The Happy Beast - Blog - Dog Health

Nutrition, Supplements & Exercise for Senior Dogs

Old dogs are my favorite. The sweet, gentle guys, the grouchy old ladies, and the 12 year olds who still think they’re puppies. Senior dogs just make my heart melt! As dogs get older, we need to remember to address their changing needs. Let’s look at nutrition, supplements, and lifestyle for senior dogs.

NUTRITION

Senior dogs will require slightly different nutrition plans depending on their individual health concerns (the most common being arthritis, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease and obesity).

Minimally-processed food: As the digestive system ages, it becomes even more important to feed highly digestible foods. Minimally-processed food (raw, dehydrated, freeze-dried or air-dried) are more digestible than kibble.*

If you prefer to feed kibble, consider incorporating some type of less-processed food. Dehydrated and freeze-dried foods (like Sojo’s) mix well with kibble, or try adding ground meat, eggs, cottage cheese or low-sodium broth.

High-Quality Protein: Unless your dog has an advanced kidney disease, do not restrict the amount of protein in his diet. Senior dogs require protein to convert into energy and to maintain muscle mass. Avoid low-quality protein sources like animal by-products and plant-based proteins (soy, corn, etc.) which tax the kidneys. Instead, choose a dog food that uses whole muscle and organ cuts.

Healthy Weight: Many older animals are overweight due to slowed metabolism and reduced activity. Others may have a hard time keeping weight on, which is often a result of illness. There are many underlying causes for weight-related issues. Be sure to talk with your vet to better understand these. Carefully monitor your dogs calorie-intake and periodically assess your dogs waistline to make sure she’s staying on track!

SUPPLEMENTS

Fish Oil: The Omega 3s found in fish oil reduce inflammation and support brain health. Try Nordic Naturals, InClover’s Glow, or a treat made with fish like The Honest Kitchen’s Beams.

Digestive Enzymes: Enzymes help the digestive system break down food so nutrients may be more easily absorbed and utilized by the body. Dogs with cancer, pancreatitis, kidney and immune disorders in particular will benefit from enzymes. One way to give your dog a good daily dose is to include green tripe in her meals. Try K9 Natural’s raw or Tripett’s cans.

Joint Support: Supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin reduce joint pain and increase joint mobility. Check out InClover’s Connectin and Nupro.

EXERCISE: Physical & Mental

The less we move, the harder it is to get moving! Although senior dogs may not run and jump and hike like they used to, it’s still important for them to get regular exercise. Daily walks (even short ones) help to maintain muscle tone and joint mobility. Do you have time for two five-minute walks each day? Even to the mailbox and back can make a significant improvement in the way your senior pet feels. Swimming provides non-weight bearing exercise suitable for dogs with arthritis and joint pain.

Manually stretch and mobilize your dog’s legs, hips, neck and back. Use gentle pressure on any aching joints. Connect with a rehab center or canine massage therapist to learn the basics. (We like Canine Rehab and Conditioning Group in Broomfield and Certified Canine Massage Provider, Mary Kennedy.)

Old dogs can learn new tricks and aging brains benefit from mental stimulation too. Teach your dog a new command or give her a treat-dispensing puzzle toy like Busy Buddies to keep her brain sharp!

Stop by the store if you’d like to talk more – and don’t forget that hip & joint supplements are 10% off November 17th-23rd!

Skunked! – Dog Skunk Spray Cleaning Tutorial

Maybe it’s just my little corner of Lafayette, but I’ve heard of more dogs getting skunked this fall than any year I can remember. The skunks are all over the place. In fact, as I write this, there’s one hanging out with the neighborhood cat behind my house. (Seriously, they’re Pepé Le Pew and Penelope…it’s ridiculous.)

So to be proactive, I wanted to find the very best de-skunking product on the market, stock the cupboards (and The Happy Beast) with it, and let you know what to use if your pet is unfortunate enough to get sprayed. But after scouring reviews and asking my mom (who grew up on a farm) what she would do, I determined that there is no miracle product.

Instead, there’s hydrogen peroxide, dish soap and baking soda. The good news is, if your dog has a stinky run-in with a skunk, you probably have all of these on hand, and you can just run down to The Happy Beast and do a quick dog wash!

In case of a skunking, here’s what to do:

  • Wipe off the excess skunk oil with paper towels or rags. **Do not get your dog wet yet!**
  • BEFORE getting your dog wet, mix together six cups of hydrogen peroxide, ⅓ cup of baking soda and a couple squirts of dish soap. (It’s going to get fizzy.)
  • Rub the mixture into the sprayed area and scrub!
  • Once your dog’s coat is saturated, rinse everything out and follow up with a good shampoo (we love Earthbath’s products.)
  • If your dog gets sprayed in the face, be sure to rinse her eyes with water or try a product with goldenseal like Eyes Alright.

You’ll probably want to wear rubber gloves for this and you might have to repeat the process several times. And there’s a possibility that your dog is going to smell a little funky for a while. But there’s a definite probability that you’ll love him just the same.

Skunked_Dog-Shaming-Sammy_The-Happy-Beast

Kids, Cats & Dogs

We got lucky with Loki. His demeanor with kids has always been great, but now that we have two of our own, he’s had to learn how to be nagged and pulled and loved even more than before. But in addition to Loki’s usually-calm disposition, we’ve tried hard as parents to teach our kids to know how to get along with our animals and respect their boundaries. After all, the furry ones were here first! Once Loki and our cats saw that the kids were (usually) gentle, and provided even more opportunities for extra food and ear scratches, they started warming up pretty quickly. Even to the point of tolerating a little bit of dress-up time.

If your dog isn’t quite as forgiving, or just needs some training pointers, we definitely recommend checking out these great resources:

And if you’re looking for dog breeds that are typically good with kids, here are a couple more:

 

Disaster Preparedness for Pets – Tips for Your Pet Emergency Kit

It was just about this time last year when the floods hit Boulder County and other parts of Colorado. Fortunately for us, our little house in Lafayette stayed safe and dry. Hearing how the floods affected other families though, was heart-breaking and a very real reminder that we do need to be prepared for a disaster, including disaster preparedness for pets.

After doing a little research with the RedCross, the ASPCA and Code3, I compiled this list of items to keep stockpiled in case of an emergency. It took me less than a half hour to get everything together. I encourage you to take some time this weekend to make sure your pet emergency kit is updated too!

The List!

  • 3-7 day supply of food (I like The Honest Kitchen’s dehydrated food – it’s light and has a long shelf-life)
  • at least 2 gallons of water
  • 2 feeding dishes (preferably stainless steel)
  • extra leash, collar and ID tag (I picked up an inexpensive set from The Happy Beast!)
    • (On Pi’s ID tag I listed her name, our address, my phone number and an emergency contact)
  • paper towels and baby wipes
  • first aid kit
  • medications
  • poop bags (or litter and litter box)
  • carrier for small dogs or cats
  • extra blanket
  • all of this information sealed in a ziploc bag:
    • copy of vaccination records
    • your name and phone number
    • vet’s name and contact info
    • two emergency contacts with phone numbers
    • recent photo of your pet
    • directions for any medications, feeding schedule, behavior issues (in case you are displaced and your dog has to be boarded)

Be sure to tailor your kit to your specific needs, I also added:

  • 1 week supply of Optagest (probiotics in case of upset tummy or bad drinking water)
  • 1 bottle of Ark Natural’s Happy Traveler (herbal calming supplement)
  • 1 bag of yummy treats (I picked Sojo’s Simply treats.  They’re freeze-dried, so they’ll last a long time.)
  • 1 super fun toy.  (Pi loves treat-dispensing toys, so I picked up an extra Busy Buddy)

Hopefully we won’t be faced with any kind of disaster, but I think it’s important to be prepared just in case.  And it’s nice to have these things on hand for those other kinds of emergencies – like running out of dog food when you can’t get to the store!

Stay safe out there and let us know in the comments what else you’d bring along for your furry friend.