Better health for aging dogs

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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?

Dog DNA test?

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Have you seen the ads for the new dog DNA tests? Yowza! I can’t imagine being that curious (though they’re not super pricey) about my dog’s ancestry.

But, I could see these as being a really valuable tool for rescue organizations, especially with puppies. One of the big concerns of most adoptive families is how big (or small) the dog will be full-grown, and that’s a question that can be hard to answer when the shelter doesn’t know much about the pup’s parents. So, a test like this could certainly help the shelter guesstimate the dog’s size and temperament.

It could also be really helpful for shelters to be able to advertise less common breeds because often people are looking for a specific type of dog when they want to adopt, and this way the shelter could accurately describe the dog instead of listing it as a “terrier” or “shepherd mix” based on little more than that the dog has a lot of energy or seems really smart.

What do you think? Would you have your dog’s dna tested? Would you want to know a dog’s ancestry before adopting it from a shelter?

Blue Buffalo Dog Food and Allergies

Filed under: Dog allergies, Dog health product, Healthy Dog, Healthy Dog Food | Comments Off on Blue Buffalo Dog Food and Allergies

If your dog has food allergies, it can be really difficult to find a good brand of dog food. Symptoms of allergies include chronic ear infections, licking of the paws or rubbing the nose after eating, hot spots, excessive itchiness, and red eyes. (Of course, all of these can also be symptoms of other, more serious health conditions, so always talk with your vet when you notice symptoms like these.)

Previously, we fed our allergic dog Canidae and he liked it very much. We liked that it was known as a high-quality dog food and the price was still affordable. Sadly, they changed the formula. Fortunately, Vance’s only problems were an upset tummy (other dogs have gotten much sicker), but we were disappointed to have to begin the dog food quest again.

Choosing a new dog food is such a headache–there are so many brands on the market (and not every pet food shop carries every brand), and then within each brand there’s an excessive number of varieties. It’s enough to make me feed the dog nothing but rice and beans! (Don’t worry, I wouldn’t really. But it *is* frustrating.)

So, this last time, we tried a number of premium foods including California Naturals, Flint River, and Evo. He had allergic reactions to all of them (and we fed each for a month, just to be sure it was the new food and not residual allergies).

I was starting to feel very frustrated, and our vet had no specific suggestions (other than to keep trying new foods until we found the right one). Enter Blue Buffalo. Vance is now on his third bag of dog food (he’s 80lbs and the bags typically last about 5-6 weeks, though he’s been eating a bit more lately because it’s been so cold). He loves the stuff and gobbles it down with a vigor he doesn’t usually have for his morning meal. Alone, that wouldn’t be enough–just because I love ice cream doesn’t mean it’s good for me.

But, the ingredients list of Blue Buffalo is really solid, and we did extra research online and with our vet to find out if it would meet all of his nutritional needs.

And, best of all, no allergic reaction to the dog food! His ear infections have cleared up, he’s not itchy, and he doesn’t spend 20 minutes licking his front paws after eating.

We’re feeding the Adult Lamb and are very happy with it so far–Vance’s coat looks great, thick and healthy and shiny, and he’s got plenty of energy. If you’d like to support this site when you pick yours up (and get a discount, to boot), use the link in the sidebar to purchase from our favorite dog food supplier Pet Food Direct.

What do you feed your dog? And have you had any trouble with allergies?