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The “84-Year Old” Sock-Chasing Beagle: How to Maintain Your New Dog’s Health from Puppy Years to Senior Dog



An article by one of our other readers 🙂

“Catherine, look around the corner,” my husband says quietly. I poke my head out from our kitchen entrance. I see our beagle, Rocky, in the hallway. Rocky stands still, staring at me. A sock dangles from his mouth. I step forward. Rocky darts away in the opposite direction. I chase after him to get the sock. This sock chasing routine is one Rocky has enjoyed for years. My husband, Matt, and I often joke he has the energy of a two-year old. But our little guy, Rocky, is 12. (That’s like 84 years old in human years.) I can’t express how wonderful it is to see Rocky grow into a healthy, energetic older dog. I’ve cared for Rocky ever since he was a puppy. I’d like to pass on seven tips that can help you on your new journey with a pet – so you too can see your dog stay healthy and energetic well into his or her senior years.


1) Feed your dog the right food at different stages of his or her life

Dog food options are in abundance. Which option is best though? Start by matching the food with your pet’s age. For instance, if you have a puppy, the food made for puppies is a good place to begin. As your dog grows older, you’ll need to change the food he or she eats.

Sometimes the change is based on a special need your dog has. Rocky, for instance, gained a lot of weight at one time in his life. Our vet recommended a “calorie control” diet food. It worked. Rocky slimmed down. Then, I switched him over to a “weight maintenance” diet. This is helping him maintain his weight. I’m grateful because according to our vet a healthy weight extends a pet’s life.

DogFoodAdvisor is a good place to find a good dog food.

2) Watch the quantity of treats you give

Treats have calories. Too many calories, and weight packs onto your pet. If you see dog treats that advertise “low calories,” those are a good option if you like spoiling your pet (as I do). If you can, one dog treat a day is a good rule of thumb to follow. I however still like giving treats twice a day, usually at lunchtime and after dinner. Try making your own homemade dog treats, it can be fun.

3) Take your dog for a daily walk

A daily 30-minute walk (or longer) is ideal. But when life gets busy, aim for 3-5 walks a week — or squeeze in shorter daily walks. If you’re really pressed for time, you might consider a dog walking service. If you Google the words, “what to look for in a dog walker” you’ll find helpful sites that’ll point you in the right direction. Remember that the saying “a tired dog is a happy dog” is very true.


4) Brush your dog’s teeth or use dog dental chews or treats

Brushing your dog’s teeth can prevent gum disease . Ideally I’d like to brush Rocky’s teeth once a week. But I do depend more on rawhides and dental bones which are still good options.

If you do brush your pet’s teeth, start as soon as possible and keep a regular routine. I’ve let my routine slip, and Rocky is more resistant to the process. Daisey, our other beagle, on the other hand, is a little angel when we brush her teeth. (Note: Never use human toothpaste. Only use pet toothpaste.)

5) Observe your dog’s behaviors and find solutions when needed

Rocky doesn’t taste his food. He gobbles it all down as fast as he can. But eating too fast can lead to serious problems like choking or canine bloat . To prevent any health problems, we got Rocky a specialized bowl that slows down his eating. (Daisey picked up on Rocky’s “eat fast” habit. So we got Daisey a “slow feed bowl” too.) The key is staying aware of how your dog is adapting to, or reacting to, different situations – and then, acting on solutions. If you’re unsure of the right solution, your local pet store can usually help.

6) Be aware of how the different seasons, or nature around you, affect your dog

The four seasons prompt different needs for your pets. In spring and summer, you may find a dog bug jacket helps protect your pet from biting mosquitos whenever he or she is outdoors. As the colder season rolls in, you want to protect your dog from catching a cold. Yes, dogs can get colds. Last year, Matt made little winter coats for our beagles to wear during walks. I find pet clothes “adorable.” But I’ve come to realize they’re also often practical and truly helpful.

7) Keep up the annual vet visits

It’s expensive to go to the vet but I feel annual visits are essential for the longevity of your pet. If you can, set aside money each month in a savings account to help prepare for the high cost of going to the vet. Also, prepare questions for your pet’s vet visit. Tap into your vet’s knowledge so you can best help your dog between visits.

I hope these tips can help you maintain the good health of your dog. Dogs are such a wonderful part of family. It’s a wonderful life, indeed, when you have pets.

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Catherine Cairns-OKeefe

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