Senior Dogs

Senior Dogs - 5 ways to keep them safe and healthy on a walk

5 ways to keep senior dogs safe and healthy on a walk

Just lately I’ve seen a lot of senior dogs out and about being walked by their owners.

I’m not saying there are more senior dogs out than normal. I think I just notice them more because I’m the owner of a senior dog.

In fact the age range of a senior dog is really quite wide. Many class a dog as a senior when they hit 7 years, which seems young. But in good old dog years (1 dog year = 7 human years) this makes the dog 49.

But you can actually break this down depending on the size of a dog. It’s well known that giant breed dogs don’t live as long as small dogs.

So you can use the following as a rule of thumb for your dog reaching senior citizenship:

Small dog: 11 years

Medium dog: 10 years

Large dog: 8 years

Giant breed dogs: 7 years

senior dog resting

What’s been troubling me lately is that I keep seeing senior dogs out on walks falling over. It literally breaks my heart.

The one that really got me was a dog that had a poo on the pavement then proceeded to stand up and staggered and fell into his own poo.

The dog had two owners with him so they were able to get him up and wipe him down. But what a horrible situation to be in.

Firstly it makes you stare the hard truth in the face. Your dog is getting older and approaching the final stage of their life and they are struggling.

Yes we can see that over the years they’ve got grey hairs spouting on their muzzles, they may be sleeping more, they could have arthritis.

But nothing wakes you up to the fact that your dog is old when they struggle to get up or walk.

Senior dogs

I've got 5 tips to help your senior dog enjoy walks that won't hurt them.

Take them to the vets. Only your vet can really assess whether your dog is in pain. Most of our dogs are very stoic and we can’t tell if they are in pain. Any signs of pain they give are so subtle that us mere dog owners will miss.

Our dogs will also carry on walking or running because they like it. They will not think to themselves, hang on I think I need to rest up. Your vet can advise you if your dog needs medication to manage their pain.

Supplements. Cod liver oil is great for us and our old bones and it’s great for dogs too. There are so many supplements for dogs. I have seen amazing results with Yumove. It does take around 6 weeks to work but can work wonders.

I like to give my dog sardines in oil once a week. Both the fish and oil help with keeping him supple plus it’s cheap and easily available. Sardine Sunday’s are a winner here! If your dog has any specific medical condition, on regular medication or allergies then you check with your vet first before starting any supplements.

Stop pounding the pavements. Pop your dog in the car (now might also be the time to look at a ramp for your dog to get into the car) and drive to a place where you can get straight onto grass.

If a dog does fall then grass is a much safer place for them to do so. This is essential if your dog is wobbly on its paws.

Have a rest day. I can not say this enough, no dog needs to go for a walk everyday. And this is certainly true for a senior dog that is struggling. Take them out one day and then have a day off.

With older dogs you rarely have to worry that they are going to destroy your house because they haven’t had enough exercise. You can play brain games with your dog on a rest day, but chances are they will be sleeping. Senior dogs sleep as much as a puppy.

I know that you probably got a dog so that you could enjoy long walks together but you need to face facts that your dog won’t be able to manage those long walks now. Enjoy the shorter walks and remember the long ones. Don’t force an old dog that is wobbly on its legs for a long walk just because it’s what you have always done.

Use a dog stroller. If your older dog really is struggling to walk then use a dog specific stroller. Your dog will appreciate seeing the sights and fresh smells but without causing him any further discomfort. You can get strollers of various sizes. It’s always worth looking on selling sites for one.

Old dog laying down

My own dog is almost 14. Everyday is a blessing to have him still with me. He can’t run like he use to or walk great lengths. His stamina has gone. But we have sporadic short walks, trips in the car and plenty of brain games. He is happy. He loves his little outings but they do tire him out.

As much as I don’t want him to be old, he is and I’ve had to adapt how to care for him. Have you adapted the care of your dog so that it suits his age?

You can get your FREE copy of my ebook ‘Engage & Entertain’ here. It’s full of brain games that have all been tested out on my 13 year old dog.  Tea towel surprise is his favourite!

Sally Cousins is a self confessed mad dog lady!  

After being mum to several rescue dogs she decided to turn her passion in to her career and set up her own dog walking business back in 2015.

Sally not only runs her business, Woofers Dog Services,  she also writes for her own blog and also does guest blogs for other dog businesses. Sally is also the author of  “The Lockdown Dog” and “Dazzle Your Dog” You can also find Sally chatting as a guest  on dog related podcasts.

Dog Walking and Training Haverhill

It’s ok to not be ok

As I write this it is world mental health day.

It’s an important day. It shows how far we have come in trying to remove the stigma that is attached with it.

It’s ok not to be ok.

There are still plenty of people out there who don’t understand it. And to be fair until you experience it yourself it’s really hard to relate to someone telling you that they feel numb, that they feel nothing.

I have experienced two people close to me go through it. And there isn’t always a trigger. There isn’t always a trigger that makes sense to us people who are not going through a mental health crisis.

Indeed my own mental health crisis was triggered by something some people would sneer at. Which then meant my mindtalk around it made it much worse.

Mine happened just over 2 years ago. My greyhound Jimmy had just died. It was a horrific day. It was my ex-husband’s grandmother’s funeral, which I was suppose to be going to.

But Jimmy had got up and thrown up. He had no interest in food and we couldn’t get him to get out of bed.

8 weeks previously the same thing happened with our greyhound Poppy. And she never returned home. She had very advanced liver cancer. And I never saw it coming.

So I was petrified for Jimmy. I asked if it was cancer when we took him to the vets. Very unlikely as he is young was the response.

So off my ex went to the funeral whilst I stayed at home. Jimmy remained at the vet to have some tests.

The blood tests were inconclusive. So I got a call to get authorisation (for the £600 cost) to do a scan.

Of course I agreed.

Then came the call that will haunt me forever. Jimmy has advanced liver cancer. We are keeping him comfortable but you need to get here quickly. We need to end his suffering.

Can it wait till tomorrow so that my ex can be there? No, it’s not fair to Jimmy.

So off I went on my own to say goodbye to my boy and hold him whilst he went to sleep forever.

I felt so much guilt. Guilty because I lost 2 dogs suddenly with cancer within 8 weeks and hadn’t noticed any symptoms.

I hadn’t failed just one dog, but two.

I especially failed Jimmy. You see Jimmy was the dog I got after our attempt to adopt was turned down. I needed to nurture. Desperately. So I got another dog.

A dog to pour my heart and soul into. A dog who helped me get over the grief of not having a family. Jimmy was my baby.

He had helped me (along with counselling) and yet I had failed him.

And I couldn’t shake that feeling. That gloom. I became scared to go out. I started to find situations too peopley. I started to struggle to get up. I became convinced I was being talked about.

I was aware I was sinking. So I went to the doctors, cried my heart out and asked for help.

I was prescribed antidepressants. Anyone who has taken them knows it takes a while for them to kick in.

During this time, no one except my ex knew. I was horrified that people might find out. I was ashamed. I was ashamed that having experienced it with 2 family members close to me, I hadn’t been able to stop myself becoming ill.

I knew that getting up having a shower, looking after yourself and having a little walk all helped.

Yet I couldn’t do it.

So not only was I ill, I was feeling guilty and ashamed.

Eventually the tablets kicked in. I think I told my mum about 6 months later that I was on them.

And guess what I couldn’t wait to get off them. Because in my head if I was taking them I was ill and I didn’t want to be ill. The common sense part of me told me that they were doing their job.

So I tried to come off them. Slowly. It didn’t work, in fact I had to have the dose increased.

So I stayed on them. I was planning to come off them again last winter. But my marriage ended abruptly so I figured it wouldn’t be the right time.

I’m now taking a quarter dose of what I use to take. Hopefully in the next 6 weeks I will be off them.

However, here’s the thing. I’m coming off them because I feel stronger, because I’m in a better place, because I’ve forgiven myself. It’s different this time.

And if I need them again in the future then I won’t hesitate to go back on them. Because they work.

I’m always going to have anxiety about things. In fact a couple of days a month I feel like I’m useless and I can’t do anything. My black hole days which are usually linked to my monthly cycle.

I’ve learnt to go with those days and just do whatever feels right. I’ve also learnt to just take it day by day.

I’m very lucky (or unlucky on my black days) that I have to get up and get out.

I have dogs and cats who are waiting for me. So even if I wanted to stay in bed, I couldn’t. Which is a really good thing for me.

So that’s my mental health story. An illness that was, for me, triggered by the death of my dogs. That in itself made me feel guilty.

I have been through quite a lot in my little 45 years. Yet none of that had brought me to my knees.

I felt guilty that even the death of some of my much loved family hadn’t brought me to my knees.

But my Poppy and Jimmy did. And for anyone who dares say to me that they are only dogs are likely to get me telling them to F off.

Please don’t be ashamed, like I was, of my trigger. In fact a lot of people don’t even have a trigger.

All I ask is that if you need help, ask for it. Ask your family, ask your friends, ask your doctor. Ask me.

Don’t suffer in silence.

Weirdly, the loss of my beautiful dogs brought me to my knees, but it was also dogs that healed me.

Everyday my own dogs would stay close and give me a reason to get up. The dogs I walk always greeted me like they hadn’t seen me for weeks.

It helped so much. I would never have got through the last year without Frank.

It’s ok to not be ok.

Love, Sally xx

Sally Cousins is a self confessed mad dog lady!  

After being mum to several rescue dogs she decided to turn her passion in to her career and set up her own dog walking business back in 2015.

Sally not only runs her business, she also writes for her own blog and also does guest blogs for other dog businesses. You can also find Sally chatting as a guest  on dog related podcasts.

Dog Walking and Training Haverhill

How to avoid your dog getting stressed at the vets

Going to the vets is a stressful time for the majority of dogs. At some point it wasn’t though so how do we get back to that?

The first thing to do is recognise that, whilst the team who work at the vets are lovely people, generally something bad has happened to the dog when going to the vets.  It could be their yearly jabs, or they had an accident or were unwell.  Whatever the reason your dog probably got an injection and a thermometer put where they didn’t want it to go! Put yourself in their paws, how would you like it?

I like to think it’s similar to people’s fear of the dentist.  Usually a bed experience as a child leads to a lifelong hate of going.  Unless you are me.  Because I am weird, I like going to the dentist!

All dogs react differently to the vets.  Some are fine.  Some get nervous.  Some shake with fear.  Some bark the whole time.  It can be improved but it will take time.  If your dog is really bad start of by just driving to the vets when its closed.  Let your dog have a sniff around and reward good behaviour with a high value treat (cooked chicken, cheese, hot dog) don’t overdo the length of the visit and maybe follow it up with a walk preferably in your dog’s favourite place.  Let your dog start to associate the vets as a place where good things happen.  Build it up, when you dog is comfortable with being driven to the vets, being in the vet’s car park and being outside the vets it’s time to move inside.

Speak to the receptionist before you start this stage.  Ask them when is the quietest time that you can bring your dog in to just familiarise it.  When you know the ideal time, go. Pop in, say hello to the receptionists and let them make a fuss of your dog and then go home.  Again build up the time in there.  If there are scales in the reception area weigh your dog, have a sit down and then go.  As your dog gets more used to it you can then step it up a gear and go at a busier time.

As with all training it takes time and consistency.  Keep making a fuss of your dog and showering them with good things when going to the vets (high value treats, a new toy, a great walk) and they will begin to relax.  Your ultimate test will be when you take your dog for its annual booster.

Of course, this may not work with all dogs.  If you are struggling to get your dog in the vets at all then see if you can arrange to use a back door to get in.

Good luck!

Love, Sally x

Dog Walking and Training Haverhill

Sally Cousins is a self confessed mad dog lady!  

After being mum to several rescue dogs she decided to turn her passion in to her career and set up her own dog walking business back in 2015.

Sally not only runs her business, she also writes for her own blog and also does guest blogs for other dog businesses. You can also find Sally chatting as a guest  on dog related podcasts.