How People Are Modifying Their Homes For Dogs and Cats

Trends in homes constantly change. It used to be that homes had formal living rooms and dining rooms, which has given way to the concept of a more casual “great room”. And who would have anticipated years ago that there would be such a thing as a video room or rooms to accommodate 70 – 80” TVs?

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Surprising Ways Senior Dogs Show Their Love

>We all know how we show our dogs affection. If your dogs are like mine, they love belly rubs. The mere mention of a “treat” sends them jumping for joy (even if it’s only a carrot!) All I have to do is pull the leash out and they know we are going for a walk and get very excited. They love, love their walks and all the scents that come along with it. When I’m settling down to watch a movie, they instantly transform into couch potatoes (and in some cases a lap dog) and I pull them close for a cozy snuggle.

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Keeping Your Senior Dog’s Mind Alert Is Very Important

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from mental decline as they age. It’s often uppermost in our minds that dogs need physical exercise to stay healthy. What we often forget is that dogs – particularly senior dogs – need mental stimulation as well.

As dogs age, they can experience mental deterioration which is referred to as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS).  Think of it as “pet dementia”. It is so prevalent that signs of cognitive dysfunction syndrome are found in 50 percent of dogs over the age of 11, and by the age of 15, 68 percent of dogs display at least one sign. The signs may include:

  • Restlessness
  • Disorientation
  • Anxiety
  • Excessive licking
  • Lack of desire to play
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite

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Consider Fostering a Senior Dog

dog fostering HelpEmUpAs the holidays are upon us, we often think about those who may be less fortunate, out in the cold, need a warm meal or just a little help.  Many people “adopt a family” through their church or a charitable group, providing the family with some basics and much-needed help.

It’s also important to consider this for animals.  If you have the chance or means, please consider fostering a dog.  Many pets have been relocated because of the floods and hurricanes we experienced earlier in the year and now find themselves in shelters through no fault of their own. This is particularly true for senior dogs who are less desirable than puppies. Rescue groups are in desperate need of foster parents who can provide temporary homes until a “forever” home can be located.

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Be Careful of the Bones You Give Your Dog

As you go through the pet department and see all the treats and bones, you may be tempted to buy some for your dog. Different vets have differing opinions on feeding your dog bones, but we all know that most dogs love bones. There are a lot of misconceptions about dog bones so it is important to know the facts versus myths.

If you are going to give your dog a bone, it’s very important to your dog’s health to give him the right type of bone. First let’s discuss the pros and cons.

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Preparing Your Senior Dog to the Vet

Many of us fear going to the doctor or dentist. The office can have an antiseptic smell and we often associate the visit with shots.

It’s no different for dogs. Although taking them to the vet is essential for their health and well-being, a visit can be distressing for our canine companions. Not only will they encounter hundreds of new smells, slippery floors, and strange people, but they may also hear barking dogs, meowing cats, and strange voices. The experience may be overwhelming for even the most mellow dog.

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Choosing the Right Vet For Your Senior Dog

After you and your family, one of the most important individuals in your dog’s life will be his/her vet.  He will be the one helping you with your dog’s nutrition, health and care. As many of us have senior dogs, there needs can be quite different than puppies or even middle-aged dogs. Therefore, it is important to choose a veterinarian wisely.

Get a Reference
The best place to start is with your friends and family, local rescues or shelters, groomers, dog trainers or pet sitters, particularly if they live in your neighborhood and feel the same way about your pet as you do. The worse time to introduce your dog to a new vet is when he’s not feeling well. Consider making a “get to know you” appointment so you can see if it is a good fit.

Friendliness
Just like children and doctors, many dogs and cats are afraid to go to the vet. Was the front desk staff nice? Is the vet calm with a good bedside manner? Is it fairly easy to get an appointment if there is an emergency? A full waiting room can be good, because that means your vet is well liked. However, no one wants to wait an hour before even being seen! Continue reading

Does Your Older Dog Sleep A Lot?

As humans age, we often sleep less deeply and wake up more during the night, causing many of us to take naps during the day (if we can get away with it). According to the Sleep Foundation, healthy adults need seven to nine hours of sleep nightly.

Many of our dogs sleep more than we do. Adult dogs generally sleep 12 – 14 hours/day, whereas puppies and older dogs require more, ranging from 15 – 18 hours/day. Unlike humans who generally receive eight hours of consecutive sleep, dogs sleep on and off throughout the day. In fact, 30% of a dog’s day is resting, while 20% is consumed with activity.

Does your dog sleep more than this? Are you worried? Don’t be unless your dog’s habits suddenly change. Dogs sleep different amounts depending on their breed, age, sex, and environment.

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How to Recognize If Your Older Dog Is In Pain

When children are hurt, you can often tell by their screams or the expression on their faces. When dogs are in pain or hurting it can be hard to tell.

If you step on their paw accidentally, they may respond with a loud help. However, it is part of the animal instinct not to show they are hurting as the pack may see it as a sign of weakness.

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Could Your Senior Dog Be Suffering from Hypothyroidism?

If your normally sweet dog suddenly becomes grumpy, aggressive, or begins to snap at you or other dogs, a trip to the vet is definitely in order. Sudden behavioral problems are indicative of many senior dog’s illnesses, one being hypothyroidism.

There are 5 main senior dog illnesses that are prevalent among older dogs that dog owners should be concerned about. These include:

Here we will talk about hypothyroidism.

What is Hypothyroidism?

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland in the neck that produces the thyroxine hormones. According to WebMD, “hypothyroidism is a clinical condition resulting from a lowered production and release of T4 and T3 hormones by the thyroid gland.”

It is an autoimmune disorder that certain breeds are genetically predisposed to or can be influenced by environmental factors such as: chemicals in medicines, flea and tick products, heartworm drugs and vaccines.

Hypothyroidism is an illness that affects all breeds, but it is more common in golden retrievers, Doberman pinchers, Irish setters, dachshunds, boxers, and cocker spaniels.  It usually happens in middle-aged dogs (ages 4 to 10) of medium to large breeds. Neutered males and spayed females also have a higher risk, but vets aren’t exactly sure why.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism

  • Hair loss on trunk, back of legs, ad tail
  • Excessive hair shedding
  • Dull and thin coat
  • Flaky skin or black patches of skin
  • Slower heart rate
  • Toenail and ear infections
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle loss
  • Intolerance to cold

Unfortunately, these symptoms don’t occur until 70 percent of the thyroid is already damaged! And once the thyroid is damaged, it doesn’t regenerate. So, instead of waiting for these symptoms to appear, it’s really important to recognize the early symptoms that may indicate a damaged thyroid

Treatment for hypothyroidism

Your vet will run some routine lab tests including a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. Based on the results of these tests, your vet may also run an endocrine panel.

The good news is that once diagnosed, hypothyroidism can be easily and affordably treated and is rarely fatal. Your dog will have to take an oral prescription for his remaining years and will be placed on a daily dose of a synthetic thyroid hormone called thyroxine (levothyroxine). Or, there are many natural therapies that may help before resorting to conventional synthetic thyroid replacement.

At HelpEmUp, we want to give you enough information about your senior dog to make informed decisions.