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4 Tips for Caring for a Senior Pet

Author: MayaAndPierson
September 21, 2016

Dog Vet

Just like humans, many pets are living longer today. Thanks to improved veterinary care and dietary guidelines, pets are enjoying longer lives with their loved ones. However, the longer lifespan of our pets often means that owners and veterinarians must know how to care for pets during their senior years. Most veterinarians agree that cats and dogs reach the geriatric stage at age seven, though some larger breeds of dogs are considered to be seniors when they are six because of their shorter lifespans. If you have a pet nearing their senior years, you may be concerned about how to best care for them. We offer four tips for caring for a senior pet below, so that you can help ease your four-legged friend into their twilight years more easily.

  1. See your veterinarian regularly

While old age certainly is not an illness, it does carry with it certain health concerns that become more prevalent. That’s why regularly scheduling visits with your veterinarian is a good idea as your pets age. Being proactive will help your vet identify health problems sooner, and it is much less expensive to prevent disease in your older animals than it is to treat it.

You also may consider asking your veterinarian to conduct a body condition evaluation of your senior pets during their visits. During these checks, your vet can determine whether your pet is at an ideal weight. Extra weight is not good for animals at any stage of their lives, but it can be especially detrimental to their health during the senior years, which leads to our next tip.

  1. Keep your pet at a healthy weight

It is not in your senior pet’s best interests to be underweight or overweight; yet, studies show that nearly 50% of all dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese, and the percentage increases among senior pets. Obesity in animals is a health risk, just as it is for their human owners. Overweight dogs are at a higher risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, skin diseases, and cancer. They also commonly develop serious joint complications including arthritis and hip dysplasia. Overweight pets also have a more difficult time tolerating heat and breathing.

To keep your senior pet at a healthy weight, choose a high-quality food that is appropriate for his species, age, and size. Your veterinarian can help you determine the best pet food and nutritional mix for your senior pet in addition to how much and how often to feed him. Avoid feeding your pet people food because it contributes to weight gain and can spur other medical problems.

  1. Make sure your senior pet gets plenty of exercise

Of course, regular exercise for your senior pet is one way to help him stay at a healthy weight. However, pet owners need to be sure they are exercising their senior animals in appropriate ways. Discuss exercises with your vet if you are unsure where to begin. In most cases, a daily walk is an ideal exercise for senior pets. If you work and are unable to walk your dog every day, consider hiring a dog walker from a company like Rover. Dog walkers are happy to get your pet outside for a healthy walk when you are unable to do so. Other exercises that usually are safe for aging pets include play periods with toys or family members. Do not play too roughly and make sure your pet has access to water while exercising.

  1. Keep your dog’s teeth healthy

Many owners fail to recognize the importance of dental health for their senior pets. Older dogs and cats are susceptible to bacteria if their teeth have been neglected for a period of time. Tartar builds up and leads to gingivitis, which can allow bacteria to get into your senior pet’s bloodstream and damage his organs. One way to keep your pet’s teeth and gums in good condition is to do regular brushing at home and ask your vet to do yearly cleanings. Monitor your senior pet’s teeth and gums and make sure you report any concerns to your veterinarian immediately.

Pet owners want to see their pets live long, healthy lives. That is possible if you provide proper care for your senior pet and follow the tips we have suggested here.

Image via Pixabay by tpsdave

Article by Caroline Hampton

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Help! My Pet is Locked in the Car!

Author: MayaAndPierson
January 22, 2014
Unlocking the Car

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I would never take my dogs Maya and Pierson anyplace where I had to leave them alone in the car. But as scatter-brained as I can be, it is quite possible I might automatically lock my car with the dogs still inside. With that being said, here is an article written by Elizabeth on behalf of the car insurance company that I have personally been using for over 10 years:

It can be easy to sometimes lock your keys in the car.  Generally, this is more of an annoyance than anything else, but if your pet happens to be inside the car when you accidently lock yourself out, then there is a real problem on your hands.  Roadside assistance is a great way to deal with this issue, because you can use the unlock car service.  Having your pet locked in the car is a very stressful situation, so it’s good to have a plan that you can follow.  Make sure to specifically tell the roadside assistance representative that your pet is locked in the car.  If it is very hot outside, then you may need to take more drastic measures.

While waiting for roadside assistance, monitor your pet closely.  Call their name and check that they are reacting normally.  Also, try not to leave your car unattended if possible.  Once help arrives and your car is unlocked, confirm that your pet still appears to be healthy.  You could even consider bringing your pet to the vet, depending on what the weather was that day and how long your pet was in the car.  Offer your pet water as soon as possible, since they most likely have not had access to it for the duration of being locked in the car.  If it is cold outside, wrap your pet in a blanket and turn the car’s heat up.

Even if you never need to use your roadside assistance club, this program could give you peace of mind.  In addition to roadside assistance, you could also consider bringing a spare key with you.  You may not always remember the spare key, but it would be one more way to help keep your pet safe.

Author Bio: By Elizabeth on behalf of Allstate Motor Club. Visit www.allstatemotorclub.com to learn more about our motor club benefits.

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Holiday Tips from Other Bloggers

Author: MayaAndPierson
December 23, 2013
Sephi and Maya with Antlers

Sephi & Maya 2010

Every year we have a dozen holiday tips for pets to share. But since every pet blogger seems to be doing the exact same thing, we thought we’d share their tips with you. After all, how can we possibly top these other great posts?

Fidose of Reality has some great dog travel tips Dog Travel Dos and Don’ts

They also have some great tips on how to make sure holiday visits are comfortable and safe for your pet 8 Ways to Help Your Dog Survive Holiday Visits

My Brown Newfies talks about how to protect your dog’s paws in winter Keeping Pawtstic Paws Protected in Winter

My Dog Pierson's Fuzzy Paw

Check your dog’s paws for ice or other debris.

That Mutt talks about giving cats as Christmas presents

And Wag the Dog reminds us of some holiday pet hazards Top 5 Holiday Pet Hazards

Maya Playing with Killer's Dog Toy

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree with a stuffed monkey dog toy.

What are your holiday traditions and how do you make sure the holidays are both fun and safe for your furry friends?

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Puppy for Christmas?

Author: MayaAndPierson
December 11, 2013

There is nothing wrong with getting a puppy for Christmas, so long as you are truly ready for one. ( I got Maya right after Thanksgiving. She was my gift to myself.) Check out this great infographic from TheUncommonDog.com:

christmas-doggie

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Poop Patrol While Traveling

Author: MayaAndPierson
November 18, 2013

Scoop That Poop Logo

Welcome to the Scoop that Poop blog hop hosted by Sugar the Golden Retriever. I can’t tell you enough about how important it is to pick up after your dog. This is especially important when you travel with them. Why? Because you want there to be more dog friendly places, right? Parks, rest stops, and hotels are going to be more open about allowing dogs if we pick up after them.

So the next time you travel with your dog, take poop patrol very seriously. Pick up your dog’s poo. If you see someone else’s dog left a little present in the grass or on the sidewalk, it would be really pawsome if you picked that up too. Yes, it is gross. But it is also easy to do.

Join the Scoop that Poop campaign and check out the poop patrol blog hop below.

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July 20, 2013
Dog Sitting Nicely

D a r n  it! I wish I had taken a photo earlier this week of Maya & Pierson sitting nicely when we had guests over.

We had someone from AT&T over the other day to see if they could fix our internet. We were told that our dogs had to be confined while they were here. Why? The AT&T guy that came told me one of his coworkers had recently been bitten in the face by a dog that was supposed to be friendly. Maybe the dog was. But dogs will be dogs. Maya will jump up on people if I am not careful. This can be very dangerous if someone is bending over when they pet her.

So no matter how friendly your dog is, be considerate of your guests. I have a tendency to think, “The dogs live here, you don’t.” But what if Maya jumps on someone and hurts them? It would be my fault. I would be responsible. It doesn’t matter whose house it is. So in order to protect the safety of my guests, here is what I do with Maya and Pierson:

Work on Sit / Stay
Maya gets really excited when people come over. So we’ve been working very hard on the sit and stay commands. I don’t just work with her at home with no distractions, I also work with her when people come over and out in public with other distractions.

Work on No Jumping
I’ve taught Maya not to jump on me, but it has been difficult to keep her from jumping on other people. People don’t know that they shouldn’t pet her unless she is sitting calmly, so it is my responsibility to tell them. When we are at home or on walks and someone wants to pet Maya, I make sure they know that if she gets up or starts to get anxious, back away or turn around and ignore her.

Keep on a Lead
This helps even at home. If Maya is on a leash when guests come over, it helps put her in “work” mode. It also enables me to grab the other end and restrain her if she gets too excited.

Make Sure Pets are Confined
Yes, it is my house. But there will be some cases where it is simply best to confine my dogs. The AT&T guy was just one example. Another situation I have to be careful of because of Maya’s exuberance is when small children come over. Maya is great with kids, but she tends to get so excited that she knocks them over.

What do your dogs do when people come over? Are they challenging like Maya or calm and well-mannered like Pierson? (Sephi was well-mannered too.)

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June 1, 2013
Dog Bailey Got in Trash

A customer shared this photo of her dog Bailey. Notice that Bailey has a banana sticker on his eye.

I am lucky in that my dogs Maya & Pierson don’t get into the trash. I don’t think it has ever occurred to them. My dog Sephi used to, but it did take some training and preventative measures. Not only is it annoying to have to clean up a trash mess, but there are all sorts of dangers to worry about. And it is a common problem. Look over these dangers, and then consider some pet safety training and prevention techniques.

DANGERS

Head Stuck – This one can be more funny than dangerous… funny for you but not your dog. Check out this hilarious video:

Tummy Ache – At the very least, your dog will get a tummy ache from the trash he ate.

Poison – Some foods are poisonous to dogs. Chocolate, for example, although who would put some perfectly good chocolate in the trash. Onions are not good for dogs either. Here is a larger list at HSUS. Food poisoning can also include salmonella. I sometimes take the skin off chicken before I bake it. If I throw that skin in the trash and my dogs get into it a day or so later, they are in great danger of getting salmonella poisoning. Salmonella poisoning can be deadly. And food poisoning is not the only danger. Have you ever thrown away an empty bottle of cleaner? Perhaps it wasn’t completely empty and there was some residue left over.

Gastrointestinal Obstruction – Also consider the danger of gastrointestinal blockage. This can happen from your dog eating bones, aluminum foil, corn on the cob, or other things that your dog’s stomach can’t digest. Gastrointestinal obstruction can cause your dog great distress and can even lead to death. Read more at PetMD.

SAFETY AND PREVENTION

The best way to keep your dogs out of the trash is to prevent them from getting into the trash in the first place. If you have a pantry where the door can close, put your trash can in there. If not, perhaps you can use a small trash can in the kitchen and put it under the kitchen sink. Put baby guards on the cupboard door too. If neither of those places are convenient for you, get a trash can with a lid. A lid that opens when you step on a pedal might work better than a lid where you push open (as evidenced in the above video).

DOG TRAINING

Prevention may not always be easy. Sometimes there is just no good place to put your trash can and perhaps your dog is smart enough to open any trash can lid. Another alternative is to try training. This may not be easy to do and it is not foolproof, but anything you can do to keep your dog out of the trash benefits both you and your best friend.

Control the situation by leaving tempting but not dangerous items in the trash. Leave the room and listen closely. If you hear your dog trying to get in the trash, come out and say, “No!” in a firm voice. You must catch your dog in the act for this to work. It does little good to tell your dog no before or after the incident.

Does your dog get into the trash? Do you think any of these ideas will help? Does anyone have any other ideas to keep your dog out of the trash?

Thank you for your comments and thanks for stopping by for Pet Safety Saturday! 🙂

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May 4, 2013
"I have idiopathic epilepsy (canine epilepsy) and I am still a happy healthy boy... And cute, too."

“I have idiopathic epilepsy (canine epilepsy) and I am still a happy healthy boy… And cute, too.”

If you read yesterday’s post, you know my Aussie mix dog Pierson has recently had another seizure. No worries, though. He is fine. Most dogs that have problems with seizures have what is called idiopathic epilepsy. This sounds terrible, and it can be for a few. But in most cases, it is mild enough and infrequent enough that medication is not even needed. Most dogs with canine epilepsy live long healthy lives.

I’ve never had a dog with seizures before Pierson. But thanks to the internet and all my dog blog friends, I’ve known about canine epilepsy for some time. Because I had foreknowledge, I was able to remain calm when Pierson had his first episode in January. So that you can have foreknowledge too, read through the following facts:

What Can Cause a Seizure in Dogs:

* Brain injury
* Distemper
* Heat stroke
* Vaccines
* Brain tumor
* Poisoning
* Kidney or liver failure
* Low blood sugar
** All these sound scary. But the most common reason for a seizure is idiopathic epilepsy. Idiopathic epilepsy is caused by none of the above. In fact, the cause is not known at all. Veterinarians generally label a dog with seizures as having idiopathic epilepsy when all of the above possible causes for the seizure have been eliminated.

While it may seem frustrating to not know what is causing your dog’s seizure, at least with a diagnosis of idiopathic epilepsy you will know your dog wasn’t poisoned and that he doesn’t have a brain injury. It may also help to know that it is unlikely your dog feels any pain while seizing.

What To Do If Your Dog is having a Seizure:

* Move stuff out of the way so your dog doesn’t hurt themselves on something.
* Don’t put anything in your dog’s mouth.
* Try not to touch your dog while he is seizing.
* Remain calm.
* Call your veterinarian.
* Go to the vet after you have called them. Don’t talk on your phone while driving and remember to drive safe.

To read about Pierson’s first seizure, check out this article of Pierson’s Seizure on my American Dog Blog. Click the links in that article for more detailed information about canine epilepsy.

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April 27, 2013
Maya by Tulips

My dog Maya stole tomatoes out of our garden last year. Thank goodness she doesn’t like to eat tulips.

Last year, Maya stole a lot of cherry tomatoes from the garden. I thought it was funny. But later I found out that tomatoes can be bad for dogs. Too much tomato and it could actually be toxic. So this year, we are going to be a bit more careful about our garden. Here are some things to think about:

Cocoa Mulch
If you have dogs, don’t use cocoa mulch in your flower garden. Cocoa mulch contains a chemical in the cocoa called theobromine. This chemical is poisonous do dogs. And because the mulch smells so good, dogs want to eat it.

Pesticides
Before putting any pesticides in your garden, check the label to make sure it is not harmful to pets. Consider natural remedies such as non-toxic soapy water sprayed on your plants.

Fertilizer
As with pesticides, check the label of plant fertilizers to make sure it is not harmful to pets.

Plants that can Cause Allergic Reactions
There are several plants that can make dogs itch or have other allergic reactions. Some of these plants include the purple leaf velvet plant, a male juniper bush, and daylilies.

Plants Toxic to Dogs
The ASPCA has a very comprehensive list of toxic plants. It even has tomatoes on it. There are 392 entries so far. So rather than go through one by one, know what you want to plant and search the list for that specific plant – ASPCS Plants Toxic to Dogs

Compost
It’s no secret that dogs love garbage! Make sure your dogs can’t get into the compost. Even if you are careful about what you put in the compost pile, you really don’t want your dog to eat it. Make sure your compost is out of reach of your dogs.

Fleas and Ticks
Since we have wild rabbits living under our shed, it is likely that they carry fleas and ticks too. So I make sure my dogs are protected.

Put Tools Away
Keep your tools put away so your dog can’t get to them. Not only do you not want them to step on them and cut themselves on sharp edges, but you also don’t want them to chew on them.

The easiest way to keep your dog out of your garden is to prevent him from being able to get into the garden in the first place. This year, I am having a fence put around our vegetable garden. Are you going to plant a flower or vegetable garden this year? What does your dog think about it?

 

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Dogs & Kurgo 2

You might think I’m going to talk about a seat belt for dogs or a pet travel crate, but I’m not. Sure, these things most certainly can help, especially for safety, but a dog that doesn’t ride well in the car is not going to do much better in a restraint. They might try to escape the seat belt (and succeed) or they will absolutely hate riding in the carrier. So what is the number one way to help a dog ride well in the car? Training!

In order to ride well in the car, your dog has to learn how to ride well. This takes time and it can be difficult. I should know. I am still working with my crazy Labrador Maya. It is taking me even longer to teach Maya to ride well in the car because I am not consistent. I know that in order to train Maya, I need to work with her nearly every day. If I can just do that, riding with Maya would be so much more pleasant and less distracting.

There are different reasons why dogs don’t ride well in the car. Sometimes they tend to get car sick, like my Pierson. Sometimes they are really nervous about riding in the car. And some, like Maya, just go absolutely bananas in the car. So how does training help a dog ride well in the car? Visit our website for a great article titled, How to Travel with a Dog in a Car.

Thanks for stopping by! Visit us again next Pet Safety Saturday. 🙂

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