Senior Dog Blog

Jogging with your Dogger - Exercise has Never Been this Fun

21 August, 2014 0 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 :) 

Grippers Non Slip Dog Socks - Helping Older Dogs Gain Traction on Slippery Surfaces

18 June, 2013 0 comments Leave a comment

Enjoy this video which gives you an up close look at our new non slip dog socks called Grippers. Hardwood and tile flooring can be a nightmare for older dogs with mobility issues. Lack of stability on these slippery surfaces can often lead to nasty falls, injuries and an inability for dogs to lift themselves from the floor when trying to stand. I'd cringe every time I'd see one of our older dogs attempt to cross these surfaces for fear that they would fall and hurt themselves. Well not anymore!

With Grippers your dog can have the stability they need. With its unique design Grippers dog socks have grip around the entire paw so even if the socks twist, your dog has the traction they need to stay safe on these troublesome floors. But don't take my word for it - check out the reaction of these awesome dog models in the video below who found their inner puppy when wearing their new dog socks :) 

Dog Quality Showcases Products to Help Older Dogs on Shaw TV

07 June, 2013 0 comments Leave a comment

It has certainly been an exciting couple of weeks with the filming and airing of our segment on Shaw TV's program called go! Vancouver. We had two awesome customers and their senior dogs participating, which made for a totally fun afternoon! 3 Doggers, 5 dogs, diapers, wraps and traction socks - now I call that a party! :)

Here is the segment that aired:

I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon :) Special thanks to Lise Atchley with Winston and Sam, as well as Beth Kupka with the G's - Gracie and George and of course Milo, my sweet senior. All involved were naturals!! And if you are interested in Winston's recap of our exciting TV shoot then please visit his blog.

Testing Our Grippers Dog Socks Outdoors as a Paw Protector

28 April, 2013 0 comments Leave a comment

Winnie loves her walks but unfortunately she always seems to get sore spots on the bottom of her paws which become very tender. Rather than cutting back, I decided to see how well our Grippers dog socks performed outdoors as a paw protector so we could prevent the raw spots from forming.

Being able to wear these outdoors is also helpful for those dogs that scuff their toes due to mobility issues, especially since they have a rubber coating that covers the whole paw making them more durable than other dog socks...and even if they twist there is still protection. Well we went out for a 40 minute walk and the results were terrific.

Winnie was super comfortable in them and when I checked her paws at the end they were in perfect condition so I will definitely continue using them on her. So not only do they help give grip on indoor surfaces such as tile and hardwood, but they also work great as an outdoor paw protector! What a nice bonus! :)

Check out our video showing you how well they worked for Winnie throughout this outdoor dog sock test:

For more info on our Grippers dog socks for indoor grip or outdoor paw protection, please visit: http://www.dogquality.com/products/grippers 

Dogger Giveaway with Chubbs the Wampug

25 January, 2013 0 comments Leave a comment

We are very excited to be working with Chubbs the Wampug on this Dogger GiveawayChubbs the Wampug wants you to win a Dogger stroller. Using a Dogger stroller is a great way to help your older or disabled dog continue to do the things they love and stay active in the process. Many people dismiss a dog stroller as an accessory without realizing how essential they can be for a dog struggling with mobility issues. The Dogger enables your dog to walk when able, but rest when needed.

For some this allows them to get more exercise than was ever possible before. Check out this video of Chubbs showing the value  of using a Dogger. You would be amazed at the difference it can make.

I can tell you from my own personal experience how important the Dogger can be. I used mine daily with my beloved Mackenzie who in his later years had severe arthritis and was only able to walk short distances. At the same time I knew how curious he was and how much his walks meant to him both physically and mentally so the Dogger was the perfect solution. We were able to get out of the house and he would walk when he could and then take breaks in the stroller and we would do this several times throughout the course of our outing. It was amazing to see how much he would perk up when I would pull the Dogger out and I knew I was helping him continue to enjoy life despite his physical challenges. In fact Mackenzie was a big part of the inspiration behind creating the Dogger.

Sorry the contest has ended, but please enjoy this video staring Chubbs the Wampug. 

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