Saturday, 26 March 2011

Getting Older

I have been thinking about the subject of ageing dogs recently. There are so many similarities in the physical and psychological lives of dogs and humans and ageing is no exception. So in the following sentences, when I refer to dogs then you could replace it with the word 'human' and I think it would still apply!
Older dogs really appreciate routine and predictability. Older dogs find change in lifestyle and habits quite difficult to cope with. Older dogs can suffer a gradual hearing loss and poor eyesight, and they really appreciate a comfy bed or chair that is easy to get on and off.
What I have been thinking about recently is that because you see your dog every single day, then perhaps you don't notice the subtle changes which happen very, very slowly. I remember listening to an excellent piece of wisdom from a Vet who said that slowing down and having stiff joints is not necessarily a normal and predictable part of growing old for dogs. Dogs, by their nature as predators put on an act so as not to be seen as vulnerable to other dogs and people. If they are in pain, they hide it for as long as possible. If they have painful joints they don't want other dogs or people to know about it and they really don't moan about their aches and pains. If you have an older dog and you think it is just slowing down and getting less active, then the chances are that they are in pain and they don't want anyone to know.
I have just started Leo the Lab on a course of dietary supplements (mainly glucosamine/chondroitin) to assist with osteo arthritis. There has been a massive leap forward in the scientific understanding of these type of supplements. Please go and ask the advice of your vet. Don't just slip a few extra shop bought supplements into his food and hope for the best, dogs have a very different digestive system from humans and they require very specific doses.
Getting slower is not just a normal part of ageing for a dog, he might be in pain and you don't know it. Go see your vet and get it checked out. You might be amazed at the difference these supplements can make, and your dog will thank you for it.

Monday, 14 March 2011


We've bonded! It takes quite a while longer for a rescue dog to settle into a new home than you might think. Routine is important, what he is allowed to do and what he isn't. What time is dinner time and what time is walkies. A new dog must also 'bond' with a new owner. Scientific studies have proved that the hormone 'oxytocin' is produced when owners stroke and cuddle their dogs. This is the same hormone that a mother produces when she is feeding her baby. This is a bonding hormone and it really does work between humans and dogs.
This week we have been bonding. Lots of eye contact, lots of physical contact, lots of play, lots of gentle grooming. All these activities are bonding. So now, just after 7 days in a new home it really does feel like I am 'in love' again. We have bonded!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The Amazing Thing About Dogs

It's Iditarod time again! Every Winter the Iditarod sled dog race takes place in Alaska. For more than 1100miles teams of sled dogs race through unbelievable conditions from Anchorage to Nome. The best racers can do it in about 8 or 9 days. That's more than 100miles of running per day! I just adore the sport of dog sledding! This is a fantastic example of dogs doing what they were bred to do. They love it! Can you imagine running 100miles a day and still wanting more? These dog athletes are amazing! They are the equivalent of a world class athlete! There is a very special bond between a musher and his dogs. Science is still learning incredible things about how a dog metabolises so much energy from its food! The amazing thing about these dogs is that they love to work! They love life! Can you imagine how much fun it would be going to work every day when you had colleagues like this?