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March 19, 2017

Caring For Senior Dogs

Senior DogsHave you heard of the Dane term Hygge- visit (pronounced Hooga)? I embrace this “feeling” when I’m with all my dogs but Bruisy (now 12+) especially. Hooga means “the recipe for a better life”. Clearly my life is better because of my dogs. Bruisy and I are as thick as thieves. I think Hygge defines how I feel about my life with Walter, Sherm and Brui.

We cannot expect our senior dogs to have the same energy level and spunk they’ve had most of their lives. This is heart breaking for most of us. So! It’s important to step it up as they age as enrichment is key. We have wonderful resources here in Portland, Oregon and I’m sure you do as well where you live. I live with a precious senior mini doxie, Bruiser. While he’s slowed down over the years – we still get out for three walks a day and hikes on the weekend. Bruiser’s mind is sharp even if his body is aging. He was diagnosed with IVDD years ago and with crate rest and acupuncture he didn’t need surgery.

Fast forward –in 2017 Bruiser turns 13 years young!

There are other activities you should consider! Massage, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, Nosework and the list goes on. Luckily, there are experts for all of these activities to help keep senior dogs (and cats) mentally and physically stimulated. Even a car ride is a way to enrich your dog!

Note that you should always consult with your Veterinarian first but be an advocate for your older dog and ask them what makes sense. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Massage: I attended a dog massage class years ago and brought my dog Shermie. We learned basic strokes and it was fabulous – so much so, Shermie actually fell asleep. A lot of pet stores will partner with massage therapists that offer classes for pet parents. Massage relieves stress, maintains health, increases circulation of the blood and lymphatic systems, increases flexibility and range of motion
    • Read more:
  • Acupuncture:Well – to be honest, without Acupuncture Bruiser’s hiking days are limited. Being outdoors is one of the best ways to build resilience in our dogs so I cannot let anything get in our way! Bruiser has been receiving regular sessions once a month for over three years – more here in my post about the many benefits. We use Acupuncture mainly for pain reduction in Bruiser’s upper thoracic area.
  • Nosework: A dog that is slowly losing their sight would LOVE Nosework. I’ve been doing this sport with my dogs for years now and as they older they continue to thrive in class and it’s probably one of their happiest moments during the week! Nosework is a sport where dogs search for one of three odors in boxes. The odor is paired with food and it encourages hunting behavior. More can be found here: (The National Association of Nosework)
  • Hydrotherapy:Water therapyis a modality that many senior animals benefit from. Dogs that have arthritis can benefit or a senior that needs to lose weight and walking or hiking is no longer a viable option. Look for a wonderful physical therapy and fitness center for dogs that offer this therapy in your area!   

Senior Dogs

Christine Caplan is our guest blogger. With deep experience, managing Earned Media campaigns for consumer lifestyle brands, dog related/animal wellness companies, and building products, Christy’s strength is in developing digital marketing strategies and grassroots campaigns that connect with everyday people. What makes Christy’s heart race at the end of her day is coming home to her three hounds.   Christine is a mMember of the Dog Writers Association of America as of August 2016. 


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