Senior Dog Blog

Senior Dog Summer Activities Your Pooch Will Loveby Ann-Marie Fleming

06 July, 2018

Senior Dog Summer Activities

I think our dogs’ senior years give us so many opportunities to bond deeply and I firmly believe in living an active lifestyle with your dog no matter their age. The challenges that come along with dog aging, like arthritis, having accidents or dealing with health conditions, don’t mean the adventures have to stop. You know your pooch best and by tailoring activities to meet their needs and keep them safe, you can both take advantage of the warm weather months and spend quality time together. Here are ideas for senior dog summer activities that will give your furry family member the stimulation, exercise, and excitement they need for their physical and mental health.

The Best Senior Dog Party Ideas for National Dog Party Day and Beyondby Ann-Marie Fleming

19 June, 2018

Dog Party Ideas

Dog Quality is all about helping senior dogs live their best lives and I believe in celebrating pooches of all ages every day, whether it’s with cuddles or by heading out for an adventure. However, with National Dog Party Day 2018 coming up on June 21, it’s an excuse to really get festive. In honor of the occasion, I’m sharing a few dog party ideas, as well as some tips for tailoring them to senior dogs. Here are ways to put together the perfect gathering for the holiday or to celebrate a furry family member’s birthday.

Get to Know the Founder of Dog Quality: 20 Questions for Ann-Marie Flemingby Dog Quality

09 May, 2018

Get to Know the Founder of Dog Quality

With founder Ann-Marie Fleming leading the charge here at Dog Quality, we’ve been hard at work fulfilling our mission of bringing hope and happiness to senior dogs and their humans.  To help our customers get to know Ann-Marie a little better, we’ve decided to play a round of 20 questions.


Relish Your Senior Dog Momentsby Ann-Marie Fleming

11 April, 2018

Willow - one very special senior dogToday is my Willow's 13th birthday. I rescued her one year ago today. I know her age, but not her date of birth so I have made the day she joined my family her birthday. Willow did not have an easy life. I first saw her one day on my way into work wandering around a busy road. Even from a distance you could see that she was covered in tumors, one so big it dragged on the ground. I discovered that she had a family, but I could see that she was severely neglected.

Over the next few weeks, each time I would see Willow I would bring her back to her "home" and ask them to let me take her permanently and they would refuse. Eventually persistence paid off and they finally allowed me to bring her into my family so she could have the care she so desperately needed. They told me her name and her age, but that is basically all I knew.

Once I had Willow and following a much needed bath, it was off to the vet where we learned that along with roughly 10 mammary tumors due to not being spayed, she also had a severe heart murmur and needed to see a specialist to perform the surgery for the tumor removal given the risks. With the cardiology consult and the surgical fees exceeding $5,000 I needed help and turned to social media to raise the funds. We raised the money within 5 days!! Thank you #TeamWillow #WillowNation!

Willow had her tumor removal surgery and they were able to give her a totally new body! Unfortunately she needed three additional surgeries over the past year due to further complications resulting from not being spayed for 12 years, but she faced each procedure like a champ. I can truly say that Willow is so happy now, is loved and has a family she grows closer to every day.

There is something so special about senior dogs that I am always trying to communicate. Willow is a great example of why I love seniors. She knows who she is, what she likes and definitely what she doesn't like. And she has a spark, something I feel most seniors have. Unlike a puppy that is always in high gear, a senior dog gives you glimpses. These glimpses are so incredibly rewarding and show me that there is always an inner puppy inside seniors even if just appearing for a moment. 

With Willow I see it when we go to and from work. She gallops into the office to say hi to everyone and has the same excitement when we are heading out to the car to go home. I believe that in her mind she is running as fast as the wind! At meal times she spins in anticipation for her meals and if I rub her ears just right, I get licks as if she is telling me how much she appreciates what I am doing. Seniors give you these special moments and it creates a bond on a deeper level than I ever thought possible.

Sometimes I look at Willow and can see how happy she has become and while I know she appreciates her new life, I am blown away by the impact she has had on mine. She was an unexpected addition, but I just can't imagine my life without her. I encourage everyone to open their hearts and homes to a senior dog. Embrace a senior and relish your moments!

Ann-Marie Fleming is the Founder & CEO of Dog Quality, a provider of products focused on improving the quality of life for older dogs.

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Dog Diaper for Your Senior Dogby Ann-Marie Fleming

09 April, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Dog Diaper for Your Senior Dog

As dogs get older, incontinence can become an issue. Sadly, it’s a common reason people put their pets down, which is heartbreaking because it’s actually easily managed with the right assistance products like washable dog diapers and dog belly bands.

Exercising Your Senior Dog's Brainby Ann-Marie Fleming

27 September, 2017

As dogs age they face many of the same challenges that we as humans face including cognitive decline. Like in humans, a dog's brain literally shrinks the older the dog becomes. The good news is that through research we have learned that there are ways that we can slow the aging process.Exercising your Senior Dog's Brain

With the recent ability to take MRI scans of a dog's brain we have come to realize how similar they are to our own brains and therefore dogs face many of the same changes as they age. Cortical atrophy (brain shrinkage) and ventricular widening occur, but it is also believed that the brain is particularly susceptible to damage caused by free radicals produced by the body's own metabolism. 

According to a 1997 study, "Aging and the production of free radicals can lead to oxidative damage to proteins, lipids and nucleotides that, in turn, may cause neuronal dysfunction and ultimately neuronal death. Normally, several mechanisms are in place that balances the production of free radicals. However with age, it is possible that these protective mechanisms begin to fail."  

Increasing the intake of antioxidants such as Vitamin E and C can play a big part in protecting the brain and nervous system from free-radicals, but there are also ways that exercise can help slow the impacts of aging.

Exercise that can benefit our senior dog's brains comes in 2 forms 1) physical and 2) mental.

Exercising your senior dogPhysical exercise has been proven to not only help keep a dog's body healthy, but it can actually help to grow brain cells. Research across a variety of species have shown that skeletal muscle cells secrete proteins and other factors into the blood during exercise that have a regenerative effect on the brain. 

Keeping your dog active also has the benefit of stimulating the mind and science has proven that exposing your dog to new experiences, scents, sights and sounds can alter the physiology of their brains. 

According to Stanley Coren, PhD., DSc., FRSC, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia,. "The brains of animals that have lived in changing and complex environments actually become larger. New connections develop between existing neurons in the cortex as a result of experience. Recent evidence demonstrates that it is even possible to grow new neural cells in important areas of the brain that are associated with learning, memory and the organization of behavior."

Notice he says 'changing and complex environments' which means we need to get them outside of our own backyards so they can be exposed to different sights, smells and sounds making our walks, in new places, a necessary component of their exercise routines. And if you need a little help getting out of your immediate area you can take advantage of travel products such as the Dogger stroller. I use my Dogger with my own seniors so we can go on long walks because it allows my dogs to get the exercise and stimulation they need, but it also gives them a chance to take a break so they don't overdo it. Without the Dogger I would only be able to go on short walks and we would not be able to be as active as we like to be.

Exercise has been shown to affect human brains in the same way. "Studies of senior citizens who walk regularly showed significant improvement in memory skills compared to sedentary elderly people. Walking also improved their learning ability, concentration, and abstract reasoning in people who walked as little as 20 minutes a day. Furthermore, research from the Salk Institute demonstrates that physical exercise has a protective effect on the brain and its mental processes, and may even help prevent Alzheimer's disease." describes Coren. 

Given that the brains of humans and dogs are so similar and that researchers are looking to dogs in hopes of better understanding how to treat or prevent dementia in people, the parallels are undeniable.

Exercising your dog's brainAnother interesting activity that can have a direct and positive impact on our dog's brain health comes in the form of problem solving activities. These 'puzzles' are another way to actively exercise your dog's brain keeping it sharp and protecting it against further decline. The same has been said for people.  

Fun and effective brain games can include: hide and seek either of their favorite treat, toy or even you; the classic shell game where you hide a treat under a cup then once your dog figures out how to knock over the cup to get the treat you can introduce additional cups as decoys to increase the difficulty level; and there are a long list of puzzle games sold on the market today that use similar concepts of hiding treats and creating different obstacles your dog must overcome to get the reward. If your dog is ball crazy then you can do a lot of these puzzle games with the ball as the reward. Food or toys both work well so just pick the reward your senior loves most and find creative ways to make them problem solve their way to enjoyment. Again changing things up is important to ensure the brain is getting the exercise it needs.

I find it empowering to know that there are ways that we as parents can help our senior dogs stay young and in the process it will help us as well. We need the exercise and the changing environments just as much as our dogs, so by pursuing an active lifestyle that exercises our dog's bodies and brains, we are reaping the same rewards. 

Ann-Marie Fleming is the Founder & CEO of Dog Quality, a provider of products focused on improving the quality of life for older dogs.

Facing the End with Your Senior Dogby Ann-Marie Fleming

21 September, 2017

This is by far the most difficult post I have ever written because I had to say goodbye to my Milo two days ago after a two month struggle and my heart is breaking. Sometimes we lose our four-legged family suddenly, but other times we are there with them as they slowly and progressively get worse to the point when you realize that you have days not even months left with them. Unfortunately I have been in this position with several of my previous dogs and it never gets any easier. 

 Facing the End with Your Senior DogMilo had been doing so well. I remember on his 14th birthday back in March commenting on how well he was aging. He did everything at his own pace speeding up only when food was involved and I felt that maybe his laid back approach to life would take him well into his senior years. But then a few months ago everything changed. 

The only senior challenge Milo had over the past couple of years was a sore front left leg. It seemed to every vet that looked at him that it was most likely arthritis. A joint supplement was suggested and that seemed to do the trick. Then in June of this year, even while still taking the supplements, his limp returned. He very quickly started getting weaker and since he was so front heavy this weakness started to cause him to fall. I have never had a dog with a front leg issue before, but when he would fall he would literally go head first. As the instability became worse and his limp looked painful we tried Cartrophen shots without success and then we tried him on Rheumocam, again no improvement. Then things started to accelerate. He was having issues not only with that leg, but he started to weaken in all his legs, he was rapidly losing muscle and was needing to be supported when he walked and stood. 

Dog wheelchairI ordered him a full support dog wheelchair hoping that if we could give him some support we could help him recover. Unfortunately after only one day of being able to use his cart he lost movement in what used to be his strong front leg. Then over the next couple of weeks he lost the use of all four legs. We tried Prednisone, new supplements but nothing helped. If Milo was stronger I would have considered taking him to a neurologist, but after talking with his vet it was clear that he would not be strong enough for surgery, if that was even an option, let alone being under anesthesia for the required diagnostics. At 14 1/2 years old in the condition he was in, this was simply not an option. 

Senior dogs in their DoggerMilo needed 24/7 care which is something I would have done for him forever if it meant I could keep him with me. Milo was always challenging because he was a very vocal and dramatic dog which escalated as he aged, especially when he lost his hearing. It was also one of the funniest sides to him because the way he expressed himself showed so much character. Long before he started struggling he would literally scream at me for things like needing to be lifted down from the couch, or if I was late with his meal or if I was brave enough to have his nails clipped at the vet. You would swear he was being tortured. His communication method however made knowing what was really going on with him difficult to ascertain - was he crying out due to pain and discomfort or was he simply communicating as he has done so often before? Throughout all of his struggles he continued to be a food monster and when he looked at me I still saw light in his eyes so I hung on. 

When your dog goes through what Milo went through in losing his mobility it is common for people to not understand why we refuse to give up. Many times this is because they also do not understand the deep bond that we form with our four-legged family. I know there were people around me that felt that I should have let go sooner, but despite the complete betrayal by his body it was still Milo in there. No one knew Milo like I did and I had to trust that I could read him better than anyone. I felt that if I could have asked him what to do, he would have told me that he wanted to be here even given his challenges. 

In the past couple of weeks he progressively became worse and I questioned myself every single day, multiple times a day, if what I was doing was best and every time I'd be close to saying good-bye Milo would do something that made me hang on a little longer. This internal battle was the most difficult I have had to go through and it weighed on me heavily. 

Senior dog sleepingThis is the time with our seniors that I fear the most. I'd wake up every morning, open my eyes and for a moment I'd forget what was happening. When I would look at Milo sleeping he seemed like his old self and I'd smile, but then reality would kick in and I'd be overcome with a feeling of dread as I'd remember that everything is not ok. I'd try to never cry in front of him since I believe that dogs are incredibly intuitive and pick up on the vibes we give off, so I'd pull myself together and smother Milo with kisses as we'd start our day.

This is a time when we are desperately seeking a miracle and look for even the slightest signs of improvement to give us hope to carry on. Did he sleep a little easier today? How quickly did he eat his dinner? Do his eyes look a little brighter today? Anything to help us see reason to carry on.

I would talk to Milo often letting him know that he needs to tell me when he's ready to let go, when his battle becomes more than he can handle. He let me know two days ago. Everything that day seemed wrong. I had a feeling we were approaching the end when our nights were more and more difficult in that he would only sleep for a couple hours at a time needing more water and a new position to be comfortable. And then that horrible day came. Milo had a seizure and then after going into a deep sleep woke in distress. Normally if I held him he would settle down, but that day not even my touch could reach him. It was time.  

SoulmatesI had my sister come with me for support but also because I knew how much she loved Milo. I also made sure that Lily, the love of Milo's life, was with us so she could say good-bye. They had such a special connection to each other, they were soulmates and my heart breaks just thinking of them being apart. I have come to realize that in the end death is simply terrible. No matter how much you try and find the right time, the right place, with the right people (2-legged and 4-legged) it is incredibly sad, leaving a mark on your heart that will never disappear because a piece of you is now missing. 

Milo was one-of-a-kind. I know I will never meet another soul like his and my goal as I grieve losing him is to remember him when he was not struggling, when he would run so fast to get his meals that he would knock over his water bowls. I think of his 9 pm bedtime that he'd never miss, putting himself to bed and looking so adorable doing it. And I will cherish how in the middle of the night he would work his way under the covers to spoon with me. The house and my car are now too quiet without his voice. Our family is not whole, but I know he will always be with us in our hearts and in time we will smile instead of cry when we think of the amazing times we all had together.

Senior dogsI am eternally grateful to have had you in my life Milo. You changed me and everyone you ever met, forever. Thank you for the time we had, I am so sorry I could not prevent what happened, I tried my best and I know you did to. You were so strong and I am very proud of you for fighting so hard to stay here with your family. We never took our time together for granted. Every single moment was cherished and we had fun in everything we did. I hope that you will hang on to everything good and happy through our memories of our time together because that is how I plan on keeping you close to me always. I love you.

Ann-Marie Fleming is the Founder & CEO of Dog Quality, a provider of products focused on improving the quality of life for older dogs.

Caudal Articular Process Dysplasia - Lily's Journey (Part 3 - The Results)by Ann-Marie Fleming

21 August, 2017

Lily Recovered from Back SurgeryIt's now been 7 months since my senior pug Lily underwent a 6 hour procedure to repair a disc herniation and to secure 2 plates along her vertebrae to prevent further damage. Without this procedure Lily's mobility challenges would have continued to worsen, leading to eventual paralysis.

To recap a little for those that may not have read her story along the way, her spinal issues were the result of a congenital malformation referred to as caudal vertebral articular process dysplasia. Basically this malformation meant that one of her vertebrae did not form correctly and over time this created too much movement along her spine leading to the disc herniation and her resulting mobility and incontinence issues. (For a full description of her condition please see: Part 1 - Symptoms & Diagnosis and for more details on the surgery: Part 2 - Surgery). I wanted to share with you Lily's recovery and amazing results.

After her surgery Lily had range of motion exercises that we did at home several times a day. I also iced her back using a cold pack as often as possible. It was important that Lily be on restricted activity for the first few weeks. She did not need to be crate rested, but no jumping or running. After the first two weeks Lily was allowed on short walks with a leash making sure not to overdo it. Dr. Sharp had told me that the plates were very strong even before the bone has a chance to remodel, but I was so worried that they would somehow move or come undone.

To make my fears even more intense, on our first night home my French Bulldog Winnie knocked Lily right off my bed. My heart was in my throat, but thankfully my bed is very low and she fell onto a padded area and in true Lily fashion she seemed unfazed by what I am sure did hurt given it was so soon after surgery. Despite her seeming fine I was haunted by the fear that her fall in some way moved things around and I was nauseous thinking that she went through all of this only to have it ruined the first night she was back in my care. To avoid any further incidents, for the next 8 weeks we (myself and my dogs) all slept on the floor!

Caudal Articular Process Dysplasia - 2.7mm SOP PlatesI took Lily back for her recheck in April with the express purpose of having X-rays done so we could check on her plates. Much to my relief they were exactly where they were supposed to be, they were perfect. I could breathe again. I should mention that her plates are actually quite tiny with only a 2.7mm diameter and 12mm screws - they just look huge in the X-rays. The other strange looking object higher up in her X-ray I later found out is an ID tag.

After the successful surgery Dr. Sharp told me that it couldn't have gone any better so now it was up to Lily. We weren't sure how much she would improve, but at the very least the goal was to stop further progression of her condition.

Over the past 7 months Lily has made me so proud and has truly exceeded my expectations. She still walks a bit funny, her right leg in particular, but she can walk at a much faster pace and even runs now. Her fecal incontinence did not improve, but they warned be about that and it's fine. I just use a diaper at night for that, but her urinary incontinence is a million times better. We used to go through at least 3 diapers a day with accidents and now she typically goes weeks without a single bladder incident.

While her once curly tail is still droopy, it has a lot more movement than prior to the procedure, especially when she is excited and can actually get it wagging.

Lily's back legs have become so much stronger and she can even work her way up our stairs now when I take too long to come and get her. Check out her determination in this video I took a few weeks ago. She hasn't been able to get up these stairs for at least a year, but now look at her! I still carry her up most times, but this shows that she continues to improve even after so many months.

The other surprise was her appetite. For months prior to her surgery Lily had gone from being a food monster to being a very finicky eater, sometimes refusing to eat altogether. I suspected it was related to her back, perhaps a response to being in pain, but none of the doctors could confirm that there was any relationship. The proof in my mind would be seen after she had recovered from surgery. And once she was a month or so into recovery sure enough her appetite returned and it appears to be here to stay.

Overall I am so pleased with Lily's results. She seems very happy and so much stronger now. She is often the one out in front on our walks and though she still takes breaks in the Dogger, she is able to walk much further than she used to walk prior to surgery.

While I am sure the pain must have been overwhelming at times during her recovery she never complained, she was always so positive and spirited, she blew me away. I think her great attitude is a big reason she made major back surgery seem like a routine procedure. Lily is the definition of trooper and I am thrilled that her trust in me was not misplaced. This surgery really has given her a second chance and we are going to embrace every moment we have together to enjoy it. 

I would also like to say thank you to everyone who supported Lily throughout this entire process. She never felt alone and neither did I.

Ann-Marie Fleming is the Founder & CEO of Dog Quality, a provider of products focused on improving the quality of life for older dogs.

Reducing the Risks of Anesthesia in Senior Dogsby Ann-Marie Fleming

21 March, 2017

Reducing the Risks of Anesthesia in Senior Dogs When it comes to senior dogs even the simplest of surgical procedures can strike fear in the hearts of dog parents because of the risks associated with anesthesia. Whether it is for diagnostics, a routine procedure or something more complicated, one thing is certain, the possible impact of anesthesia should not be taken lightly, especially when your dog is a senior. However, a wise veterinarian once said that "age is not a disease", so senior dogs should not be disqualified from treatment options solely because of their age. So how do we as dog parents help to reduce the risk of anesthesia in our senior dogs?


Before putting your senior dog through a procedure that requires anesthesia it is very important that you have some testing done to ensure they can handle such heavy sedation. Don't be afraid to ask for tests if your veterinarian is not suggesting them. In addition to a physical exam, pre-op bloodwork is a key diagnostic tool that all parents need to insist on having done.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Levy, DVM, CVA and owner of House Call Vet NYC, "Pre-op blood tests are used to determine the absence of underlying conditions that would make surgery risky or leave the patient vulnerable to the effects of anesthesia. Most important are kidney and liver values, hematocrit (red blood cell count), white blood cell counts, blood sugar for potential diabetes and a heartworm test."

Each bit of information retrieved from the bloodwork tells a story that can help your veterinarian evaluate the overall health and identify any risk factors they need to address.

"Elevated liver enzymes might indicate the pet has Cushing's Disease, liver disease, or a tumor. High or low blood sugar can indicate diabetes or possibly a pancreatic tumor. Decreased kidney function would alter the type of anesthesia used or make anesthesia too risky to move forward. Low red blood cells or platelets could indicate infection, inflammation, or possibly cancer." explains Dr. Judy Morgan, DVM, CVA, CVCP, CVFT, owner of two award winning practices and the Chief Medical Officer for Monkey's House Senior Dog Hospice and Sanctuary.

Additional tests such as an ECG, urinalysis and chest X-rays may also be wise and for invasive procedures with a high risk of bleeding, Dr. Jennifer Queiroz-Williams, DVM, MS, Associate Professor of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia, LSU School of Veterinary Medicine recommends doing a clotting profile as well.

"Chronic anemia, indication of kidney disease, genitourinary infection or systemic infection, abnormal chest radiographs or ECG and abnormal clotting profile, independent of age, would be red flags to not move forward with anesthesia," states Dr. Queiroz-Williams.

When my senior pug Lily was going through her testing to ensure she could handle anesthesia to undergo an MRI, CT scan and the inevitable surgery, she underwent many of the above mentioned tests as well as an abdominal ultrasound. Having so much information available prior to undergoing the anesthesia gave her doctor and supporting team the necessary details to devise a clear plan and made moving forward possible. It was also incredibly comforting to me to know that all her results came in so positive.

Being Proactive

Ensuring that your dog is at an ideal weight can make a huge difference in how they respond to anesthesia. Overweight dogs have a much more difficult time breathing and this means their hearts have to work that much harder, especially when under anesthesia. Incorporating a healthy, active lifestyle will keep your dog as fit as possible, reducing risks should they one day need to undergo a procedure requiring heavy sedation.

It is also very important that you discuss any medication or supplements your dog may be taking with your veterinarian prior to any procedure since even a natural remedy can put your dog at risk during surgery.

Dr. Morgan explains, "Some supplements can cause prolonged clotting times and increase bleeding, so be sure to discuss any supplements you are giving with your veterinarian prior to the procedure. Also let them know if you are giving any over-the-counter medications, as many can interfere with anesthetic procedures or surgery. It's amazing how many pet owners give aspirin without a thought; this can cause pets to bleed excessively during surgery. Sedative or anti-anxiety medications may interfere with anesthetic drugs that are used."

Your dog will need to fast prior to the procedure and experts also recommend grooming and bathing your dog prior to any surgery. This will help to keep them clean before and after surgery.

During the Procedure

While many procedures are done in your veterinarian's clinic, you can request that an anesthesiologist be present. The more invasive a procedure, the more you need to consider this decision.

According to Dr. Queiroz-Williams, "Best practice is to have an anesthesiologist always present or at least available for consultation. However, specific health conditions (systemic diseases, pre-shock, unstable patients, all very invasive abdominal proceedings, cardiac surgeries, central neurologic patients, and many others) should have an anesthesiologist present. Some breeds can present challenges for anesthesia (e.g., brachycephalic breeds, breeds affected by the MDR1 mutation like Collies and Long-haired Whippets, and many other particularities of specific breeds)."

I have handled things in several different ways for my dogs. My first pug Mackenzie needed dental surgery when he was 15 years of age. Terrified, I made sure we did all the testing that was available and due to the risks, I requested that he have his dental work done by a specialist with an anesthesiologist present. With Milo thanks to his glowing bloodwork and other positive tests I felt that his dental work could be done at my vet's clinic. With Lily, since she was being treated by a specialist, all of her procedures requiring anesthesia had an anesthesiologist involved, especially given the length of time she was under. Now with my Winnie, my 6 year old French Bulldog who has noticeable breathing issues, I am going to ensure she has an anesthesiologist on site for any procedures she may need.

During any procedure requiring anesthesia your dog's vital signs are constantly monitored. I find it comforting to ask exactly what they will be keeping an eye on which typically includes heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, CO2 and oxygen levels and if necessary, anesthesia may be adjusted throughout.


If you have had a dog undergo a diagnostic or surgical procedure requiring anesthesia then you know how scary it can be waiting for that phone call letting you know how everything went. I remember that feeling of unbelievable relief that consumed me when I received the phone call from Lily's neurologist after her 6 hour back surgery telling me that she woke up like a champ.

Helping our dogs recover begins before the procedure is even completed. From a technical perspective Dr. Queiroz-Williams describes the impact that the proper administration of anesthetics and pain killers during the procedure can have on recovery. "Performing multimodal anesthesia and analgesia, while performing high quality anesthesia will overall improve the quality of recovery. Intense monitoring especially for the first three hours post anesthesia are vital to a safe anesthetic event."

Post-op there are also many things that we can do to help ensure a fast, healthy recovery. Dr. Levy reminds us to use our common sense, "provide a quiet, stress-free recovery area. Make sure the space is well ventilated and the temperature is comfortable. Handle her gently and protect your dog from being annoyed by children or other pets."

Block access to stairs and do not leave your dog unattended anywhere that they could fall or trip. In Lily's case I also needed to restrict her movement so I set up a comfy section in my room on the floor where she would be safe and where she could not move around very much until she was stronger. Some procedures require crate rest so that's something you will need to plan ahead for.

Adjusting their diet can also help with their recovery. "Many pets will be nauseous for a few days post-op. Have a bland diet prepared ahead of time. (I like 3/4 boiled lean ground turkey mixed with 1/4 canned organic pumpkin puree.) Extra fluid intake will help the body flush the anesthetic agents out of the body. Water flavored with a little no salt chicken or beef broth may encourage them to drink more," states Dr. Morgan.

It is important that we keep an eye on any incisions to make sure there are no signs of infection, but we also need to keep an eye on our dog's behavior and report back any signs that your dog is not getting back to their old self. Follow the post-op instructions provided by your vet and ask any questions you may have. Sometimes we are so caught up with the whole process that we cannot think clearly enough to ask all the questions we need to until we have returned home and can catch our breath. Don't be afraid to call your vet whenever you are unsure about anything with your dog's recovery. When it comes to our dogs it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Surgery is never something we wish upon our dogs, but there are steps we can take to reduce the risks as much as possible. Speak with your veterinarian and if needed a specialist, and together you will be able to do what is best for you and your senior dog.

Ann-Marie Fleming is the Founder & CEO of Dog Quality, a provider of products focused on improving the quality of life for older dogs.



Help Your Dog Age Like Betty Whiteby Ann-Marie Fleming

10 March, 2017

Betty WhiteI look at aging in a pretty simple way, having the same view for humans and dogs, that it's all a matter of perspective. I know people who age with the expectation for terrible things and low and behold terrible things would happen. Why can't we all be more like Betty White? Always smiling, always showcasing a positive attitude towards life and emitting incredible energy and spirit, Betty White is a perfect example of how we should approach the golden years for ourselves and our dogs.

Not only is Betty still acting, but she spends a good portion of her time helping animals, something she has been heavily involved in for more than 40 years, contributing both her time and money to many worthy causes, organizations as well as research. Never idle, Betty is not only constantly doing, but she is doing everything with enthusiasm even at 95 years of age. I wholeheartedly believe her energy and attitude is directly responsible for how well she defies age. By finding humor in everything, she never takes life too seriously and her healthy, happy life is a testament to how well this philosophy works.

Step 1 - It Starts with Us

"It's your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly and don't take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find the humor in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a lifesaver." Betty White

I believe that having the right mindset can help not just us personally, but also those around us including our dogs, so in order to help our dogs age like Betty White, we need to be like Betty White ourselves. We need to look at life through a similar lens and find humor, fun and happiness is everything around us. We need to expect the best case scenario and not the worst.

Having devoted my life to dogs, in particular seniors, I have learned a great deal about how our dogs react to the energy we emit. If we are angry, sad, frustrated or stressed they feel this negative energy and it impacts them in a negative way. If we are happy, positive and relaxed they feel that as well and you will see how they feed off of this. I can't think of a more important time to adopt a positive energy-filled lifestyle than when we are taking care of senior dogs.

A big reason people look at getting older in a negative way is because there is an expectation of poor health and overall decline. And while age will inevitably take its toll, I do wish people would recognize the power we hold inside us to slow down the decline, so we can live life to its fullest like Betty White. By learning to maintain a positive perspective as we age then we can in turn help our senior dogs embrace a similar outlook as they move through their golden years.

Step 2 - Embrace Change

"I'm a big cockeyed optimist. I try to accentuate the positive as opposed to the negative." Betty White

It is up to us as pet parents to see this stage of our dog's life as a very special time. Instead of seeing all the things your dog can no longer do, start noticing all the ways your dog does things differently. You will be amazed at how your dog adapts and if he/she sees that you react with joy and happiness, this will continue to motivate them to keep trying. If we give up or start feeling sorry for our dogs, how do you think they will respond? If we stop being active because we assume our dog can no longer be active, what do you think that will do to both their mental and physical state?

I personally find my dog's golden years to be a fascinating and entertaining time. I love seeing how they change and finding new ways for us to enjoy our time together. The adventures can still continue, we just need to change how we pursue them and you will see how much fun still remains.

For example your dog may not be able to walk long distances any more but may thrive on getting out of the house, so why not try a dog stroller? Give them a chance to still enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of the outdoors. They can walk for as long as they can and then ride when they need a break, but in the end you have injected fun and adventure into their life. You may even find that you are getting more exercise as a result and this in turn helps you to live a healthier lifestyle as well.

Step 3 - Have Some Fun

"Love your pet every day throughout your life." Betty White (@BettyMWhite)

Start sharing photos and videos of your senior dog on social media such as Facebook and Instagram. If you already do then start sharing even more! Get creative. You'd be amazed at how fun this can be for you and your dog. As you are thinking of cute and humorous ways to capture your senior dog's behavior for others to enjoy, you will find yourself having a blast with your dog in the process. It changes your mindset so instead of being sad and inactive, you may find yourself doing more with your dog than ever before.

The more you share about your older dog, the more you see a million ways that they are so special. The thought that goes into picture taking helps you appreciate your dog on so many levels that you may have once never considered. I find myself noticing such small and wonderful details about my dogs which I try to capture and share. From how adorable their little gray faces become, to how they light up when they go for a ride in their Dogger or the car. The way they savor their food and drinks of water, the way they intensely stare at me watching my every move and the endless trust they place in me as I care for them.

I cannot express to you how special every moment becomes when you see them through the right lens. And like Betty White has taught us, it's good to laugh and our senior dogs do some hilarious things, so enjoy this time together with a smile not a frown. Stay active so they will stay active, stay positive so they will stay positive and be happy so you can all experience wonderful times together regardless of age.

Thank you Betty White, you are an inspiration to us all.

Ann-Marie Fleming is the Founder & CEO of Dog Quality, a provider of products focused on improving the quality of life for older dogs.

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