Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tips for Trimming YOUR Old Dog’s Waistline

A 2008 Reuter’s article stated an estimate 40% of dogs are overweight or obese in the United States.  But by 2012 , another study estimates that doggie waistlines have grown. A 2012 New York Times article reported that now at least half of all American pets are considered fat. And, they pay a high cost with shortened lives. While any age dog is affected by weight, a portly senior dog will have an even more difficult life. Overweight dogs are at a higher risk for developing serious medical problems, including arthritis, diabetes, breathing problems, and some forms of cancer. As a dog ages, there are many health issues that owners cannot control. Fortunately, your dog’s weight is not one of them. A few simple steps can stop “supersizing” your dog and reduce the risk of these diseases.


Ask your veterinarian to
determine whether your pet is underweight, overweight, or at an ideal size for their breed. At an ideal weight, you should not be able to see your dog’s ribs but feel them through a thin layer of fat. There will also be a defined "waist" between the rib cage and hips.


Too many pet owners simply fill the bowl or estimate how much they're feeding. The average 25-30 pound dog should get no more than 2 cups of dry food per day. Treats and “people food” will add calories and weight!

Human Equivalent
Piece of toast with butter
Small buttered biscuit
4 cubes cheddar cheese
Regular Sized Chocolate Candy Bar
Hot Dog or Sausage
SIX Doughnuts

(And their humans too!)
Exercise and good nutrition go hand in hand to help keep your old dog healthy and happy. It doesn’t take long either. As little as 20 minutes of daily brisk walking can boost canine immune function, improve cardiovascular health, and reduce many behavioral problems. 

Copyright 2012 OldDogPaws.com

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Water Therapy Eases Old Dog's Pain

By now thousands, if not millions, of people around the world have seen this wonderful photo of Schoep and his owner John swimming in Lake Superior. Actually John walks out into the water so his nineteen year old dog can sleep for a bit without as much pain. It really is an old dog love story that so many people can relate to if they have a senior dog in their lives. 

Copyright Stonehouse Photography 

It made me wonder if our older dog would have benefited from swimming or water therapy as he aged. We live in an area with abundant lakes but Tikki really didn't like seem to like the water. Maybe it was just that couldn't swim.
These days there are options for non-swimming dogs to make them more comfortable with water therapy. Dog life jackets can be very helpful in this situation. Not every older dog is able to swim and not every dog owner can swim well enough to assist them either. Before you venture out into the lake for a bit of relaxing water therapy for your older dog, a life jacket or life vest might work wonders. Here's a great video I found that helps show how to measure your dog for the correct size life jacket.

Copyright 2012 OldDogPaws.com

Costumes or No Costumes for an Old Dog on Halloween?

I have to say, we were a family that loved Halloween. For months we would plan out the costumes for our kids. Some were elaborate and some were very trendy before the trends. Our kids went as giant M&M's before the store bought costumes were available. But never once in 17+ years did we attempt to dress up our dog. Tikki just wasn't the type of dog that would have wanted to play in that way. He loves treats but I think there would have been more tricks, like him slipping out of his collar if we attempted to include him on our neighborhood rounds.

Some people feel costumes are undignified for pets, whether the dog is young or old. Yet for some dogs, the costumes seem to suit them and they look adorable. Remember, that all holidays can be full of fun and excitement but can be stressful on a senior pet. If you chose to dress up your older dog, make sure he can handle both the style of outfit and the attention that comes with wearing it.

Just like with children, there are safety concerns with a Halloween costume for an older dog:.

  • Make sure it isn't too heavy for his back/neck.
  • Avoid tripping hazards.
  • Avoid anything that hinders eyesight.
  • Straps or harnesses that are too binding on the back/shoulder area
Copyright 2012 OldDogPaws.com

Sunday, July 1, 2012

It's Important to Cool Down an Old Dog on a Hot Day!

In the midwest we are heading into a week of 90+ temperatures and even higher heat indexes. People are in danger of heat exhaustion or heat stroke but dog owners have to consider their pet too. Many think the best way to help cool down a dog quickly on a hot summer day is to pour cold water on them but it is bad idea. An extremely hot dog can go into shock if suddenly doused with water so what should you do?

Senior dogs are even more susceptible to heat stroke in the extreme heat. Our older canine friends often have many health issues. Becoming overheated can have deadly consequences with the additional stress on their bodies and heart.

Know the SIGNS of Dog Dehydration
  • Heavy panting
  • Labored breathing
  • Vomiting 
  • Out of the ordinary behavior
  • Drooping mouth or lips
  • Lack of energy
  • Won't eat or drink

The best way to keep a dog cool in hot weather is to prevent overheating in the first place. Don't take your senior dog with on errands when the temperatures are extremely hot. If they cannot go into the stores or other places on your route, show them more love by leaving them home. A car with all of its windows rolled up can be incredibly hot on when parked in the sun. If your dog's temperature gets up to 110 degrees, there is little that can be done to cool them. Even a dog that loves riding in the car will prefer to remain in the air conditioning at home.

Other quick tips to keep your canine cool:
  1. Let outdoor dogs in--Let them cool off on the basement or garage cement floor.
  2. Invest in a cooling bed designed to keep a hot dog cool.
  3. Kiddie splash pools are perfect pet ponds
  4. Walk them early in the day or later at night 
  5. Grass is more paw-friendly than concrete or asphalt
  6. Dogs with dark fur will heat up faster than those with lighter fur in the sunshine.
  7. Sunscreen is available for pets with short hair or light colored fur (yes dogs can sunburn).
  8. Check with groomer before shaving. Not all breeds should have short cropped hair

Copyright 2012 OldDogPaws.com

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Full Body Massage Helps Senior Dog

Having an older dog means taking the time to help them keep in the best condition possible. As canines, and any other animal ages, arthritis can develop and cause severe joint pain. Dog massage can really help your dog move better and feel younger...even if it is just for a moment or two.

I wanted to share this video because the massage therapist shows how to carefully massage the older dog from head to tail. Yes, the tail is important because it is an extension of your dog's spine. Massage cannot take away the affects of aging from your senior canine but the time spent in the very tactical process will make your dog feel more comfortable, and better still, loved.

Copyright 2012 OldDogPaws.com

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bring Joy to Your Family--Adopt an Older Dog!

Recently a television station in the Twin Cities metro ran a story on pet rescue. The no-kill shelter featured in the news clip had a mission to help older dogs find new homes. 

Our own family adopted our dog from a shelter as a young dog. He was a huge part of our family for over decade as a senior dog. His rambunctious puppy years were more challenging than as he got older. Older dogs are calmer with a desire to please their masters. As Tikki aged, there were trials and concerns as his eyesight, joints and muscles failed him. We built a dog ramp and had orthopedic dog beds around our home to keep him comfortable. Tikki was the inspiration behind the Old Dog Paws website on older dog care. Tikki brought much joy to our family life for over a decade after he became a “senior dog” at the ripe old age of seven.

So when heard about the news story on a senior dog rescue organization, I just had to watch. The Top Dog Foundation in New Germany, MN focuses on finding loving homes for what some consider an “un-adoptable” animal, the older dog. In the story, I was struck by the comment that older dogs are more appreciative of their new homes as they know what is to be unloved for a time and then adopted and properly spoiled again. If you are looking for an older dog who will appreciate all of the love your family has to offer, check out The Top Dog Foundation or any one of a large number of no-kill shelters who seek loving homes for older dogs.

Copyright 2012 OldDogPaws.com

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Massaging Your Old Dog's Back Legs

Did you ever wonder how best to massage your older dog's back legs correctly to ease arthritis? As our dog Tikki got older, we could see his hind legs start to twist making it difficult to get up and down from his dog bed. We build a dog ramp to ease his struggle up and down the stairs which helped immensely. But as time went on we started to see the pain in his eyes every time he went to lay down. We loved our dog and wanted to ease his pain so we tried dog massage. We weren't experts but through trial and error, the attention seemed to relieve some of our dog's pain.

Today on Youtube, I found a video that gives a very good step-by-step explanation of  how to massage an older dog's back legs to ease his arthritis pain:

Copyright 2012 OldDogPaws.com