8 Signs Your Dog is Aging

8 Signs Your Dog Is AgingWe all know how age can creep up on us, and that is certainly true for our dogs. The old adage “one human year equals seven dog years” is a good starting point, but in fact, small to medium breeds are considered a senior at 9 to 11 years, large dogs at 8 to 10 years, and giant breed dogs at 6 to 8 years.

Each dog, like each human, is different. Some signs of aging are obvious – others, not so much. However, being aware of the changes in your dog could help you catch health issues early. With diet, supplements, and extra care, many of these conditions can be prevented, delayed or managed, to give your dog the best possible quality of life. Here are some general things to watch for:

  1. Slowing Down

    What is usually considered “slowing down” or “a little stiff” may be a sign of arthritis. Extra weight makes arthritis even worse, so consider a high protein diet to help protect lean muscle mass while shedding fat. Proper weight and moderate exercise are the keys to comfort. Also consider joint support supplements and antioxidants for dogs, which offer good anti-inflammatory action and pain relief. And don’t forget a new dog bed for more comfortable sleep.

  2. Gaining Weight

    Older dogs can put on weight due to less activity, slowing metabolism, thyroid issues, etc. And we know that overweight and obese dogs have a higher incidence of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Your senior dog needs more and higher quality protein and reduced calories and an age-appropriate exercise routine.

  3. Not Responding To You

    Has your dog stopped coming when you call? Is he hard to wake up after sleeping? Or does she get startled easily if you approach from behind? Hearing loss or deafness may be a reason for this. Take care to protect him from hazards such as cars and consider teaching hand signals for basic commands. Both dogs and cats can develop cognitive (learning and memory) problems as they get older, which are increasingly recognized as a form of dementia. Antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids for dogs (krill & cod liver oil is best for this condition) are valuable in keeping your pet’s brain functioning at its best.

  4. Cloudy Eyes

    As they age, dog’s eyes often show a bluish transparent “haze” in the pupil area. This is a normal effect of aging and the medical term for this is nuclear sclerosis or lenticular sclerosis. A white opaque cloudiness in the eye can also be a sign of cataracts, which will need treatment. Check with your vet if you notice any cloudiness or have questions about eye care.

  5. More Bathroom Breaks & Accidents

    As your dog ages, he will need to go to the bathroom more often. In older dogs, lower levels of hormones and slower nerve responses contribute to incontinence. If he starts having accidents in the house, increase your number of potty breaks throughout the day. Also consider a bladder control supplement to support your dog’s bladder muscle function and maintain bladder health in senior dogs.

  6. Lumps

    Your worst fear – finding a lump. Dogs often develop spongy lumps, called lipomas, as they age. These lumps are usually fatty tumors and no reason to worry. However, you should have your vet check out all lumps you discover. You should be checking for lumps frequently. On short-haired dogs they will eventually be noticeable by sight, but it’s better if you detect them early. On long-haired dogs, regular checks are vital, since they may not be visible even when they get larger.

  7. Bad Breath

    This sign of aging will probably be the first you encounter. Most dogs don’t have minty-fresh breath, but if it starts to smell funkier than usual, don’t ignore it. Dogs as young as three develop this and it’s usually a sign of dental disease. The longer the teeth are allowed to decay, the worse it will be for your dog and your pocketbook. The good news is that you can help prevent your pet from suffering through a good oral care regimen. Brush her teeth regularly, and in between brushes, natural dental chews will help keep them clean.

  8. Deteriorating Coat Condition

    Your dog may encounter skin and coat issues at any age, but he is more susceptible to them as he gets older. Look for dry coat, itching, flakiness, rashes or hair loss. Quality skin and coat care products can alleviate some of these issues, but talk to your vet to determine if there is a medical cause of the issue.

Enjoy your pets in their senior years. For more information on supporting your aging pet, please see our articles on aging pets in our Holistic Healthcare Library, and in particular the article, “Supporting Your Aging Companion” and video Celebrating Your Pet’s Golden Years.

Boarding or Pet Sitting? Which is Better for Your Pet?

Boarding or Sitting

Boarding or Pet Sitting: Pros and Cons of Both

The holidays, ski season, and warm-weather vacations are fast approaching and for many pet parents, that means having to make a decision about your pet’s care. Of course, we always want our fur babies with us, but if that’s not an option this year, you need a plan for your pet while you’re away.

If you’re a first-timer, your top two options are to hire a professional pet sitter or board them at a doggy daycare or kennel. In making your choice, you’ll want to consider your pet’s age, health and temperament, and of course, your budget.

Whether it’s a kennel or a pet sitter, your dog or cat will likely benefit from some calming remedies such as stress and anxiety remedies for dogs and cats. If you are preparing to board your companions, immune strengtheners are a great idea. Best to get started on those several weeks in advance.

Here are the pros and cons to consider:

Pet Boarding


  • Usually more cost effective than pet sitters, since pet sitters charge per visit and kennels charge per day.
  • Great option for social dogs who need a lot of exercise and activity.


  • Contagious diseases, like kennel cough, distemper, giardiasis and coccidiosis are found in kennels. This is a no-no for puppies and kittens as their immune systems are susceptible to picking up these illnesses.
  • Staff can’t always give each pet special attention (sometimes you have to pay extra for this).
  • The kennel will perform feedings, bathroom breaks and walks according to their schedule, not yours, which is not ideal for puppies.

Pet Sitter


  • Your pet can keep his or her routine, which is essential for puppies or kittens.
  • No exposure to contagious illnesses.
  • If you have a pet with special dietary or medical needs, the pet sitter can administer medications.
  • Pets are given special attention and playtime with pet sitters.
  • Pet sitters can also bring in mail, water plants, and turn lights on/off while you’re away.


  • Since pet sitters typically charge anywhere from $10 upwards per house visit, and that can add up fast.
  • If you hire a neighborhood teen (vs a professional service), service and quality can be unreliable.
  • If your dog or cat doesn’t react well to strangers, he or she may not be too fond of a pet sitter.
  • Between visits, your pet will have long hours of little to no stimulation or activity.

You know your pet best, so make the right call that meets their needs. Have a healthy and happy winter season from everyone at Only Natural Pet!

6 Tips to Get Your Dog Ready for Cold Weather

6 Tips for Winter
Maybe you look forward to it and maybe you dread it, but whatever your opinion on winter, one thing is true – it’s a time when our beloved pets need a little more care. That beautiful fur coat is not enough protection for the upcoming cold weather months. Before the mercury dips too low, make sure you and your four-legged friends are ready.

#1 Bootie Time.

In the warmer months, booties are great for protecting paws from rocks and debris. In the winter, it’s the ice, salt and antifreeze that can injure them. Both salt and ice can have sharp edges which can cause injury and salt pellets can burn a dog’s paw pads. During walks, your dog’s paws can also pick up deicers, antifreeze or other chemicals that could be toxic. Dog booties from Ruffwear and Pawz are great because they protect against all these elements plus they help your dog’s grip on the ice. If your dog refuses to wear booties, try a dog paw wax, like Musher’s, and make sure you wash and dry their paws thoroughly after being outside.

#2 Sweater weather.

Coats and jackets for dogs aren’t just a pet fashion statement. Dogs with short or shaved fur or smaller breeds of dogs need the extra protection from the biting cold. And when fur gets wet it loses much of its insulating ability. When shopping for a dog sweater or coat, make sure you get the correct fit. Also make sure it doesn’t affect your dog’s ability to see or move comfortably.

#3 Time for reflection.

During winter’s shorter days, you’ll probably be doing more dog walking in dark pre-dawn mornings and dark nights. Make sure you dog is easy to see with a reflective jacket, collar or use a reflective light.

#4 Ditch the itch.

During the winter months, the cold air outside and the warm, dry air inside leave our skin dry and flakey. It’s the same for our dogs. Consider using a humidifier to add moisture into the air which helps keep skin hydrated. And omega rich salmon oil is a must for keeping your dog’s skin & coat healthy. Regular brushing and grooming can also help with this issue, as it gets rid of dead hair and stimulates your dog’s skin to produce more oils. Be sure to use natural shampoos, herbal ointments or natural oil supplements to soothe skin, or a natural skin and itch remedy.

#5 A spill that can kill.

Sure, you probably use pet-friendly ice melts, but that doesn’t mean your dog won’t come across dangerous chemicals while out on walk so steer clear of spills. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle.

#6 Enjoy the great indoors.

The threat of frostbite to dogs is real, so don’t leave your dog outside for long periods of time. Even sunny winter days can be deceiving, as wind chill can make the actual temperature colder than it really is. When it’s cold or wet out, keep younger, older and sick pets indoors.

Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet. Use common sense, and follow these guidelines, and you can keep your dogs safe and healthy through the winter months.