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How to Help Your Dog Thrive in Their Senior Years

Updated: Jan 17, 2023

"Age is a matter of feeling...not of years." - George William Curtis



I am blessed to live with two dogs, Tabatha, a young, full-of-energy, active two year old pup and Teddie, a 13 year old still active senior dog.


I’ve been watching these two play together and am filled with gratitude that Teddy is still able to do all the “dog stuff” he wants with his sister, despite his age.


If you’re like me, you’re doing everything you can to stave off the complaints of old age as long as you can for yourself.


I’m thrilled to tell you that you can do the same for your dogs, too!

There are so many innovations we can take advantage of to keep our dogs healthy and vibrant as they age.


I’m going to introduce you to some effective and powerful antidotes to the not-so-nice symptoms of aging in dogs. Using these will help make your dog’s senior years truly golden.


Age, A Sneaky Devil


Age is a sneaky little devil. It creeps up before you notice it’s there. Dogs begin having age related issues well before we notice them. The initial signs are so small and slow that we may not notice them.


What’s more, we don’t really want to notice them.


It’s emotionally very challenging to see our beloved dogs age and decline. And because the changes occur gradually, we often don’t see the signs and behaviors until they become obvious. By that point, it may be too late to help our loving animals.


The most tragic consequence, of course, is that if age related issues are not addressed, the dog declines at a much faster rate, suffering in pain and losing the zest for life. Having to euthanize your beloved dog because he’s too old is something no one wants to face.


Hope Abounds!


There has never been a better time to be an “oldster!” There are more ways to help our aging dogs than ever before.


My goal is to make you aware of innovations that help you proactively maintain the well-being of your dog at any age. It is my passion to help older dogs get relief, gain mobility, and age comfortably.


Awareness also gives you a chance to look at things you can do to help your dog age well. Simple behavior changes on our part can make a big difference in making life easier for our aging pups.


Helping Your Dog Age Well


Supplements


Many of us know the benefits of supplements for our own health. Many studies are showing the positive effect supplements can have on our dogs’ health, too.


Not only are supplements helpful in easing joint stiffness and other age related physical symptoms, some also help delay age related cognitive decline in dogs. Amazing!


Joint Care


“You’ll never be lonely in your old age with friends like Charlie Horse and Arthur Itis to keep you company!” It’s an old joke, but it rings true.


Unfortunately, our dogs can have those unwelcome guests living with them, too.


Joint pain in dogs is very common as they age, making it difficult for them to get up and down comfortably, take walks for exercise, or get up on their favorite napping spot.


We’ve found these supplements to help tremendously with sore joints:

  • Canine Joint Works powder and liquid for very small dogs and cats (provides joint comfort and mobility)

  • Super Snouts Hemp + Joint Mobility hemp soft chews

  • Super Snouts Joint Powder - green lipped mussel to support joints, ligaments, and tendons for dogs and cats

Flower Essences


Flower essences, tinctures of liquid plant energy made from flowers, are powerful vibrational remedies that relieve many symptoms of aging.


Older dogs often sleep more during the day causing nighttime wakefulness, disorientation, yowling, pacing, and roaming around the house.



There are several flower essences that help dogs feel more secure and comfortable. Polly Fox, the founder of Pet Essences, created an essence for my clients called Elder Comfort for Canine Cognitive Decline. Another, Life Force Zest, is a rejuvenator after a long illness and helps develop deep reserves of strength and support. Both are excellent supports for senior dogs.


Energetic Support


The animals in your family are more than pets. They’re enlightened beings with souls and emotions. Our human friends can talk to family, friends, doctors, and therapists to help them cope.


Obviously, that’s not an option for dogs. They rely on us to help them.


I’ve researched animal communication and the consciousness of nature and have been practicing energetic healing modalities for 30+ years. I specialize in P.E.T., a hands-on healing method, animal intuitive healing, and flower essence therapy to address the root cause of issues.


My goal is to return your dog to a state of natural balance, optimal health, and emotional well-being.


These modalities help dogs in many ways. Simply being able to communicate thoughts and emotions with someone who understands and acknowledges your animal’s experiences goes a long way toward healing. I can use the information I gather to suggest both traditional and holistic solutions to your dog’s emotional and physical issues.


This type of therapy helps you, too. You are your dog’s loving, caring companion. It distresses you to see your dog in pain, growing older in discomfort. You can feel hopeless, not knowing what to do.


Having the ability to communicate with your beloved pet empowers you. New insight and information about their thoughts and feelings helps you take the action to improve the quality of life for both you and your dog.


These energetic healing therapies can be done in person here at The Healthy Animal or they can be done remotely. That’s the ultimate convenience for you and your dog! Contact me for more information.


Laser Therapy


Laser therapy, also known as cold laser therapy, uses wavelengths of light to help decrease pain and increase healing.


Laser therapy stimulates the natural biological processes of the cells in the body. Cell mitochondria are strengthened. ATP increases, helping the cells fight infection and accelerate the healing process. Nitric Oxide is released, helping transport oxygen more efficiently to increase circulation and decrease inflammation.


The best part of laser therapy is that there are no side effects and very few contraindications, making this treatment safe and effective for most dogs.


My senior dog, Teddie, goes for treatments every two weeks. These treatments help keep him healthy and active. Laser therapy is one of the things that help him still do the things he loves, like go for walks, swim, and play with his toys. He’s a bit slower these days, but he’s still able to enjoy the dog life!


Movement and Fitness


“Use it or lose it.”


Keeping your body moving is important for humans and dogs alike. Movement keeps our bodies supple, our range of motion improving, and helps us maintain or improve our mobility. These benefits help our mental and emotional well being.


As our pups age, they may tend toward a more sedentary life, just like we tend to do. But keeping them in shape and active is critical to their overall well-being.


When you head to the gym, you’re improving your body, mind, and spirit. So why aren’t there any dog gyms around where a dog can get the mental and physical stimulation they need, no matter the weather?


There is! New England K9 Athlete offers fitness classes for dogs of all ages. For seniors, these classes give them more confidence as their bodies begin to age. And with targeted exercises specifically designed for the canine body and mind, you’ll be improving their quality of life.


Here’s my Teddie enjoying a fitness class. He loves the attention and interaction he gets from the “workout” disguised as play! It keeps him moving during the winter and gives him the stimulation his body and mind need.

They even have a doggie pool! Swimming is excellent for senior dogs. They’re able to exercise without stressing their joints. It’s a lot of fun, too!


Chiropractic Care


Dogs benefit from chiropractic care, just like we do! It’s a very safe mode of treatment, and many times results are seen within minutes!


Canine chiropractors help older dogs with mobility issues, musculoskeletal ailments, and pain. These benefits help your dog feel good so they can play with others and with toys. They’re able to get up and down and inside and outside more easily.


Chiropractic care is helpful for senior dogs with incontinence, skin issues like lick granulomas, nerve issues, muscle spasms, and separation anxiety, too.


Massage Therapy


If being petted is good, then getting massaged is heaven, as long as your dog is “rubbed the right way!”


Canine massage therapy is a great way to help improve your older dog’s well-being. Along with relieving sore muscles and receiving loving, undivided attention, massage is great for:

  • Improving circulation and lymphatic flow

  • Boosting the immune system

  • Speeding recovery

  • Joint pain

  • Increased flexibility


If you’ve ever had a massage that didn’t live up to your expectations, you know the value of having an experienced, trained therapist. The same is true for our doggos.


Trained canine massage therapists are skilled at reading a dog’s body language to gauge the type and amount of pressure to use. Dogs receive therapeutic benefits while being comfortable. They know when to keep going and when enough is enough. Your dogs will reap the benefits of massage therapy AND feel like the pampered pups they are meant to be!


Create a Safe and Comfortable Home Environment


There are many simple things you can do to improve your oldster’s quality of life!

  • Create traction on slick floors with strategically placed yoga mats to help your dog get up, lie down, and walk without slipping.

  • Add stair treads to slick stairs to help your pup get safely up and down.

  • Lower your bed or add stairs to continue bedtime snuggles.

  • Keep your dog warm with sweaters, blankets, or by raising the temperature in your home. Dogs lose that insulatory fur as they age and can become cold more easily.

  • Keep your dog’s nails trimmed. They should be cut or dremeled every 2-4 weeks so that the nails barely touch the floor when standing. Nails that are too long cause slipping.

  • Raise water and food bowls to a comfortable height.


Brain Enrichment


Puzzles and games are great ways to keep a dog’s mind active and engaged. This not only helps keep their brains elastic, slowing cognitive decline, but they’re FUN! Your older dog may not be able to keep up with the fetch game she once had, but all dogs can enjoy these games!


  • Lick Mats - Eating from a bowl day in, day out is boring! Spreading food in the grooves of a lick mat keeps your dog engaged, prevents wolfing down food, and allows him to hunt and problem solve for his food.

  • Snuffle Mats - [insert video] Capitalize on your dog’s natural instinct for hunting with a Snuffle Mat! Hunting, problem solving, and rooting for food keeps boredom at bay, calms nerves, and stimulates their brains. And it’s a lot of fun, as you can see!

  • Games to make yourself with objects you probably already have:

    • Chase bubbles

    • Play the Shell Game with cups and treats

    • Go on a “Siffari,” a walk where your dog’s nose is the guide

    • Hide and Seek

    • Muffin tin puzzle - put treats in the cups of a muffin tin and top with dog-safe tennis balls

    • Tennis ball treat dispenser - cut a slit in a dog-safe tennis ball, fill with treats, and let the fun begin!

With all these treatments available to you and your dog, you can be hopeful that your dog’s golden years will be just as fun and fulfilling as their younger years – just a bit slower, perhaps.


If you need help creating a plan to help your dog age gracefully, we’re here to help. For those of you who would like to take a holistic approach to your senior dog’s health, we now offer Total Wellness Consultations where we create a blueprint for you to follow that will help you maintain your pet’s well-being and extend good health and happiness throughout their lifetime.


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