, it is heart breaking to watch, and you’re willing to try anything to help. Personally I love the idea of a drug free solution, and with the number of satisfied Thundershirts for dogscustomers and pups as a testimonial, the ThunderShirt is that solution.

With so much potential reward, how can you not take the chance? If it turns out it doesn’t help your dog there is a money back guarantee. They’ll even give you a refund if you donate it to an animal shelter…as long as you can prove it!

I am happy to recommend this product to anyone who lives with an anxious dog, and am particularly encouraged by how much it has helped dogs suffering from dementia (canine cognitive dysfunction).

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.


if a senior dog has a seizure is it canine epilepsy

If A Senior Dog Has A Seizure, Is It Canine Epilepsy?


if a senior dog has a seizure is it canine epilepsy

One minute your sweet senior dog seems fine, taking a lovely snooze in a ray of sunshine or laying nearby chewing on a toy, and the next minute s/he is convulsing on the floor, having a seizure. After the initial fright and fear starts to ebb, and you soothe and care for your dog, your mind begins to race: Is my dog okay? What caused the seizure? Will s/he have another? Does my dog now have Canine Epilepsy?

What Dogs Can Have Seizures or Get Canine Epilepsy?

While certain breeds are more apt to have Canine Epilepsy, seizures can happen to any dog, any breed, across the globe and for many reasons, including no known reason, as well as advancing age. As any hu-parent of a dog that is it a seizure or canine epilepsyhas had a seizure or has Canine Epilepsy can tell you, it is one of the most frightening experiences to go through with your dog. I have gone through this multiple times with two of my five dogs, both Siberian Huskies—my boy, Gibson at age three, and our girl, Harley, had her first at the golden age of 12. My journey with Gibson was a long one as he had sudden frightening grand mal and cluster seizures shortly after he turned three in 2009. After a myriad of tests, he was diagnosed with idiopathic (no known cause) Canine Epilepsy and placed on a regimen of anti-seizure medications that in combination with dietary changes, natural supplements, and holistic care, did manage his seizures and kept him seizure free for seven years! We did have scares along the way with a severe bout of ataxia, side effects from the medications, and adjustments to the doses of medications, but looking back, it is amazing that we were able to control them, and for so long.

Seizures and the Senior Dog

With Harley, it is a completely different story. When she had her first seizure in February of 2017 at age 12, I was momentarily in shock to see the old familiar villain coming back to visit yet another one of my dogs. And although Harley may think she is much younger, with her now in her golden years, I knew we were not dealing with Canine Epilepsy, as that typically shows itself in a dog’s early years. So a whole new set of fears and uncertainty set in. After running tests, her bloodwork showed that in just a little under a year, her thyroid levels changed (something that is not all that uncommon with seniors) and she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, which can trigger a seizure. She went on medication and has periodic bloodtests to be sure her dosage is maintaining an appropriate level. After a year of no seizure activity, at 13, she just had her second seizure. With her thyroid levels holding fine, what could have caused this one? I don’t have to tell you the fears that shot through my mind. With a senior dog experiencing a sudden onset of seizures, the fear of a brain tumor or cancer is major concern. After reviewing her case with my vet, and knowing her history, we determined that it would be safe to wait to see what unfolds before deciding on the next step and this seizure could have been due to low blood sugar or sudden stress.

Some Causes of Seizures in Senior Dogs (in no particular order):

While seizures in dogs of all ages can be idiopathic, be genetic, or triggered by illness, injury, food ingredients, toxicity, fireworks, flashing lights (TV, etc.), fireworks, stress, and even weather, the following is a list of some possible seizure triggers for senior dogs in particular:

  • Brain Tumors
  • Cancer
  • Cushing’s Disease
  • is a seizure in a senior dog the same as canine epilepsyStroke
  • Stress
  • Overheating
  • Thyroid Imbalance
  • Liver Disease
  • Kidney Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Electrolyte Imbalance
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Toxicity (from certain foods and plants; flea, tick & heartworm preventatives; vaccines; or environmental issues)
  • Weather and Atmospheric Changes
  • Lunar Phases, Solar Flares, and Eclipses
  • Medicinal Side Effect
  • Injury

While one seizure over the course of a year or two may not be a reason to sound the alarm bell, it is imperative that you have your dog go in immediately for a vet check to see if a cause can be determined. With age, the same as humans, the body undergoes various changes. As with our Harley, within just one year, her bloodtests went from perfect to her suddenly having hypothyroidism. Dogs with seizures can also have hypoglycemia – low blood sugar – something I am very familiar with as not only did Gibson have periods of low blood sugar (which can both trigger a seizure and occur post-seizure), but I, too, have been hypoglycemic for most of my life. So what to do? I give periodic low-fat treats with protein. Also, if your dog is fed once or twice a day, splitting the meals to create mini meals given two, three, or four times throughout the day can help keep hypoglycemia at bay. Always discuss any new routines, foods, or changes with your vet before implementation.

Helpful Hints

  • Have a Plan in Place. Should your dog have a seizure, have a plan in place Is it seizures or canine epilepsyon how to transport him/her to the vet or emergency hospital. Have emergency phone numbers (including a friend or family member to help) posted near your landline phone and programmed in your cell phone. Give your vet or emergency hospital a call before you leave to give them a heads-up that you are en route with a seizing dog so they can be prepared for your arrival.
  • Journal the Seizure Activity. Keep a journal—written or digital*—of when the seizure happens, what it was like, how long it was, what your dog was doing/eating prior to the seizures, the weather, and if possible, videotape the seizure and bring it along with your dog to show your vet. *See below resources list for an excellent digital app by Royal Veterinary College (RVC).
  • Create an Epi First Aid Kit. Already have a First Aid Kit for your dog? Update it to include items in case your dog has a seizure. See link below for my #Paws4Purple Epi First Aid Kit FREE informational bookmark available through The Anita Kaufmann Foundation for items to add to your kit.
  • Join a Canine Epilepsy/Seizure Dogs Support Group. The information and support provided by reputable organizational groups is priceless.

Living with an Epi-dog (dog with Epilepsy) or a dog who has seizures, is an hour-by-hour, day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month continuous watch, while hoping the seizures do not return. If your dog is diagnosed with Epilepsy and is put on anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), the dosing schedule must be consistent. Family schedules are planned around the Epi-dog’s needs. Baby monitors and video cams with feeds connected to smart phones can be installed to keep a vigilant eye on your dog, both while at home and away. And yes, there is cost involved for vet visits, tests, medication, and possible food changes. Yet, no matter how much we do to prevent them, there is no guarantee that our dogs will not have another seizure. That is the frustrating and unsettling nature of the beast known as the “seizure monster.” But the love and amazing bond we develop with our dogs, whether it comes as a result from the extra care they require for their special needs, or just the natural human-canine bond, it is a journey well worth taking as these dogs prove over and over again that they do not let seizures stop them from living a full and happy life, the same as a dog without seizures.

Recommended Resources



About the Author:

Dorothy Wills-RafteryDorothy Wills-Raftery, also known as the “FiveSibesMom,” is an award-winning author and photojournalist, Siberian Husky aficionado, and Canine Epilepsy advocate. Her canine books are EPIc Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy; the FiveSibes™ Tales children’s books What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy and Getting Healthy With Harley: Learning About Health & Fitness; and Buddy, the Christmas Husky~Based On A True Holiday Miracle (ArcticHouse Publishing). Featured in The American Dog Magazine, Dorothy is the creator, writer, and photographer of the internationally recognized FiveSibes™ blog. She is a regular contributor to American Pet Magazine, blog, and Hudson Valley Paw Print Magazine. Her canine-related articles and photography has appeared in Ruff Drafts, The Sled Dogger, and Kings River Life Magazine. Dorothy is the writer and host of the award-nominated The Sibe Vibe show, which airs on Dog Works Radio and iTunes. Dorothy is the recipient of the 2017 NYC Big Book Award, and was named a 2017 Finalist in the “Advocate” category for the Women in the Pet Industry’s Woman of the Year Award. Dorothy is a nine-time Dog Writers of America Association (DWAA) “Excellence” nominee, and she is the two-time recipient of the DWAA’s prestigious Maxwell Medallion for work on her FiveSibes blog —once in 2017 for her FiveSibes poster for Red Nose Day to Help End Child Poverty, and in 2016 for her blog article on rescue dogs in. Named “Best Author” in 2015 & 2016 by Hudson Valley Magazine, all four of her books were named “Best in Print” by American Pet Magazine. An official International Purple Day® for Epilepsy Ambassador since 2012 and a volunteer case manager for The Wally Foundation-Canine Epilepsy, Dorothy is the creator of the FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong K-9 Epilepsy Awareness campaign inspired by her own Epi-dog, Siberian Husky, Gibson. She is the author of #Paws4Purple, a partnered Canine Epilepsy awareness and educational program with The Anita Kaufmann Foundation launched on March 26, 2018 ( You can follow Dorothy and her FiveSibes on their website at, on Facebook at FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K9 News & Reviews, and Twitter (@FiveSibesMom).

Nutrition and your senior dog

Nutrition and Your Senior Dog


Nutrition and your senior dog

It’s easy to assume that the changes older dogs experience are inevitable. While hard to believe, most dogs are considered “senior” around age seven, and around this time, may slow down, sleep more, play less and otherwise show signs of age. But older dogs that get exercise, mental stimulation and specially-formulated nutrition can avoid some of the physical and cognitive changes that can come along with age such as decreased lean muscle mass, reduced mobility, reduced metabolism and changes in mental sharpness. Along with these changes, a senior dog’s nutritional needs change. This is why it’s important to feed your senior dog a food formulated specifically to meet his nutritional needs.

I’ve worked at Nestle Purina for close to 28 years, and as Director of Nutrition Research, I am part of a team of 500 researchers in R&D developing pet food innovations. We’ve been studying aging in pets for more than a Nutrition and your senior dogdecade, and the PetCare Research team that I work with has been dedicated to uncovering the latest advancements in canine cognitive health to keep pets’ brains sharper, longer. As researchers, we asked, “what if nutrition could positively impact a dog’s cognitive health?” And we made a remarkable discovery: it can.

Maybe you’ve noticed that your dog is interacting with you less. Or has lower engagement in daily activities. These are just some of the signs your dog may be aging. And like you, we wondered why. There is a reason your dog may be experiencing these age-related changes. A senior dog study found that around age 7, the glucose metabolism in a dog’s brain begins to change – affecting things like memory, attention, learning or decision making.

Our team of Purina scientists discovered that nutrition can positively impact a dog’s cognitive health and developed a breakthrough nutrition innovation – BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ – to support cognitive health in dogs ages seven and older.

BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ formulas contain enhanced botanical oils called MCTs, which have been shown to promote alertness and mental sharpness in dogs seven and older. MCTs provide an additional source of energy for the brain cells to naturally nourish their minds and help them think more like they did when they were younger. When added to the daily diet of dogs seven and older, formulas that contain enhanced botanical oils promoted memory, attention and trainability.

Feeding your senior dog Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ as a daily diet, you may notice differences in the way your dog interacts with you, their interest in play and their ability to adapt and cope with change.

I’ve been doing this for a long time, and one of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing the difference that this food is making for owners and their senior dogs – it’s really changing their lives. We’ve heard such positive feedback and stories from owners about the impact of BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ formulas on their dog and how it has changed their relationship.

Success story

Ray and Jan, owners of Lady, told us that Lady used to be the queen of playing soccer – any time, any place, she was always ready for a game, eager to run up and down the stairs and catch the ball as fast as she could. But, as Lady got older, things started to change. She started to slow down. She just wasn’t as interested in playing – and she didn’t seem excited about the things she used to love.

Ray and Jan agreed to give BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ a try, and when we checked back in 30 days later, they couldn’t stop talking about the incredible difference they saw.  Lady was once again interested in learning new things, had a bright look in her eyes, and, maybe most importantly, was excited to play soccer again.

If Lady’s story sounds familiar, consult your veterinarian to discuss if a change to your senior dog’s diet could be in order and see how BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ can help. With the right care, attention and nutrition, you and your dog can make the most of all of your years together.



Janet Jackson Director of Nutrition Research Purina

Janet is the Vice President & Director of the Nestle Research Center (NRC) at Nestle Purina PetCare.  She joined Purina in 1990 after receiving her PhD in Animal Nutrition from the University of Illinois. Her team is responsible for developing nutritional innovations for Purina products by continuing to build knowledge to enhance the overall health of our pets so they can live long, healthy, happy lives. Janet grew up on a farm in North Central Illinois and has had cats and dogs as long as she can remember.  Janet and her husband currently enjoy the company of three cats: Callie, Lucy, and most recently, King Tut.


Bailey was a dog with pancreatitis

What You Need to Know About Dogs and Pancreatitis

What You Need to Know About Dogs and Pancreatitis

The most important thing you need to know about dogs and pancreatitis is, they could die if left untreated.

My dog Bailey died, not because he wasn’t treated but because he was in the “care” of incompetents who decided feeding him a can of dog food after being at their clinic just one day was a good idea. Actually that sounds like “untreated” to me. I had no previous experience caring for a dog with pancreatitis, so blindly trusted they would help him.

I would hate for you to have to experience this kind of loss because of something that is almost always treatable. Knowledge is power, to quote a cliché, and this article will give you all you need to ensure your dog has a better outcome than mine.

What function does the pancreas serve?

The pancreas produces and secretes digestive enzymes which, as the name suggests, is essential for food digestion. It also produces insulin which helps control metabolism and regulate blood sugar levels. The digestive enzymes pancreatitis in older dogsusually lie dormant until they reach the small intestine where they start doing their job. However if they are activated prematurely, before they reach their destination, they cause the pancreas to digest itself.

What is pancreatitis?

Simply put pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, and it is painful. Not only that but it can progress quite rapidly, to the point where it is no longer possible to treat.

There are two types – acute and chronic.


Acute means it comes on suddenly and lasts for a short period of time. It can be nothing more than mild discomfort or full blown life threatening. It typically happens around the holidays (but not exclusively) when we’re eating tons of high fat food and the dog gets his fair share of table scraps. It can also happen when he’s out walking and picks up something he shouldn’t.


Chronic means ongoing and is often a result of having a bout of acute pancreatitis. This too can range from mild discomfort to deadly serious.

Signs of pancreatitis in dogs

  • Loss of appetite
  • What You Need to Know about dogs and pancreatitisVomiting/projectile vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Stomach ache
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Hunched posture

The most common signs are loss of appetite, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Signs for both acute and chronic pancreatitis are similar so don’t try and guess which one your dog has.

A good rule of thumb to follow and one I talk about a lot is – If you notice any changes in your dog’s behaviour, even if it seems slight, call your vet. If they brush you off but you know there’s something wrong insist on an appointment. You know your dog best and treating something early can mean the difference between life and death, and that is certainly the case with pancreatitis.

My experience with dogs and pancreatitis

I tell this story years later with a lot more experience under my belt, and without the naïve belief that vets have all the answers.

The first experience I ever had with pancreatitis was with my dog Bailey. He was old, no idea how old, and a foster we never gave back. Foster failure anyone!! Sadly this condition struck after we had moved to a new city, and hadn’t yet found the amazing vet I have now. I know this would have had a happy ending if we had.  

Long story short, he started throwing up so I took him to a practice recommended by a neighbour. They said he had pancreatitis and kept him in overnight on fluids. After one day they fed him a can of chicken dog food and Bailey and Red suffered from pancreatitis in dogssent him home. He started throwing up not long after, and when I called to tell them, they assured me he was fine when he left. There are vets who believe a dog needs 3 days on fluids, they believed 1 was enough.

After a torturous night of him being in pain (yes he had medication) and me watching the seconds tick by, I took him to see the vet in our old city, and he immediately admitted him for 3 days of fluids. Unfortunately by that time his pancreatitis was too severe to save him.

I lodged a formal complaint with the veterinary governing body, even though they told me it’s unlikely I would win. They all stick together don’t they, even at the cost of a life. I didn’t win and was forced to pay the vet bill. Imagine how that felt!

That experience made me even more determined to demand the best care for my animals, and to learn as much as possible about every condition so I stay on top of all treatment. I’ve always taken vet care seriously, and done the best I could to find great professionals, but sometimes it takes a serious illness to show how skilful, or not, someone truly is.

Which brings me to my current situation with the love of my life Red

Red has had a few bouts of pancreatitis, the first attack coming after eating coconut oil. I started adding it to her diet because I had read it could possibly help with dementia, which see suffers from. Of course I consulted my vet first and even gave her half the recommended dose. I’ve learned when the diarrhea starts it’s time to leap into action, no hanging around to see if it clears up on its own. It can be so dangerous in old dogs I won’t take a chance. 

This past November she was slammed with a very bad case, and despite fluids and medications she showed no sign of improving after 2 ½ weeks. All she did was sleep, and a few times a day I would wake her so she could eat (which she barely managed), pee and poop. That is not the life I wanted for her so I made the decision to let her go. Wouldn’t you know the next morning when we were about to leave to the vet’s office she perked up!

What caused that horrendous episode?

I was shocked when I realised the same food she’d been eating for a long time, was the very thing that caused it!

Red has been eating k/d for at least a couple of years, but for a period of several months I switched her to a home cooked diet created by my holistic vet. I eventually went back to her prescription food (it’s a long story!!), incorporating her home made food into it.

Red eating her home cooked dietWhen my k/d order was cancelled the morning it was to be delivered, and a new batch not being available for 3 days, she had to rely exclusively on her homemade food again. After a couple of k/d meals she got diarrhea and things went from bad to worse. I assumed it was a bad batch because she had never been affected by it before, so I sent it back and ordered it elsewhere.

It turns out that although her kidney diet doesn’t contain much fat, being off it for just 3 days was enough to cause an attack. I know to slowly introduce a new food to a dog, but this wasn’t new!

So what was she going to eat?

I am dealing with a dog with several conditions, two of which are kidney insufficiency and pancreatitis. My vet told me the diet for one is not good for the other so I decided it was more important to feed her for pancreatitis.

I was given a can of Hills Prescription Digestive Care i/d (low fat) to try after another recent bout about a month ago, and to my delight she loved it. I am sticking with it and I add boiled chicken breast, quinoa, whole grain rice, peas, squash, carrot and some broccoli for interest and added benefits.

Red’s treatment protocol

When she has an attack there’s always at least 1 day at the vet’s on fluids, sometimes 2 but she never stays overnight.

She is prescribed –

  • Rinitidine .5 ml 2x day 7 days (a histamine blocker to treat stomach issues, soothe inflammation)
  • Metrobactin
  • Imodium 1.7 ml 2x day max of 2 days
  • Nutritional support
  • Royal Canin Rehydration support powder mixed in with about 1 ½ pints of water
  • Pain relief at the vet

Her normal routine is her diet, medications for her other issues as well as –   

½ capsule of Pro Enzorb twice a day

½ sachet of Pro-Kolin Enterogenic per day (both of which help with digestion)

Rehydration support mixed in a 700ml bottle – it’s perfectly safe for your other dogs to drink as well


The exact cause of your dog’s pancreatitis may not be known (idiopathic), but there are several known causes that include but are not limited to:

A side effect of certain medication including Prednisone, anti-seizure drugs such as Potassium Bromide or Phenobarbital

fatty foods can cause pancreatitis in dogsEating fatty/greasy foods (like when people slip their dogs food at holiday time)

Regular diet high in fat

Eating from the garbage

Found something on the street or in the park during his walk


High levels of fat in the blood (lipemia)

Cushing’s Disease

Trauma to the pancreas/hit by a car…conditions that may affect blood flow at the thoracic-lumbar junction, the region that supplies blood to the stomach and pancreas. That weakens the pancreas and increases the chances of pancreatitis

Abdominal surgery

Older dogs

Overweight dogs

Diabetes mellitus


Dry food/ processed foods/high carbs mostly grains

An interesting fact

Just because your dog is on a low fat diet, doesn’t mean he can’t develop pancreatitis. Simply eating a large amount of fatty food at one time can cause acute pancreatitis, which is why it’s so important to watch what your dog eats and discourage family and friends from sneaking him table scraps.

How to diagnose pancreatitis

Your vet can get a pretty good indication of whether or not there is a possibility of pancreatitis based on what you tell him about your dog’s condition and symptoms.

Because Red has chronic pancreatitis, she is treated right away because we know what it is. A blood test is done, if I want, to confirm whether the pancreas is affected although that particular test cannot tell you to what extent.

The steps your vet will take to make a diagnosis may depend on the vet. What do I mean by that? I used to go to an animal hospital in Florida where the staff would always order the most expensive and invasive tests first. Other pancreatitis in dogsvets prefer to start simple and depending on what, if anything those initial tests reveal, more complex tests would be needed.

Your vet will typically start with blood and urine tests as many can be done in house with relatively quick results. Depending on what he finds, or doesn’t find in some cases, x rays and/or an ultrasound may be needed.

It is possible your vet may wish to repeat some of the tests at a later date to monitor your dog’s recovery.


Whether the cause is known or not, your vet’s primary focus will be on keeping your dog comfortable, free of pain and hydrated.

I discussed my vet’s treatment protocol for Red, but things may differ in your dog’s case.

Treatment is based on dealing with dehydration and restoring electrolyte balances through IV and fluid therapy, controlling other symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea and pain with medications, and providing nutritional support.

If pancreatitis is due to a side effect of medication, your vet will discontinue the medication immediately.

At home

You will be given medications to administer at home over the course of a week or two depending on what’s needed. You may be given antibiotics, anti-nausea medications and a nutritional support paste until your dog is back to eating normally.

Some rehydration support may also be recommended for a few days.

A low fat, bland diet will be prescribed, the length of time to be determined by your vet, depending on your dog’s condition. It may be just until he recovers, or a permanent move. 

If you follow a more natural or holistic diet and the recommended one is not, voice your concerns, learn what ingredients should be avoided and why. Bring the packaging of the food you prefer, to see if it’s suitable.

Will your dog need to be hospitalised?

It depends on how severe the pancreatitis is and your dog’s overall health. A few hours of fluids at the practice may be enough, while some dogs may need 3 days. If the practice does not have overnight staff, or you know your dog will not do well being left alone, it is possible you may be allowed to bring him home overnight and go back in the morning. Your vet will discuss your options with you.

Prognosis for recovery

Pancreatitis can be unpredictable, and the prognosis for recovery can depend on a variety of factors, the number one being how quickly it is diagnosed and treated. Dogs can usually recover from mild cases. Even those whose Red suffers from chronic pancreatitis in dogscases haven’t been caught quickly have a chance for a good outcome, but a lot will depend on the experience of the vet and the treatment plan prescribed.

Managing pancreatitis

It’s great to know the condition can be managed, and your dog can lead a normal life. However it does require vigilance and cooperation from other household members.

Pancreatitis is not a “one off” condition. It is very possible your dog can be affected again, which is why it’s so important to follow the prevention guidelines and the advice of your vet. You want to do what you can to decrease the likelihood of another attack, but if it does happen you’ll be better prepared.  


You won’t necessarily be able to prevent pancreatitis from ever happening, but there are precautions you can take to minimize the likelihood:

  • Keep your dog at a healthy weight
  • Avoid high fat dog foods and treats
  • Don’t let anyone give your dog human food or table scraps
  • Make sure your garbage is out of reach
  • Be sure your vet is aware of all medications your dog is taking
  • Since many cases happen over the holidays when rich fatty food is in abundance, be extra vigilant about what your dog is putting in his mouth, and keep an eye on anyone slipping him food.

Ask your vet about digestion support

What is the best diet for a dog with pancreatitis?

As I mentioned earlier I had a real struggle trying to find the right diet for my dog, particularly because her kidney issues are such a factor. Red is now eating Hills Prescription i/d (low fat version) along with boiled chicken breast and a mixture of whole grain rice, quinoa, peas, broccoli, carrots and squash.

Before I settled on what I am now feeding Red, I did a lot of research

There are a lot of vets, like mine for example, who highly recommend prescription diets. Things like…

  • Hills Prescription Digestive Care i/d
  • Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Low Fat Gastro Intestinal
  • Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Canine EN Gastroenteric

On the flip side, others prefer a homemade diet of good quality protein and carbs consisting of ingredients such as…

  • Skinless chicken breast/Rabbit/Turkey/Eggs
  • Whole grain rice
  • Quinoa
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash to name just a few

I read coconut oil is recommended because it is a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT), a fat that does not need pancreatic enzymes for digestion. Remember Red’s first pancreatitis episode was from tiny amounts of coconut oil!!

Whatever direction you decide to go in please remember – LOW FAT and consult with your vet or holistic vet.

Dogs and pancreatitis – Conclusion

Sometimes your dog being sick is just your dog being sick, and other times it is much more serious. If your dog is vomiting, has diarrhea or lost his appetite, call your vet’s office immediately. Let them know of your concerns, and be sure to mention anything your dog may have eaten. Pancreatitis can attack fast, and attack hard, so the sooner you start treatment the better your chances of a positive outcome.


If you have a dog with pancreatitis, or have experience with this condition, we would be happy to hear your experiences.

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 entertain a bored dog

How to Entertain a Bored Dog

How to entertain a bored dog

What do you mean, how to entertain a bored dog? Mine isn’t bored she’s old and prefers to spend her days sleeping.

Are you sure that’s what she prefers?

Do dogs get bored?

How to entertain a bored dogResearch says they do, and there’s quite a bit to back that up. At the end of this post I’ve included a few links to some interesting articles you may want to have a look at.

What about senior dogs?

All dogs get bored if they do nothing all day.

The thing is there are an awful lot who live with people who just don’t believe they need to go out other than to pee and poop. They see their dog lying on their bed all day and believe it’s where they prefer to be. They don’t realise how much of the time it’s because they’re bored out of their minds!

Having said that, I also know in many cases mobility and other health issues (both for the dog and sometimes the parent) mean they aren’t able to get the exercise they need.

What to do about it

Whether your dog isn’t getting out because of arthritis, hearing and vision problems, illness or simply a matter of the weather not cooperating, there are tons of boredom busters for dogs of all abilities. Even if your dog is unable to move much, you will find plenty of ideas to perk him up!    

Here they are!

Physical exercise

Your dog needs to go for walks every day. They may only be around the block, a few steps around the garden or in front of your house but at least he’s out. It will give him the chance to get fresh air, sniff the grass, see other people Is your dog boredand dogs and experience life again. Do this 2 or 3 times a day and you’ll notice a difference.

If your dog is in too much pain from arthritis for example, I am sure you’re doing your best to change that. Have a look at this article “How to Treat Arthritis Pain in Dogs Naturally” for some very helpful options. 

Change up the route and give him new areas to explore. I do this for my dog Red thanks to our pet stroller. I can take her further, let her walk for a bit then put her back in when she’s had enough.

Is your old dog as energetic as ever? Take him out for longer walks and if you are not able to, for whatever reason, hire a dog walker, put him in doggy day care or find a helpful neighbour or family member to help out when they can. Perhaps someone has a responsible teenager who loves animals and could lend a helping hand?

Make meal time fun

I never recommend free feeding – leaving food out all day for an animal to eat whenever they want. I believe in schedules and routine, plus it turns meal time into an activity.

How about making it into a game and really keeping your dog entertained!  There are plenty of ways to accomplish that including –

Cover the food bowl with plastic or paper bowls, and let him figure out how to move them off to reach his food. Don’t make them too heavy or he won’t be able to do it and he’ll get frustrated. 

slow feeder bowl

Stuffing a Kong with part of his meal

Scattering some of his dry food (if he eats it) in a snuffle mat

Filling a treat dispensing toy with part or all of his dinner

Vary his toys

Dogs get bored with toys, something you’ve probably witnessed in your own home! You buy him something new, he plays with it for a couple of minutes then walks away. Don’t leave too many toys out at once, just a couple and rotate them to keep his interest.

I added a couple of links at the end of this post that explain why they get bored.

Name that toy

I remember the first time I baby sat my neighbour’s dog Major. His mom was going on vacation and asked me to look after him. She brought over a huge bag of his stuff, as you do, and she gave me a list of all the toys he could name – there were 12. Very impressive!

Why not teach your dog the name of some of his toys! You don’t have to go overboard, one or two will get him using his brain, and it’s easy to do. When he plays with his duck for example, say “duck” every time. Then say “where’s your duck” when he’s about to pick it up. Then say “where’s your duck” when he’s not showing any interest in it, but it is close by. Each time reward him with a treat and he will make the connection between the word and his toy.

Take the training slow, keep sessions short and make it fun!  

Hide and seek

Hide a treat or a toy he can name and ask him to “find it.” Let him see you hide it at first, then make it more difficult. If your dog has mobility issues, hide it close by and it will still be fun for him.

Let him watch television

No I don’t mean another episode of Orange is the New Black! I mention that show because they just started showing it in England where I live and I’m enjoying it!! Check out the tv channel created specifically for dogs.

Doggy day care

While this option may not be right for every senior dog, it is definitely an option for many. When you do start looking, ask the owner if you can visit to see how active the dogs are, what the setup is, and if there is a quiet area where dogs can take a break if things get too playful. Unless of course your dog is a live wire and will be right in the middle of the melee!

Obedience training

obedience training helps bored dogsOkay you’re thinking “what’s wrong with that girl, my dog is 15 and she knows how to sit and stay.” Of course she does, but that doesn’t mean she won’t be interested in learning something new. Does she know how to give you her paw when you ask? How about practicing “stay” or “leave it” while you’re holding a delicious treat in your hand. It’s great for mental stimulation.

Make your own treat dispensing toy

Cut a hole in the side of a plastic bottle and add some treats. As your pup rolls it across the floor it will make noise which is fun in itself, and leave a trail of treats for him as a bonus!


Here are a couple of easy things a dog of any ability can do.

The cup game

Take 3 cups that are easy enough to knock over, and put a smelly treat under one of them, move them around and ask him to “find it!”

Great idea for how to entertain a bored dogThe muffin tin game

Grab a muffin tin, put a smelly treat in a few of the cups, cover each cup with a tennis ball or other toy and let him figure out how to move the ball to get at the treat.

I found this post with some cool “make your own” games called “4 creative DIY brain games for dogs – 5 minutes to make.”  

I’m sure you can come up with some simple game ideas too!

Hide a Squirrel

I’m mentioning this particular toy by name because of its popularity, and the almost 10,000 reviews it has gotten on Amazon.

Make some frozen treats

Whether you freeze dog treats, buy doggy ice cream or make your own, it will keep your dog entertained for quite some time. You can even freeze it in a Kong and see how much fun he has trying to lick every last drop!

Play dates

Your dog may not be well enough to venture to the dog park, he gets bothered too much or you don’t have one near you. In any case why not invite someone over for a play date? If he’s not up to playing or running around, he may enjoy hanging out with a friend just for the company. Even if they just sit next to each other and enjoy a bone while the humans have a chat.

Water fun

swimming is a great way to relieve boredom in dogsSwimming is great exercise for dogs of all abilities. How about a day out at the lake or a paddle in your pool? The exercise is gentle and will help rid him of some pent up energy. Even a splash in a kiddie pool in the backyard on a hot day will keep him entertained.

Build a dog sandbox

What a fun thing for your senior dog to have a go at! Hide toys in the sand and let him go dig for them. Does your dog have trouble standing up? He can lie down while looking!

Puzzle toys

They do come in varying degrees of difficulty and are a great way to provide mental stimulation. Start off easy and see how he gets on, some dogs take longer than others to figure out the puzzles. If it’s too complicated from the outset your pup may get frustrated and not bother.   

Go for a drive

Tips on how to entertain a bored dogWhether your dog can’t walk far, isn’t feeling up to it or the weather isn’t cooperating, a drive is one way to break up the day and get your dog out and about. Looking out the window at some new scenery could cheer him up, and you might even pop in at your local dog friendly café for a drink and a treat!

For blind dogs

A lot of these suggestions are perfect for blind dogs, or can be tweaked slightly if necessary. Their nose will lead them to the treats in the puzzle toy, and being blind won’t stop them from enjoying a food or treat stuffed Kong.

Here are a few toys that talk, make sounds and have smells to help your blind or visually impaired dog find, and have fun with.

Babble Balls 

Ethical Pets Sensory Ball Dog Toy 

MultiPet Deedle Dudes Mouse that Sings

Hartz Dura Play Ball 


What are your “boredom busters?” Share them in the comments section below, or please 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.





Lonely dogs’ brains shrink due to ‘bestial boredom’, scientist warns

Dogs And Pigs Get Bored, Too


Science Proves Animals Are Totally Bored

Why dogs find some toys boring

Fascinating Insight into Why Dogs Find Some Toys Boring




*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.



resource page to help you care for your senior dog

Keeping Your Dog Mentally Stimulated Through the Golden Years

Angela's 3 Border Collies and their snuffle mats

All dogs no matter age, breed, or size have a natural desire to engage in enriching mental and physical activities. However, for senior dogs, physical activity may eventually become limited due to arthritis or medical issues that prohibit your dog from taking long walks or romping around in the yard. When that happens, mental stimulation becomes even more important. A dog who feels satisfied is one who is less likely to exhibit destructive or disruptive behaviors, or worse, develop problematic emotional issues associated with a lack of satisfaction (e.g. depression, frustration, decreased ability to cope with stress, etc.).

Types of Enrichment

Dogs are scavenging predators, which means that the activities they find most satisfying will usually revolve around behaviors associated with obtaining food. This can be broken down into two categories: predatory Keeping Your Dog Mentally Stimulated Through the Golden Yearsactivities and scavenging activities.

For sake of time, we’ll focus on scavenging activities, which can be defined as any behavior (other than predatory behavior) that a dog employs to obtain food. Training new behaviors and tricks could fall into this category (e.g. a dog solves a problem and receives a piece of food from his/her trainer/handler), but the usual suspects include Kongs, treat dispensers, nose work games, puzzle toys, snuffle mats, etc.

Wait. A what mat?

Snuffle mats are an interactive work-to-eat dog “toy” that provide entertainment, enrichment, and mental stimulation for dogs as they search, sniff, and snuffle their way to find the hidden treats you place in advance. They’re a great way to help dogs relieve boredom and a must-have addition to anyone’s box of work-to-eat toys.

 My husband is a dog trainer/behavior consultant and has introduced snuffle mats to hundreds of dogs over the past year and noticed two universally common things among almost every dog that’s engaged with one. First, they all seem to be interested in it. Personally, I’ve seen dogs indifferent to treat balls and Kongs, but have yet to see one of my husband’s client’s dogs not be intrigued and then enthralled by a snuffle mat loaded with the appropriately motivating food/treats. Second, the level of satisfaction seems to be high for almost every dog who works on it (measured visually by observing the obvious arousal levels of a dog before and after working on one). They LOVE it!

Snuffle Mat Uses and Benefits

There are tons of different use cases for snuffle mats, and a few good ones directed at improving the lives of senior dogs.

For those dogs who aren’t as mobile, or have trouble bending down to eat food off the ground, you can prop the snuffle mat on top of a box or small table to relieve any strain on your dog’s neck/shoulders. Pepper demonstrates here:

Also, unlike most work-to-eat toys, a snuffle mat will more likely “stay put” versus rolling away. It’s a great solution, especially for blind dogs who find themselves bumping into things or getting frustrated when they have trouble keeping up with a toy that moves around too much. Owner frustration may also set in if you’re having to constantly fetch a Kong or treat ball that rolled under your couch to give it back to your dog.

Chap is a blind, senior border collie being fostered by a wonderful woman who was looking for a toy that would keep his brain working and that he’d enjoy since other work-to-eat type toys would easily roll away, making it hard for him to find or make him bump into things in the process. A snuffle mat was the perfect solution – the mat stays put, and Chap can dig in to find his treats without worrying about it rolling away.  See Chap in action

A snuffle mat is also great for dogs recovering from an illness or surgery and restricted from exercise or physical activity as it makes it easier for your dog to stay in a smaller area, while still exerting mental energy. Dr. Elizabeth Guest author Dr Williams dog who is quoted in the postWilliams, DVM, CVA, CCRT of Whole Health Mobile Pet Care (Triangle Township, NC) recommends snuffle mats to her patients to include in their rehab exercises and says, “it’s a great way to encourage strength training and weight shifting while they are healing.”

One of the biggest issues with senior dogs is the loss of core muscle mass associated with a diminishing of activity. The mat is a great tool for low-impact exercise.

Other use cases include:

  • Slowing down speedy eaters
  • Enticing a dog who is not very enthusiastic about eating or hesitates when eating out of traditional plastic or metal bowls.
  • Helps with behavior modification: slowly introduce your dog to new sites, smells, and noises by allowing them to use the snuffle mat while anxiety-causing stimulus is nearby.
  • Some dogs are a bit anxious or apprehensive when new guests come into the home: move your dog to a gated off area with the snuffle mat to help redirect that anxiety until they are more settled.
  • For dogs with separation anxiety or distress: sometimes other interactive work-to-eat toys are too passive to engage a dog’s brain. Research shows the opposite for dogs who use a snuffle mat – 7 out of 10 dogs showed significant improvement in their mental and physical well-being when a bowl or plate of snacks was replaced with a long fiber carpet (like a snuffle mat).
  • Use it while you’re making or eating dinner to keep your dog out of the kitchen.
  • Inclement weather makes it harder to provide dogs with physical activity – use a snuffle mat to help expend mental energy instead.
  • Helps acclimate your dog to the car and car rides.
  • Makes crate time a fun time.

Not All Snuffle Mats are Created Equal

As with any product on the market today, the materials used to create it play a critical role in how well the product works and lasts. My company, SnuffleMutt, only uses anti-pill fleece, and while it’s more expensive, the benefits outweigh those of inferior, cheaper snuffle mats using less expensive and lesser quality fleece. For example, over Guest author Angela Tuzzo Pepper rescue dog who diedtime, small pill and lint balls will not form on the edges of the fabric (and end up in your dog’s stomach), which is what happens with cheaper, less expensive fleece. Additionally, the heavier the fleece, the longer the snuffle mat will last. The base of the mat is a thick rubber, so the mat is also less likely to be easily moved around versus rolling around like its treat ball counterpart.

The fleece is also a higher density, which means the fleece strips won’t easily flatten or become limp like other mats that use inferior fabrics. Better fleece means the curls keep their shape, providing a bigger surface area (i.e. more curls in which to hide food). This also means your dog must snuffle down even further to find his or her treats. More snuffle time will keep your dog busy for longer durations.

It’s also super easy to care for. Since I recommend using harder-type treats (e.g. kibble, broken up biscuits, training treats, etc.), the mat likely will not need to be washed frequently. However, as needed, it can be thrown in the wash (no bleach!) and dried in the dryer on low heat.

At the end of the day, whether you have a new puppy or senior dog, the end game is the same: a satisfied, less-stressed dog, equals a happier dog that can more easily settle and relax. I think it’s safe to say we all want that for our furry family members 😊


Guest author Angela Tuzzo and her 10 year old senior dog MotleyAngela Tuzzo is a technology PR specialist by day and owner/creator of SnuffleMutt snuffle mats by night. She is also “mom” to three border collies: Motley and Dazzle (age 10) and Chase (age 3).  She can be reached through her website

end of life care

End of Life Care – A Veterinarian’s Perspective

end of life care

I have been practicing veterinary medicine for over three decades.  The advancements in diagnostic testing and treatment options that I have seen developed for companion animals has truly been amazing.  Unfortunately we often still will reach a point where further intervention does not benefit the pet and at that time, it becomes the veterinarian’s job to counsel the family as to their options and prevent suffering of their patient.  This is definitely one of the most challenging aspects facing the veterinary health care team.

Putting a pet to sleep is not the hardest part of the job

Our practice treats a large number of aging dogs and cats with a variety of chronic, debilitating conditions and our goal is to preserve the quality of our patients’ lives, prevent painful conditions, and help the family make the End of Life Care a Veterinarian's Perspectivedifficult decisions that lie ahead.  While people often say, “Putting a pet to sleep must be the hardest part of the job”, I disagree and tell them that since we only perform euthanasia when it is appropriate, it is much easier than the journey that gets us to that final visit.  Whether it is in our office, or as an in home visit, euthanasia is a procedure that allows us to fulfill our obligation to our patients to keep them free of pain and suffering.

The decision does not come easily for families and I am often asked, “How will we know when it is time?”  As a younger veterinarian, I often passed the buck on this one and would tell owners that they will know when it is time.  However, as I have gained experience in palliative and hospice care, I do not think that this is the situation and owners often need guidance.

The four stages of “end of life” care

Our practice of end of life care is based on four stages. 

Stage One

The first is to encourage owners to pursue an accurate diagnosis.  This is important because many chronic diseases are not terminal in the short run.  Finding out exactly what type of illness we are dealing with is important so that we can offer a realistic prognosis and develop the best treatment plan. Some illnesses lend themselves to successful intervention which can lead to a cure or at least a meaningful extension of a quality life for some period of time.  Others have a guarded prognosis for any humane existence beyond the immediate future.

Stage Two

Old age in itself is not a disease and once a specific diagnosis and prognosis are established, the veterinarian and family need to have a frank discussion about their particular situation.  Armed with facts, the road forward can be End of life care a veterinarians perspectiveestablished.  If curative treatment is not a realistic option, owners can opt for palliative care.  Many animals that enter our palliative care program are not currently critically ill or dying. Their disease, although serious, has not progressed to the point that they cannot continue with their daily routines, although often at a somewhat reduced level. Our goal is to maintain or improve quality of life for both the pets and their family. The most common conditions that we treat with palliatively include chronic kidney disease, severe arthritis, neurologic conditions, heart disease, and cancer. The emphasis is on control of pain, maintaining body condition through exercise and nutrition, and slowing the progression of the disease process.

Stage Three

Once we are not able to provide palliation of the clinical signs of the disease process, we move into the third stage, hospice care.  Our hospice patients are terminally ill, and rapidly losing the ability to lead a quality life.  While end of life care for senior dogshospice care can technically be provided on an inpatient basis, we do not currently provide that for our patients.  Our hospice patients are cared for at home, by their families, with the guidance of our veterinary professional staff.  Home visits by doctors and licensed technicians help design a hospice program that prevents pain and suffering as long as possible.  It is imperative that our staff and the family work as a team, during this intensely stressful period. While we sense the desperation of our clients as they try to find a way to prolong the life of their beloved pet, we encourage our clients to be realistic about their pet’s condition and discourage prolonging life beyond the point that is humane.

Stage Four

When we reach that point, we come to the final phase of our end of life care, euthanasia.  This is a discussion that is started at the beginning of hospice care so owners are prepared.  Veterinarians have taken an oath to prevent end of life care from a veterinarians perspectiveanimal suffering and we often are required to offer an objective evaluation as to the condition of a pet. Our doctors and staff have a deep sense of compassion and have all had to make that difficult decision when it became apparent that our own dogs or cats were terminal and suffering.  Humane euthanasia, either in our office or in our client’s home is never an easy decision, but rather, one that after introspection is the kindest thing that we can do for our pets.  While we hope that they will pass quietly in their sleep, this is often not the case and prolonged suffering is a cruel end to a long life for a beloved companion.

So, while euthanasia is often the final service that a veterinarian can provide for his or her patients, it is not the hardest part of the job.  The road to this point is much more difficult as we often have to bear witness to human anguish and animal suffering.  Our team’s goal is minimize both, empathizing with both the family and the patient, and providing a humane alternative for end of life care.



Dr Keith Niesenbaum and Bella

Dr. Keith Niesenbaum received his veterinary degree from The University of Pennsylvania in 1984 and practiced as an associate veterinarian for 5 years before starting Animal Bedside Care, a veterinary house call practice on Long Island, NY.  The practice grew and he has owned several animal hospitals and a boarding kennel in the intervening years.

He currently owns and practices at Crawford Dog and Cat Hospital in Garden City Park, New York. The practice emphasizes low stress, fear free visits and incorporates house calls as part of its regular service menu. Doctor Niesenbaum has special interests in wellness care and the early detection and prevention of diseases, especially in older pets.

Outside of practice, is often seen riding his bike or running with his dog, Bella who has recently become a bit of a Facebook video sensation


How to deal with older dog incontinence

How to Deal With Older Dog Incontinence

How to deal with older dog incontinence

Let’s kick off this discussion about how to deal with older dog incontinence with a definition of what “incontinence” actually means.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary  incontinence is the “inability of the body to control the evacuative functions of urination or defecation: partial or complete loss of bladder or bowel control.”


It’s hard on your dog too!

Believe it or not, as frustrating as this condition may be for humans at times, it’s hard on dogs as well. They can feel embarrassed at these accidents so minimizing them will do wonders for everyone involved!

How to Deal With Older Dog Incontinence

Possible causes of old dog incontinence

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Weak bladder
  • Medications such as prednisone, furosemide and phenobarbital
  • Diabetes
  • Cushings
  • Kidney disease
  • Arthritis – it’s too painful to crouch so she’s not always “finished” outside
  • Canine cognitive dysfunction (doggy dementia) – your pup either forgets his training or just pees or poops when the urge arises, like my dog Red  
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Neurologic disorders affecting the nerve supply to the bladder
  • Spinal issues/injuries/paralysis

older dog incontinence

Signs your dog may be incontinent

  • Excessive drinking (could be a sign of kidney issues or diabetes)
  • Leaking
  • Blood in the urine 
  • Free flowing urine
  • Halting urine
  • Licking or excessive licking of the vulva or penis area (irritation or infection)
  • You notice a urine smell on your dog’s bed/find a wet bed or blanket

Is it really incontinence?

It’s important to establish whether a dog really is incontinent or just experiencing an increased need to pee. Diabetes, Kidney issues, Cushings, and some medications can increase the amount of urine produced, hence theneed to pee more.

However things like cystitis, bladder stones and stones elsewhere in the urinary tract don’t cause an increase in volume of urine but do increase the urge to pee.

senior dog incontinence solutions

How is it diagnosed?

The only way is for your dog to have a check-up.

During the appointment your vet will want to know things like –

  • What have you noticed your dog doing that has you concerned?
  • How long has it been going on?
  • Is he drinking more water?
  • Is he going out less often for walks?
  • Does he pee in larger amounts than usual?
  • Any blood in the urine?
  • Any other unusual behaviours?

Once your vet has had a chat he will do a general exam, probably take your dog’s temperature, will want a urine sample (maybe fecal if that’s also an issue), and likely a blood sample as well. Depending on the results your vet may also want to do x rays and perform an ultrasound. All this will help rule in, or out, various causes.

Before your appointment

I’m a firm believer in making notes before an appointment, if you have questions or concerns. Nerves and limited time with the vet means we have to get straight to the point quickly, so having everything written down ensures we don’t forget to mention anything important. In some cases videos can be useful.

It would be helpful if your vet knew how much water your dog drinks in a day, simply measure some into the bowl and keep track.  

I also recommend bringing a urine sample because dogs never seem to pee when you need them to, and that can delay a diagnosis. The sample should be collected within two hours of seeing the vet.

Treatment options

The treatment will depend on the cause. It could be medication, hormone therapy or possibly surgery.

The two most commonly used drugs are phenylpropanolamine (helps strengthen the contraction of the urinary sphincter) and diethylstilbestrol (DES), hormone replacement therapy.

Some members of my Facebook group, Senior Dog Care Club, have had success with Proin, a drug which contains the active ingredient phenylpropanolamine. Another member mentioned a product called “Leaks No More” and she loved it.

Do not limit water intake

It makes sense if your dog drinks less he will pee less…right? Not necessarily. There are causes that have nothing to do with increased water consumption, plus they need water to survive! Discuss your dog’s water intake with your vet and see what he recommends.

Living with an incontinent dog

If your dog does not respond 100% to medication, there are plenty of ways to make things more manageable at home. Please have patience and understanding for what your dog is going through. Oh yeah, don’t forget the cleaning supplies!!

  • Take your dog for more walks and pee breaks
  • If it is medication related, your vet may be able to prescribe an alternative
  • Pee pads – disposable and washable
  • Belly bands – disposable and washable
  • Doggy diapers – disposable and washable
  • Baby diapers – disposable and washable
  • Suspenders – to hold the diapers in place
  • SleePee Time Bed
  • Waterproof cover on his bed

Monitor your dog closely for signs of skin irritation from wearing a wet diaper for too long, or lying on a wet bed or blanket. Irritation can quickly become an infection.

senior dog incontinence solutions

How to deal with older dog incontinence – conclusion

I have come home to more pee stains than I can possibly count, so I feel your frustration. The thing is, it’s part of what we signed up for when we chose to become dog parents. It happens in humans, it happens in animals and that’s often part of the aging process.

The good news is there are treatments that can help, and if they don’t, or don’t work as well as we’d like, there are many other ways to manage this condition and still have a happy life together.  


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.


GingerLead dog support sling

GingerLead Dog Support Harness Review

GingerLead dog support sling

About a year and a half ago my dog Jack suddenly became paralysed. At 7:00am he was walking fine, by 3:00pm he lost the use of his back legs. Long story short, after spinal surgery he needed support until he regained the use of his legs, so I’m very familiar with the incredible benefits of a sling.  

Whether you have a dog who is disabled, has joint pain, balance issues, is recovering from back surgery or just needs a bit of extra support you’ll be amazed at how much life will improve, for everyone, when you give him that GingerLead dog support sling“lift.”

Today we’re going to be looking at the GingerLead Dog Support Sling. Knowing first-hand what a “must have” item it is, I wanted to share this with you.

Just to let you know, this item is available on Amazon Prime!

Get more information and buy now on >>>

Features and specifications

  • Six different sizes (x-small male/female; small male; small female; medium (male/female)–large male; large female; tall female)
  • Patented design integrates a padded belly sling with a leash and handle to maximize control, safety and comfort
  • The leash can be attached to the collar or a standard chest harness
  • Great for assisting dogs up and down stairs, in and out of a vehicle, for walks or just going potty
  • Perfect for dogs that have mobility issues for a variety of reasons including – arthritis – hip dysplasia – back or spinal injuries – rear leg paralysis – recovering from surgery
  • Adjustable for height
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Machine washable and dryable
  • “How to measure” information to help you buy the right size for your dog

Get further details and buy now on >>>

Customer reviews and scores

“This harness has been a Godsend! I have a 13 1/2 year old GSD with degenerative issues in his spine. At times he is weak in the back end and at times he is very awkward and wobbly and will occasionally fall. This helps him walk GingerLead dog support sling for a large femalemuch better with my assistance so he doesn’t fall. I would recommend this product to anyone. It is really well made and well designed, nice and padded, and designed perfectly for the male dog so he doesn’t pee on it while wearing it. Definitely worth the money. The greatest feature though is the leash part that I connect to his collar so the harness doesn’t slide backwards on him while walking.”

“This was a HUGE help after our Golden Retriever recently had knee surgery. It would have been almost impossible to help her without this support. It’s well-made and has the added bonus of a collar pick up to keep the dog from moving forward in the support. Well designed and made.”

“This item has added so much to my dog’s life. My dog is 15 years old, and her back legs aren’t very strong, causing her to collapse and have difficulty holding herself up and walking. Without the GingerLead I may have had to say goodbye to my best friend, because the quality of her life was so diminished. With the GingerLead we are able to negotiate stairs, go on walks, and she can go potty without falling over. I’m eternally grateful to the inventors of this product!”

“Our sweet boxer is 11 years old and has been diagnosed with myelopathy arthritis. He is slowly losing the use of his back legs. At some point, it became difficult for him to defecate, and he would fall over in the process. It was messy and also tough to watch. We tried two other harnesses that did not work. All of us were frustrated. Then we discovered this one, and it has changed our lives! It’s easy to put on and take off, and it allows us to support our boxer when he has to go. No more messes, and our sweet old boy has his dignity back. Some reviews say their dog pees on the harness, but I have not had that problem once, and we’ve been using it for about six weeks. Our boxer is about 85 pounds, and we bought the tall male sling size. Maybe those who experience issues with it bought the wrong size. I highly recommend this item!”

I found 503 customer reviews at the time of writing, and they had awarded the GingerLead Dog Support Sling 4.2 stars out of a possible 5 on average.

The customer reviews on Amazon are positive overall, but there were a few niggling points raised.

  • “It covered his male parts not allowing him to urinate.”
  • “Purchased to help my senior dog walk up and down the stairs it slides off of her….”
  • “My dog hates it.”

Not having more details the only thing I can say is that perhaps the user did not buy the correct size, place it correctly on their dog or use the attached leash to keep the sling from moving.

Due to the number of positive comments, how helpful the product has been for countless disabled and special needs dogs, and my own experience using a sling, it makes it very easy for me to recommend the GingerLead Dog Support Sling as well.

Buy now at >>>


In summary, the GingerLead Dog Support Sling is a highly rated product with amazing testimonials from people whose dogs’ lives have been significantly improved because of it.  

A dog stuck in the house all day can easily become bored and depressed. No matter the cause of your dog’s mobility issues, a sling means you no longer have to leave your dog at home while you’re out on family GingerLead dog support sling for small dogs adventures! It also enables him to enjoy some much needed physical exercise and mental stimulation.  

Once you’ve tried this sling please let us know the benefits you and your dog have experienced. You can post your reviews in the comments section below.


If you share your life with 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.


*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.