The Golden Years – Caring for our Senior Dogs

 

The Golden Years

Caring for our Senior Dogs

This darling Boston Terrier is San-D’s Tickle Me Elmo, a very special 11 year old Boston Terrier who is a half brother to my very special “Joevee”. Elmo’s and Joevee’s sire lived to be 15 1/2 years old. Our wonderful companions just don’t live long enough, do they? Why is that? Is there anything we can do to help live longer and healither lives?

Our sweet dogs! They love us unconditionally through all of our lives together. New family members, strange hair-dos and weight gains, Devastating losses, etc. We recluntanly place them into the arms of strangers when we go on extended trips, they move with us from one state to the next never asking why. We, in turn, expect them to adjust without questions. They buffer our bad moods with sloppy kisses. They anxiously await our arrival home at the end of a long day. Dogs are a reflection of the best parts of our humanity.

Time flies by and eventually, it will come to pass … the time in their lives that we’re never prepared to face. The first signs can be anything from a waning appetite to not coming immediately when we call them. The signs are usually very subtle at first, so subtle that we look the other way hoping that it’s nothing major, after all, our dogs are entitled to having a bad week just like we do sometimes. Then we notice that singular bad week stretching into a string of bad weeks. We come to realize that what we thought was disobedience is in fact hearing loss and the extra naps are not a manifestation of laziness, but just plain weariness. Any creature, whether it is a dog, cat or a human, supposedly attains geriatric status when 75% of its life span has elapsed. Therefore, according to this equation, and the poor health of our pets (and ourselves), when a dog reaches 10-13 years of age today, it has officially become a senior citizen of the dog world. However, not all dogs age at the same rate. A dog’s biological age depends a lot on its breed, genetic background, the quality of diet and the overall quality of environment throughout his or her life. The following is an overall guide that conventional veterinarians use to determine aging, regardless of genetics or environment.

Small Dogs
(less than 20 pounds)
9-13 years

Medium Dogs
(21-50 pounds)
9-11.5 years

Large Dogs
(51-90 pounds)
7.5-10.5 years

Giant Dogs
(over 90 pounds)
6-9 years

Did you know that the maximum life span of our dogs should be 25 – 30 years? , unfortunately, the average dog only lives approximately 10-15 years. WHY???

The first place to look is at nutrition or the diet our dogs eat daily. Most of us still feed commercial dog food to our pets.  Oh yes, they come in these beautiful, colorful bags that our veterinarian so highly recommends. The commercials tell us that they are 100% nutritionally complete and “good for our dogs!”.

If this were true, then why in the last 30 years have we begun to see such a huge increase of dogs with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, periodontal disease and arthritis? Could it possibly be what we are feeding them? It sure is! It is the number ONE reason! (over vaccinating is another reason but that is for another time).

Where did we ever get the idea that dogs were designed or evolved through domestication to NEED kibble or canned dog food? Well, you say, my vet told me the best diet for my dog is kibble! Hmmmmm, interesting. Did you know that Vets only get one semester of training in nutrition in Vet school? And did you know that it is the commercial pet food industry that teaches the courses? Does any of this sound fishy to you?

Let’s look in our dog’s mouths. Go ahead, open your dog’s mouth and take a look at his teeth. Yup, not like ours huh? They are the teeth of a Carnivore! A meat eater. Look at the picture of a Wolf’s teeth below. Your dog’s teeth look just like the wolf’s teeth, don’t they?

 

So, What do wolves eat? Do they eat kibble? Do they go around and raid farmer’s gardens eating their squash and cabbage? Do they raid the fields and eat corn and wheat and barley? NOPE! they eat MEAT and BONES. And they don’t sit around the campfire chatting while their meat cooks either. Think about this for a little bit… What is the healthiest food you can feed your dog if you want to avoid cancer, liver disease, diabetes and arthritis?

Stay tuned for Part II of caring for your senior dog. Meanwhile, let me know your thoughts on this concept of raw feeding your dogs for health and longevity

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