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Compassionate Care and food for older dogs Tips and advice for enhancing the quality of your Dog's Golden Years
by Dika Golovatchoff

7 Golden Retriever Puppies

As someone blessed with the companionship of an older dog I am constantly learning from my dog. Genevieve, my Golden Retriever, who just turned thirteen in October, is in some ways still a puppy, and in others, an older dog. While she still runs and swims at the beach with great energy, she rests longer, and occasionally shows signs of stiffness.

Depending upon the breed a dog can be considered a senior at six or seven (if a Great Dane, Newfoundland or other giant breed) or at 10 or 11 (if a retriever of setter) or at 13 or 14 if a small or miniature breed. It's not the age that matters, but the health and vitality of the dog. A healthy dog still needs regular walks and the kind of play and exercise she enjoys, only in smaller doses. Swimming is the best exercise for any dog who enjoys it because there is no impact on joints.

Feeding your older dog the best quality food is especially important in the golden years. I recommend Natural Balance, Canidae, Eagle Pack, Wellness, or Flint River Ranch Senior Dog Plus, which is what I currently use. This food contains Glucosamine sulphate and Chondroitin Sulphate for healthy joints, and is lower in caloric content than the regular food. Dry foods should be supplemented with either canned dog food or raw or cooked human-grade meat, or Flint River's excellent Dry Water formula, to which you add water to create a warm gravy. Glucosamine Sulphate and Chondroitin Sulphate are also important supplements for preventing arthritis or reducing pain associated with arthritis and are also present in the Flint River Jubilee Wafers, which are a tasty treat. With my veterinarian's approval I am also giving my dog one buffered aspirin a day, which helps a lot in reducing her stiffness.

Ginger, Peaches, meIt's important for your dog to have one or more comfortable beds both inside the house and outside. A dog that has been used to sleeping on your bed may no longer be able to jump up, and will need a lower bed, or one on the ground.

Getting in and out of the car may also become a problem with older dogs, and we recommend using a ramp that your dog can walk up. It may take some ingenuity on your part to provide a ramp tailored to your dog and vehicle. Older pets usually make great traveling companions, and some of Genevieve's and my best quality time together is spent on camping trips.

Your dog's hearing and vision may also be somewhat impaired with age. Be sure to have these checked out by a veterinarian. My veterinarian told me that her vision and hearing are good for her age; nevertheless, it takes her longer to find her ball, and occasionally she'll run in the opposite direction from where I'm going, not because she's being mischievous as when she was a puppy, but because she doesn't see or hear me. I just got a whistle so she can hear me from a greater distance.

Dogs will also sometimes show signs of confusion, such as seen in older people. Your veterinarian can advise you if you need to provide medication. In general it's important to keep regular habits and offer lots of encouragement at times when your dog may seem disoriented.

Many people ask if it's a good idea to introduce a new animal into a household with an older dog. While for some dogs it will provide a healthy stimulus if your dog is used to being "top dog" it may have a harmful psychological effect. If in doubt, experiment with a brief visit first.

For an older dog who swims in the ocean a life vest is truly important in the event the dog became overtired or had a heart attack or seizure in the water. Also, a ramp to help your dog get in and out of the car and up and down steps is really a kind gift.


We encourage our readers to consider the fine quality natural dog and cat foods from Flint River Ranch.


Complete vitamin and mineral supplements in tasty wafers or powder. Powerful anitioxidants combat free radicals - prevent allergies, disease - boost energy, healthy skin and coat.

Recommended by over 20,000 breeders and veterinarians. Doesn't your pet deserve the best?

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