Does your dog’s breath knock you out? When he tries to plant sloppy kisses on your face do you cringe from the odor? Most dogs suffer from terrible breath at one time or another, and it is quite common among senior dogs. Some struggle with horrible halitosis throughout their entire lives.
We have all heard the adage: “with age comes wisdom.” If you already have an older dog and are introducing a new pack member, much can be learned from the senior dog. Just like older siblings teach the younger kids both good and bad habits, so too do dogs.
Dogs often mimic the behavior of other dogs. According to Psychology Today, this is called allelomimetic behaviors by the scientific community. In other words, when you bring a puppy into your home with an older dog present, this can greatly reduce the training time. It is a well-known fact that dogs watch the behaviors of other dogs and try to gather useful information from their observations. Dogs will often model the behaviors of other dogs when there seems to be advantage to be gained.
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.
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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.
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
I talk to my dog all the time and yes, he does talk back. Studies have shown that the average dog knows about 165 words, but mine is much smarter than that! I’m sure yours is too.
Wouldn’t you love to know sometimes what your aging dog is thinking? When he gives you “that look”? He is more in tune to your feelings than you know. I’ll bet if your dogs could tell you what’s on their mind, here are a few things they would want you to know.
- We both need to exercise more. I know, I know exercise is work. After a long day, you want to watch TV, play some video games or talk to your friends on your cell phone. Personally, I’m content just to lay by your feet and be lazy as I get older. As much as we’d like to be couch potatoes, we need to get up and move more! Exercise will keep both our minds and body healthy, plus it’s something we can do together.
- I may be old, but I’m not ready to be put out to pasture yet. I may not be able to chase balls or run as fast as I used to, but I still have a lot of life left in me. Sure, our walks are shorter and it takes me longer to get up from sleeping. I’m just a little slower!
- I really do miss you when you are gone. You know when you walk in the door and I am so excited to see you? I truly get lonely when you’re gone. Maybe you could leave me a to do list like you do with the kids … I’m not just another pretty face you know. I could organize my toy bin (by the way, my toys are looking a little raggedy. Is there some new ones in my future?)
- I get jealous when you come home smelling like another dog! Are you cheating on me?
- I’m not as dumb as you think. You know how you try and disguise my arthritis pills or medicine by wrapping it in a piece of meat or peanut butter? No matter how you try and disguise it, it still tastes yucky. You’re not fooling me.
- You are the center of my universe. You may have other friends and family and a job to go to, but you are all I have. You are my whole world. I love you unconditionally, even when you are crabby or having a bad day. You can do no wrong in my eyes. You are my best friend. I live to make you happy.
- I make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. Don’t yell at me if I have an accident in the house. Don’t be mad if I sometimes get confused. Don’t tell me not to beg for food then sneak me table scraps. Sometimes I get mixed messages from you. I’m not being bad because I am angry at you. I’m may be scared, bored or frustrated but the concept of “revenge” is a human one not a canine one.
- I’m not as cute as I once was. Sure when I was a puppy. I was adorable. Now my muzzle is graying and my hearing and sight is fading. My coat is not as shiny and I have picked up a few pounds. I have watched you age as well. I love you as much today as the day you brought me home.
- You must love me until death do us part. Please don’t turn your back on me because I am getting older. I have watched you lovingly take care of your elderly parents. You too will grow old. Hopefully we will grow old together.
- I’m a good listener. I am always here for you. When you are sad, stressed out or in pain, I know it. I am very perceptive about your emotions. If your head is hanging low, I may ask for you to pet me, not because I want to interrupt you, but because I am trying to distract you. I trust you and I need you to trust me. I may not always understand your words, but I understand your tone of voice and your body language. Let me comfort you when you’re sad – it will make me feel better
And the most important? Don’t cry for me when I am gone. Celebrate the life we had together. We had a good run my friend.
All across America, vets begin testing dogs (and cats) for heart worm in April, which is why April is National Heart Worm Awareness Month. It used to be that heart worm was only prevalent in certain parts of the country. Unfortunately, it has now been detected in all 50 states, with the disease spreading to new regions of the country every year. For instance, after Hurricane Katrina, 250,000 pets with heart worm were sent across the country to be adopted.
What is Heart Worm?
Heart worm is a disease caused by foot-long worms (heart worms) that live in the heart, lungs and blood vessels of affected pets, potentially causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. It can not only affect dogs and cats, but wolves, coyotes, ferrets and foxes as well. Heart worms live inside a dog, mature and mate, potentially causing several hundred heart worms in a dog.
How is Heart Worm Transmitted?
Heart worm is transmitted through infected mosquitoes. Once a pet is bitten it can take up to 6 months for the heart worms to grow. Heart worms can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs and up to 2 or 3 years in cats. Fortunately, humans can’t get heart worm from their pets. Continue reading
Beauty counters are filled with creams, wands, and magic potions to help keep us younger looking. However, what’s more important than looking younger is feeling younger, so that no matter your age, you feel healthy and happy.
The same holds true for our dogs. As dog owners, we want to do everything we can to help our older dogs feel good as long as possible, even into their senior years. We spoil them, play with them, and coddle them when they are sick.
There’s always more that we could be doing and it’s never too late to bump up the level of care we provide for them.
Without a doubt, puppies are adorable. They are so cute, playful, and energetic. If you are visiting an animal shelter, it’s hard to resist their cuddliness just begging to be adopted.
However, senior dogs have many advantages over puppies. Generally, a senior dog is considered a dog over the age of seven years-old. They are often overlooked in shelters, seeming to pale in the glow of the cuter puppies. Before you choose a new dog to become a member of your family, know that there are some specific benefits to older dogs.
Because there is no Fountain of Youth, your dog ages just like we do. We get older, heavier, slower, and often crankier. These changes happen to your dog as well.
Without a doubt, dogs age faster than people. Although conventional wisdom tells us that one human year equals seven dog years, there are too many factors and variations that can affect this oversimplification. However, researchers agree that the term “senior” applies to large dogs around ages six or seven and small dogs in their teens. Size and breed often determine how fast a dog ages.
Senior dogs often have special care requirements that are different than puppies or younger dogs. It’s important to understand the difference between normal aging in your dog and warning signs of an illness. Knowing what to expect will keep you one step ahead of your pack: