Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Gear designed especially for seniors helps make these the best years of their lives—and makes your life easier too.
Turn up the heat. When clouds gather and the sun sets, plug in the Fauna Sauna. Its two adjustable panels (12-by-20 inches each) kick out infrared radiant warmth—like the sun’s heat without the dangerous ultraviolet rays. The Fauna Sauna is intended as therapeutic treatment for everything from arthritis and stiffness to joint pain, hip dysplasia and stress (also available as a decor-friendly spa bed). Or, when you’re on the go, the Dolce Vita heated cargo bed helps keep those vintage muscles limber.
Smooth the way. Leaping into the car and out again onto unforgiving pavement is definitely a pet peeve for seniors. Avoid your dog’s mournful stares and injuries with a vehicle entry ramp; look for a non-skid surface, stability and easy storage. Among the options: the Ramp4Paws rolls up and comes in sizes appropriate for large and some standard-size vehicles; the Petmate Pet Ramp and Cargo Step is especially good for those high-off-the-ground vehicles with hitches; for cars, furniture and short descents, Dog Ramp’s Sidekick with its compact size and side rails gives them a safe and steady lift. Indoors, steps give them a leg up; look for stability and a gentle slope. Solvit’s UltraLite Pet Stairs have a sloping design that makes them easier for Dachshunds and other small dogs to use, and they fold for easy storage (they can also be used for auto access).
Put some bounce in their step. When his otherwise-healthy 15-year-old Sheepdog, Watson, lost strength in his back legs due to arthritis and hip dysplasia, Arnie Costell drew inspiration from rock climbers’ harnesses to fashion the Bottom’s Up Leash. When fitted around the dog’s back legs, this nylon harness with washable neoprene sleeves allows you to support your dog’s hind end without stooping and takes the mess out of business breaks. An alternative is Walkabout’s Walkabelly, a neoprene belly sling that supports a dog’s torso.
Feather their nests. Old dogs are connoisseurs of what makes a good nap zone. Among those that would pass muster with Rip Van Canine: Canine Covers’ easy-clean Ultimate Dog Bed, with bolsters for comfortable head-resting and easy-on-the-bones egg-crate foam and high-loft batting protected by an interior waterproof nylon shell; West Paw Design’s Tuckered Out bed, made in Montana and stuffed with 100% recycled fiber fill for an eco-friendly doze; Gertie Gear’s airbed for dogs (and cats too), with its tough canvas undercover and a wealth of machine-washable outer cover options; and Crypton’s stain-, moisture- and odor-resistant bolster bed.
Satisfy their ergonomic needs. Among the stylish options: These Creatures’ made-to-order wall-mounted feeders in powder-coated steel with artful cutouts of cats, squirrels and dogs; the unique Wine Box Raised Feeder with its two stainless steel bowls and rubber feet that keep it in place; or the Melia Elevated Dog Feeder with either stainless steel or handpainted ceramic bowls.
Keep them safe and steady on their feet. Lightweight buckle-free stretchy collars by Tazlab rest weightlessly on the neck; Paw Pads, textured, ultra-thin neoprene “grippers” give unsteady elders traction on slippery surfaces; and Ruff Wear’s Grip Trex or Skyliner boots protect those senior feet and are great for outdoor play.
Avoid embarrassing moments. Reusable, machine-washable, layered protective pads protect rugs, furniture and beds are just the thing for worry-free reclining.
Treat them well. Wheat-free Senior Biscuits from Wagatha’s and gourmet soft dog treats that are easy to eat and yummy for the tummy from the Mom and Pup Bakery are just two of many good options.
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Good stuff we couldn't quite fit into our March 2009 issue.
You know how when you order a milkshake at an old-fashioned ice cream parlor the really good soda jerks always manage to make a little too much, which they let you have to replenish your drink. That’s how we see Web Extras. This is where you’ll find stuff—expanded versions of articles, instructions and links for taking action, and sometimes multi-media bonuses—we couldn’t quite fit in the magazine but that we hope will add to your enjoyment of the current issue.
Slobbering Good Deeds An easy way to donate toys to shelters
Pet Soup Kitchens Serving food for dogs and comfort for owners. By JoAnna Lou
Esprit de Corps Soldiers’ buddies find a safe haven By Lisa Wogan
What’s That in Dog Years? Tips to help your oldster live long and prosper. By Bark Editors
Top Dogs Shouldn’t every state have an official canine? By Lisa Wogan
Fences with Staying Power Good fences = safe dogs By Robin Tierney
Rabies Booster Update Inching toward the three-year interval nationwide. By Lisa Wogan
Senior Solutions Lend a Helping Hand—Products to make life more comfortable.
Lessons from Prunella Advice for stress-free coping with an aged, beloved yet incontinent dog. By Christine Weibel
Wellness: Health Care
Tips to help your oldster live long and prosper.
When it comes to figuring out when your dog’s officially a senior, the “7 human years to 1 dog year” ratio we’ve all heard about can’t be taken literally, since size, breed type and other factors influence the aging rate. However, with that in mind, many vets recommend beginning senior screenings around age seven to eight to establish baselines and catch potential health problems that may not yet have surfaced.
These baseline tests include complete blood counts (chronic inflammatory conditions, platelet problems, anemia and some cancers), serum chemistries (diabetes, liver conditions, kidney impairment, digestive problems, hormone imbalances) and urinalysis (kidney function and bladder health). Specialized screenings—EKGs; chest X-rays; and thyroid, glaucoma and blood pressure tests—are also available and are sometimes recommended, depending on your particular dog’s type and history. Establishing baselines helps your vet more easily detect potential problems as your dog ages.
Vets also recommend paying increased attention to the standard “maintenance” issues, including dental care, diet and nutrition, and weight and parasite control. If you haven’t already done so, talk to your vet about vaccinations. Depending on your dog’s lifestyle and local legal requirements, it might be time to reduce their number or frequency. As much as possible, keep your senior sweetie active and engaged in daily living. And finally, switch from an annual to a twice-a-year exam schedule—dogs can develop problems more quickly as they age, and a health issue that starts within a few weeks of a routine vet visit could develop into something more serious by the time the next annual exam rolls around.
Source: AAHA Senior Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats
Good Dog: Activities & Sports
Good news on the OLA front
Across the nation, dog-lovers are working to provide more dedicated space for their pooches to run, play and socialize. Read about some of them here and be inspired!
Louisiana: New Orleans City Bark’s 4.6 landscaped acres, coming soon. The first official NOLA dog park, it will have a state-of-the-art off-leash area, walking trails, shade pavilions, benches and a separate small dog section. They’re hoping to raise $500,000, and they could use some help.
Massachusetts: Kudos to Pilgrim Bark Park in Provincetown, which had its grand opening on Nov. 25, ’08. The dog park’s supporters employed unique and creative approaches to raising funds for their OLA. The generous response of local businesses and artists—who contributed everything from a miniature doghouse to be auctioned off, benches, art in the park, and labor and building materials to a “drive by” coin toss/penny pitch installation—reflected the best of this Cape Cod community.
New York: Buffalo’s first OLA, the aptly named Barkyard, reopened in October ’08 at LaSalle Park along Lake Erie. Veterinarian Reed Stevens, who has been working on this for eight years, explains that the name denotes a “common backyard for dogs and their human friends—and brings people and their dogs together to improve our parks, our lives and our city.”
Oklahoma: Tulsa’s first-ever dog park opened its gates in August ’08. The Joe Station Bark Park, a converted baseball field, has generous opening hours: 5 AM to 11 PM Dog lovers are hoping this will be the first of many in their fine city.
Pennsylvania: Harrisburg’s Lower Paxton Dog Park anticipates its grand opening for Memorial Day ’09. The nearly 2-acre park will have all the amenities, including a nice shady section and separate areas for big and small dogs. With land donated by the township, and the Pennsylvania Conservation Corps slated to do the fencing, the dog park association is busy with fundraising.
Washington, D.C.: Just in time for the First Dog, the first official (and legal) dog park opened on Nov. 20, ’08. The 15,000-square-foot enclosed area is located in the city’s Shaw neighborhood; registration is required, so for now, the park isn’t accessible to outside visitors. Groundbreaking for another new park—the S Street Dog Park—took place in February ’09.
24 New Smiling Dogs every week!! E-mail your photo to us, be sure to include your dog's name in both the subject line & as the title of the photo. It is important to include your name/address in the message. If you don't have a photo of your dog smiling, we have other contests for you to consider. Click here for more details.
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