7 Most Important Senior Dog Facts

It's crucial to stay attentive to your dog's changing health and behavior as they grow older. By familiarizing yourself with these t...


7 Most Important Senior Dog Facts

It's crucial to stay attentive to your dog's changing health and behavior as they grow older. By familiarizing yourself with these transformations, you can offer optimal care to your senior dog, promoting a joyful and extended life.

Here are seven essential insights about senior dogs:

1. Dogs age uniquely

The point at which a dog is considered a senior varies, influenced by factors like breed and size. Larger breeds, such as Great Danes and Mastiffs, typically enter their senior years around 7 years old. Conversely, smaller breeds, like Chihuahuas and Yorkshire Terriers, may reach this stage at 10 or 11 years old.

2. Health adjustments may occur

Aginbg dogs are more prone to health issues like arthritis, dental disease, and cognitive dysfunction. Therefore, regular veterinary checkups are vital to timely detect and treat any potential health concerns in senior dogs.

3. Dietary modifications may be necessary

As dogs age, their nutritional requirements can change. Consult your veterinarian to determine the most suitable diet for your senior dog. Some may require a lower-calorie or lower-fat diet, while others might benefit from specially formulated senior dog food.

4. Activity levels may need adjustment

Senior dogs may not be as active as before due to physical limitations. It's essential to tailor their activity level to their specific needs. While some senior dogs can still enjoy extended walks or hikes, others may require shorter walks or playtime in a confined area.

5. Increased attention might be needed

Senior dogs often become more reliant on their owners for care. Display patience, understanding, and provide them with the extra attention they require.

6. Happiness and health are attainable

With proper care, senior dogs can lead fulfilling and content lives. By acknowledging potential changes in their health and behavior, you can provide your senior dog with exceptional care, enabling them to enjoy a long and joyful existence.

7. Implementing the following tips can alleviate the effects of aging:

  • Ensure your senior dog has a comfortable sleeping area.
  • Provide fresh water for your senior dog regularly.
  • Maintain regular teeth brushing for your senior dog.
  • Incorporate regular walks or play sessions into your senior dog's routine.
  • Feed your senior dog a nutritious diet.
  • Keep track of your senior dog's weight and activity level.
  • Schedule routine checkups with your veterinarian for your senior dog.
By adhering to these suggestions, you can enhance the well-being of your senior dog and contribute to their longevity and happiness. 
senior chihuahua dog

Review - Orijen's Black Angus Beef Freeze Dried Treats

Orijen Black Angus Treats for Dogs
We recently had the opportunity to give Orijen's Black Angus Beef Freeze Dried Dog Treats and I'm happy to say that they received Rusty's prestigious "Eyes Rolling Back in My Head" Award.

Orijen puts out a fine product made simply of beef and beef tripe. Rusty, who has been known to have a delicate stomach, digested the treats just fine. The texture is just right for an other dog and even those with a tooth left to spare will be pleased. These cubed treats have a flaky texture when crushed, but more or less hold their form.

Orijen and Acana brands are made by the same company. 

Regardless of the size of your dog, I find these an excellent training aid.

Along with many other fine products, you can pick up a bag or three at Chewy.com and head straight over to the Orijen treat section.

Disclaimer: We received a bag of these treats from our friend's at Chewy.com. No other compensation was received and this review is strictly based upon my experience with Rusty trying to strip the skin from my fingers to get one of these and his ability to digest the treat.

It's Important to Paws to Get the Scoop on Petographer David Jensen's Latest Project

Flash, David Jensen, Petographer's Dog
One of the benefits of writing this blog is connecting with folks all over the world who care so much about animals that it has become a part of who they are. 

Thanks to the power of the Internet, David Jensen is one of those individuals who I've had the privilege of virtually "meeting."

His quest to find the right photographer for his wife and her loving senior dog some thirty years ago led him on an adventure that he gets to do for a living today: Petography.

David's latest project is a photo book called, Important to Paws. It's imminently about to be funded so I wanted to share this with you all so you have the opportunity to get a first run copy of the book, and help fund David's dream to share what he describes as "[l]essons learned from animal companions."

Let's get right into it with David...

SP: How did you get started in Petography?

DJ: In the mid-1980’s, professional photographers had no interest in portrait work with animal companions. I learned this after searching for someone who would be interested and skilled with creating meaningful portraits of my wife with her aging and beloved collie, Skyler. Our experience with the chosen photographer was adequate. She knew cameras. But she didn’t really ‘know’ dogs.

Something inside started calling me. I loved animals. I had an interest in photography. The next step was to improve my photography. I did this through classes as I completed my B.A. in Journalism at University of Alaska Anchorage. The professional training was helpful. It taught me the basics. I also attached myself to a couple other photographers who were already established. That training, combined with my “Dr. Doolittle” abilities, were a perfect match.

SP:  "It's Important to Paws" is a looks like a great book. How did you decide to bring it to life now?

DJ: Thank you, Jeff. I’m very proud of project. It’s absolutely a tribute to the animals and people I’ve worked with over the years. All of the credit rests with them.

I decided to produce It’s Important to Paws during a mountain climbing adventure near Anchorage a couple years ago. After reaching FlatTop Mountain’s peak, I sat on a rock with Layla, my golden retriever/border collie mix and absorbed the moment. I was proud of our mutual accomplishment. We did something together that was a remarkable physical and mental challenge. We had one of those special bonding moments with each other.

I paused and reflected on what had or has not been achieved in my life. I savored the moment of hearing nothing but wind in the mountains. That is when I accepted the long-procrastinated challenge of finally writing and publishing a book.

SP: You mention commentary, in addition to pictures that will be included. What sort of stories or lessons are you considering sharing as a piece of this work?

DJ: The stories in It’s Important to Paws are eclectic. They’re humorous, sentimental, anecdotal and sometimes biographical. Often, my writings speak from a cat or dog’s perspective. Knowing this, readers will have to consider truth (or my humor) to be akin to a dog chasing its own tail. If caught, one may not have any other choice except to release it and decide whether it’s worth chasing again. If it’s not caught, there’s always the next page.

SP: You obviously have a wide range of subjects to choose from. What are some of the factors that you use when determining which images to use?

DJ: This book features more than 300 dogs, cats, horses, frogs, birds, reptiles and others.

Choosing images that appear in the book was the most difficult emotional challenge of completing It’s Important to Paws. I develop close relationships with the animals that I photograph. All of the animal companions I’ve photographed merit recognition in this project. The best comparison I can relate is this:

Each morning I leave for work with five big-hearted dogs staring at me with their needy eyes. Each pleads “Take ME to work today, Dad!” Yet, I can only bring one or two at a time. Dog noses try to poke through the house door as I close it with the day’s lucky two at my side. I feel guilty that they can’t all come to the studio.

That’s how I feel about It’s Important to Paws. Animal companions who are featured in the book will have their 15-minutes of fame. The others get to be part of the next chapter. But they’re all in my heart every moment of the day.

SP: Do you have any recommendations for people looking to get into the business or just trying to take better pictures of their pets?

DJ: Photographing animals should be about the heart. The act of creating a photograph should be as much about the moment you and others are sharing together as it is about having a final image you’ll cherish. The best photograph on the wall is one that reminds you of the heart and soul of the moment. It should be about the experience.

My concern with society today is the loss of legacies. A photo captured years ago would be artfully placed into an album or framed for generations to enjoy and reflect upon. Today, images (legacies) are erased with the click of a couple buttons or stored on a CD which will never be seen again. They’re posted on social media and are gone in 30-minutes after a handful of views. Memories and art deserve much better.

Make the effort to preserve your favorite memories in a meaningful way. Go to the department store and buy a frame or two or three. Create a scrapbook or album.

Electronics are great but they’re temporary. Prints are something you can touch and feel. Meaningful photography is about experiences, touching the heart, and feeling a connection to something that is everlasting.

Thanks to David for taking the time to talk. You can learn more about all of the great work that he does on the Petography section of his website. If you live in Alaska, I can't think of a better legacy to leave then scheduling some time with David to capture the most important moments of your life with your four and two-legged family members.

Photo by David Jensen.

Happy Birthday to the Wolf at the Door

Rusty, one old lucky dog on his birthday

To The Wolf at the Door on his birthday, 

There's a wolf at the door, but I'm lucky that you live on the inside with me.

Lessons from a Senior Dog

This year you taught me that slowing down only means that you have more time to appreciate all of the things around us. Time to meet with your friends in the park, say HI to someone new, argue with the crows, and even time to watch the rabbits figure out which way you're going to move during our many walks in the park. 

You still surprise me with the occasional full body tackle when I get home or talking me into an extra walk at the end of a long hard day (your indoor voice leaves something to be desired, or at least that is what the neighbors tell me.) This year you figured out how to be even closer to the point that you're now a 75 pound lap dog, so that I can give you a belly rub while I watch TV on the couch. And speaking of 75 pounds, together, we did the impossible and lost that extra weight that we knew would be trouble for your aching joints later in life. 

There's a little girl that we see on our walk that calls you Lobo, but you'll always be Rusty to me, waiting by the door for me to come home or to protect me from the monsters on the other side. 

I love you buddy.

Your boy,


Create Your Own Pet Food Recall Notifications

It's scary to think that almost every day there's a recall out for one type of pet food or another. The Pet Food Recalls of 2007 were particularly troublesome and brought to light the many brands that offshore their production to facilities in China that have insufficient safety controls.

Since forewarned is forearmed, we wanted to share a quick and easy way that you can stay ahead of game and get notifications as quickly as they occur with Google Alerts. What you get are notifications in your email inbox with the latest pet food recall notifications from across the Internet. The hope is that you can configure alerts to let you know when pet food recalls are in affect and get notified immediately.

How can you set yourself up to receive timely notifications of pet food recalls?

  1. The first thing you'll need is a Google Mail account. If you have an account, sign-in. If you don't, get one. It's easy and free.
  2. Next, surf on over to Google Alerts
  3. Once there, you'll be able to put in keywords to create an alert. In the example, below you can see that I've used "pet food recall" (without the quotes) in the Search query field to accomplish this.
  4. Adjust the How often setting to the frequency of how often that you''d like to be notified. Once a day or Once a week, are good starting points, but if that proves too much you can dial that back. Should you choose to go with As-it-happens, you may find that the notifications that you get (all via email) can be overwhelming. We recommend that you start with Once a day. We find that this will trigger a new alert every couple of days. 
  5. That's it. The rest of the settings I leave as-is. I always leave the How many field as Only the best results, and that provides all the results I've ever needed.
Here's what our Google Alert for Pet Food Recalls looks like. Note that you get to look at what the email will look like on the right hand side of the display:

Simple Pet Food Recall Notifications by Google Alerts


Why create a pet food recall?

The purpose of keeping an eye on the products that are being recalled is not to create a panic, but to have the knowledge to make the best decision for your pet on a timely basis. Like any information, it depends upon individuals and companies reporting recalls, so it's not perfect, but it is a useful tool that you should consider.

These quick pet food recall notifications allow me to put a quick eye on my email alerts in the morning and have piece of mind the rest of the day that the food (and treats) I'm feeding my dog haven't been recalled.

We recommend that you review those recalls that are coming in before making any decisions about any changes you decide to make for you dog's diet.  As Google Alerts searches through the text of web pages, false positives can appear. For example, when a web page is referring to a past instance where a particular company's pet food had to be recalled, this may show up in your alert as well, although it may not apply to you or your senior dog. 

Double-Time At the Vet: When It's Time to Increase Your Dog's Check Ups

The day will come when your dog's muzzle grows more and more grey; when you notice that she is not getting along like she did in their younger days. We already talked about this a while back, but this is both a reminder and an introduction to another benefit of visiting your veterinarian more often: talking with them about the best preventative medicine.

The symptoms of many ailments can be mitigated if you catch them early enough.

Common canine joint issues

Arthirits and hip dysplasia are two issues that I've come up against several times. Getting on a diet and choosing supplements that reduce inflammation helped enormously in my dog's case. We also received tips on walking on inclines and declines, instead of the more severe stairs, in order to maintain as much muscle mass as possible. Muscle loss was one of the related concerns that my vet brought to my attention. As a dog gets older, it's going to lose muscle mass. The goal is to maintain a level of exercise that isn't painful to the dog, but still keeps them active.

Skin diseases in senior dogs

Diseases that younger dogs can more easily fight off are a concern as well. Dog's whose immune systems are degrading are more susceptible to more severe forms of common health issues that they would have more easily fought off in their youth. Skin diseases, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria are usually treatable if caught early enough. It may be that you'll need to head to a specialist to address these, however they should be able to give you some tricks on how to mitigate these itchy situations. Domboro Solution, a common poison ivy treatment for people that is available in your drugstore's first aid aisle, was just what the doctor ordered to dry up a rash caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria after the proper drugs were find to fight this illness.

Early canine cancer detection

Cancer is another area where early detection can help. More and more people that I'm in contact are having their dogs treated for cancer instead of treating it as a death sentence.

The point is that looking up how to treat illnesses on the web or talking with your friends may give you a little information or even help you commiserate over the situation, but your best bet when it comes to dealing with canine health issues is to have an open line to your vet. This allows you to work together to maintain your dog's quality of life for many years to come.

Don't take my word for it, make an appointment for a check-up and chat with your veterinarian today.