How to Help Senior Dogs with Arthritis

20 Jul

old goldens

We can’t avoid our dog’s progression in age, but we can ease the transition from fit adult to senior. As dogs grow older, they typically develop some degree of arthritis, and may even had hip dysplasia or other ailments that affect their joints and movement. It’s a natural part of aging, and the body’s way of telling your pup to slow down and stop to smell some roses—but we can help them along with this phase of their lives and make life a whole lot easier with just a few simple steps.

How can you help your senior dog deal with his arthritis? Some things you may already be doing (it’s just good common sense!) and some you may not have considered. If you’re worried that your dog’s mobility has really begun to suffer, you may need to consult your veterinarian for a more focused approach on one treatment—but there are still some simple steps you can take at home and in your daily routine to help your old “pup” out!

Weight Control

A lot of our steps will have a lot to do (either directly or indirectly) with proper weight control. Just like us, when your dog’s body is carrying more weight than it needs to, it’s adding that stress right to its joints. Proper weight control through nutrition and physical fitness will really help ease the stress your dog’s aging bones and joints feel day to day.

Change in Diet

As your dog gets older and becomes a little less active, it may be time to talk to your vet about a change in diet. Less physical activity means they don’t need all those extra calories found in a regular, healthy adult dog’s food. You may also need to start tapering back their portion size to avoid over-eating and weight gain.

Supplements

Adding a few “extras” to their meals may greatly improve their overall health and quality of life. Things like fish oils, chicken powder, coconut oils, turmeric, dog food protein, and Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate supplements are worth looking into and talking to your vet about to see which is best for your dog. Should you be doing all these supplements at once? Er, no. But your vet will help steer you in the right direction. Some vets prefer fish oils over coconut oil, and vice versa. It’s about finding what’s right for your dog.

Smarter Exercise

When your dog begins to show signs of aging, it may be time to taper back their usual fitness routine and incorporate more low-impact activities. It’s not about just exercising, but getting that daily exercise in a smart way. Perhaps those games of fetch suddenly become games of catch (less running). In the warmer months, some routine trips to the beach for a swim would be ideal and less stressful on their joints. Be prepared to walk a little slower on your walks, and adjust your route to accommodate how far your dog can go before he gets too tired.

Keeping your dog fit into his later years in important, but it’s more important to be smart about how they enjoy their exercise.

Prevent Slipping

Have hardwood floors? Tile? Laminate? Any smooth surface may start posing a challenge to your senior dog—especially when it comes to stairs. A few strategically placed carpets on landings and in rooms their frequent will go a long way. If your dog must frequently go up and down stairs in your home, consider getting the carpet attachment for them to help prevent slipping or an elevated lip on edge of the step.

If you’re adding a carpet to a high-traffic area, consider adding a skid-resistant liner beneath the carpet to avoid that slide when your dog goes through with some momentum!

Encourage Rest

Our dog’s bodies—just like ours—use sleep as a time to allow the body to heal itself. Encourage this restful slumber by providing your dog with an appropriate dog bed that’s well-cushioned and placed in rooms your dog frequents (living room, a bedroom, etc.) and encourage them to use it rather than hopping up on the bed or couch. There’s less impact on their bones and joints when walking onto a plush dog bed rather than hopping up and down onto a couch or (human) bed.

More Visits with Your Veterinarian

An older dog should see their veterinarian more frequently than they did in their youth. It’s important to keep on top of their health and the changes their body is going through. Things like water therapy or acupuncture aren’t just for us—dogs can benefit from them as well! Talk to your vet about the options available in your community. Your vet will help guide you through each step, and advise the next move to ensure your dog enjoys their golden years.

Inspiring Geometric Tattoo Ideas for Dog Lovers

13 Jul

geometric tattoos

A few weeks ago, we looked at some inspiring and seriously kick-ass watercolour tattoos. Honestly, Lucy and I completely fell in love with the style. In our search, however, we found even more really awesome tattoo styles that we had never even thought of!

Maybe we were inspired by the geometric design of The Odin toy we reviewed yesterday, or maybe there’s just something to be said about the understated use of lines and shapes to create something beautiful and emotional—a tribute to a beloved pet in a style that just feels right.

If clean, simple design is your cup of tea, we think you’ll love these geometric memorial tattoos we found! Thinking of immortalizing your best friend with a memorial tattoo? Consider the geometric style with these inspiring tattoos below.

geometric tattoos

(Tattoos: @bartekwojda, @karlmarks1, @javiwolfink, @bicemsinik, @szejno, @lisaorth)

So, what do you think? What’s your style preference? Do you have a memorial tattoo to share?

Photograph courtesy of Javi Wolf.

Walking Gear for Reactive Dogs

9 Mar

reactive-dog-walking-gear-800x500

Ages and ages ago, during the days of our Walk to Rivendell challenge, I wrote a little bit about the gear we use for our regular walks. Over the last 2+ years we’ve tried a perhaps ridiculous number of walking setups with a variety of collars, leashes, harnesses, halters, and more. Between working on Topher’s reactivity in training classes and our usual walks, we get a lot of use out of our gear and I always want to make sure what we use and carry around truly works for us. Because, in certain scenarios, these are the pieces of equipment we rely on the most to keep ourselves and others safe. So, what do we take on our daily walks?

Martingale Collar

We switched to martingale collars after a recommendation from our trainers and have used them almost exclusively since then. We clip directly to Topher’s martingale collars on casual short walks, and we love the sturdy support provided by our go-to collars from Dog + Bone.

Identification Tags

While we’ve never had an instance where Topher has gotten off his leash and gotten lost, but that doesn’t mean it could never happen. So, it’s important for your dog to have proper identification when you go out and about. Need more convincing? Here are a few more reasons you should get your dog’s identification in order sooner rather than later.

Front Lead Harness

Up until recently we were using a head halter on walks, rather than a harness. About a month ago, we decided to switch back to using a harness. Why? It all has to do with reactive classes. While Topher accepted and happily wore a head halter without incident on walks at parks and in the neighborhood, he’d become a terror during reactive classes. When stressed, he’d take it all out on the halter, pawing at his muzzle and even scratching himself several times in an attempt to get it off. We tried more positive reinforcement with the halter, to make it as positive an experience as possible, but this did not seem to make much difference.

Currently, Topher’s lunging has diminished pretty significantly. This means the need for the halter as a method to not be knocked off my feet has diminished with it. Over the last month, we transitioned to a harness and Topher has been doing very well with it. Our training group recommended the Freedom harness, and we absolutely love it so far.

Double-Ended Leash

Because of our walking setup, we use double ended leashes—ones that have clips at both ends. We use this Halti leash because it has a ton of different ways you can use it and I’ll happily buy it again if the one we have ever breaks. Our Freedom harness also came with this great double ended leash with a handle and I’m very interested to see how much more control we’ll have with this harness and leash combination in our future classes.

Waste Bags

Can’t leave home without them! We still tend to use grocery bags (after checking for holes of course) but we have a backup roll of actual waste bags if we ever run out of the ones we get from the store.

Pepper Spray

For over two years now I’ve carried pepper spray when I walk Topher by myself. Thankfully, I’ve never needed it. However, it gives me a small sense of security, should a loose dog encounter ever go truly awry. Since the dog attack, we’ve had plenty of encounters with off-leash dogs running up to us; however, through educating myself, learning how to handle Topher, and a little luck, none have led to a scenario where I feel it’s necessary to spray a dog. I still hope I never have to use it.

Microfiber Towel

We call Topher the King of the Slobs because of his ridiculous ability to go from clean to covered in drool in about ten seconds. Nobody wants to greet an outrageously slobbery dog, so I make sure to keep a washcloth-sized towel in my walking bag for quick, on-the-go clean up. It also helps keep Topher camera-ready…most of the time. Sometimes the thought of treats creates more drool than one small towel can defeat.

Plenty of Treats

The final thing you can’t leave home without! At least, you can’t if you’re me and trying to give your dog lots of positive rewards for interacting nicely with the world. We’re lucky to be so well supplied, between treats we get from BarkBox and the ones we make ourselves.

What do you take on dog walks?