Old age creeps up on everyone, but for dogs it often comes way too soon. Often, people don't realize their dog is slowing down until the dog is very old. It's better to be aware and monitor your dog's health and behaviors in the earliest stages of old age. For the average dog, old age is considered to start around six to ten years of age.

Keeping up with Old Age

How to Care For a Senior Dog

Although old age is inevitable, there are some things that can slow it down and other things that can keep your older dog comfortable longer. As a minimum, there are three signs you should watch and three veterinary tests to keep up.

Personally Conducted Tests

1. Does your dog seem to have hearing or vision trouble?

Test your dog frequently and make note of changes: Does he respond to your voice? Does he bump into things? Does he seem to get lost in his own yard? Is it easier to sneak up on him? Don't rely on your own tests alone. Take the notes from your results to the veterinarian and let the doctor test your dog as well. The doctor will usually be able to notice changes sooner than you will.

2. Keep notes about your dog's activity and diet.

Watch for signs of arthritis, loss of hearing or sight, loss of appetite and unusual gait. If your dog is slow to come when called or seems to get lost in the yard, it could be a sign of deafness or vision trouble - or it could be a sign of senility. If your dog seems to lose its appetite, it could mean dental problems, digestion problems or pain. Tiring more easily and sleeping more are usually normal, but a sudden or dramatic change in either should also be mentioned to the veterinarian.

3. It's not always easy to know the source of the problem.

For that reason, it's recommended that aging dogs see their veterinarian every six months even if they seem to be doing well. The more frequent wellness checkup helps your veterinarian more readily notice slight changes and get to the root of the problem quickly. Many dogs have suffered for years, needlessly, because their owners simply didn't understand there was a problem. Older dogs may slow down but they still want attention, playtime, walks and treats. Any change in those desires is likely a symptom.

Be sure the veterinary examination is thorough. A senior dog's examination should always include the skin, joints, eyes, ears, feet and more frequent blood work. There are some areas the veterinarian should pay particular attention to:

Veterinarian Conducted Tests

4. Blood Work

More frequent blood work is necessary for senior dogs. Many vets recommend a baseline for blood work should be taken, depending on your vet's recommendation, when your dog is healthy and around five to seven years old. This will show your dog's natural blood profile, so the doctor can compare future changes against the baseline. From there, your veterinarian will suggest the frequency of blood work, based on your dog's overall health at the six-month examination.

5. X-Ray

In some cases, your veterinarian may suggest radiographs (x-rays) or other tests to better understand problems such as arthritis. These can show arthritis or other, more serious problems that could be masquerading as arthritis.

6. Skin Tests

A thorough skin examination should always be done. You can help with this by noticing and tracking any lumps, bumps or growths that you see when grooming and petting your dog. Most of these will be benign, but some will require attention or a biopsy. The biopsy is a minor procedure that allows the vet to send a sample from the growth to the lab to determine if there are cancerous cells in the growth.

There are challenges to living with a geriatric dog, but the end results are well worth any of the challenges. Enjoy your older dog in his twilight years and take the extra steps to keep him as healthy and comfortable as possible. When it's time, be ready to let go, and stay with him to the end.


Erika Remmington

This article was written by Erika Remmington. Erika is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her husband and 18 month old daughter. Click here to contact Erika.



Information Credit to Central Animal Emergency Clinic, a Vancouver Veterinary Hospital.

By Natalie Gomez on May 13, 2014 at 10:00 am 0 Comments
Repost This

For many pet owners, maintaining an environmentally conscious lifestyle can be difficult. Although humans have reached the point where green solutions to common problems are aplenty, there is still a considerable amount of progress to be made in the animal kingdom.

Green Dog

Unfortunately, many pet products lack biodegradability, can be hazardous to the environment and can even degrade the health of your furry friends.  If you’re concerned with the effect that these products have on the environment, never fear, there are green solutions for pet owners everywhere.


Keeping your pets contained and safe from harm is priority number one. To the dismay of many pet lovers, runaways, thefts and other related deaths are still rampant in the animal world and claim so many lives each year. Fortunately there are ways to extend the lifespan of your pets while still preserving Mother Nature. 

  • A wireless dog fence can save you money, reduce consumption of natural resources and allow for complete control of your pet’s environment. It’s also easy to install, an excellent space saver and entirely humane.
  • Constructing a dog house or scratching post from materials around the house isn’t as difficult as some people make it out to be. It may be a bit of a weekend project, but your pets will love you for it.
  • Dogs and cats are great at entertaining themselves. Whether it’s an empty plastic bottle, or a discarded paper bag, giving them something to play with will keep them happy and loyal.


If you’re like most people, stepping in dog doo can really ruin your day. As common as it is, what most people don’t realize is its effect on the environment. Even though it’s a dirty job, cleaning up after your pet is not only a service to your community, but also a quick and easy way to upkeep environmental conditions.

  • Using environmentally sound disposable bags to clean up fecal matter reduces overall waste and prevents harmful bacteria from seeping into the Earth.
  • Most kitty litter is made from clay obtained through strip mining. You can combat this by only buying biodegradable litter made from wheat, corn, reclaimed wood or old newspapers.
  • If your pets don’t “make it to the newspaper” in time, use environmentally friendly household cleaners to assess the mess.  


It should come as no surprise that the foods you consume have a direct effect on your wellbeing. The same is true for your pets, and although it may be easy to buy the same dog food every time, paying attention to ingredients can be beneficial to your pets. You may not be able to get your cat to go vegan, but supplementing her diet with healthier options is highly recommended.

  • Introducing pumpkin into your dog’s diet through homemade treats can soothe stomach pains and ease digestion.
  • Frozen cat treats made from blended sardines and krill are a healthy snack for the hottest of summer days.
  • Before adopting a vegan diet for your dog or cat, be sure you do your research. Dogs have an easier time adjusting, but cats have been known to develop urinary tract issues when not fed adequate amounts of meat. Consult a veterinarian before making any drastic changes to what your pets eat. 

Pupsicles - Gus Sits

Ensuring the health and safety of your pets doesn’t have to be harmful to the environment. In fact, many green solutions prove more advantageous to both the wellbeing of your pets and the ground they walk on. So, next time you’re at the pet store, be conscious of your purchases and reach for a greener alternative. After all, this world is as much theirs as it is ours.

When Adam Holmes isn’t scooping poo, he’s lost in the lines of his notebook, writing about pet care. He’s had dogs and cats all his life and does his best to stay up-to-date on how to keep them healthy.
By Lauren Colman on Aug 07, 2013 at 6:00 am 0 Comments
Repost This

What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is a respiratory illness in dogs that is similar to a chest cold in humans.  As a form of bronchitis, it can be caused either by a virus or bacteria. It gets the name “kennel cough” because of its highly contagious nature—and because kennels are often crowded, many dogs catch the infliction there. Fortunately, kennel cough is a fairly mild affliction—with a little TLC, your dog should feel better in no time.

 Kennel Cough


The main symptom of kennel cough is a dry cough.  Some dogs also have symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose—just like us when we catch a cold. Usually, you won’t notice much of a change in your dog’s overall health, apart from the cough. For example, they will usually still have an appetite, be able to enjoy daily walks and other everyday activities. There may be some phlegm, but this is not usually cause for concern.


How can my dog catch kennel cough? 

Kennel cough is very contagious, so your dog is quite likely to catch kennel cough if it comes into contact with his infected furry friends. Because of this, dogs infected with kennel cough should be isolated from other pets.

As the name would suggest, many dogs develop kennel cough in kennels—crowded, poorly ventilated spaces will increase your dog’s chances of catching kennel cough.



Luckily, most cases of kennel cough will clear up over time; however, there are ways to help ease your dog through its bout of sickness. For example, using a vaporizer can be a great, natural way to soothe your dog’s breathing passage. It will help with the symptoms of kennel cough and help your dog be more comfortable—the vapor will help suppress your dog’s coughs.

There are also prescription cough suppressants and antibiotics out there to help your dog return to full health more quickly—contact your local vet if you are interested in such options. 

You can also get your dog vaccinated—either through injection, or by nasal spray—against kennel cough. Unfortunately, vaccines are not a guarantee against sickness; much like the flu, there are so many strains that a vaccination might not protect your dog from falling ill.


How long will it last, and should you see a vet?

Kennel cough will typically run its course within three or so weeks. Sometimes older dogs, or dogs with more compromised immune systems, can take up to six weeks to fully recover. 

Be sure to keep a close eye on your dog. If you feel that the infection is taking too long to clear up—the bronchitis form of kennel cough can develop into pneumonia. It should also be noted that if your dog is showing additional symptoms (such as rapid breathing, a decreased appetite or listlessness), you should make sure and contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Kennel cough, though uncomfortable for your dog, is generally not a dangerous affliction.  Plus, there are lots of ways (vaporizers, antibiotics, vaccinations. etc.) to help both prevent and treat kennel cough. Get well soon, Lassie!


Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer from Southern California whose writing specializes in pet health, travel, vacationing and fitness. She has two Great Danes of her own that she treats with vaccinations before they take a visit to a kennel. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook today!


By Lauren Colman on Jun 17, 2013 at 12:10 pm 0 Comments
Repost This