Our Aging Dogs and How We can Support Them

My Beloved Diva

Diva and Betsy were my Mom’s dogs. A week before Mom passed away from lung cancer, her biggest concern was who would take care of her 2 beautiful dogs. I was living in a condo in West Hollywood which would not allow 2 dogs, nor ones their size. It was a no brainer. I told Mom she had nothing to fear and I would be renting a house for them.

Betsy passed away 2 years later and I adopted Fluke for Diva. This post is dedicated to Beautiful Diva, whom I also like to refer to as my Narnia Princess because of her wonderful expressive face and ears.Diva is now 11 years old, at the least – it’s so hard to know with rescues, which Diva was. The day we adopted her, we took Diva and Betsy to our favorite place, Stinson Beach. She was only in our family 45 minutes and we were able to leash she and Betsy onto the porch of The Sand Dollar Restaurant. We came out to see them and Diva was calmly sitting with Betsy. Nobody could believe she was rescued just 45 minutes earlier. She was a keeper the moment my Mom laid eyes on her. I have so many amazing stories about Baby D, but now i want to help you with your aging furry baby because Diva is THRIVING.Diva Doll

Physical Signs of Aging

I’ve done some research and find The American Kennel Club a great resource.

  • Cloudy eyes or difficulty seeing: Eye cloudiness, known as nuclear sclerosis, can happen so gradually and you might not notice it while it’s happening. It’s a pretty common thing in older dogs and doesn’t affect vision – Phew!, But it may also be a sign of cataracts or other eye diseases, most of which are easily treatable. Your dog may also start bumping into things or have trouble locating a toy on the floor or other familiar objects. This could signal vision loss.
  • Terrible breath: Listen, doggie breath isn’t uncommon at any age, but if your dog seems to suddenly have awful breath, it could indicate gum disease, tooth decay, or infection. The immune system weakens as dogs age and they are not able to fight off infections as easily as they did when they were younger. Along with a good dental cleaning, your vet may decide to do blood work to rule out infection. I also recommend Probiotics, which Diva is on. She used to take Probiotic supplements but now her food has Probiotics already in it.
  • Slowing down or difficulty getting around:  An older dog can have trouble with stairs, jumping into the car, or simply getting up after a nap. You might notice weakness in their back legs – that’s what I saw in Diva. While we all slow down as we age, your dog’s mobility issues could be caused by arthritis or another degenerative disease. Along with any medication or supplements your vet recommends, you will have to adjust your dog’s exercise regimen to slower and shorter walks or a new exercise routine. Swimming, for example, is gentle on the body and many dogs love it. I will get to this soon!
  • New lumps and bumps: Many dogs are prone to harmless fatty lipomas and these lumps under the skin are more common as dogs age. Whenever you feel a lump, make sure you let your vet know ASAP. They will aspirate it if there’s any Cancer concern but more typically it’s not anything to fear. Just keep your vet in the loop. All new lumps should be checked by your vet to rule out a malignant tumor. Diva has had her share of these. She’s had 2 lumps removed that were SKIN CANCER so please stay on top of the lump situation.
  • A change in weight: Ugh, we’re dealing with this now. Diva was diagnosed at a very young age for Cushings Disease which means she’s hungry and thirsty a lot. Keeping her weight down is a big challenge and we’re grappling with that.The reality is that older, less active dogs sometimes gain weight and you may have to adjust your dog’s diet and exercise to maintain a healthy weight. But please also pay attention if your senior dog loses weight. This could be the result of reduced muscle mass, common in older dogs, or it might be caused by reduced appetite, poor absorption of nutrients, or a digestive illness. If your dog loses more than 10 percent of their body weight in a few months, or even in a year, meet with your vet.For Diva’s weight issue, I switched her to Nature’s Balance Fat Dog which she loves and pray it brings her weight down so it’s easier on her joints.
  • Incontinence or difficulty “going:” Before Diva started this amazing physical therapy regime which includes food/nutrition, she was starting to leak. I was super concerned and had her tested for any kind of more serious issues. I don’t want you to freak out like I did! If your dog suddenly seems to forget their housetraining or seems to strain when urinating, these could be signs of a urinary tract infection or kidney disease.  However, incontinence is not unusual in elderly dogs and there is safe medicine that can help. Please don’t freak out! Humans have leakage as well, thus Depends:)

 

Behavioral and Mental Signs of Aging

Changes in behavior can be a sign of an underlying physical problem or may simply be a normal sign of aging. If you notice your kind dog is suddenlty surly, they may be in pain caused by arthritis or feeling some other physical discomfort. Or your high-energy furry love may be sleeping hours a day. Older dogs need more sleep, just let them nap.

Changes in behavior may also be the result of canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CCDS). According to a study at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, CCDS affects 14-35 percent of dogs over eight years old. A dementia similar to Alzheimer’s in humans, CCDS can bring about pronounced changes in your dog’s everyday behavior:

  • Fear of familiar people or objects.
  • Changes in the sleeping-waking cycle, including restlessness or pacing at night.
  • Increased barking and vocalization.
  • Repetitive or compulsive behaviors.
  • Forgetting commands and cues that she once knew.
  • House soiling.
  • Increased anxiety.
  • Confusion and disorientation.
  • Marked change in activity level.

I will tell you, Diva was demonstrating disorientation. I was so worried and she was panting so much during the night and I was FREAKEKD. I changed her Cushings meds and honestly, once she started physcial therapy with their pain management, this restlessness/disorientation has much dissipated.

But please, if you are seeing this in your elderly dog, please go to your Vet. They will be able to make a diagnosis by asking you simple questions during the appointment. While there is no cure for CCDS, there are some new medications and therapeutic options your vet can discuss with you.

 

Benefits of Adequan

Betsy had horrible arthristi and I swear by the Adequan shots she got. Diva and Fluke are both now on Adequan. What the Heck is Adequan?!!!

Briefly, Adequan belongs to a class of drugs called Disease Modifying Osteoarthritis Drugs (DMOAD). It is the only FDA-approved product of its type, and has been clinically shown to help treat arthritis while simultaneously relieving joint pain.

Adequan is a prescription medication that can only be dispensed and administered by a licensed veterinarian. That’s because it isn’t just a pill or an ointment, but a treatment requiring injection. When injected directly into your dog’s muscle, Adequan (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan) inhibits bad enzymes that break down cartilage in your dog’s joints.

Currently, Adequan is only FDA-approved for dogs and horses, though some vets do prescribe it for cats as well. Adequan helps relieve the pain of arthritis by soothing and lubricating the inflamed joint in addition to stimulating joint cartilage repair. Simply put, it helps your dog’s body heal and prevent further deterioration of your pets’ joints.

All I can tell you is that Betsy had SEVERE arthritis and Adequan was a MIRACLE. Diva has arthritis and she’s full of Bounce. So beautiful for me to see Diva springing towards me!!!!

 

Physical Therapy

I’m in Showbiz. As a Performer, no joke, I am in PT all the time because my work isn’t very kind to the Body. I’m not going to spend a lot of words on this as it depends where you live and what you can afford. I will tell you that if you can afford Acupuncture, it’s so incredibly valuable. My babies and I are blessed as I have access to maybe the best Canine Rehab in the US and my insurance covers 80%. Please don’t be deterred. Just like we need PT, you can find PT for your furry kid(s) who needs some help. I just want you to see this amazing facility – yeah, my friends own it but I get no kick back. I’m just super proud of what they created and never knew I would be taking my kids to be rehabbed by them…It’s a bit of a shlep for me but the Benefits so outweigh the Shlep!!!! OK, here’s Two Hands Four Paws…LOVE!!!!

 

Sleep and Doggy Beds

OK, this is where I’m supposed to make some dough, but honestly, I would rather help you regardless of whether you purchase via my links or not.

Best Orthopedic Dog Bed For After Surgery

PetFusion Ultimate Dog Bed

The last thing any dog mom or dog dad needs to worry about is your dog’s comfort post surgery.

The pillow on this dog bed is of medium firmness, the cotton is breathable, the base is non-skid, the bolsters are pre-loaded for maximum support, and the memory foam base is six inches of pure support.

Dogs recovering from surgery often leave stains that may ooze from wounds. The water-resistant and tear-resistant elements of the PetFusion ultimate dog bed is a game changer. It’s simple to spot clean and easy to remove hair. When it’s time to fully wash the cover, toss it in the laundry machine and tumble dry on gentle.

This bed also comes in a number of sizes. Measuring 50 inches by 40 inches, the XXL Jumbo size can easily hold a 200- pound dog or more. Don’t worry if you’re more the small or medium sized dog parent—there are options available for you, too.

Highlights

  • The cover fabric is certified as “Skin Contact Safe” making it a great option for dogs who just had surgery.
  • The non-skid bottom makes it easy for recovering dogs to get in and out of.
  • CertiPUR-US Certified. Having surgery is hard enough on a dog, so there’s no need to worry about any unnecessary chemicals or toxins in this bed.
  • It’s easy to spot clean and you can machine wash the removable cover.

Available on Amazon.

 

Best Cooling Orthopedic Dog Bed

Sealy Lux Quad Layer Orthopedic Dog Bed with Cooling Gel

 

My Diva tends to run warm. Dogs are just like us. How many nights do you struggle to sleep as it’s just too dang hot!

While dogs can’t tell us their bed is too warm, the folks at Sealy get it. Within their quad element core of comfort is an energy gel cooling layer designed to dissipate heat away from the sleeping surface. Dogs stay cooler for a more comfortable nap!

Without using any poly-fill or low-grade foams, Sealy combines memory foam, cooling energy gel, orthopedic foam, and a layer of high density foam to provide a firm, sturdy base even on those hot nights and dog days of summer. Another cool thing is that the high density foam within the bed ensures dogs will never feel the floor beneath their bodies.

Highlights

  • Cooling technology is a huge plus for warmer weather or climates.
  • Sealy has a great reputation for human mattresses, and pet parents are gaga over their dog beds too.
  • Machine-washable cover for easy cleaning and a water-resistant liner.
  • Non-skid bottom that helps the bed stay in place
  • CertiPUR-US Certified. No formaldehyde, no phthalates, and eco-friendly practices.

Available on Amazon.

#1 Orthorpedic Dog Bed Reviewers Recommend

Big Barker 7” Headrest Orthopedic Pillow Dog Bed With Removable Cover

 

The Big Barker orthopedic dog bed is made with the company’s unique OrthoMedic foam construction. They designed this bed to support the weight of over 300 pounds of dog, which helps protect precious joints from pain and discomfort.

Made for dogs over 50 pounds, the Big Barker bed is available in three sizes for differning dog breeds and weights. The mattress allows large and extra-large dogs enough room to stretch their legs out. It is designed to last and retain 90 percent of its original shape without flattening or “pancaking” with time.

Not all orthopedic dog beds have multiple layers, but Big Barker designs their orthopedic bed in three stages using American-made foam. A 2-inch bed base, a 3-inch high density core, a 2-inch bed surface, and a 4-inch headrest provide optimal support for every nook, bend, crack, and crevice on a dog’s joints.

If your dog doesn’t need a large 48-inch bed, an extra-large 52-inch bed, or a giant 60-inch bed, Big Barker makes a Barker Junior that’s terrific for smaller dogs.

Highlights

  • Multi-layer support for big dogs over 50 pounds.
  • Machine washable, with a microfiber cover.
  • Non-slip surface on the bottom of the bed.
  • Brand offers a 10-year warranty. They’ll send you a new bed if yours doesn’t last for a whole decade.
  • CertiPUR-US Certified. Made with eco-friendly practices.
  • Money-back guarantee. If your dog doesn’t adore it in the first year, Big Barker will offer you a refund and cover return shipping costs.

Available on Amazon.

The Upshot

Our aging dogs today have so many options to keep them active, thriving and comfy all through their Senior years. It gives me great satisfaction and comfort knowing that I am giving Diva everything she needs to live out the rest of her time, however blessed we are with the time she has left, with all the support she requires. Every day is precious and I know she’s certain she is living the fun-filled and loving life of the Diva Narnia Princess she is and deserves! I wish the same for your beloved furry family members!! FOR ME, THERE IS NO GREATER JOY THAN LOVING A DOG!!!!