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How to Keep your Senior Dog Happy

Updated on May 8, 2016

Uh oh-- Sparky is getting a little gray around the muzzle

Don't panic. Your beloved furry-friend is still your bouncing bubbly baby you hand picked from the shelter, your neighbor's puppy give-a-way, or rescued (you go Glen Coco); but as the years have flown by and the carcasses of demolished chew toys have littered your closet, you notice your Roofus has started to age right along side you. That fuzzy eager face still fills your heart with glee, but its time to give some extra love and attention to your senior pup to ensure they're comfortable and can live out the rest of their days in spoiled splendor.

**I am not a veterinarian, all advice and tips for care of my canine have been approved by my veterinarian, and any medication and health care should always be approved by one**

My Senior Dog, Lilly

Lilly isn't as enthusiastic about Christmas as I am.
Lilly isn't as enthusiastic about Christmas as I am.

1. Buster having a little trouble going?

Organic canned pumpkin has become a staple in our home to give my canine a little extra fiber in her diet that her dog food may not be providing enough of alone, plus she thinks she is getting treated every day when I get home from work. Along with the canned pumpkin, we've been feeding her Purina Beyond Superfood Blend (Salmon, Egg, & Pumpkin) which she enjoys immensely and gives me peace of mind. There's no corn, wheat, soy or poultry by-product!

2.Can you teach an old dog new tricks, like staying in the tub?

Lilly is a small dog, so there isn't much wrestling, but if she isn't entertained, the entire bath will be me trying to keep her in the tub. A few ways I coax her into staying in the tub is to bring a toy into the tub with us, so she can fixate on playing rather than getting out. I'll get in the tub with her and we'll both lather up which results in another bath for myself afterwards. If she is being extremely ornery, I'll have my partner bathe her while I keep her attention with a Popsicle of water, low sodium chicken stock, and canned chicken. It's a lot easier than you think to wash a dirty ear when there's a Popsicle to lick.

3. Otis feeling itchy?

As Lilly has aged her allergies have grown worse on top of feeling anxious and licking her paws incessantly for hours on end if you don't stop her. To soothe her itching skin we bathe her in a gentle oatmeal bath, paying extra attention to any problem areas. For problem areas that can be reached by mouth and are licked during flare ups, we use a hot spot oil that soothes and protects the skin as well as deterring her from licking with a bitter undesirable flavor. When allergens are heavy we give Lilly a daily dose of children's Benadryl until the allergies are resolved. (Lilly's dose of over the counter Children's Benadryl has been written via Prescription by her veterinarian, please do not attempt to give your canine medication not intended for pets without supervision.)

4. Max's breath hit you like a mac truck?

I'll be the first to tell you that trying to brush my canine's teeth even once a week is a battle to the death, she would sooner run into traffic. If brushing your companion's teeth is something you're uncomfortable doing or its impossible for you to do, your veterinarian should be able to schedule your pup for a cleaning! With a little anesthesia your pup's smile will be good as new, and you'll be thanking yourself when your furry kisses smell like puppy breath instead of a deathly miasma.

5. Bella might need a set of Pet Steps.

Based on the breed of your companion, there is either little to no problem getting on furniture, or in and out of the house, or your pet is unable to ascend/descend stairs or access furniture. Lilly has always been spry and often jumps across the table between my recliner and my partner's recliner to give her love equally. But in the past year she has been having a harder time getting on the bed at night, so I built her a set of steps out of cardboard boxes and old throw pillows so she can come and go as she pleases through the night to get some water or use her dog pad. If you're not as crafty, you can always buy a set of Pet Steps from a pet store or online.

Do you let your canine on the furniture?

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6. Play it smart with Poindexter.

Without it having to be said, an older pet may need to make a few extra trips to the vet a year. If something doesn't seem right, or you just want to check in with the vet and give your pal a check up, it's never a bad idea. Unfortunately just like people, as dogs age their bodies start doing all kinds of crazy things and they can develop different forms of cancer, tumors, and the like. If Poindexter isn't acting like himself, has changed in eating, sleeping, and potty habits, it may be time for a visit to the vet. Lilly had to have emergency surgery in January, we thought she was just constipated because she didn't want to eat or drink for a few days and didn't want to potty. I took that Monday off from work and rushed her to the vet at 8:00 am, after a few x-rays that were clear, her ultrasound showed both of her uterine horns were full of infection ready to burst and had to be removed immediately. Had they burst inside her she would have died. Never second guess yourself, if your pet seems like they're in pain, go to the vet!

7. Daisy doesn't want her dog food?

More often than not Lilly will get moody on long hard weeks of work when my partner and I aren't home as much as we'd like to be. On these days Lilly won't eat anything all day while we're gone, surely because she is sad. Upon coming home we're not only greeted with smiling faces and tail wags, but a very grumbly, empty belly, and sometimes a pile of thrown up bile. When this happens, Lilly will not eat any dog food, even if you try to hand feed her. To combat this issue we open a can of low sodium canned chicken and sprinkle some over her food along with a little juice from the can, we let her eat a small amount, withhold the food so she doesn't engorge herself and puke it back up, let her drink some water, then a little while later we'll give her the rest of it for her to happily enjoy. Voila! Happy belly.

8. Toby never has enough toys.

Lots of play is a great way to ensure your dog gets up and moves those achy bones and joints and gets a little exercise. Every dog plays different, and every dog enjoys different toys. Over what seems like a life time of picking up toy stuffing from the floor I have learned it doesn't take much to please my dog, but I still need to be careful of everything that she can put in her mouth. Just because my dog likes to play with empty plastic water bottles, doesn't mean she should, because then she eats the lid off of it, tears an intestine and has to have surgery. Some toys may also have small parts (like eyes, noses) that are sewed on and can be ingested. Lilly tried to swallow a part of a squeeker toy that she ripped from a stuffed bone, and I literally had to pull it out of her throat. Be mindful of your dogs destructive nature, and purchase appropriate toys to keep them happy and healthy.

Very Destructive Nature Indeed

A healthy pup is a happy pup. With proper care between you and your veterinarian and a surplus of love and attention, your senior dog should be well spoiled and looked after for the rest of their very long days! Remember to always pat their little heads bye when you leave for the day, because they're a part of your life, but we are literally their entire world. Happy spoiling!

A little about Lilly

Lilly is my 10 year old Chihuahua-Terrier mix. She is 50% adorable and 50% attitude. Our relationship started when I was just a freshman in highschool and new to the state of Tennessee. On our first trip to our local grocery store my mom and I saw a sign posted on their bulletin board, "FREE PUPPIES, SEE REBA IN THE DELI." Being new the to area and without any friends my mom agreed a pet would make a great companion and wonderful addition to our new home. I feel like I've literally grew up with this great lady right by my side and my fiance and myself now share her-- she is definitely a Daddy's girl and knows how to make me jealous to earn extra attention. She has had two litters of puppies, has now been spayed, and enjoys destroying any and all toys brought into the home. Also, she is a spite pooper. If you don't give her the appropriate amount of kisses before leaving for work, or you don't let her outside immediately upon waking she WILL poop on something you love.

She was so tiny!
She was so tiny!

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