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

Friday, March 30, 2012

How to Surprise your Old Dog with a Happy Birthday Cake!

An old dog deserves a special treat at least once every year. This birthday why not skip the Milkbones and make your older dog a healthy birthday cake that is as treat just for him? Everyone knows that chocolate is not an option for any dog but they love peanut butter! This is an easy recipe for a Banana Peanut Butter Birthday Cake. A doggie's birthday dream come true!

Banana Peanut Butter Doggie Cake
1 ripe mashed banana
1/4 unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
3 eggs
3/4 cup water
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda 
Preheat oven to 350°F
Mix together mashed banana. applesauce and peanut butter until creamy. Add eggs and water. Beat well. Stir in dry ingredients. Beat until smooth. Spoon batter evenly into small greased cake pan. Bake for about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let set for about 10 minutes. Turn over on wire rack or serving plate to continue cooling.  Serve as is or decorate with Happy Dog Cheesy Peanut frosting.

Happy Dog Cheesy Peanut Frosting

12 ounces Fat Free Cream Cheese

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

Mix well an spread over cake. (If frosting is too thick to spread, soften in microwave for a few seconds until spreading consistency.)

If your older dog is too excited after all the celebrating and does not have the appetite to finish his birthday cake, leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

Copyright 2012 OldDogPaws.com

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The ABC's of Senior Dog Care--Itchy Skin

Old Dog Health Care Itchy Skin

Like people, a dog's skin can undergo changes with age. Yet that is not the only thing that can cause itchy skin problems in older dogs.
Fleas and wood ticks are usually the first thing someone checks for when an older dog starts itching and scratching. But once the obvious parasites are ruled out, allergies and dry skin should considered as possible causes. There are several things that can cause dry, flaking skin in an older dog.   
  • Age
  • Diet
  • Grooming products
  • Poison Ivy or Oak
  • Other internal health issues
It is important to check over your older dog on a regular basis and seek the advice of your veterinarian when a skin disorder or rash is noticed. Early treatment and care is essential to your senior dog's comfort.

Copyright 2012 OldDogPaws.com

Friday, March 16, 2012

Warm Spring Equals Early Ticks & Heartworms

Fleas Ticks and Heartworms in Older Dogs

Dog parks are filled with pets, young and old, barking for joy as the snow is almost a memory across the northern and Midwest states almost a month earlier than usual. But get set dog lovers as it is going to be a parasite-filled year. With record breaking temperatures across the northern half of the country, ticks are a concern for older dog owners in March rather than April or May. The warm weather has brought out the pests to states as far north as Minnesota and Wisconsin; states which are normally snow covered at this time of year. Early and complete tick removal is essential to keeping your dog healthy. Likewise, senior dog owners that opt for a seasonal heartworm treatment might should consider ordering heartworm preventative as soon as possible. In fact, a local vet was on the news the other day who said that due to the warm weather, fleas and round worms are also going to be more of a nuisance to dogs and their owners this year. It is important to note, any parasite can be a danger to an older dog's fragile health.

So senior pet owners beware; ticks, fleas, heartworms and other parasites are making an early appearance with this year. Be ready and protect your loveable old dog!

Copyright 2012 OldDogPaws.com

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Tail-Thumping Good Peanut Butter Dog Cookie Recipe for your Senior Dog

Healthy Peanut Butter Dog Cookie Recipe 

A special treat for your loveable senior dog! The PEANUT BUTTER Dog Cookie  is a wonderful project for kids as all the ingredients are healthy people food too. Making treats for an older dog is a great way for a child to show how much he loves his pet.

3 cups organic whole wheat flour
1/2 cup creamy all-natural peanut butter 
1 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix vegetable oil, peanut butter and water. Add flour. Knead until dough is firm and can be formed into a ball. Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness.
Cut with bone-shaped cookie cutter. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Makes roughly 2 dozen dog treats.

It is a tail-thumping good treat for an older dog that takes only a few minutes to prepare. Since all the ingredients are healthy for people too, it is a fun project to get the kids or grandkids involved in too. Everyone wants to make a treat for the family pet!

Copyright 2012 OldDogPaws.com

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Baby It's Cold Outside! Eliminate Winter Pain for Older Dogs

Heated Dog Bed for Older Dogs

Most people realize that cold, ice and snow can cause painful joint aches but your loveable older canine can also feel the pain. If you have an older dog, you may have noticed how he will try to sleep by the heating vent or curl up by the fireplace to stay warmer? Maybe it is more comfortable for his aching joints to rest where there is significant heat.

Keeping an old dog warm in winter goes beyond the doggie sweater. A heated dog bed can be the best option. There are several therapeutic dog beds especially designed for the senior dog. A heated orthopedic dog bed will make your older dog rest much more comfortably on cold, damp winter nights. These beds can be electrically heated or self warming in design. Don't want to change the bed your dog loves? Try a heated dog mattress pad or heated dog blanket to warm him up and prevent achy joints. Click for additional information on orthopedic dog bed options for senior dogs 

Copyright 2012 OldDogPaws.com 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Raising Food Up Makes Mealtime More Enjoyable for the Older Dog!

Elevated dog bowl is Beneficial to Older Dog Health

Any age dog can benefit from an elevated feeding dish. However, as a dog matures into old age an elevated dog bowl might be essential A raised dog feeder, whether on a platform or stand can help to eliminate the need for dogs to position their head at a downward angle during meal times. This way the senior dog will swallow less air with his meal and reduce gas and other digestive trouble. Additionally,  an older dog that suffers from arthritis or other joint pain can feed more comfortably. 

Tips on how to select the best elevated dog bowl for your senior dog!

Copyright 2012 OldDogPaws.com

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cheezy Chicken Old Dog Cookies for your Senior Dog on Valentine's Day

Chicken and Cheese Heart Shaped Dog Cookies for your favorite old dog on Valentine's Day!

 A quick and easy treat you can make with healthy ingredients to show your old dog how much you love and care for him.


  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine rolled oats, margarine, and boiling water. Let stand 10 minutes.
  2. Beat egg and mix thoroughly  to cornmeal, sugar, bouillon, milk, and cheese.. Mix in flour, 1 cup at a time, until a stiff dough has formed.
  3. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface, mixing in additional flour as necessary until dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Roll or pat out dough to 1/2" thickness. Cut with heart or bone-shaped cookie cutters and place on greased cookie sheets allowing about an inch for cookies to spread.
  4. Bake 35 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. Cool before serving.
Copyright 2012 OldDogPaws.com

Friday, January 27, 2012

Show YOUR Old Dog Some Love--Best Valentine's Day Gifts for a Senior Dog!

Your senior dog has melted your heart for years. An ever faithful friend deserves a reward for all those years of unconditional love. But what would be the perfect gift to show your older dog just how much you love them? If Valentine's Day is designated to show your sweetheart the love you have in your heart, why not spoil your senior dog with a heart shaped box of dog treats?

Our family loves to pamper our pets. Any special day, like Valentine's Day is a day to show our senior dog Tikki (and his cat siblings) how much we love them with special pet gifts. Every year as Tikki aged, we bought our old dog special presents like funky red dog booties to protect his paws or a box of heart-shaped dog cookies and chews for Valentine's Day. An elevated dog dish was the perfect way to serve his festive treats.

As he approached 15 years, Tikki didn't enjoy the rawhide chews in the heart shaped box as much as he had in previous years as they became too tough to chew. We opted for homemade heart shaped dog cookies and less chewy dog treats for his Valentine gift. But he still loved  the pink and red plush dog toys and and warm doggie sweaters well into senior life.

A dog ramp can be a gift that really shows your love. As Tikki started struggling with the back steps, we installed a semi-permanent dog ramp at our back door. This particular dog ramp model was designed with extra traction so there would be less trouble getting up and down  in snowy or icy February weather. We did consider a portable one too...Our old dog absolutely loved his car rides. After all, spending time with your sweetheart (especially your senior dog sweetheart) is what Valentine's Day is all about!

5 PERFECT Valentines Gifts to show your Senior Dog LOVE:

  1. Therapeutic Dog Bed (Coziest Valentine's gift for the older canine!)
  2. Dog Booties (Protect old dog paws from the February ice and salt.)
  3. Portable Dog Ramp (Make it easy to take your canine sweetheart along for the ride.)
  4. Elevated Dog Dish (Perfect way to serve up Valentine's treats for senior dogs.)
  5. Holiday Dog Sweater (A fun, festive way to show how much you love your older dog.)

Copyright 2012 OldDogPaws.com

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The ABC’s of Senior Dog Care—Heartworm Prevention

Heartworms are a scary thought for any pet owner. A scary thought, because heartworm disease is spread in such an arbitrary manner; through the bite of a mosquito. For the owner of a senior dog, it is especially frightening because older dogs can have other health issues which make treating for the heartworm infection more risky. It is very taxing on the function of the liver, heart and kidneys of the infected older dog as the heartworms are literally poisoned with the treatment. Heartworm prevention is the best way to protect your pet. Heartworm preventative medication is given as a once a month tablet all year round to dogs in warm climate but can be given less often in areas where there are no mosquitoes in the winter months.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Does Your Senior Dog’s Ears Hear as Well as They Used to?

A dog’s ears can be sensitive at any age. It is important to keep vigilant as your dog ages to be certain that minor ear discomfort doesn’t become a life changing situation. Several things can cause problems for your older dog’s ears. Parasites and mites are a common, well known issue but allergies can cause ear itching and swelling too. Bacteria and yeast can grow in a dog’s ears after lake or a trip to the groomers if the ears aren’t sufficiently dry. And then hormonal changes as a dog matures can bring on thyroid conditions which can trigger ear infections in the older dog.

Signs of Ear Problems
  • Bad smell or odor
  • Excessive scratching of the ears
  • Sensitivity to petting of ears; often a signal that it is painful
  • Constant tilting/shaking of the head to one side
  • Black or yellowish discharge
  • Redness inside the ear flap or canal
  • Changes in behavior like listlessness, depression or irritability
  • Accumulation of dark yellow to brown wax
  • Loss of balance and disorientation
  • Bleeding or discharge resembling coffee grounds
While nothing will replace a visit to your vet to address any serious hearing or ear concerns, there are some tools that a senior dog owner can use to keep your dog’s ears in tip top shape.

Tools to Protect Older Dog Ears

Otoscope – The same tool your vet uses to see inside a dog’s ear canal will give you a better view of the inside of your pet’s ear.
Cleansing Pads & Solution- Keeping your pet's ears clean and dry is your best defense against ear infections.
Drying Agents – Prevent bacterial growth after a swim in the lake or a bath.
Ear Mitacide - If itchy ears are accompanied by a black, crumbly discharge, there's a good chance your pet has ear mites. Pyrethrin or Ear Miticide can eliminate these irritating, common parasites.

Copyright 2012 OldDogPaws.com

Friday, January 13, 2012

Winter Challenges--Senior Dog Accidents

Snow and ice cause accidents...and not just for cars either. Older dogs can be faced with winter woes too! Slippery sidewalks. Salted Driveways. Sub-Zero Temps. They all take a toll on the health of your older dog.

Our senior dog, Tikki, struggled on cold winter days to stand up on his arthritic legs and walk down his ramp on the back stairs to go to the bathroom. I know there were days he would try to avoid the process for a little too long. Some days he would just make it out the door...and some days he just didn't make it on time. So what's a senior dog owner to do when the temperature drops below zero and your older dog can't make it outside?
  • Make it less painful to go out. Put on dog booties to protect the paws.
  • Make it easier to go down the stairs. Get a temporary ramp that can be brought indoors so it won't be the metal surface won't be as cold and slippery when your dog needs to go out.
  • Make cleaning up easier. If necessary, resort to the puppy pads to protect your floors and carpeting. Washable doggie diapers are also an environmentally friendly alternative to disposable dog diapers for older dogs who refuse to go out into the cold and snow..
Copyright 2012 OldDogPaws.Com