Senior Dog Blog

Caudal Articular Process Dysplasia - Lily's Journey (Part 1 - Symptoms & Diagnosis)by Ann-Marie Fleming

26 November, 2016

Over the past year my senior pug Lily ( 11 yrs) has been facing some challenges. At first she was walking with her right leg showing signs of stiffness and she was starting to scuff the toes on her right paw. I thought it was arthritis. She had a previous knee injury and I was told by her vet that she would most likely develop arthritis in this joint as she aged. In addition she began to lose control over her bowels. In fact her poop would just pop out and surprise her as much as me, but I knew from my previous pug and from many customers that this is not uncommon in senior dogs so I was not too concerned. 

Caudal Articular Process Dysplasia - Pug

However things continued to get progressively worse. Her left leg started to show similar issues so now both legs seemed stiff, both back paws were scuffing and over time her rear legs have become very unsteady and weak. She falls very easily and can no longer go up or down steps. And perhaps the most telling sign was the fact that her tail, once curled like a typical pug, was now limp. She was not exhibiting classic signs of pain, which was comforting, but I also feel that this could be my desire to stay optimistic or Lily's desire to be heroic. Looking at all her symptoms I suspected that she had Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) which I knew had no cure.

Things started to change when over the past 6 weeks her condition worsened and new symptoms appeared. She started to have muscle spasms when she would get very excited. For example if the door bell would ring or if she fought with her sister Winnie over a carrot, she would go into a muscle spasm that would shoot her rear legs forward and she would urinate uncontrollably several times and in some cases would also poop. Her tail would curl up and wag at a rapid pace clearly not being controlled by Lily.

In fact during these episodes I often can only stop her spasms by placing a warm compress onto her muscles to relax them. Eventually I would see her tail stop wagging and fall limp once again letting me know the episode had passed. I now knew that this was more than simply getting older and I no longer thought she had DM, but I did know that she needed to see a neurologist so we could find out what was going on.

That week I took her into to see her vet. I knew from past experiences that there is not much a veterinarian can tell you when it comes to spinal issues. Even with x rays they may not be able to diagnose so my main goal was to get Lily a referral to a specialist. Her visit went as expected in that he really couldn't say what it was only that a spinal tumor was a possibility. I was disappointed though because even with me asking for the referral and explaining that Lily has insurance, her vet tried to discourage me from spending the money to see a specialist since he did not feel they would be able to do much for Lily. I explained that the reason I wanted to find out what is causing her problems is not only to see if we can fix it, but to also understand even if we can't fix it, what I can do to help keep her comfortable. Some spinal conditions do well with exercise, some do not. Some conditions have pain and she'd need pain management, but others like DM do not - how would I know how to take care of her to the best of my ability if I do not find out what is wrong?

Caudal Articular Process Dysplasia - PugRegardless of his hesitancy I did get the referral and took Lily to Canada West Veterinary Specialists in Vancouver, British Columbia for a series of tests which included x rays, an MRI and CT scan. When the results came in there was clear information explaining her condition. Lily has a congenital malformation referred to as caudal vertebral articular process dysplasia. With this condition Lily was basically born with a malformed bone in her vertebrae that would normally be responsible for stabilizing that vertebrae. Without it there is too much movement in that area and over her 11 years this movement has caused constrictive myelopathy in the form of a herniated disc which is putting pressure on her spinal cord.

The good news is that this is a condition which can be addressed with surgery. In discussions with the 2 neurologists involved in Lily's case I have learned that in the past surgery was not effective because the focus was on correcting the damage rather than addressing the cause. Over the past couple of years the surgical procedure now focuses on stabilizing the vertebrae with the malformation by inserting a plate. The dogs that have undergone this new procedure have shown remarkable results. In Lily's case not only would they put in a plate, but they would also remove the herniated disc. As scary as this sounds, she should have almost immediate relief.

The risks of this procedure center around the placement of the screws used to secure this plate. However thanks to technology they are going to be printing a 3D model of her vertebrae so they can plan the exact placement of each screw prior to the surgery. This will be key in ensuring a successful procedure since every dog is slightly different even when of the same breed, so knowing how much bone he has to work with ahead of time, as well as the shape and positioning, will allow the surgeon to be incredibly prepared.

I was also relieved to learn that Lily will be able to walk right after the surgery. While she will need to stay in the hospital for at least 2 days, she will not need crate rest and will be encouraged to walk, but of course no jumping or running until she is fully recovered. I will also be able to do most of her rehab at home.

Right now we are waiting on the 3D model to be completed so the surgery can be planned and scheduled. I will discuss more details about her surgery and her recovery as we go through this journey. To be honest I am terrified, but I know this is her best chance to have a higher quality of life and to be as pain free as possible. I look into Lily's eyes and I ask her to trust me. I ask her not to be mad at me and that we will get through this together! I hope she understands because she means the world to me and all I want to do is take care of her and give her the best life possible.

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

Stem Cell Therapy for Senior Dogsby Ann-Marie Fleming

27 April, 2016

I am always fascinated by medical research, especially in areas that can aid our senior dogs. One of the most exciting and promising fields of study involves stem cells because it provides a way for the body to heal itself. 

What are stem cells?

Stem cells occur naturally in the body and are very special because they have the ability to develop into many different types of cells including muscle, nerve, cartilage, bone, fat, liver and more. They are drawn to damaged tissues and cells in the body and then work to repair those areas. It has been discovered recently that dormant stem cells can be found in large quantities within a dog's own body fat which can be harvested, activated and then used in the treatment of various conditions often within the same day.Stem Cell Therapy for Dogs

In the dog world, the greatest success within stem cell therapy has been found in the treatment of arthritis, fractures and soft tissue damage to joints, ligaments, cartilage and tendons. I found several vets around the globe currently offering this treatment and most boast between an 80-85% success rate, with success being based on an improvement in the dog's quality of life; better range of motion, more energy, less signs of pain and stiffness and less need or no need for anti-inflammatories.

An example of a veterinarian actively involved in stem cell therapy is Dr. Jeff Mayo of Mayo Veterinary Services based in Washington State. I had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Mayo and his passion for his work and genuine excitement over stem cell research and therapy was undeniable. His website ( is filled with great info on stem cells and worth checking out. The procedure his clinic uses is called the Ingeneron ARC™ which allows them to complete the treatment affordably, on-site and within one day. 

In the future we are going to see stem cells used to treat a much wider range of conditions. Two areas that would directly benefit senior dogs include the use of stem cells to treat urinary incontinence (something Dr. Mayo treats on a limited basis with his procedure) and also Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, more commonly known as dog dementia, which is being explored with noticeable success in Australia.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) affects one in seven dogs aged ten and above and has similarities to Alzheimer's dementia in humans including memory loss, night time agitation and incontinence. Because the degeneration is linked to the death of brain cells, the use of stem cells to replenish these cells is a very exciting research avenue.

In a recent study being conducted by the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre called the Dogs = Cells Trial, scientists are going to test whether Canine Cognitive Dysfunction in older dogs can be reversed by brain transplantation of Neural Stem Cells generated from a small sample of the dog’s own skin.

DOGS+CELLS Trial - Stem Cells to Treat Dog Dementia

Within this study they have already achieved what seems to be a miracle with one of the participating dogs, Timmy, a 13 year old Cocker Spaniel who was suffering from CCD. As part of the procedure they put Timmy under anesthetic to perform an MRI  and to remove a small piece of skin from Timmy's abdomen. They then used this skin sample to harvest and grow Neural Stem Cells which were later injected into his brain. After the procedure there were follow up tests to evaluate his progress.

 According to a December 2015 news release: World first: University of Sydney scientists reverse dog dementia with stem cell therapy: "Timmy’s owners reported a significant improvement in Timmy’s night-time sleeping patterns such that he was getting up only once during the night, orientating himself through the doggie door to relieve himself, then coming back on his own to his sleeping area. He was also spontaneously more affectionate with the owners and getting along better with the other dogs in the household." All things he was having difficulty doing prior to the treatment. 

Excitement around this approach is also growing because a dog's brain is structurally similar to that of a human which means that any breakthroughs on the canine side could transfer over to the human world and perhaps one day help cure the growing number of seniors suffering from Alzheimer's.

While stem cells are not the cure-all for everything our dogs face as they age, it is showing more and more applications every year as research into new areas continues. The thought of helping our bodies and the bodies of our dogs rebuild themselves sounds too good to be true, but with stories like Timmy's and the success we are seeing in the treatment of arthritis, it is quickly becoming a reality and I am overwhelmed with excitement to see what lays ahead.

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


Dogs - The Ultimate Equalizerby Ann-Marie Fleming

20 April, 2016

Over the years with Dog Quality I have had the privilege of speaking with so many people from all walks of life and it has made me realize that dogs are the ultimate equalizer. It doesn't matter who you are or what you do for a living, it makes no difference if you are "cool" or "nerdy" (thankfully since I pride myself on being a big nerd) because when it comes to our dogs we are all the same. Of course not everyone with a dog is what I would call a dog person so when I describe the unification that happens with dogs, I am reserving this for dog people. Those people that consider dogs as part of their family and would do anything to ensure their safety, health and happiness. Senior Dogs

You could be a CEO of a blue chip company or a university student just starting out, but we are all just dog people and somehow, because of our love for our four-legged family members, all that other stuff just disappears.

I came from the corporate world so I especially love seeing people letting their executive guards down when the conversation centers around their dog. You truly get to see the real person, someone who is putting their dog's needs first and it is very touching and reflects a softer side not necessarily shown in the workplace. Of course this refreshing display of genuine love for someone other than themselves is not reserved only for corporate america, but for all walks of life. We become better people overall because of our dogs and when that shines through, my hope in humanity is restored.

As our dogs reach their senior years, I'm not sure that everyone could foresee having a conversation about urinary or bowel incontinence or mobility challenges, but dog people never flinch because if a diaper or socks or a stroller will improve the quality of life for their dog, then that is what they will make sure they have. 

When helping our customers find the right product or size we hear the cutest things and some things stay with you always and when they are said they are often said without thought because they come from the heart. Just simple things that put a smile on my face.

Cute things like letting us know that their dog is sleeping and they will need to wait until he/she wakes up before measuring. Or that their dog was just carried upstairs to bed, but they will take a photo tomorrow. Or that you and your dog have grown old together. These sweet comments make my day because it shows me that the people saying them truly know their dog(s) and that they deeply care. I think back to these comments often and I love feeling that I am surrounded by like-minded people who care as much as I do about the well-being of our dogs.

So the next time you are out and about and come across people with dogs, remember that regardless of what they are wearing, driving, saying or doing that we are all fundamentally the same thanks to our shared love of dogs.

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

Our Journey Towards In-House Productionby Ann-Marie Fleming

23 March, 2016

Last July I wrote an update article on some big changes within Dog Quality which involved bringing the assembly of our Dogger stroller and some of the sewing for our Washable Wonders dog incontinence products in-house. The purpose was to give us more control over the manufacturing of our products, to improve quality and to try and better meet the growing demand. So much has happened over the past 8 months that I wanted to share where we are now and how things have changed even more.

Dogger stroller production

Dogger stroller productionBringing 100% of the assembly of our Dogger strollers in-house has not been without its challenges. Now that we are working with parts and components on a granular level we have been able to identify improvements along the way and modifications to parts that have significantly improved the overall quality of the product. The downside is that because of all the extra time we are putting into the parts themselves, we are unable to produce our strollers fast enough to meet the growing demand. The good news is we are well on our way. Many of the modifications we have identified are being made to the parts in a permanent way and in some cases, completely new types of parts/components are being used which will make the process much more efficient moving forward. There is an enormous amount of pride that goes into each and every stroller and hearing the difference the Dogger is making in the lives of senior dogs is what keeps us going! It may not be easy, but it is certainly worth it!

Dog diaper production

This year some of our biggest changes center around the production of our Washable Wonders dog diapers, pads and belly bands. Last year we made the decision to bring some of the sewing in-house because we were finding that our larger productions, which were outsourced, were taking too long. However what we quickly realized was that as the demand for our incontinence products continued to increase, even with daily sewing efforts ,we could not keep up while we awaited the larger productions to arrive. In fact by the time we would receive our shipments, we had so many people waiting that we would sell out within a few weeks and would then be back in the same situation all over again. and it was far more than our modest sewing efforts could offset. And knowing how urgently dog parents need our diapers, belly bands and pads, running out of product becomes deeply painful because I know we are letting people and dogs down.

In January of this year I made the decision to bring all of the sewing in-house. Rather than investing more money into these larger productions that take up to 4 months to be completed I instead decided to put the money into equipment, people and fabric. Dog diaper sewing - made in CanadaIt has taken us some time to find the right people, machines and fabric but we have made great progress. We have a small but amazing sewing team who puts their heart and soul into making these products. They continue to find better and more efficient ways to make our diapers which is really starting to payoff. We have also been working with a new fabric supplier out of the United States who I am very excited about. They have been busy matching our fabrics and colors and we will begin moving over to their fabrics over the next few months.

Dog diaper production

We still have a lot of work ahead of us for both product lines; the Dogger and our Washable Wonders, since we need to expand both departments even more, but for now we are restricted by space and need to relocate to a bigger facility to accommodate more equipment and team members. We are actively looking and I hope to have some good news in this area very soon.

I love sharing our milestones and updates with all of you because while it is difficult to endure all the growing pains that come with change, the results are amazing. I am overwhelmed with pride to take something we made and pack it up for a customer to use on or with their dog. Washable Wonders diaper productionIt is a dream come true to see these very special products being made here by us. It is hard not to be super excited about the future. In addition to resolving our supply issues and improving quality, having the ability to make our own products means we will be able to introduce new products more easily such as the Big Dogger and amputee diapers.

I have had to learn a great deal about patience and perseverance throughout, but I know in my heart these changes are essential for the continued success of Dog Quality and they are the best way I know how to ensure that we get every dog that needs us, the products that can make a real difference in their lives.

We hope that you will share in our excitement and our vision and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for believing in us, supporting us and being patient with us. We won't let you down!

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

5 Common Myths About Senior Dogsby Ann-Marie Fleming

21 March, 2016

Dogger dog strollerBefore I had senior dogs I am sure that I bought into many of the myths you hear about them. Now that I have had several seniors in my life (past and present) and focus on senior dogs with my business, I have a new perspective on dogs during this amazing time of their lives. I am also on a mission to correct many of the misconceptions people have about older dogs so more people can enjoy all that they have to offer.

Here are 5 of the most common myths that exist when it comes to senior dogs:

  1. Older dogs don't play or have fun. Are you sure it's not you that has stopped playing and having fun? Our dogs pick up and respond to our emotions and if we have stopped playing and having fun then regardless of their age they will do the same. Just because your dog is getting older doesn't mean they can't enjoy life. In fact more than ever your senior dog needs activity to stimulate them physically and mentally. Treating them like they are old and unable to be silly or have fun is a sure way to accelerate their aging process. Do the opposite - find new adventures and activities that you can do together and I bet you will discover that they are capable of much more than you originally thought. 

  2. If you adopt an older dog you won't be able to bond with them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some of my closest relationships have been with older dogs. Senior dogs needs us more and that creates so many opportunities to bond with them on a deep level. You will find your time so rewarding and I suspect you will end up needing them even more than they need you and you will become inseparable. Getting close with your senior dog will help you see the world through their eyes and it will change your perspective on pretty much everything. I know that I appreciate the little things in life so much more because I have been witness to how my seniors embrace even the little things with such appreciation. A senior dog has so much love to give and so much gratitude to share, your heart will melt.

  3. You can't train them - they are set in their ways. While I will agree that depending on their background some habits may be difficult to break, but not impossible. Dogs love routine and you will be amazed at how quickly even a senior dog will adapt to new circumstances if they have a routine to follow. They will thrive and you will have the chance to show them a new way of life. My senior Milo is better than any alarm clock you could buy. He knows exactly when it's breakfast and when it's dinner. He knows when we should be leaving for work and when it's time to relax on the couch together. 

  4. I won't have much time with them. Life is so unpredictable. I have seen young dogs have their lives cut unfairly short and I have seen older dogs live beyond 20 years old so to assume your time together will be short is to deprive yourself of a incredibly special relationship. It is like the old saying "quality not quantity". I adopted Milo and Lily when they were seniors and within no time it felt like they had been with me all my life even though in reality it had only been a few months. Time is precious, but memories are created in an instant and whether you have a short time or a long time together you will forever be changed for the better.

  5. I can't bring new dogs into our family if I have a senior. I have heard this many times from people and they often believe this out of respect for their aging dog. Older dogs can become anxious more easily and not every senior would welcome a disruption to their comfortable life, but adding another dog to your family can also help inject new energy into the life of your senior dog. I remember when Churchill, my first french bulldog, passed away. He and Mackenzie, my pug, were closer than any two dogs I had ever seen. To see Mackenzie alone was heartbreaking. He was grieving and I wasn't sure he would live long without his best friend. He was 12 at the time. To help both him and myself heal I brought Paige into our lives. At first he rejected her, but she was persistent and before too long I could see the improvement in him and how much he appreciated having Paige around. I believe it was because of Paige that he lived for many years after Churchill's passing.

Take it from me. there is something incredibly special about senior dogs. They not only have so much to offer, but they have this amazing ability to change those around them for the better. Give them a chance and you'll see what I mean.

 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 Importance of Connecting with Dog Peopleby Ann-Marie Fleming

10 February, 2016

Today is the one year anniversary of Paige's passing. It is a day I will never forget and I can't believe that one year has passed already - it certainly doesn't feel like it has since not a day goes by without having her on my mind. Thinking back to this heartbreaking moment, amongst the pain, I am also reminded of the amazing network of dog loving people that helped me get through this very difficult time. The interest in knowing how she was doing each and every day, the words of encouragement and the stories of miracles kept me going. And when Paige could fight no more, I was overwhelmed by the number of people who felt the loss with me and by those who understood what I was going through on a very deep level.

Finding other dog lovers

When you love your dogs like family not everyone understands how deep this bond is and the impact on your life when we suffer loss. I have a mix of family and friends, some who truly understand how special my dogs are to me, but many who do not. They still love me and support me, but they really don't understand how I can feel so broken when one of my dogs leaves me.

One of the most special things about social media is the ability it gives us to create a network of like-minded people. Nowhere have I found so many people like me who see their dogs as their children, who would do whatever it takes to ensure they live happy, healthy lives and who truly understand what it is to grieve when we lose one of our four-legged family.

If you are not currently using social media and you love dogs then I strongly recommend joining at least Facebook so you can connect with others who feel like you do. It doesn't matter if you don't know them because you are connected by your shared interest in dogs. Not only do you receive much needed emotional support, but you can learn a great deal from the experiences of others. Being around like-minded people, even if virtually through social media, can not only provide you with comfort during the difficult times, but it can be wonderful also during the good times. 

If you are friends with me on Facebook it is rare to see a post about a human. Mostly I post about my dogs, sharing endless photos and videos. On Facebook, if you are connected to fellow dog lovers, you don't feel like a crazy person who only talks about her dogs, no one gets sick of your endless dog photos and everyone understands your ups and your downs as you care for your dogs. If you have ever seen that facial expression when you tell a story about your dog to someone who is not a dog person then you need to find yourself a dog network on social media. 

I find as my dogs get older having people to share my experiences with becomes even more important because you'll find that your real life network gets smaller and smaller the older your dogs get. The more challenges your dogs go through, the less people seem to understand. I remember telling my co-workers at the time (before I was full-time with Dog Quality) about Mackenzie's (my senior pug at the time) super bug. It created a thick mucous that he often inadvertently wiped on people who visited my home. If you could have seen the look of horror on their faces when I explained this to them, then you would know why I say your network quickly becomes smaller the older your dogs get. But not when you are surrounded by dog people. Only a dog person could see the humor in a story involving mucus.

If you are using social media then I encourage you to find new friends, people you don't know, people that are dog lovers. If you are not using social media then I recommend signing up. Searching out a like-minded network is super simple and once you have a few new friends it becomes even easier to connect with their dog loving friends and so on.  Give it a try - you won't regret it. And don't forget to find me! Click here for my personal Facebook page where we can connect and click here to follow Dog Quality on Facebook.

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

My 5 New Year Promises to My Dogsby Ann-Marie Fleming

14 January, 2016

At the start of a new year it is almost impossible to resist the urge to create a list of all that you would like to improve for the next 12 months. I make new goals for Dog Quality, I make new goals for me personally, but the most important are the goals I make for how I look after my dogs.

So for 2016, here are the 5 promises I am making to my dogs:

New Year Promises to My Dogs
  1. Patience is a virtue - One interpretation of this saying is that the ability to wait for something without getting angry or upset is a desirable trait. I remind myself of this on a daily basis but it is something worthy of being a 2016 goal since I can always improve in this area. Some days I have more patience than I ever thought possible and then other days I feel quite the opposite. So Winnie, when everyone is downstairs ready to go out and you are watching me from the top of the stairs, I will wait for you. Milo, should you wish to urinate on every blade of grass on our walks, I will support you and appreciate the slower side of life and Lily, when it is snowing and you choose to hide instead of leaving for work with me, I will not take it personally, but I will still make you go ;)
  2. Dental work for everyone - As many of you know I am a big believer in dental health and while I have been so focused on Milo's teeth since he is my oldest and has had needed help every year, I have not given Lily and Winnie the dental love they need. This year everyone is getting their teeth cleaned and if needed we will have to also endure some unpleasant but necessary extractions. Last year I took Milo and had his teeth cleaned through a company that does it without anesthetic and it worked very well, but he has a couple teeth that require surgery despite our efforts at avoiding this. Lily and Winnie? Well we will see what they need. It is a challenge getting a clear look inside, but I suspect we will be saying good-bye to a few teeth this year. Once everyone is looking great again orally I plan on continuing to clean without anesthetic in hopes that we can avoid dental surgery moving forward.
  3. Better food - The more I read about diet for our dogs, the more paranoid I have become about my choice of dog food. For years my dogs have been on Natural Balance Fish & Sweet Potato, which is a good food, but after reading about the lack of disclosure in the additive pet foods list as "Natural Flavors", where companies are not required to list out exactly what is being used, I have decided to avoid companies using this in their foods. Unfortunately Natural Balance Fish & Sweet Potato is one of those foods so I began looking for an alternative. At the same time I have been reading a lot about the benefits of Vitamin D3 and wanted a food that gave my dogs the appropriate amount. As a result I am now trying them with Orijen Six Fish dog food which is jammed packed with amazing and understandable ingredients and supplements so we are well on our way to better eating. I was concerned that this would be too rich for them, but so far so good.
  4. Natural remedies - I have become very interested in natural healing options for my dogs ever since losing Paige to cancer. I am not saying I could have prevented what happened, but the feeling of powerlessness changed me forever and I would like to understand what can be done at home using natural plants, oils, methods etc to treat and possibly prevent certain conditions and to even just help make life a bit more comfortable for my dogs as they face the challenges of senior years. I am currently taking a course on Aromatherapy as part of my desire to become a certified aromatherapist so that I can safely and effectively use therapeutic essential oils, healing butters and other natural ingredients to create products that will help address some of the challenges senior dogs face. A few areas I would like to focus on include muscle and joint issues which Milo, Lily and even Winnie have for various reasons that can impact mobility and cause discomfort; anxiety issues which can come as our senior dogs lose sight, hearing and face dementia and I also see a need to help with skin conditions that senior dogs often struggle with. 
  5. Quality time - My life tends to be quite hectic and even though I am extremely fortunate that I am able to have my dogs with me 24/7, it is not always quality time, so my promise is to make time each and every day to simply appreciate what I have. Life is so fragile and so short and I always want to make sure I take the time to soak all that I have in by having some relaxed time with my dogs. Whether it's a walk, a cuddle or just hanging out together I vow to always make time.

I am so excited about 2016 on both a professional and personal level and I wish you and your family (two-legged and four-legged) the very best for this year. May it bring health, happiness and quality time together as you make memories to last a lifetime. Happy New Year!

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

Christmas Has Gone to the Dogs and I Love It!by Ann-Marie Fleming

18 December, 2015

Christmas is my favourite time of year because of my dogs. My dogs are my kids and I absolutely love spoiling them at Christmas. If your family is like mine then there are probably more gifts under the tree for your dogs than for any humans and isn't that the fun of it? I love the excitement, I love the chaos and I love the overall energy that is created during the frenzy of revealing all of their gifts. I love watching them stealing each other's toys and gobbling up their treats like it is the last food they will ever see.Christmas has gone to the dogs

But it is about so much more than presents, it is about the quality time and special moments we create. Christmas is the most time I have away from work where I can just enjoy being with my dogs. They also look forward to having family over which means even more love and attention for them. 

The holidays is a great time to reflect on our life with our dogs. This Christmas will be the first one without my Paige. She gave me so much joy and truly enjoyed the holidays; she will be missed deeply.This time of year reminds us to soak life in and appreciate quality time like the holidays, especially when life is so short and fragile as Paige has taught me. We need to always embrace what we have and who we share it with, so I will be doing a lot of thanking, hugging, and kissing of Milo, Lily and Winnie as well as my human family :)

When you have senior dogs it is very easy to become sad when they start showing signs of age as they face the challenges that come with this stage of life. Christmas reminds us to look at the positive, to find fun and humor where possible and to better understand this time in their lives as incredibly special, despite the changes. This is why when we make our videos we often try to make you laugh and smile because there is a lot of joy left to experience with them regardless of their age.

Our goal should always be to expand that warm and fuzzy feeling we experience during the holidays to the entire year, making every day special, every day a reflection on all the amazing gifts we have in our lives. I know we all try, but at times it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life which fortunately (after the frenzy subsides) seems to slow right down when sitting around the Christmas tree.

So my wish for everyone this Christmas is to take a deep breath and soak everything in and give those special four-legged and two-legged family your full attention, your appreciation and most of all your love. Enjoy this time together, laugh and cherish every moment because each moment gives you one more special memory that will stay with you forever.

Merry Christmas everyone, from all of us here at Dog Quality!

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

It May Be Business but it's Personalby Ann-Marie Fleming

18 December, 2015

I truly feel that I was born to create and grow Dog Quality to help as many dogs around the world as possible. It gives me purpose, focus and a warm fuzzy feeling each and every day. While I love all animals my main focus with Dog Quality is to help those dogs in need of ways to improve their quality of life. This is why our products are designed to make life easier for older dogs and physically challenged dogs. Our products also benefit younger dogs, but when we make product decisions they are made thinking of an older dog's needs.

As many of you know I started Dog Quality because my dogs at the time (Churchill and Mackenzie) were struggling seniors and I found it difficult to find products that made enough of a difference in their lives. I knew that I could not be the only one looking to make life easier for their seniors and Dog Quality was born.Business is Personal for Us

I pour everything I have, heart and soul, into making great products and helping as many dogs as possible. My team, the people behind the emails, products and packages, are some of the most caring, hard working people I know and they love knowing that their efforts make such a difference in the lives of dogs and their families.

I feel that 99% of people that come to our site, watch our videos or interact with us on social media, by phone or email, learn quickly that we put the needs of their dogs well ahead of making a dollar. In fact we often lose money on an order because we are willing to go the extra mile to ensure a customer's dog has what they need to live a higher quality of life.

1% of the people remain uncertain, guarded and often skeptical and may begin the relationship on the defensive. I don't blame the customer, I blame other businesses. When people expect the worst it's only because other companies have shown them the worst and when trust is broken it is difficult to restore. The reason I wanted to write this post is to give you a glimpse of what happens on our end.

We are so fortunate to have the most amazing customers in the world and our days are filled with many feel good moments when we hear and often see the difference our products are making in the lives of older dogs. When we do interact with the 1% of people, who are simply not sure about us, most times we can show them that we truly do care, but for those that do not give us a chance, it upsets us because we take it personally. Sometimes I lay awake at night thinking of something a customer said and working out in my mind how to make things better. I also think to myself "if they only knew how much their words affected me," because I think if they did, the conversation would be very different. I also talk to my dogs a lot! But that is a topic for another post. :)

I have been told so many times that in business you can't please everyone and you need to not take things personally. For a little while there I tried to put this advice into action, but I failed miserably and then I realized why. It is personal, very personal and maybe I can't please everyone, but I am certainly going to try. If a mistake happens or a product doesn't provide the benefits we had hoped for a dog, I obsess about it and if a customer will allow us, we will go to great lengths to find a way - a new size, different product etc to make it work.

I am truly saddened if we are unable to help and I am truly hurt if we upset a customer. And I hope that as we grow the business that this never goes away. I always want us to feel something when it comes to our customers, not just when things go right, but also when things go wrong. It is what keeps pushing us to constantly improve.

Every email or post we read, every phone call we take matters. If you are upset we are upset; if you are happy we are happy, so please know this whenever you reach out to us. We will always be a company that puts your dog first. Making a difference is the fuel that drives us to keep being better, to keep doing more and to keep putting ourselves out there even if at times we get beat up a little.

If we ever do something that is not to your liking please talk to us and know that you can trust us. I say this with all my heart. We will never do anything but try and help. On the flipside, if we have helped please also talk to us because it motivates us more than you will ever know.

So if you ever feel that today's world is only about the mighty dollar, at least with us you now know that we are only about the mighty 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.

Healing Dogs Naturallyby Ann-Marie Fleming

07 October, 2015

Over the past several months I have become increasingly interested in natural treatments for our dogs. A lot of this interest stems from the powerlessness I felt losing Paige to cancer and it is also motivated by my desire to prevent future problems in Lily, Milo and Winnie. I will be exploring various 'natural' treatment methods over the coming months, but first let's start by better understanding what is meant by natural healing. 

It can be a bit overwhelming when trying to wrap your head around the various ways we can care for our dogs without using conventional medicine (conventional medicine referring to the treatment of patients using drugs and/or surgery). After all you see terms such as holistic care, homeopathic remedies, naturopathy, herbology, alternative medicine and the list goes on and on. Healing Dogs Naturally

It's not that I don't believe in conventional veterinarian care, because it has saved many lives, but I'd like to better understand if more can be done for our dogs and if we can avoid using treatments that harm our dogs in the process of trying to heal them.

In my mind naturopathic and holistic are interchangeable terms under which all other terminology tends to fall. In a nutshell, holistic care considers the whole dog physically, psychologically, socially and spiritually. It encompasses the belief that a dog's wellness goes beyond what is happening physically within the body in terms of illness or disease, to include the relationship of these physical conditions with our psychological, emotional, social, spiritual and environmental state. There are numerous treatment methods that fall under the umbrella of holistic care and can include acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, herbology, homeopathy, aromatherapy, nutrition and the list goes on.

I love the notion of considering the whole dog (mind, body & spirit) when assessing and treating a dog holistically because I have always felt that there is more to recovery than what is shown in black and white. For the same reason a vet can tell you that your dog has a month to live and they end up living for years, there is an element of their being that you can't simply quantify or predict. This unknown element is what makes miracles possible and perhaps if we look to heal our dogs using this multi-dimensional approach then we can help strengthen them in ways we never considered possible.

In addition, holistic medicine  treats every dog as an individual, catering treatment plans to suit their specific needs rather than an approach that treats the symptoms without consideration of a dog as a unique being. Having senior dogs typically means a lot of veterinarian interaction and I can't tell you how many times I have said "well you don't know my dog" when getting bad news. Using a holistic approach, knowing my dog matters.

I believe that we can all use elements of the holistic approach ourselves with our dogs which we will discuss in future posts, but you can also take your dog to a holistic veterinarian who has in-depth expertise and can map out a treatment plan encompassing a variety of natural methods based on your dog's needs. There are also many clinics that offer both conventional and holistic veterinarian care which would give you the best of both worlds.

One of the best things we can do is expand our knowledge and keep an open mind to alternative options. I will continue to do my homework and share my findings along the way. There is so much information and so many different ways to treat our dogs, it gives me great hope that longer, healthier lives are possible for our four-legged family.

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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