Growing Old (Un)Gracefully!

It’s the one thing as pet owners we hate talking about. The taboo subject that we all ignore and avoid (both in humans and animals!) Aging. That one little word that fills us with dread. Now this blog will hopefully make dealing with your dogs (or any pet for that matter) a little easier and less daunting!

I only realised a few weeks ago that Isla is now technically ‘senior’ when I had to put her date of birth down on an entry form! That realisation prompted me to write this blog!

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Firstly, just because your dog has reached a certain age doesn’t mean they are old and should stop doing things they love. You’ll probably find it is doing those things that is keeping them young, fit and healthy. It just means they have reached a point in life where things may be not running as smoothly as they once were and a little support will help slow the signs of aging down.

There are lots of things you can do to support your dog, from supplements to brain games, lifestyle changes and veterinary monitoring.

Nutrition plays a huge part in supporting the older dog. Many diets have a senior range which may have increased levels of Glucosamine & Chondrotin which helps support joint health and delay signs of arthritis and stiffness, reduced phosphorus levels to help support the kidneys and special mixes of amino acids that can help brain function.

Jelli and Isla are both fed Guru and Forthglade and although Guru doesn’t have a ‘senior’ diet, it’s jam packed full of the good things to help support older dogs including that fabulous Glucosamine & Chondriton combo and the addition of some yummy green lipped mussels which have proven benefits to help reduce inflammation in the joints! We add forthglade wet food as a topper to the Guru, Jelli enjoys the Forthglade ‘Just’ wet food but Isla has moved to the Senior Trays which have double the Glucosamine & Condroiton than the 2 months + range and the same yummy blend of camomile, nettle, Rosemary and parsley. It also comes in two delicious flavours – Chicken or Turkey.

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Whilst thinking about the additional nutrients Isla needs, it’s hard to increase some things using food alone. This is why every day she gets an Animology Senior Capsule! Formulated to include important vitamins and amino acids that aging dogs need. For example the Amino Acid Taurine is included which can help maintain a healthy heart and Carnitine which can help stop fat deposits building around the heart and liver impairing how they work. They come in pots of 60 and dosed at one a day, priced at £12 they are cost effective at only 20p a day! There are lots of other important ingredients all contributing to the health of your dog!

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Lifestyle is a huge factor to consider too! A dog who is a bit of a couch potato may be more inclined to put on weight and find it harder to mobilise. So it’s super important to keep your dogs weight within a normal range as this will have less pressure on the joints and reduce fatty deposits around the heart and lungs. Isla is a very active dog and still enjoys 15 mile walks on Exmoor, agility lessons and swimming!

After any exercise it is important to make sure any pet is warm and dried off thoroughly afterwards. Older pets will particularly appreciate this as it will stop their joints seizing up and getting still, especially if they have a little bit of arthritis already. After a long walk or a swimming session, Isla is wrapped up nice and warm in her Ruff and Tumble drying coat. This keeps her warm, dries her quickly and also stops the car getting mucky!

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There are a few things you can do around the home to make your pet more comfortable. This may be more applicable to much older pets but worth bearing in mind.

As your pet ages, problems with sight may be more prevalent. Cataracts are very common and if left untreated will result in blindness. Keeping furniture in the same place will help your pet if they do lose their sight as they will be able to memories areas and navigate them safely.

If your pet does develop arthritis and they start finding it harder to jump on the sofa or in and out of the car, there are ramps and blocks you can buy to help them without the need for you to lift them which may cause discomfort for you if they are large dogs and also stops the risk of them being dropped if they are wriggly or heavy!

Dogs with arthritis may also find it harder to get comfortable when sleeping, or indeed chose to sleep more as they find it uncomfortable to get up and move. Investing in a memory foam style bed will provide much more comfort for your dog and support their bones and joints in a natural position! Isla has a rather large memory foam bed from Orvis which is big enough for Jelli and Bracken to all snuggly up on too!

Brain games are great for dogs with limited mobility too as it can mentally stimulate and tire them without the need for long walks and physical exercise. This could be something as simple as a KONG toy stuffed with food to a more complex game such as the Nina Ottosson puzzle games. Isla has one of the level two games which she loves!

Finally a trip to the vets every so often isn’t always a bad thing. Lots of veterinary practices offer free of charge clinics with their nurses to check things such as blood pressure, kidney function and general well being. Some things may be chargeable like blood tests but did you know that before you notice signs of kidney failure (thirsty, weight loss, vomiting, lethargy plus many more) 70% of the kidney function may be lost already! So having regular check ups will pick things up sooner so they can be managed and treated appropriately.

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So getting older isn’t all doom and gloom! It’s an excuse to treat your dog to some new treats and food and make sure you enjoy every day to the fullest!

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Thanks for reading our blog – all thoughts are our own and if you are worried about your dog then call your vet for advice!

Holidaying with Your Dog

With Spring now showing signs of coming, flowers trying to bloom and the weather marginally warmer, its time to start planning those 2018 holidays and getaways.

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Why not scrap the two week all inclusive in the glorious sun and swap it for a lovely break or two in good old Royal Britannia? There are now SO many places offering dog and pet friendly accommodation all across the UK you will be spoiled for choice.Cottages to Caravans to Canal Boats there really is a wide variety of places to visit along the length and breadth of the country.

However before you travel it’s important to make a list of items that are super important to take to make your life easier and less stressful.

1) Food and water bowls! It’s really important to make sure your hound has food and water bowls – some places may provide these but you don’t want to be caught short without them – we think the Road Refresher due to its non spill abilities is perfect for travelling in the car and making pit stops en route to your destination. In hot weather this is especially true – take a couple of bottles of water too, then you can fill up when needed without needing to find a shop. Our Road Refresher was from the lovely people at John Norris (click here to buy)

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2) Food! Make sure you take enough food with you to last the duration of your holiday – the last thing you want is to run out of food and have to change for a short period of time. This may not affect some dogs, but a change in diet can upset some dogs tummies (not ideal in someone else’s cottage or in restricted spaces….) It’s important to factor in storage for those dogs fed on a RAW diet. Phone ahead to see what the freezer situation is, there isn’t enough freezer space, google the local area to see if there are suppliers you could buy small amounts from and store in a cool box whilst defrosting OR consider feeding a cold pressed kibble such as Guru or Forthglade combined with a almost RAW, steamed meat – again Forthglade do some excellent varieties which can be stored in the cupboard and eliminates the need for a freezer.

Click here if you fancy a 20% off saving at Forthglade!

 

3) Beds! Your dog maybe a little unsettled sleeping in a new environment. Taking a bed or blanket that smells of home is always a good idea. If they usually sleep in a crate then it may be worth taking that for familiarity – most crates fold flat for ease of transport. We love the Ivy and Duke travel mat and use these in our crates all the time! Teamed with the Ivy and Duke Blanket it’s perfect to snuggle into, creates a homely feel for your hound and is machine washable!

4) Collars and Leads! You can’t enjoy long rambling walks in the countryside (or city!) without a collar and lead – it may also be an idea to take a spare of each just in case you lose one on a walk. It’s also worth ensuring your tag details have up to date contact details including a mobile number in case your dog gets lost on an unfamiliar walk. Mobile numbers are obviously more use than a home number when on holiday! Our tags are from ID#tags and lie flat on the collar so no chance of them snapping or falling off.

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5) Vets! Although not what you want on holiday, it is worth finding out where the local veterinary surgery is in relation to where you are staying, do they do their own out of hours or do the use another larger surgery perhaps. Dogs can be a bit too inquisitive sometimes or too enthusiastic which could result in an unforeseen vet visit. Take details of your insurance details too, just in case the injury or illness may result in a large bill and an insurance claim!

6) Toys & Treats! All dogs have a ‘thing’ it may be a tennis ball, toy or favourite treat – remember to pack these as long walks in new places or quiet times in strange places are always better with a favourite toy or treat to keep your hound happy! We can highly recommend Guru Trip and Field Bones to keep your dog occupied and settled (don’t just have them on holiday, after all every Tuesday is #tripbonetuesday!)

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7) Poo bags! As any responsible owner knows, it’s important to clean up after your dog – in fact, it’s the law! So make sure you have a good supply with you especially if you are going to a more remote part of the UK that may not have a local shop to purchase new supplies. I personally adore the Dog Walking bag from the Cosy Canine Company – it’s perfect to carry your phone, keys, treats, tennis balls, leads and has a special compartment that doubles up as a poo bag dispenser! Whats even nicer is it comes in a variety of colours and can be personalised! use code COCKERSINTHECOUNTRY at checkout for a 15% off your order!

 

8) Your Dog! After all the planning to make sure your hound has a happy holiday, make sure they have a comfortable and safe place secured in the car! Ideally a crate in the boot or seat-belt device on the rear seats. NEVER allow a dog on the front seats as in the event of an accident, impact with airbags is usually fatal.

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