Better health for aging dogs

Filed under: aging dog, Dog health product, Natural dog care | No Comments »

As Vance ages (he’s nearly 13!), we’ve worked really hard to keep him healthy. We’ve switched him to a senior dog food and he takes several supplements.

I thought I’d round up the things we use with Vance, but of course know that you should always check with your vet when you introduce something new–especially with an older dog.

Our active aging Labrador has definitely been slowing down. He has arthritis in his spine and that keeps him from enjoying running as much as he used to. He just had a thorough check up at the vet and his numbers are all really good (knock wood that continues!), so I thought I’d do a round up of the modifications we’ve made and the supplements we’ve added.

So, what might be helpful for caring for an aging dog?

This Solvit 62320 Deluxe XL Telescoping Pet Ramp is great because you can lengthen it–that makes it really convenient for a wide variety of uses. (Unlike some ramps which are set to one size, so you’d need several for different uses–like, one to help the dog into the car, and one to help him up the front porch stairs, for instance.) It’s solid and sturdy and has a great no-slip surface. We’re not the only ones who like it–as of this writing, it’s got 460 5-star reviews on Amazon.

Vance is always hot these days, and the vet recommended we keep him as cool as possible. With temperatures rising, we decided to get him a cooling mat, especially for night time when he’d prefer we set the thermostat below 60 degrees (otherwise he gets hot fast) and we wind up too cold to sleep. So, this mat means we can leave the air conditioner a little higher and he stays cool. He likes it on top of his LL Bean bed.

Our vet recommended
to support Vance’s bones and joints. It’s got great reviews on Amazon, and we’ve definitely seen a difference in his flexibility. What’s more, he likes ’em, which goes a long way with a dog who’s becoming a bit of a reluctant eater (shocking, right? a Labrador with no appetite…)

To keep Vance’s liver healthy, the vet recommended
. His liver test worried the vet in October (honestly, I don’t entirely know what that means), but at his check up in July, his numbers are back in the normal range, so it seems like this is working really well for him. Obviously, as with all supplements, check with your vet!

The vet also recommended a probiotic (
) and though we hadn’t noticed any digestive issues, he’s been sleeping better since we started it (no idea if they’re related–that’s what happens when the vet gives you a list of several things to try all at once!) and he’s also been much more interested in eating his food. As I said above, he’s been moving more easily lately, and the reviews on this product do say that others see that with their dogs as well.

For dog food, we feed Vance
and he was really liking it until this recent appetite issue. (The vet thinks he’s having a problem with his throat–apparently it’s something that happens sometimes to older labs, and that if he’s choking as he eats, it would make him less inclined to eat his food. We’re trying a new pain reliever to see if that helps.) His coat is as healthy as ever. And, if you’ve been reading along for awhile, you know Vance has dog food allergies but this food doesn’t bother him at all.

So, these are some of the things we’ve been doing to keep our older Labrador retriever dog as healthy as possible. It’s really important to us that Vance have a happy, healthy life.

Do you have an older dog? What do you do to optimize your dog’s health?

How to cut a dog’s nails without blood or pain

Filed under: Dog Grooming | No Comments »

I hate cutting Vance’s toenails. Hate it, hate it, hate it! Which means I leave it too long and then they grow out too much and the quick grows out further into the nail.

The reason I hate it is because I know it hurts him if I cut too close, plus it’s scary to make him bleed.

I just watched this video from The Dog Training Guys that gave me something I can’t wait to try, though. They walk you through (on video) a simple approach for how to cut a dog’s toenails without making them bleed. Easy peasy!

I know Vance will be so happy I’ve learned this if it actually works. And your dog will probably appreciate you learning this technique too, so hop over to their site and check it out. (While you’re there, definitely check out what else they offer–they’re really smart guys with a lot of useful resources.)

When good dogs get sick

Filed under: Healthy Dog, Natural dog care | No Comments »

So, Vance had a bit of a stomach upset this weekend (ate something he shouldn’t have–he’s such a Lab!) and that got me thinking about how others handle when their dogs are sick.

We don’t rush Vance to the vet just because he’s thrown up (especially if we know what he’s been into and that it’s not dangerous like in this case), but he’s a big dog and I think I’d feel differently if he were small (much like it’s different when your kids get sick as babies versus when they’re in elementary school). Because he’s big, that means it takes a bit longer for him to get dehydrated or to suffer other side effects from being sick.

We have hard wood floors throughout the house (with tile in the kitchen), so it’s not as big a deal if someone gets sick–it’s easier to clean up–but we still keep Vance confined when he’s not feeling well. That’s mostly just to keep him from racing crazily through the house and making himself sicker, but if we had carpets, that would likely factor in as well.

I’d love to know how you approach when your dog gets sick–do you head to the vet straightaway? Do you tap certain at home medications and treatments? (Here, we sometimes put a few drops of a dog-safe, appropriate essential oil in Vance’s water.) Do you keep your dog in their crate, or spend extra time giving them cuddles? How do you help your good dog feel better?