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.

Benefits  

  • 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

Considerations

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.   

Quality

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 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…

Size

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

Material

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

Style

  • 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.

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/264234703114936718/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/483574078718440287/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/498421883740348229/

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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 Amazon.com >>>

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 Amazon.com >>>

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 Amazon.com >>>

Conclusion

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.

 

treatment for dogs with arthritis

Managing Arthritis Pain in Dogs

managing arthritis pain in dogs

Of course I am aware of how common arthritis is, and what a painful condition it can be. What I wasn’t aware of, until I started my Facebook group Senior Dog Care Club, were the heart wrenching stories of pet parents who were watching their dogs in pain, desperately searching for solutions.

I am encouraged by the number of treatment options available – from drugs to acupuncture, laser to turmeric golden paste. I’m so happy when I read success stories, and thankful for the incredible commitment of these Managing Arthritis Pain in Dogsguardians who don’t give up.

I realise not enough can be written about this and so many other topics, as each one of us deals with our aging dogs and the issues that often accompany that process.

The post you are about to read was written by Dr. Mar Alonso, a holistic vet I know with a practice in Petersfield, England. Originally published in her newsletter, she sent this to me to publish for all of you, in the hopes it will be of help, so here it is! 

 Managing Arthritis

It is estimated that 90% of dogs and cats will develop one form or another of arthritis, degenerative, septic or immunomediated, being the degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis the most common by far.

Signs of arthritis tend to start to manifest when your pet is reaching old age (this is different for each species and breed) but it could also manifest at a much younger age depending on the severity of the underlying cause.

The causes of osteoarthritis range from idiopathic (meaning we haven’t got a clue) to trauma (being in an accident or an intended surgical procedure) and inherited defects (such as dysplasia or malformation of the joints -elbow and hips being the most common-).

Pain and loss of function of the affected joints are the symptoms, and the signs that you will observe could be clear lameness with shifting weight to non-affected areas, bunny hopping, swaying gait or more subtle ones like licking joints, lagging on walks, difficulty reaching the food bowls or jumping in the car and withdrawal from playing with other pets or even aggression.

Traditionally anti-inflammatories were the only treatment offered for this condition that cannot be cured but that can, however, be managed successfully with a multimodal approach.

The key areas to focus on are:

Pain relief

This can also be achieved in a multimodal way and we recommend:

  •  Natural anti-inflammatories, such as Omega 3 fatty acids, Boswellia or Turmeric.
  • Acupuncture and Quiropraxia or other manual therapies (Cranio Sacral Therapy, Bowen and TTouch).
  • Laser Therapy.
  • Non steroidal anti-inflammatories at the minimum effective dose whenever all the above is not sufficient.

Diet and weight control

Obesity will put extra stress on the affected joints and it is crucial to achieve a slim shape based on body score rather than targeted weight. You must be able to see your pet’s waist from above as well as from the side, and feel obesity contributes to arthritis pain in dogsthe ribs without having to dig your fingers in the fat deposits.

A biologically appropriate diet for the species – dogs and cats do not need grains (grains are in commercial pet foods including the prescription diets- just because they are cheap, very cheap), and with as little processing as possible, free from additives, colourings, pesticides and other undesirable chemicals. This will reduce the intake of pro-inflammatory foods and food ingredients that will worsen the condition.

Regular urine and blood checks

This is particularly important because anti-inflammatory drugs, but also some supplements, can cause renal disease, liver impairment or damage to the gastrointestinal walls. Regular checks will spot changes before your pet is showing signs of the side effects.

Exercise

It is imperative to keep moving the muscles that support the affected joints, always avoiding high impact exercise such as jumping and running at full speed. Swimming is perfect and appropriate for most of the cases. Your vet will tell you if it is suitable for your pet.

Regular follow ups with your vet

As the disease progresses, changes in the treatment plan will be necessary and regular veterinary checks will spot those changes. Two to four checks per year ideally as your pet grows older. As acupuncture can only be given by veterinarians, you are guaranteed a thorough veterinary examination every time your pet receives this treatment.

It is possible to do more than just giving an anti-inflammatory tablet… The multimodal approach is kind to your pets and will give them extended years with quality of life.

 

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.

 

ways to keep your senior dog active

Ways to Keep Your Senior Dog Active

ways to keep your senior dog active

It seems like the older dogs get, the less active they become. Is it because –

  • They are in pain and can’t move about like they used to
  • As dogs age they naturally become less energetic
  • Weight gain has made it uncomfortable or too difficult to move
  • Failing eyesight makes Spot less confident going out, so he doesn’t
  • Some pup parents believe an old dog doesn’t need more than one short walk per day…if that
  • The dog seems to prefer lying in bed to going out

The belief that an old dog doesn’t need or want to go out leads to quite the vicious cycle.

They don’t get taken out = they’re bored and depressed = they lie on their bed all day because they’re bored and depressed = proof they were right an old dog doesn’t need/want to go out.   

All dogs need exercise

Let’s work with that blanket statement that every dog needs exercise. The question then becomes what type and how much.

While there are plenty of senior dogs who can still run and jump with the stamina of a dog half their age, plenty more can’t and don’t. For that reason it’s important to understand limitations, and create an exercise routine Ways to Keep Your Senior Dog Activesuited to your dog’s needs and abilities.

Rather than taking your dog for just one long walk a day, which may be too much for him to handle, consider breaking it up into 2, 3 or even 4 shorter ones. Getting out only once a day means an awful lot of hours your dog is lying around doing nothing. Not only is it boring, that lack of movement can cause stiffness both of which can be minimised/prevented with shorter more frequent walks.  

What I do for my dog Red

Red is about 16 ½ years old, blind with quite a few health issues, but she still needs to get out and about. She goes out for short walks four times a day, in addition to her pee breaks. It’s easier for her, won’t cause lameness and it breaks up her day. 

The consequences of inactivity

If your dog doesn’t move he won’t want to move, and some of the consequences of that inactivity include –

  • Weight gain/obesity
  • Joint pain
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes

The same consequences we suffer by the way!!   

The benefits of a more active lifestyle

Not only will the consequences mentioned above be less likely to occur (although of course it’s impossible to say they never will), there are other added benefits –  

  • The opportunity for your dog to socialise and make new friends
  • Avoid depression and boredom
  • Mental stimulation which not only helps expend excess energy, but could stave off canine cognitive dysfunction (doggie dementia)
  • Improves and maintains muscle tone
  • Keeps your dog at a healthy weight
  • Improves your dog’s quality of life

Wow, look at all those benefits! It’s important to realise they apply to dogs of all ages so get your pup moving!!

Conditions that may limit mobility

This all sounds well and good, but what if your dog is suffering from a condition that makes it too painful to move? Then your priority is to get your dog out of pain. I know that sounds obvious, but you might be surprised to know how many people I have spoken to who believe it is simply a natural part of aging. They don’t realise how much pain their dog is in, or the number of treatment options available.  

Common conditions that may cause mobility issues include –

  • Arthritis
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Injury
  • Decreased heart function/heart disease
  • Obesity

This article entitled “How to Treat Arthritis Pain in Dogs Naturally” has lots of treatment options you might find helpful for your dog. 

Have a chat with your vet

If you’ll be increasing your dog’s exercise or introducing new ones, please check with your vet first. He may be able to advise you on the best types as well as recommended length and frequency. If it’s been awhile since your talk to your vet about how to keep your senior dog activedog has had a check-up, now may be a good time to book that appointment. You’ll want to make sure he’s healthy with no injuries to stand in the way.

If your dog has had an injury or other issue that has limited the amount of exercise he has been able to do, a rehab vet may be needed to help you design a program tailored to your dog’s needs.

If your dog will be exercising more it stands to reason he will be burning more calories. Speak to your vet about the need for an increase in amount or type of food to ensure he doesn’t start losing weight…unless he has to!

You may also want to ask about post-exercise care in case your dog experiences some soreness, due to an increase in activity level. He may recommend a pain medication or if you prefer a natural approach massage, hydrotherapy or stretching exercises can help.

Keep it interesting

There are lots of ways to keep your dog active, and many dogs will appreciate some variety.   

  • Visit the dog park
  • Go for a swim
  • Teach him new tricks/brush up on old ones
  • Have play dates

Before you get started

Let’s talk about some things that can impact your dog’s comfort, and how to keep him safe.

Temperature

Older dogs can have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may not tolerate or enjoy the climates they used to. On a hot day aim for outings earlier in the morning and later in the evening, although some places how to keep your senior dog active in the winterare steaming all hours of the day and night. Be aware of the possibility of dehydration, and know that increased panting can put a strain on his heart. Give your dog water when out and keep things short and sweet.

On cold days a sweater and even a coat will make your dog more comfortable. Plenty of dogs handle the snow, but some need booties or wax for protection.   

 

Red is from Florida and used to love sitting in the backyard in the sun. As she got older she was unable to tolerate the heat as well and would pant quite a bit. On the flip side she never enjoyed the cold, so now that we’re in England she wears a sweater most of the year, and a coat when it’s really cold. One year I took her to Toronto in the winter and she was less than impressed. A quick pee and poop were all she could manage, and paw wax needed to be applied before each outing, as she wouldn’t let me near her with booties! Not a fun time for either of us I’m afraid. 

Don’t be a “weekend warrior”

Life can be hectic and our dogs don’t always get out as much as we would like, so many people try and make up for it on the weekend. It’s almost like they put their dogs through a week’s worth of exercise in one session. Please don’t!! It’s too much in one go and certainly of no benefit to your dog.

If you aren’t home during the week perhaps a friend, neighbour or family member can take your dog out. What about hiring a dog walker? Bringing lunch from home just once or twice a week can easily pay for a couple of days help.

Terrain

It’s important to be aware of the types of surfaces you’ll be exercising your dog on, and any potential hazards.

Hills or inclines may be too difficult for dogs with joint problems or mobility issues.

Think traction – slick floors (like in stores for example) or uneven surfaces can be tough to walk on, especially if your dog is not as steady on his feet as he used to be.

Watch out for holes.

Avoid hot pavement.

Some dogs have trouble walking on snow and ice so be prepared with boots or paw wax.

keep your senior dog active with a gentle strollRocky terrain can be a challenge so take it slow at first. If your dog is not handling it well find a more even surface.

Red weighs only about 9lbs, has tiny little legs and is blind so I’m very conscious of where we walk. She doesn’t like pebbled surfaces, is okay on pavement but prefers grass. The thing is grass can be very uneven and have all kinds of dips and holes so I have to be vigilant when we’re out.

Breathing

Keep an eye, or ear I should say, on your dog’s breathing. Some panting is normal but if he seems to be panting quite a bit, coughing, or showing any signs of distress stop exercising immediately.

Watch the clock

Decide on how long you’ll be out for and stick to it. Even though he’s doing well and wants to keep going, it’s best to go home or end the play session before he starts limping or showing other signs of over exertion.

Stay out of the sun

When possible walk on the shady side of the street, and stick to shaded areas when playing.  

Keep him hydrated

Have plenty of fresh water available to prevent dehydration.

Follow his cues

You may be pressed for time and want the walk over and done with as quickly as possible. Hey we’re all guilty of that!! It’s important to remember that as much as some of us tend to use this as our exercise time as well, it’s all about the dog so follow his cues.

What do I mean?

  • Don’t push him to do more than he can or wants to do
  • If he starts to slow down, turn around or look back towards home, take him home
  • If there is a certain time of day he prefers to walk then take him out at that time of day
  • If he wants to stop what feels like every two seconds and take a break or sniff a leaf, let him
  • Your dog may want to slow down or stop but you’re doing the power walking thing, so he does as well. Take it easy and walk at his pace

Keep to a familiar route…or not

What the heck does that mean? Failing eyesight and hearing can make a dog anxious in new surroundings, and dogs suffering from dementia can get easily confused and scared. Sticking to familiar areas makes for a more helping senior dogs stay activerelaxed and happy dog, and a more enjoyable outing for everyone.

On the flip side, seeking out new routes for your daily walks can keep your dog alert, entertained and stimulated.

Whether you go with the first option of sticking to the familiar, or the second of seeking out some adventure will depend on your dog. You know him and are the best judge of which option will suit him. Not sure? Stay in the area but go down a different street, then see how your dog responds. If he’s loving the new surroundings great, if he seems confused or uncomfortable go back to what he knows.

Adapt to your dog’s changing abilities

The plan you have your dog on now may not be suitable in a year, or even six months from now. He may be getting stronger because of the exercise or frailer as he ages, so re-assess his routine from time to time and adapt when necessary.  

Keeping your senior dog active

It’s encouraging how many ways there are to keep an old dog active, both indoors and out.  

The daily walk

Walking is the greatest form of exercise for dogs (and humans), so get out and take a walk…or several. It’s a lot more beneficial for your dog to take a few shorter, slower walks throughout the day than one long one.  

Swimming

Swimming is a great choice for older dogs, and how fun to let him paddle in a nearby lake or pool.

Why is it so great?

  • Low impact
  • Supports your dog’s weight so there is no stress, strain or impact on joints
  • swimming is a great way to keep a senior dog activeGood for cardiovascular health
  • Keeps him at a healthy weight
  • Access to an indoor pool means your pup can swim year round

Outdoor swimming should be limited to very warm weather, and your dog dried off quickly to avoid a chill.

For some dogs it’s an easier form of exercise than walking but be careful not to let him overdo it.  

Supervise him at all times in case he gets into trouble and needs help.

If your dog doesn’t want to get in the water don’t force him, no matter how beneficial you believe it to be. Perhaps you should bring your bathing suit and jump in, that may be all the motivation he needs!

How easy is it for him to get in and out of the pool? A ramp with a gradual incline may help.

Running

Yes we’ve talked a lot about taking it nice and easy and here I am suggesting running!! I realise the word brings to mind dogs flying across the field chasing a ball or other four legged friend. Well that’s the image I get, but running can also be done at a very slow and easy pace, and may be perfectly suitable for your dog.

Start off very gently, keep checking for signs of fatigue or excess panting, and stick very close to home. If your dog seems to want to stop frequently, is slowing down or keeps looking back towards home stop, switch to a slow walk and get him home.

Don’t let him reach the point where he’s tired or panting, end your run before that happens.

Fetch and Frisbee

If your dog has always enjoyed a good game of fetch or Frisbee, it doesn’t have to end just because he’s gotten older it just needs to be modified. Instead of throwing the ball or Frisbee as high or as far as you used to, keep it old dogs can still play fetchlow to the ground and close. He can still go after it, just at a slower pace.  

If that’s too much, gently roll the ball along the ground making sure your dog doesn’t have to go too far to retrieve it.

Walk around the house

If, for whatever reason, you can’t take your dog out often enough how about some walks around the house or garden? You’ll keep him moving and help prevent stiffness. 

Training

I’m sure you’ve heard by now – old dogs can absolutely learn new tricks and it will help keep his mind sharp.

Treat dispensing toys

Puzzle toys that hide food are a great way to challenge your dog mentally, which also helps get rid of pent up energy. Varying levels of difficulty provide your dogs with a challenge. You can even feed him part of his meal in the toy and turn meal time into an activity.

Hide and seek and hide the treat

These two are great ways to keep your dog engaged and active no matter his physical condition, and similar to what you’re trying to accomplish with the treat dispensing toy.

For hide and seek all you need is a tasty treat your dog doesn’t get too often, let him see where you’re going then tell him to “go find it!” Hide the treat can be done in several ways, two of which I describe here.

Take 3 cups light enough for your dog to knock over, place a treat under one of them and tell him to find it. Another variation is to take a muffin tin, put a treat in a few of the sections, then cover each with something like a tennis ball and have him find it.

These are all great games to play in addition to his physical exercise, but definitely important on days he doesn’t get out much. 

Therapy/range of motion exercises

Hydrotherapy, massage, stretching and strengthening can all make your dog feel so much better by loosening joints and making it easier for him to get around.

I came across this article by Dr. Karen Becker called “Anti-Aging Exercises to Keep Your Senior Pet Active.” There is a lot of great information as well as exercises you can do with your dog at home.  https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/01/26/anti-aging-exercises-for-pets.aspx

A canine physiotherapist can help design an exercise program specifically for your dog, and they can probably show you how to perform them at home. Do a search for professionals in your area.

How much exercise is too much?

There is no one size fits all answer because each dog is different. Determining how much is too much for your dog will depend on many factors including his weight, health conditions, physical limitations…

There are ways to tell if your dog has done too much –

  • Limping
  • Weakness
  • Stiffness
  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Slowing down/wanting to stop
  • Reluctant to keep walking/swimming or playing
  • Coughing

Mobility aids

If your senior dog has difficulty with even the shortest walk, or mobility issues prevent him from getting any exercise, you’ll be comforted to know there are several products that can help ensure every dog, no matter his ability, can enjoy some much needed physical exercise and mental stimulation.

The pet stroller

the pet stroller is a great mobility aid for senior dogsMy all-time favourite is the pet stroller, and to say it has helped us so much is a definite understatement. Take it with you on your walk and when he’s had enough let him hop a ride. Going on a family day out? Perfect, he never has to get left behind again.    

Boots/socks

Sliding on slick flooring is a common concern and can easily lead to injury. Non slip booties and socks are a tremendous help, but if your dogs are like mine and you can’t get them on for love or money, rugs or non-slip mats work just as well.

Slings and harnesses

Another incredible aid we have used is a sling. Perfect for dogs who are suffering from weakness or recovering from spinal surgery (as in our dog’s case), the sling or harness helps support your dog by taking some of the weight off his joints. He can now enjoy going for a walk again.

Dog wheelchair

handicapped pets small rear wheelchairA doggy wheelchair can give your dog back his freedom, and significantly improve his quality of life. Whether your dog has arthritis, hip dysplasia, a slipped disc, neurological issues or any other condition that makes walking a challenge, a wheelchair can help. For more information and types of wheels available, visit handicappedpets.com

Drag bags

If your dog has disabled back legs, the drag bag allows him to move around while protecting his limbs and chest from scraping against the floor and causing sores. For more information visit handicappedpets.com

Ways to keep your senior dog active – conclusion

Just because your dog is older doesn’t mean he prefers to spend his days lying on his bed…even though it may seem that way. Dogs of all ages and abilities need to get out and about, and that means your senior dog as well. Not only is it essential for his health and wellbeing, it’s a great bonding opportunity for both of you.

How do you keep your senior dog active? Share your tips in the comment section below.

 

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

https://www.facebook.com/groups/seniordogcareclub/?ref=bookmarks

 

 

massage to naturally improve mobility in senior dogs

How to Naturally Improve Mobility in Senior Dogs

how to naturally improve mobility in senior dogs

Aging is a fact of life. Our dogs depend on us for affection, training, exercise, and nutrition. As our pets age they require more special attention. You notice your dog taking longer to get up; moving more stiffly and slowly. It seems suddenly your dog doesn’t want to jump up on the bed or take the stairs like they used to when younger.

Most dogs will show symptoms of arthritis as they age. Symptoms will usually appear by the time they are 6 or 7 years old. Arthritis happens when immune system attacks tissue in the joints. This leads to cartilage becoming thinner and allows the joins to rub together, causing inflammation and pain.

Steroids and pain medicine can help, but for most pet owners this is a last resort. What is the best way to naturally improve mobility in your senior dog? Prevention, certainly.

Reducing Symptoms of Arthritis

There are a number of natural ways that you can help reduce the symptoms of arthritis and increase mobility for your senior pet.

Reduce inflammation = reduce pain = improve mobility

Nutrition and Supplements

how to naturally improve mobility in your senior dog

To slow the arthritis process, feed your dog an anti-inflammatory diet rich in Omega 3’s. To compliment this there are many natural supplements on the market that will naturally improve your pet’s joint health. The best option is to use a naturally-occurring supplement high in glucosamine and chondroitin. These are the building blocks of cartilage and support healthy joints.

Green-lipped Mussel

 

super snouts joint power green lipped mussels

Green-lipped mussel is one of my favorite mobility supplements, and one I’ve introduced to my own dog. Naturally occurring in New Zealand, this shellfish is ecological, environmentally sustainable, and extremely high in fatty acids and glucosamine.

Powder form of the greenshell mussels are most potent, but they also come in capsule and droplet form. Be aware the freeze-drying methods, resulting in dog treats, or high heat affect the quality of the supplement.

Sourcing: The greenshell mussel is found only in the harbors of New Zealand. Different companies will harvest and create the supplement in different ways but for this, time is of the essence.

I recently ordered the Super Snouts Joint Power for Gonzo. A small amount of powder is all that is needed daily and so far I’m happy.

Phytoplankton

freeze dried marine phytoplankton

All ocean life depends on phytoplankton. It is the very basis of the food chain.  This microscopic plant helps your pet absorb nutrients and dispose of toxins. Marine phytoplankton has more omega-3s by weight than any other food source and is touted as a superfood.

Sourcing: always check where the supplement is sourced and that it is not man made in ponds or lakes, which may be subject to toxins. Phytoplankton comes in powder or liquid form and does not need to be refrigerated so is perfect for travel.

Fish Oil

Fish oil is perhaps the most well known source of Omega 3’s. Ironic considering fish do not naturally contain these. In fact, they get them from phytoplankton that they ingest. Additionally, fish oil must be refrigerated and may cause side effects such as gas and bad odor. So best to steer clear and choose the other options above.

Acupuncture

An ancient Chinese technique that uses small needles on meridians (pathways) of the body to aid self-healing and provide balance. This is a non-invasive procedure that is usually very well-received by animals. Acupuncture has shown many benefits for senior animals with arthritis.

Needles are usually placed for 10-20 minutes and performed every 2 weeks until symptoms are alleviated and then every 3-4 weeks for maintenance. Only veterinarians certified in acupuncture techniques are legally able to perform this therapy in the US.

Chiropractic Manipulation

Chiropractic manipulation is performed by some veterinarians. Adjustments are done to the joints of the spine and the extremities. Realigning the vertebrae may help to alleviate muscle spasms and stiffness of arthritis. Due to possible risks, only veterinarians should provide this therapy.

Sports Massage

massage to naturally improve mobility in senior dogs

My favorite of all holistic modalities and one that I’ve chosen as my profession. A certified canine sports massage therapist will use their hands and fingers to manipulate muscle and remove spasms in the body. In doing so, we increase circulation, improve synovial fluid to the joints, and release endorphins-

which results in natural pain relief and reduction of stiffness.

Regular treatments every 2- 4 weeks are best to relieve symptoms and improve movement.

Reiki

Reiki is the Japanese technique of energy healing. Like many other eastern modalities, this is a non-invasive technique based on the notion of universal energy and providing balance within your own body.

“Like acupuncture, Reiki is based on the belief that essential life energy runs through each person, and disruptions in energy flow can cause pain and other problems. … The Reiki practitioner positions his or her hands over specific points of the client’s body, attempting to guide essential energy into it.” Arthritis Health

Cold Laser Therapy

Cold Laser treatment for dogs employs deep-penetrating light to promote a chain of chemical reactions called photobiostimulation. It promotes cell regeneration and increases circulation while also desensitizing the nerves. The laser wavelength must be precise to correctly effect to reduce pain and desensitize the nerves. The machinery is expensive, and is usually done by a holistic or integrative veterinarian who has been trained in this therapy..

Laser treatments are cumulative and regular treatments are required to create the most improvement. The benefits of cold laser therapy?

  • Non-invasive
  • Non-surgical
  • No chemicals
  • Quick treatment- usually varying in length of under 10 minutes per site.

The beautiful thing about cold laser therapy is that the process is quick, painless, and can often be done alongside acupuncture or sports massage for increased benefits.

Aromatherapy

aromatherapy products

Nature’s medicine for thousands of years, aromatherapy takes the roots, flowers, and leaves of plants in liquid form (essential oils) for their various benefits. Depending on the plant’s properties essential oils can be antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and more.

There are many ways to use aromatherapy and essential oils. As an inhalant, topically, or even ingested under a professional’s guidance.

Through my practice working with canine arthritis clients, I formulated a signature blend of essential oils to topically relieve pain and reduce inflammation. However, each animal has different sensitivity.

The best results for your senior dog’s mobility with arthritis is using a combination of these alternative therapies. It is ideal to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief naturally, rather than relying on chemical means that may have a large number of dangerous side effects. With their owner’s support, love, and willingness to try- senior dogs can live happy, pain-free lives for as long as possible.

 

 

Heather Wallace

About the writer: Heather Wallace of Monmouth County, New Jersey is a certified equine and canine sports massage therapist, co-owner of Bridle & Bone Wellness LLC, and equestrian & canine blogger at Bridle & Bone. She is an adult amateur equestrian in unrequited loved with an OTTB and has two rescue dogs, Gonzo and Beau. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter @bridleandbone.

 

Why-You-Really-Need-Pet-Stairs

Why You Really Need Pet Stairs

why you really need pet stairs

By the end of this article, probably even before, you are going to know why you really need pet stairs.

Sharing my life with a senior dog means I’m always on the lookout for products that will make her life, and mine, easier. Mobility aids, which include pet stairs, are incredible products that have a big impact on the quality of life of pets and their parents, which is why they feature so prominently on my site. My focus is, naturally, on how they help senior dogs, but I feel it’s important to call attention to how much they help dogs of all ages. BONUS TIME – they benefit the pet parents as well!

Zinus 3 step foam pet stairs

Are they really necessary?

A luxury? An unnecessary expense? I suppose those who aren’t familiar with pet stairs, or pets, may say that. I say not true, they absolutely are a necessity and I’m sure you’ll soon feel the same way.

What are pet stairs?

As the name suggests, they are stairs specifically for pet use. When jumping has become a problem, or an impossible feat, pet stairs are the answer. But that’s not the only time!

Here are the benefits of pet stairs

For your dog

  • Freedom – your dog no longer has to rely on you to get on and off whatever piece of furniture he has his eye on
  • Your dog is too small to get onto the couch, chair or their bed (oops I meant your bed!) under his own steam
  • Your bed may be too high for even the most agile dog to jump on and off of
  • Your senior dog isn’t able to jump like he used to
  • Arthritis or other joint problems have grounded them, but they still want the comfort of your furniture
  • Reduces wear and tear on joints in dogs of all ages
  • Your dog can get in and out of the car unaided
  • He has the freedom to go where he wants without waiting for you to help him
  • Some pet stairs are made specifically for use on boats

pet stairs for use on boats

For you

What, you didn’t realise how much this product can help you as well! Let me backtrack for a moment. Obviously anything that helps your pet helps you, but let’s talk specifics here.

  • If you have mobility issues it can be difficult to keep bending down to pick up your dog, now you won’t have to
  • You may have a medium or larger breed dog that is too heavy to lift without help, and help isn’t always around
  • You’re settled in your favourite chair and your dog starts barking at you because he wants to get on the couch for the 8th time. Get some stairs so you don’t have to move  
  • Your dog is a bit chubby (I’m sure he’s on a weight loss program right?) and he’s too darn heavy to pick up
  • It can be a matter of safety for an elderly pet parent who tries to pick up their dog



Why you really need pet stairs – conclusion

I strongly believe any product that makes our pets’ lives easier, makes our lives easier as well. I consider that a necessity, which is why I’m writing more about them. I have experienced, first hand, how much mobility aids have improved the lives of my animals, and pet stairs are no exception.

I hope you have found this an interesting read, and you now see how beneficial pet stairs can be…for everyone.

Have you used pet stairs? What would you say has been the biggest difference/improvement in your lives? Sharing helps others so please leave a comment below or on my Facebook page. If you’d like to submit a picture of your dog using his pet stairs, I’d be happy to publish it on my FB page.

the truth about weight loss in older dogs feature image

The Truth About Weight Loss in Older Dogs

the truth about weight loss in older dogs

The truth about weight loss in older dogs is…it’s not a good thing.

Let’s backtrack for a moment. If your old dog has gotten fat because of inactivity, too much food, too many treats or you adopted a fat old dog (like I did), then helping your dog get to a healthy weight is a very good thing.

What I’m talking about here is weight loss for no apparent reason. I know you’re taking great care of your furry friend, and likely keep an eagle eye on him or her as I do. That means you’ll notice even the subtlest of changes quickly, and when you notice your dog looking a little thin, call your vet.

I know it seems I recommend that in every article, that’s because I do. The reason is simple – when you have a younger dog you can usually wait a day or two to see if an issue resolves itself, not so in an old dog with health the truth about weight loss in old dogschallenges. What appears to be something minor can very quickly escalate into something major, and I’m not willing to take a chance. Are you?

For example, when my younger dog Jack decides he doesn’t feel like eating breakfast one morning, I don’t worry. If Red turns her nose up I call the vet because there is no such thing with her. She loves her food too much.

Symptoms you might notice that indicate the presence of a problem causing weight loss

  • Drooling
  • Panting, pacing
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty or lack of interest in eating
  • Increase in appetite
  • Lumps and bumps
  • Bleeding
  • Lethargic
  • Limping or lameness
  • Distended abdomen
  • Increase in water consumption
  • Changes in amount or frequency of peeing
  • Blood in the urine
  • UTIs
  • A chronic cough
  • Difficulty or aversion to exercising
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Restlessness
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Yellow skin or eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Pale gums

Possible causes

If your dog is losing weight there’s a reason behind it, so here are some possible causes.

It can be as simple as your dog becoming picky due to a decreased sense of smell. Warming up your dog’s food or adding something like chicken or the soup from the chicken you boiled may help pique his interest. Consult with your vet about the foods you can add that are suitable for your dog.

If your dog is losing weight it's critical to get him to the vet as soon as possible. Click To Tweet

What to do about weight loss in older dogs

There’s nothing you can do until you have been to the vet. Once there’s a reason, a plan of action can be drawn up and implemented.

In other words, get your dog to the vet PDQ and help your vet by making note of the following:

  • Any changes to the diet you’re feeding your dog
  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Increase or decrease in amount of water he’s drinking
  • Peeing more or less
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Mobility issues
  • Lethargic, restless…
  • Any chance of exposure to toxins
  • Any new flea, tick or heartworm medication
  • How long ago you started noticing weight loss

Diagnosing the reason

Your observations will be very helpful to your vet, and in conjuction with any of the tests listed below, will lead to an explanation and even better a solution.

Types of diagnosic testing include:

  • Fecal analysis to check for parasites 
  • Blood tests 
  • Urinalysis 
  • X rays
  • Ultrasound
  • Endoscopy
  • Exploratory surgery

A few vets I’ve had the misfortune of knowing liked to start with the most expensive and invasive diagnostic tools known to man. Luckily they are a distant memory and most I’ve encountered are not that way. I mention this to make you aware a lot can be determined from a blood and urine test, and once there’s a starting point, you’ll know which, if any, further testing is needed.  

If your vet insists on starting from the most complex, ask for a reason.

Treatment

A diagnosis has been made and now treatment can begin. While the cause will be treated/managed, your vet will likely want to tackle the symptom (weight loss) immediately. That may include things like a change in diet, IV nutrients which he may want to start on the spot in the clinic, an appetite stimulant or anti nausea medication if your dog has not been interested in eating.

Living and management

Once your vet sends you home with a treatment plan, you must follow it to the letter. Your vet will probably have already scheduled a follow up appointment and may even call you to see how your dog is doing. Ask him how long it is likely to take before any improvement is evident. If that time has long come and gone, call immediately, do not wait until your appointment to speak up.

The truth about weight loss in older dogs – conclusion

I have done more than my fair share of worrying about my senior dog Red, so it’s understandable if you’re imagining the worst. I wish you didn’t though, it’s too stressful to worry before you have to.

What’s important when it comes to caring for senior dogs is to be aware of any sudden changes in behaviour, and speak to your vet, no matter how minor it seems to you. That is the best time to catch something, and increase the chances of a positive outcome.

The truth about weight loss in older dogs is that it’s an indication that he needs a check up, and for now that’s all it is.

 

Has your dog experienced any weight loss? What was the reason, and what kind of treatment was recommended? Sharing helps others so please tell your story in the comment section below, or on my Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

the natural path toward a springier step

The Natural Path Toward a Springier Step

the natural path toward a springier step

As anyone fortunate enough to have a senior canine knows, these animals are in a class all their own, and, as such, warrant specialized care.  Much like their two-legged counterparts, senior dogs tend to develop age-related health challenges that may involve any or every body part, from mouth to gut to joint to bone to brain, and beyond.

For example, dogs with conditions like arthritis, degenerative disc disease, or orthopedic problems may not fare so well using solely the typical allopathic approach that employs pharmaceutical-induced symptom suppression and physical therapy or rehabilitation.  Based on my opinion, plus years of experience with both my own dogs and those of my clients, a more fitting protocol might include diet changes, veterinary acupuncture and chiropractic, cold laser therapy, and massage.

In some circumstances, this may not be enough, or, conversely, may prove to be “too much” for a more sensitive canine.  To this point, as our dogs develop some twinges in their hinges, veterinarians often write prescriptions for hydrotherapy.

However, after having patronized some highly reputable facilities, I remain concerned about several things:  the amount of chlorine in the water; the high temperature of the water; the number of ailing dogs confined to a small space (picture a liquid dog park filled with fatigued, nervous canine curmudgeons and their harried guardians, a natural path toward a springier stepcoming and going all the time); and, most importantly, the oft-reported negligible benefits gained by dogs who suffer from auto-immune forms of musculoskeletal conditions.

This information motivated me to pursue less taxing, more natural modalities that could not only improve a dog’s physical state, but his mental and emotional states as well.

To this end, why not spend our money on a doggie life vest, harness, and maybe even booties, and head for a nearby lake or river?  We wouldn’t be exposing our dogs to noxious chemicals or hordes of hounds, and the water would be cool and inviting, with plenty of fresh air and sunshine. The pups would get a good workout, without stress or strain, doing what comes naturally.  If that doesn’t lift one’s spirits, what does?

If we want to stress less, let’s take a look at Reiki

The word Reiki itself is an amalgamation of two Japanese words, rei (universal life) and ki (energy).  During a Reiki session, a trained practitioner acts as a conduit for this energy, which is directed to the recipient using either a hands-on technique, or a hands-off method where hands hover over the body.  This method is ideal for touch-averse, itchy, or painful dogs. Reiki is quite popular now, because word has spread that it promotes profound levels of relaxation and well being, and awakens innate healing mechanisms in order to achieve a more balanced level of mind-body interaction.

I have found Reiki to be as valuable as Tellington Touch, massage, acupressure and flower essences for rescued, reactive, nervous dogs, including those who have been diagnosed with the canine form of PTSD and impaired cognitive function.

And finally, a magic circle?

According to manufacturer Assisi Animal Health, the Assisi Loop is a hand-held, portable device that delivers targeted Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEFT) as a non-invasive, drug-free form of pain management for assisi loopmany inflammatory conditions.  The Assisi Loop is available through veterinarians, or by prescription, and may reduce the amount of, or even the need for, NSAIDs, steroids and pain medications.

Even better, the Assisi Loop can be used by a guardian, in the comfort and privacy of a dog’s own home (or, better yet, back yard), at any time of the day or night.  This can be ideal for those of us with crazy schedules, or with big dogs who have a hard time getting comfortable in the standard exam room environment.  We can even take it on long car rides, in order to make travel more enjoyable.  And nothing reinforces the human-canine bond or says I Love You better than a cozy pre-bedtime session to promote sound sleep and sweet dreams.  Good night!

 

This post was kindly written by Dr, Reema Sayegh. She holds doctoral degrees in Holistic Nutrition and Naturopathy, and has over 20 years experience in the field of integrative medicine and holistic health.  After she rescued a nine-year-old Great Dane mix named Zeus in 2004, Dr. Reema was inspired to “shift gears” and has since become a Reiki master teacher, certified holistic pet consultant, published author, public speaker, and animal welfare advocate.  She works in tandem with veterinarians and their clients to provide companion animals adjunct natural wellness modalities, and, when indicated, specialty geriatric and hospice care.  Dr. Reema resides in California with her husband and the love of their lives: a spirited canine teacher, healer, and gigantic, fun-loving goofball named Dakota.  She can be reached at drreema4pets@yahoo.com.