caring for a senior dog :: my top five tips

“blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog.”–sydney jeanne seward

owning and caring for a senior pet is far different from the early years! this stage of life requires health-conscious food and pet supplies, as well as a great deal of love, patience, and dedicated care.

dachshund, senior dog, diary of this girl megan

diary of this girl megan, seattle fashion blogger, dachshund

my family’s miniature dachshund, bailey, turns 16 in august. we brought her home when i was in high school, and she has been the star of the show since her arrival. =) to say she is spoiled is a vast understatement. she’s the cutest pup around (in our opinion), and we simply can’t help but dote on her.

bailey has ample toys, sweaters, and blankets. however, she most enjoys naps in the sun and car rides—while she will tolerate the occasional fair-weather stroller ride, she knows this ultimately means: a bathroom break and short walk home (sans stroller). if you force her to walk too far, she will stop, sit, and look up at you until you carry her the remainder of the walk. #spoileddog

diary of this girl megan, senior dog, dachshund

senior dog, caring for a senior dog, diary of this girl megan

senior dog tips, dachshund, diary of this girl megan

below are the top five lessons we have learned when it comes to caring for a senior dog:

one: food and treats. while we always had good intentions in terms of the food and treat brands we purchase for bailey, when she turned ten, we made a conscious effort to feed her better. what does “better” mean? she eats a natural, grain-free diet that promotes digestive health. in the morning, bailey enjoys wet food, purchased at our local veterinary clinic. in the evening (or afternoon and evening—again, she’s spoiled), we feed her wellness complete health small breed kibble. this particular recipe is geared towards senior dogs. while she would much prefer to eat cheese and bacon all day, we strive to limit people food. her treats typically include joint rescue (meat-free) and the occasional container of unsweetened applesauce.

two: exercise. bailey is notoriously stubborn. she has never been a fan of walking—though in her younger years, she participated in and ran several 5k’s. as she’s aged, she has become even less interested in walks and trips outside. we take her outside every two–three hours for a bathroom break, and if it isn’t too wet or cold, we go for a “stroll” around the block. she hates this but will partake if you promise extra treats upon your return home.

last summer, i convinced my mom to purchase a dog stroller. we bought this one, and it’s great for neighborhood walks! while it took some getting used to, i think bailey genuinely enjoys riding along—a cool breeze flapping her ears back and forth.

dachshund, diary of this girl megan, seattle fashion blogger

three: regular checkups. we proactively take our girl to the veterinarian each year, and i cannot emphasize how important this is. our vet has helped us through a few health scares, and we are grateful for her knowledge and support.

four: ask for help. it isn’t fair to leave animals alone for extended periods of time. my parents and i are busy, so a few years ago, we did our research and hired a dog walker. she visits bailey twice daily during the workweek. (she is available for extra help if needed, too.) when friends and family aren’t available to pop in and let bailey out, our dog walker is happy to assist! we found her via word-of-mouth, but i encourage you to chat with neighbors, visit your neighborhood facebook page, or check out rover.

five: care for their teeth. regular dental care is important throughout your pet’s life, but particularly during their senior years. if their teeth are neglected, it can lead to serious health problems. our girl had fifteen teeth pulled last summer (despite brushing them somewhat frequently). tartar buildup can cause gingivitis, allowing bacteria to get into your pet’s bloodstream. this can potentially damage their organs. brush your pet’s teeth regularly and have them checked and cleaned by your veterinarian!

dachshund, summer fashion, diary of this girl

dachshund, diary of this girl megan

photos by sarah wolfe photography

blouse: loft, jeans: american eagle, sandals: roxy, purse: irene’s story

we feel incredibly blessed to have bailey in our family. despite her 16 years, she is in good health! i cannot imagine life without her, and i am grateful my dear friend, and talented photographer, sarah, was willing and able to capture these beautiful photos. i may or may not have printed several of them to frame. as i said, #spoileddog.

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