Senior Dog Blog

Happy Tails - November

13 November, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

We love sharing our customer's happy tails :) Here is a look at November's stars! Read about Precious and her road to recovery. Wilbur shows us that even a diaper can look manly. See the brother and sister team of Lucy Lou and Boomer, rugged Oskar, and handsome Raider showing their new found confidence in their Grippers dog socks. Witness Sophie resting up and Tom defying the odds in their Dogger strollers.

Precious

Grippers Dog Socksclick to zoom

Precious in her Grippers dog socks. So happy she is on the road to recovery. Here is what her mom, Sylwia Krzywiecka from Mississauga, Ontario, told us: "Precious is 7 yrs old (Shih Tzu Yorkie mix) and she was hit by a car 6 weeks ago this coming Friday. She ran out after a squirrel and that is when she was hit. As a result, her eye was removed as it could not be saved & she had a broken pelvis so she has two screws on each side of her pelvis. Overall she is doing well so I'm really hoping she'll be back to normal soon. Thank you for designing this product. It really works."

Lucy Lou & Boomer

Grippers Dog Socksclick to zoom

Lucy Lou (12 yrs) and her brother Boomer (12 yrs) getting their grip again on those slippery floors thanks to their Grippers dog traction socks. Special thanks to their dad Steve Stein for sharing these photos with us.

Oskar

Grippers Dog Socksclick to zoom

Meet Oskar (11 yrs) putting his Grippers dog socks to great use. His mom Jennifer Ray from Lockport, New York tells us that he can finally drink without his feet sliding!

Tom

Dogger Strollerclick to zoom

Tom's mom, Gail McKillop, tells us: "Our gorgeous boy Tom is battling thyroid cancer and currently winning! The fabulous dogger has been an absolute God send he loves it and it means we can take him out with our long legged lurcher Ruby without him getting tired."

Sophie

Dogger Strollerclick to zoom

Sophie getting a ride home on her Dogger after a brisk 1.5 mile walk. Thank you Hollie Shaner-Mcrae from Burlington, Vermont for this great action shot.

Wilbur

Washable Wonders Male Dog Diapersclick to zoom

Wilbur sporting his new male diapers. Thank you Kate Davis from Irondale, Alabama for sending us this handsome photo.

Raider

Grippers Dog Socksclick to zoom

Raider gaining confidence on those hardwood floors one step at a time thanks to his Grippers dog socks. Special thanks to his mom Michelle Pepito from West Islip, New York for sending us this handsome photo!

November is Adopt-A-Senior-Pet Month

13 November, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

November is officially adopt-a-senior-pet month and while senior adoptions should be encouraged throughout the year I love having a month dedicated to these sweet seniors helps to raise awareness.  Why do we need a month? Well unfortunately older dogs and cats are often the last to be adopted. Even more heart breaking is the fact that they are there in the first place. I have heard too many sad stories about seniors being dropped off at shelters because their families are not prepared to deal with them during this stage of life. I can't imagine what that must be like for those sweet dogs and cats to have their families abandon them at a time when they need them the most. But this is why it is so important that we help these wonderful pets by giving them a second chance at a happy life, especially when they are in their golden years.

There are many reasons why people shy away from adopting a senior, but the most common argument I hear is that people often feel they won’t get much time with a senior pet or they will have too many health issues leading to vet bills and eventual heart ache.Adopt a Senior Dog

Having senior dogs myself I can honestly tell you that some of my most special moments have been during their golden years. There is something very sweet and very special about an older pet. They know who they are and what they want. They are so appreciative of your love and give you everything they can to show this. Not to mention they also become quite the characters in their senior years, so I encourage you to open your homes and your hearts and I promise you will not regret it.

There are no guarantees in life at any age and my life with any one of my seniors would feel fulfilled whether we had 6 months or 6 years together. I wouldn’t trade a minute of my time with them so please consider saving a senior – your heart will thank you.

Most, if not all, rescues and shelters have a senior population, but there are also organizations that specifically focus on helping older dogs. Rescues like this include:

So please consider adopting a senior pet - your life will be forever changed for the better.

Cervical Disc Replacement in Dogs

12 November, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Modern medicine can do amazing things for our dogs and it gives me so much hope when I see research and development go into creating solutions that give dogs access to treatment that has proven successful in the human world. Here's a recent example. There is a painful and debilitating condition called Disc Associated Wobbler Syndrome (DAWS) that affects the cervical vertebrae and inter-vertebral discs in certain dogs resulting in cervical canal narrowing and spinal cord compression. Dogs suffering from this condition often have a wobbly gate; hence the more common name Wobbler Syndrome. MRI of a dog with DAWs showing spinal cord compression

While the underlying cause of DAWS is not fully known, it appears to come from a combination of disc degeneration (when the cushion between the vertebrae break down and no longer provide cushion for the vertebrae bones) and cervical spine instability.

DAWS typically affects middle age to older dogs and while this condition can impact many different breeds, studies have shown it to be most prevalent with in Great Danes and Doberman Pinschers. Surgery, which is often required to treat this condition, can be extremely invasive accompanied by a long post-operative recovery. There is also a chance that this surgery would not permanently eliminate the problem since there has been a high incidence of recurrence after surgery in other locations along the spinal cord called “domino lesions”.  

Sounds terrible I know, but here is where it gets interesting; Dr. Filippo Adamo, DVM, Dipl. ECVN, Chief of Neurology/Neurosurgery with East Bay Veterinary Specialists has developed an Artificial Disc Implant called the Adamo Spinal Disc® specifically designed to cure DAWS through a procedure called Cervical Disc Replacement (CDA) or Cervical Disc Arthroplasty. CDA is currently the best available option for people with cervical disc disease, so it a major achievement that this procedure is now finally available for dogs.

Dr. Adamo explains, "The goal of CDA is to preserve intervertebral mobility while providing distraction, stability, and neural decompression. This technique has also the potential advantages of treating multiple adjacent and not adjacent disc spaces, avoiding iatrogenic spinal cord or vascular damage by use of self-retaining implant, and the titanium composition of the implant enables follow-up by MRI. While mainly used for Disc Associated Wobbler Syndrome, this procedure can be also used for the treatment of the more classic disc herniation, where the disc herniation is not combined with spinal instability. The prosthesis in this case acts as a space distractor to avoid disc space collapse, which when happens may cause compression and entrapment of the spinal nerves spinal and a source of cervical pain."

The key advantages of this procedure over common surgeries are that it is much less invasive, the recovery time is much shorter and there has been no evidence of recurrence. It can also be performed on an out-patient basis.

"After surgery the dogs are no worse than before surgery, this why the post-op hospitalization is minimal and the dogs can go home the same day after surgery. The post-operative care is also minimal, and there is no need for an external cervical brace. The implant is also self-retaining which includes less complications related to screws loosening, plate fracture or other. Six-eight weeks of post-operative activity restriction to allow bone/plate incorporation is all is needed," adds Adamo.

So far this procedure is already in place in 14 states across the US, in addition to the UK, Germany and Italy. More than 60 dogs have received the implant with a 91% success rate with no occurrence of domino lesions.

For more information on the Adamo Spinal Disc, please visit: wobblersyndrome.com

Stroke vs Vestibular Disease in Older Dogs

06 November, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

In the last year of Mackenzie's life he suffered from what our veterinarian had diagnosed to be Vestibular Syndrome, also known as Old Dog Syndrome. I remember the feeling of relief that came over me when I heard this since it is common in senior dogs and most recover in a few weeks. The thing is Mackenzie never really recovered and it felt more like permanent damage from a stroke than anything temporary. Interestingly, if you ask most vets they will tell you that dogs don't have strokes, but since MRI's found their way into veterinarian medicine and more research has focused on this area, we now know that dogs do in fact have strokes and it's not uncommon.

Vestibular Syndrome is the sudden loss of balance accompanied by disorientation, rapid eye movements and a head tilt, making walking difficult, if not impossible. Most dogs fully recover in 2-3 weeks, with some dogs showing residual symptoms, such as a head tilt, for life. The most severe clinical signs tend to occur within the first 24 - 48 hours.

Stroke or cerebrovascular accident (CVA) is the most common clinical manifestation of cerebrovascular disease, and can be broadly divided into ischemic stroke (sudden lack of blood supply to the brain) and hemorrhagic stroke (burst blood vessel). Signs of a stroke can also include loss of balance, head tilt and difficulty in walking. Performing an MRI is often used to diagnose a stroke and to differentiate the clinical signs from other brain diseases that require more specific treatments. Ischemic Infarct in dogsHemorrhagic Infarct in dogs

Just as with human beings, our senior dogs tend to be more at risk due to the higher prevalence of underlying conditions that may lead to a vascular event (ischemic stroke or hemorrhagic stroke).

While the symptoms of Vestibular Syndrome are always the same, the underlying cause may be different. Underlying causes can include a stroke, infectious diseases, inflammatory diseases etc. If the stroke affects the brainstem or the cerebellum it may cause Vestibular Syndrome. However, strokes may also affect the forebrain, in this event the clinical signs are not associated with Vestibular Syndrome.

While there is little that can be done to prevent a stroke or vestibular disease, the underlying cause may be treatable thus reducing the overall risk of a vascular event.

Once a stroke or vestibular disease is diagnosed, most treatment protocols include supportive care and time. Medication to help with the dizziness may be prescribed and it is very important that your dog has supervision at all times to ensure they do not hurt themselves during this time of disorientation. There are many dogs that do recover to live long, full lives; it really depends on the underlying condition, age and overall health of your dog.

I still remember how I had to carry Mackenzie everywhere because he could barely stand. I often kept him in his Dogger stroller when indoors so he had a great view of everyone and everything, while staying out of harms way. I tried using a walking sling, but he was so unbalanced that even a sling did not help so I stuck with using my hands. I'd hold him to eat, to drink, to take care of his 'business' outside and I would have done it for a lifetime if needed. 

My only wish was that I better understood what happened to him and the more I read on the subject, the more I see the need for greater research. We have come such a  long way with humans, but have only started to scratch the surface when it comes to strokes in dogs - at least we now acknowledge that strokes in dogs do in fact happen and isn't admitting we have a problem the first step in recovery?

*MRI Images courtesy of Dr. Filippo Adamo,  DVM, Dipl. ECVN,  East Bay Veterinary Specialists, Walnut, CA

Jogging with your Dogger - Exercise has Never Been this Fun

21 August, 2014 1 comments Leave a comment

One of the great things to do with your dog is to spend time exercising together. Running and walking your dog are the most obvious ways to stay active and enjoy quality time together. However, as our dogs get older, often times running or walking for long periods of time is not a viable option, but that doesn't mean the fun has to stop. This is why I love the Dogger so much because it allows you to continue to exercise with your dog, allowing them to walk or run when able and rest when needed. At the same time it means you as the parent still get the exercise you need.

One of the questions I get asked quite often is "Can I jog with the Dogger?" and the answer is YES! In fact that is where the name comes from Dog + Jogger = Dogger. And if you think walking your Dogger is a good workout then try running with it - you and your dog will have a blast. Exercising with a stroller has the potential to increase the intensity of your workout up to 25%, so when you jog with it, you are definitely getting a great workout and your dog will absolutely love it.

In this video Milo, my senior pug-mix and I, show you what it's like to jog with your Dogger across multiple terrains...well I'm running and Milo is enjoying the ride :) 

Corneal Pigmentation in Brachycephalic Dogs

04 November, 2013 0 comments Leave a comment

Being a long time pug and french bulldog parent I have witnessed first hand the spread of pigment throughout my dogs' eyes. Mackenzie, my senior pug who passed away a couple years ago, had severe corneal pigmentation and now Paige my 8 yr old frenchie is facing this same issue. As a result, I have a personal interest in better understanding what causes this to happen, especially as dogs get older.

Corneal pigmentation (pigmentary keratopathy)To start things off, corneal pigmentation, also known as pigmentary keratopathy, is a very non-specific response by the cornea to a variety of irritating stimuli. It has been compared to getting mud on your windshield - when there are small specks there is still visibility, but when the entire windshield is covered you are in many ways blind. This is what happens to our dogs as the pigmentation expands and thickens.

It is very common in brachycephalic breeds such as french bulldogs, pugs, boston terriers etc which explains why I have seen this in more than one of my dogs. With Paige I know the cause - she has a history of eye ulcers and the pigment that has formed is her eyes' way of protecting itself from further damage. In other dogs dry eye is a common cause and it can also be brought on by eye disease, infections and problems with a dog's eyelids.

With Mackenzie, while he did have an eye trauma in one of his eyes, the other eye was quite healthy but he still experienced rapid pigmentation which always puzzled and saddened me. He was treated with a variety of medications to slow down the process, but in the end his eyes were completely covered and he eventually had little to no visibility. As our dogs get older, their eyes degrade in similar ways to humans leaving them more susceptible to the underlying causes of corneal pigmentation which is why this condition can appear to be worse in older dogs. With treatment, while it cannot be cured (yet), the process can be slowed so that it takes many years for the pigmentation to take over, which for Mackenzie and dogs like him, ends up occurring when they are well into their golden years.

In researching corneal pigmentation, I came across some interesting and recent research specifically on pugs being conducted by Amber L. Labelle, DVM, MS, DACVO; Christine B. Dresser, DVM; Ralph E. Hamor, DVM, MS, DACVO; Matthew C. Allender, DVM, PhD, DACZM and Julia L. Disney, BS which looked at the Characteristics of, prevalence of and risk factors for corneal pigmentation (pigmentary keratopathy) in pugs. In this study they looked at 295 pugs from different geographical locations in an attempt to better understand the prevalence of pigmentary keratopathy in the pug population. The results were quite shocking in that roughly 82% of the pugs in the study showed signs of corneal pigmentation, and while the majority of those evaluated are considered to be mild cases, they found that 25% of the affected pugs are moderately or severely affected. The median age of pugs in the study was 4 years with 25% of the dogs older than 7 years, however I can't help but wonder if more seniors were involved, if the number of moderate to severe cases detected would have been higher.

I had a chance to connect with Dr. Amber Labelle who helped answer some additional questions and shared how her love for pugs (she is owned by 2 pugs named Dexter and Sheldon) and her experiences as a a veterinary ophthalmologist in examining many pug patients with corneal pigmentation, led her towards research on pigmentary keratopathy. The interesting and challenging aspect and why this particular research is so important is that while there are identifiable causes to the presence of corneal pigmentation, like in the case of Paige, when it comes to pugs the cause is often unknown. Therefore the hope of this research is to better understand the why when it comes to pugs, with a long term goal of improving treatment and possibly prevention.

Dr. Labelle explains, "when we started the study, one of the questions that we wanted to answer is whether or not the more common diseases (such as dry eye and eyelid problems) are associated with pigmentary keratopathy in pugs. What we found in the study is that pugs are equally likely to have pigment on their corneas whether or not they have dry eye or eyelid problems. This leaves us in a bit of a quandary—we know that pigmentary keratopathy affects the majority of the pug population, but we still aren't sure what causes it." While more research is needed, this study did point towards genetic factors as the root cause. "The findings of iris hypoplasia (which means the iris, the colored part inside the eye, did not develop normally) and iris-iris persistent pupillary membranes (a birth defect that leaves little strands of tissue on the surface of the iris) being very common in pugs was very unexpected. Those were findings that I started to notice after I examined the first 20-30 pugs. We started tracking those findings in the remainder of the pugs that participated in the study, and were surprised to find that 70-80% of pugs also had iris hypoplasia and persistent pupillary membranes. In fact, there was only ONE pug in the WHOLE study that had no corneal pigment, no iris hypoplasia and no persistent pupillary membranes! We are unsure of the relationship between corneal pigmentation and these other abnormalities, but it is possible they are related and more investigation is needed," states Dr. Labelle.

So while pugs can have underlying conditions causing the pigmentation, we may be looking at genetic causes as the core reason behind its overwhelming prevalence among pugs. With this research we are one step closer to finding the answers we need and for that I am very grateful for the commitment and efforts of Dr. Labelle and her team. I will definitely be following this research as it progresses. For more information on this study and on pigmentary keratopathy, please visit: www.pugeyes.com.

Cloth Dog Diapers vs Disposable Dog Diapers - The Environmental Debate

30 October, 2013 0 comments Leave a comment

In the baby world, the debate between disposable and cloth diapers has been going on for quite some time, especially on the topic of environmental impact. While it hasn't garnered the same level of attention, a similar situation exists in the dog world. Historically disposables have been the diaper of choice for both 2 legged and 4 legged users, but the fact that reusable, cloth diapers provide a viable, effective and environmentally friendly alternative has helped it to gain market share.

Reusable Cloth Dog DiapersWhen I first started selling incontinence products, I was like so many pet parents immediately looking to disposables for the answer. At the time they were the primary option available and I was excited to be able to provide them to pet parents looking for help in managing dog incontinence. However, once I started reading more and more about the harmful environmental impacts of disposable diapers, I quickly changed my opinion.

The research comes from the baby world since they represent the bulk of the disposables in landfills, but the information is transferable to disposable dog diapers which are made with similar materials. According to the Real Diaper Association, many disposable diapers have been known to use chemicals proven to be harmful to humans and animals such as Dioxin, a by-product of bleaching that has been labeled as a carcinogenic and Tributyl-tin (TBT) a toxic pollutant believed to cause hormonal problems. Most disposables also contain Sodium polyacrylate, which becomes a gel-like substance used to help wick the moisture away in diapers, but it has also been cited as a potential respiratory tract irritant.

With more than 18 billion disposable diapers sold (not including dog diapers or adult diapers) probably the most disturbing impact involves their presence in landfills, where it is estimated that these diapers take between 250-500 years to decompose! Cloth diapers, whether they are for humans or dogs, even when you factor in manufacturing and washing, does not come close to the burden on the environment that disposables create.

When I became aware of these harmful effects and factored in the costs of disposable diapers for dogs versus having something reusable, I decided to stop selling disposables altogether.  Instead, I created our own line of washable cloth dog diapers, belly bands and pads called Washable Wonders, modeled after the best cloth baby diapers available today, to give dog parents an eco-friendly and affordable option for managing dog incontinence. I don't know about you, but I sure feel better :)

Sources: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/disposable-diapers-are-they-dangerous-1.888074 http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php

Changing Your Perspective on Senior Dogs

04 October, 2013 2 comments Leave a comment

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with a great number of pet parents - some who are experiencing the life of a senior dog for the first time and others who have had many senior dogs over the years. I find it very interesting to see the different perspectives. Some choose to look at this stage of life with sadness. Sadness that the dog they knew in their younger years was disappearing, and their time with them ticking away. Many may not realize it, but this sadness can often filter into how they interact with their dog and the choices they make.

I am a big believer that our dogs feed off of our energy and our spirit. When we are sad, unhappy, frustrated etc they pick up on that negativity, but on the contrary, when we are hopeful, happy, positive, they pick up on these feelings as well. What we project can have a huge impact on how our dogs face the challenges that come with this next stage of their lives. Enjoying life with your older dogJust because they may not be able to do the things they did as a young dog in the same way, does not mean that their days of fun and adventure are over. We merely need to make adjustments and find ways to keep them active and stimulated in a way that makes sense.

When facing challenges common in aging dogs we have 2 choices - we can focus all our attention on the ailment, feel saddened by the reality of their new vulnerability and thus causing our dog to do the same, or we can accept this as part of life, take steps to help resolve and place our focus on ways to keep injecting fun, hope and happiness into their lives. Life is not over for our older dogs, it's just different and the more experience pet parents have, the more they see the beauty and joy of this stage of their dog's life. In my family our older dogs are like royalty and they love it!

One of the things that I love about social media is the visibility it has created for older dogs and dogs struggling with disabilities, showcasing how amazing lives can be despite the challenges. In this day and age there are so many treatments, so many products, all focused on improving the quality of life for our four-legged family members that we have all the tools we need to make their lives unbelievably amazing. All that is left is for us to adjust our perspective. To embrace change as something positive and to understand that the fun and adventure does not need to end.

In fact I happen to believe that our dogs get even more hilarious, more loving and more sure of what they want as they move into their senior years, so embrace it, enjoy it and see the difference this positive perspective can have on your dog's outlook towards life. Show your older dog how to live life to its fullest and they will return the favor. What is your perspective?

Book Review: Conversations with Woo by Meg Trafford - Let the Journey Begin

16 September, 2013 0 comments Leave a comment

"Have you ever had one event that was disguised as ordinary but as it unfolded caused you to question all you believed in? Well, I had one; it was an event that spanned eleven, all-too-short years and it began with a bouncy, crazy-eyed cattle dog named Woo." Meg Trafford, Conversations with Woo

Conversations with Woo by Meg Trafford is not only a touching, personal account of her dogs from puppy hood to their golden years, but it also presents a refreshing look and appreciation of the complexities of dog behavior and our unique human-dog bond.Book Review: Conversations with Woo by Meg Trafford

For those of us fortunate enough to become dog parents, Conversations with Woo will form an instant connection. From the giddiness we feel when we bring a new four-legged family member into our home, to the roller coaster ride we embark on as we love and care for them through thick and thin, this book acts as a mirror of our own lives.

As I read I couldn't help but reflect back to my own dogs over the years, re-living the different stages of their lives as Meg took us through her life with Woo and her siblings. If you are like me then you see your dogs as family. Communication, love, connection - it's all there and all so clear.

What I love about this book is Meg's appreciation for her dogs. As she saw uniqueness in her own dogs she began to question common opinions in the dog world. By drawing from current research she opens our minds to new explanations as to what motivates and drives our dogs' behavior. A great example of this is the concept of alpha. How many times have you heard about the importance of establishing yourself as the alpha if you are to have any hope of "controlling" your dogs? This stems from the belief that dogs behave in similar ways as wolves, but after hundreds of years of domestication and in many cases genetic alteration through breeding (not to mention more in-depth research on wolves themselves), can we really make that comparison?

This book inspired me to continue to follow new research so I can take a more modern approach to raising my four-legged family. Maybe I'll find out that all the hugs and kisses we share is the best management technique around. ;) Conversations with Woo will make you laugh out loud as you are reminded of the hilarity of puppy antics, angry as you learn of the author's childhood which included mistreatment of far too many family dogs, and cry as you share in the inescapable pain that comes with losing a family member.

This is actually the first book that has ever made me cry - I think because like so many dog parents I have gone through loss and the minute I read or see someone else going through the same, I immediately tear up - so keep your tissues handy! Fortunately even though there are sad moments, the author does a great job of finding the positive even through the heart break by seeing how she became a better person thanks to her dogs and how the experiences she shared are times she would never trade away no matter how much it hurts when we say good-bye.

I highly recommend this book for anyone that feels their dogs are their family. It will remind you to cherish each and every moment, to continue to grow as a person and a parent, and to dig a little deeper to understand what makes our dogs tick. This book moved me and it will do the same for you.

You may also end up giving your dogs a few extra hugs in the process. The only question left unanswered is what is Woo's real name? :) (Woo is her nickname and due to a potential trademark infringement is not revealed in the book)

To get your copy of Conversations with Woo please visit: www.conversationswithwoo.com

The Ultimate Dog Belly Band Test - Managing Dog Incontinence

14 September, 2013 0 comments Leave a comment

Managing dog incontinence or excessive marking is challenging to say the least. I live it everyday with Milo, but the great thing is you do have options. My goal with Dog Quality is not only to create great products that help our older dogs, but I also want to make this process as easy as possible since most products need to become part of our daily routine. Ultimate Dog Belly Band Test - Washable WondersOne great example of this is our Washable Wonders dog belly band, super easy to use, fits male dogs great and what's really unique is the different fabrics that we use.

The baby world gets credit here because that is where we turned when we were looking for the most effective and comfortable material to use.  As a result each belly band has an inner layer of absorbent microfiber and the outer material is super soft and very waterproof, making for the most effective belly bands available today.

One of the most surprising things to me about other belly bands is that you always have to use a pad with them, most times people use disposable pads which can be costly and terrible for the environment. With our belly bands, as you will see shortly, they can be used on their own thanks to the absorbent microfiber and waterproof protection, and if your dog has significant volume, you can always add one of our triple layered washable pads inside to give you even more protection.

To help show you just how awesome these dog belly bands are, Milo and I came up with what we feel to be the ultimate dog belly band test. Milo my senior pug mix has both incontinence and marking issues so we use these dog belly bands on a daily basis. To show you just how much protection they provide we decided to take the test outdoors where Milo cannot resist marking every blade of grass. The difference this time is that he'll be doing it while wearing his belly band! Check out the video below to see the results of our outdoor experiment :) 

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