Age is just a number: 7 tips for keeping senior dogs healthy and happy

Dr. Marty Becker DVM, a contributor to the Today Show, had a great article on senior dogs.  We pass Marty’s article along to our readers.


We’ve all heard the adage that old dogs can’t learn new tricks, but that doesn’t mean their owners can’t benefit from studying up on some fresh tips as their pets advance in years.

At age 7, a dog starts to be considered a “senior,” and it’s important for owners to know how to improve their dog’s well-being and cognitive health in their later years through specialized care and nutrition. If you have decided to adopt a senior dog or currently own one, these seven tips will help you hold back the march of time and make them feel safe, comfortable and as pain-free as possible as they age.

Senior rescue dogs up for adoptionSamantha Okazaki / TODAY

8-year-old Maltese mix, Waldie wants you to know that age is just a number!

1. Age is just a number. Similar to humans, if you don’t allow your pets to get overweight or obese and if you keep them active, they can look and act much younger than their true age would suggest. I’ve seen this with my own 15-year-old golden retriever, Shakira, who still loves to fetch her tennis ball daily — in the sun or in the snow — despite being blind and deaf.

Senior rescue dogs up for adoptionSamantha Okazaki / TODAY

Quince, an 8-year-old Cairn Terrier mix says: Don’t assume changes or problems are due just to age.

2. Don’t assume changes or problems are due just to age. Hundreds of times over my 35-year career as a veterinarian, I’ve had pet owners attribute a decrease in appetite, thirst or activity, changes in personality or bathroom habits, hair loss, weight shifting up or down, or even obvious pain to “just old age.” Warning to all dog owners: if you see any changes in a senior pet, never assume it’s not a medical problem. The culprit may be metabolic problems like diabetes, hyper- or hypothyroidism, or Cushing’s or Addison’s disease, as well as canine brain aging, arthritis, dental disease and other conditions mistaken for “just old age” that, once diagnosed and treated, can return a dog to normal life!

RELATED: ‘No dog should die alone': Photographer promotes senior pet adoption

Senior rescue dogs up for adoptionSamantha Okazaki / TODAY

9-year-old Schnauzer mix Mortie knows that diet changes can bring dramatic results.

3. Diet changes can bring dramatic results. Ask your veterinarian or pet health professional about specialized diets that help senior dogs with their cognitive health and activity levels. This is important because at age 7, the glucose metabolism in a dog’s brain begins to change in ways that can affect memory, learning, awareness or decision making.

Senior rescue dog up for adoptionSamantha Okazaki / TODAY

Tip 4: Old dogs love to learn new tricks. 11-year-old Mitchell is a terrier mix who is ready to show you his tricks for treats.

4. Old dogs love to learn new tricks. Dogs love to learn at all ages, and it’s especially important to keep older dogs engaged in learning to fight boredom and help to decrease brain aging (just like in humans). Try feeding dogs with food-dispensing devices (put kibble in these and the pet has to work to eat), and remember to have dogs run through their repertoire of tricks to keep their minds sharp. We just bought a new, more difficult food puzzle for our 12-year-old, 15-pound dog Quixote, and it only took him about five days to crack the code.

Senior rescue dog up for adoptionSamantha Okazaki / TODAY

Semi-senior Shamrock is seven years old and knows that pet buddies can work wonders.

5. Pet buddies can work wonders. Getting a new friend for your older pet can add years to her life, and life to her years! Dogs are pack animals — they love to play and sniff, groom and sleep near each other. Research has shown that pets with buddies live longer and have fewer medical problems. We recently adopted a new puppy from the shelter. QT (read “Cutie”) is a Dachuahua — that’s a Dachshund and Chihuahua cross — and he’s about half a dog tall and two dogs long. Full of energy, he’s got our older dogs playing chase.

Senior rescue dog up for adoptionSamantha Okazaki / TODAY

Meet Inkie! A 12-year-old Chihuahua mix who likes the simple life.

6. Easy does it. As pets age, their eyesight and hearing declines, they are less sure on their feet, and they have less fat for padding and can easily get chilled. You can make them feel safe, secure and comfortable by putting carpet runners around the house for them to walk on, having stairs or ramps to access furniture beds or vehicles, and providing padded orthopedic beds with a heat source. Also, it’s a good idea to add a second source of water so that pets don’t have to go too far to hydrate.

RELATED: ‘Match made in heaven': Elderly nuns adopt aging pit bull

Senior rescue dog up for adoptionSamantha Okazaki / TODAY

Tip 7: Pamper your pooch. Gogarty couldn’t agree more! He and his brother, previously pictured Mitchell, are looking for love and have plenty to give.

7. Pamper your pooch. This is the age where TLC can go a long way. Heat up your senior dog’s food to release aroma and make it tastier. Learn pet massage and rub their bellies like you’re making wish after wish after wish. Use slings to help them rise and walk. Take them to the groomers for a nice warm bath and hot oil treatment. My wife, Teresa, recently learned dog massage so that she can pamper our pets even more.

Dr. Marty Becker is a veterinarian, author and TV personality who serves on the board of directors of the American Humane Association and on the advisory board of The Grey Muzzle Organization, which is dedicated to helping homeless senior dogs.

All of the senior dogs pictured in this article are up for adoption through Animal Haven of New York City.

There’s life (and love) in these old dogs yet

Image: Stella the dog

A Los Angeles animal photographer is on a mission: To change people’s perceptions of older dogs and help more gray-muzzled pooches find loving homes. See images from her “My Old Dog” project here.

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10 Minutes of Why We Love Dogs So Much!

Our dogs mean the world to us.  Each and every one a unique being with a personality all their own.  Some are silly, some are a bit daft; you also have your dogs that are amazing problem solvers, but sometimes… it’s more like problem makers.  No matter what, we love them, and this video shows some of the reasons they mean so much to us.



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Man Walks for Two Days Carrying Pet to Save Dog’s Life

When Choco, a 3½-year-old greyhound/bull arab mix dog got attacked by a crocodile in Cape Yok, Australia, his loving owner Wayne Best carried the large dog in his arms for two days until reaching a veterinarian. Thanks to the pet owner and a team of veterinarians, Choco is now on the mend.

Photo credit: Marc McCormack

On July 31, 2015, Best and his dog were working near the Michell River, about 186 miles northwest of Cairns. Best is a pig hunter and lives a simple life with little luxuries, he doesn’t even own a car. On that day, his four-legged best friend was working with him and chased a pig too close to the edge of the water. There, a crocodile jumped, attacked the dog, dragged him into the water and left him severely injured.

Choco’s life miraculously did not come to an end then, but the crocodile bit one of his rear legs breaking it, and left several puncture wounds along the back end of the dog’s body.

With no car, Best carried his friend for two days until hitching a ride to the closest veterinarian in Mareeba.

The dog needed surgery to reconstruct his leg and needs to rest for several months to allow the bones to heal properly.

When area animal lovers learned about the crocodile attack on the dog, they wanted to help. They’ve sent many donations to the veterinary hospital were Choco was cared for.

Photo credit: Marc McCormack

Dr. Ethan Maloney told The Cairns Post that his two clinics are overwhelmed with the amount of public generosity they’ve received.

“We had calls from all over Australia across our two clinics,” Dr. Maloney said.

Choco is expected to make a full recovery as long as he rests and lets his leg heal. He is an active dog and veterinarians have asked Best not to take his dog hunting for at least several months.

Best and his dog plan to stay with a friend in Dimbulah for a while before returning to their home in the bush. The pet owner wants to get a local job in to help pay for food and shelter.

Source:  Life with Dogs

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Even Buddy Beds Does Not Have a Dog Bed Big Enough!

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32 Dads Who Absolutely Adore Their Dogs

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To see the video, click here.

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Source:  Life with Dogs

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The Definition of Brothers from Another Mother!

When Ivette Ivens saw a French bulldog puppy born on the same day as her baby son Dilan, she knew it was meant to be.  In talking to news outlet The Daily Mail, she said as much, and Farley was adopted into the family.  Dilan and Farley are inseparable.  The do almost everything together, as if they really were just brothers from another mother.

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“I saw Farley’s birth date and just knew it’s meant to be”

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“I’m pretty sure Dilan thinks they’re both the same species.  Farley patiently plays with him, and tries not to snore while they both nap.  It’s honestly the most loving connection.  Pure, unconditional irreplaceable and inseparable.” – Ivette Ivens

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If you’d like to see the source the photos and quotes were pulled from, click here.

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Dumb Friends League receives over 140 dogs rescued from breeder

adopt dogsThe Dumb Friends League received more than 140 dogs that were rescued from a breeder in Ordway, Colo., on Friday. The dogs were relinquished by their owner to The Colorado Humane Society & SPCA, an affiliate agency of the Dumb Friends League, after failing a required inspection by the Department of Agriculture’s Pet Animal Care and Facilities Act (PACFA). The Department of Agriculture called in the Colorado Humane Society to assist in the removal and transport of the dogs.


Among the dogs that arrived at the Dumb Friends League are approximately 114 adults, 28 puppies and several pregnant mothers, including Chihuahuas, cocker spaniels, Maltese, Yorkies, terriers and other small to mid-sized breeds.

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“We’re thankful that PACFA took action in this situation and that we are able to help give these dogs the proper care and compassion they deserve,” said Bob Rohde, president and CEO of the Dumb Friends League. “This was truly a collaborative effort among groups from across the state, including PACFA, the Crowley County Sheriff’s Office, the Colorado Humane Society, the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region and the Dumb Friends League.”

Each of the dogs will receive a medical and behavior evaluation upon arrival at the Dumb Friends League. We expect many of them will be ready for adoption in a couple of days, while others may require medical care, grooming to remove mats, or behavior training and socialization before they are available. The Dumb Friends League will be transferring approximately 10 dogs to the Denver Animal Shelter.

142 dogs rescued“No animal should live in the conditions in which these dogs were found,” said Rohde. “This is a new beginning for them, and we’re honored that we have the facilities, the partnerships and the resources—thanks to the support of our generous donors—to help them.”

Although some of the dogs will not immediately be available for adoption, you can help provide care for them during the rehabilitation process by making a donation to the Dumb Friends League.


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The Best Game of Hide and Seek

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Six Before and After Pictures That Show Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Dog

Six Before and After Pictures That Show Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Dog

These dejected looking pups were waiting to be adopted at the humane shelter and were lucky enough to find loving homes. The happy looks on their after photos are just one of many reasons to adopt a shelter dog.

  • Now You Can Smile Together

  • They Can Finally Relax

  • You’ll Look at Fields of Grass in a Whole New Way

  • They Will Always Be Up For a Road Trip!

  • You Have a Buddy to Drag You Away From the TV

  • No Matter What You Do, They Will Always Love You



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