Article by Jenny, one of our followers and owner of Oliver (13 y.o.) and Wilbur (3y.o.).
I would like to tell you more about my Oliver. I dedicate a lot of time and love to him, and I know that that has definitely contributed to how fantastic he is doing at 13 years old.
Oliver was born on Dec. 12th, 1998. and I brought him home on March 3rd, 1999. When I got Oliver, frenchies were such a rare breed, and there were so few breeders, that it was no room for bad breeders and puppy millers. It wasn’t until he was over two years old that we saw our first frenchie in a pet shop. I was lucky.
But what do I do to keep Oliver so healthy and happy?
Of course there is are basics: teeth brushing, wrinkle cleaning, ear cleaning, nail clipping, massages. But here is a whole list of secrets.
Enjoy playing with your dogs.
They are a playful and silly breed with a great sense of humor. Playing keeps them young at heart as well as nimble and active. I love getting down on the ground with them and really playing - not just throwing toys around. I do not pretend that I’m having fun! Let your older dog know how important and fulfilling it is to you to play with them, practice tricks, go over commands and play games. We need to remember to act young and force ourselves to get outside and do and see new things. It enriches our lives as well as our dogs’. If we maintain a young spirit, it’ll help them, since fun and new and adventure is contagious.
Find proper diet.
I feed Oliver a raw diet; the NDF diet created by Wendy Volhard. Oliver had terrible skin allergies until he was five. We never figured out what he was allergic to, but since we went raw he has never had a skin breakout again. Although Oliver’s younger brother Wilbur eats kibble because he has no allergies. Raw feeding is great, but it does have serious downsides to it and it’s not for everyone. It’s a pain in the ass, but we do what we need to do to keep our friends healthy. In addition to his food, I supplement with fish oil and liquid glucosamine with MSM. Oliver has arthritis and has been on Previcox (anti-inflammatory meds) for the past few years.
Clean water = healthy kidneys.
Oliver had a bout with crystals in his urine and the vet thought he might get stones number of months ago and got a UTI. Instead of switching to a prescription food as recommended by my vet (yuck!), I changed the vegetable mix in his diet from veggies high in oxalates to ones low in oxalates and drastically increased his water intake. I also got a Poland Spring water delivery dispenser thingy for him. Now all of his food is only made with the purest water, and he only drinks the bottled water now, too. It sounds crazy, but maybe my being crazy is what has kept him in such great shape.
Do not remind him of his age too often.
Your pet can’t act young if it doesn’t feel young and it can’t feel young if it doesn’t act young. First thing when we wake up we go on a 20 min walk, just to get his joints warmed up for the day ahead. If it’s rainy or too hot or cold, we roughhouse for ten-15 minutes. No excuses on this. But make sure it does have major health problems. If your dog has serious arthritis or other problems and really looks like he’s hurting, don’t force him to walk or play. Talk to your vet about it.
Puppy in a mix can make a difference.
This is where my secret weapon to keeping Oliver so fit and sharp comes in: Wilbur. I brought an 11 week old Wilbur home shortly after Oliver turned ten. Best move I ever made! After ten days of Oliver being in denial of Wilbur’s existence, he finally picked up a baby toy and started playing with it. He hadn’t played with a toy in years! If Oliver doesn’t feel like playing with Wilbur; too bad! Wilbur is relentless and will pester him until he gives in and jumps around with him. It not only helped immensely with keeping him young, but also drastically helps his arthritis: walking doesn’t get his joints moving in all the wiggly directions that dog playing does. Wilbur also keeps him on his toes mentally. Wilbur isn’t that bright, and Oliver likes outsmarting Wilbur and playing tricks on him.
NO Cheap Dog Beds.
As soon as Oliver started showing even the tiniest bit of arthritis I bought him a very high loft temperpedic type memory foam dog bed. If he’s not on the couch, on my bed, or in his little dog house (that also has a memory foam pad, then he is in his primary bed. No matter how much pressure I put on it I can’t feel the floor. All his joints are cushioned. Also, in the winter, i put a pet safe heating pad under the cover of his dog bed to keep his joints warm. Wilbur just gets to reap the benefits of all the luxury. Spoiled rotten, but he deserves it.
Know your dog like no one else does.
One thing that I can personally take credit for in Oliver’s health and happiness is being able to tell what might be wrong with him before it turns into a “thing.” I know every expression on Oliver’s face, can tell if his gait is off by seeing him take three steps. I take notes on any behavior changes. I keep notes in his notebook on any changes I make to his life. Dietary changes, daily schedule changes, things you might not think of as a change could become a mystery sickness later on. My vet thought I was crazy and paranoid for doing this when I started, but now he encourages his other patients to do it. Respect that your vet knows more about dogs and medicine than you do, but remember that you know your dog better than anyone else.
Stay in touch with your breeder.
If you were smart enough to go to a good breeder, keep in touch with them. They know about their lines and know more about breed specific and line specific issues than your vet. I still talk to Oliver’s breeder at least twice a year after all theses years!
Frenchies are a breed with special needs both physically and psychologically. Both of these aspects need equal care. Happy and healthy go hand in hand. Love your frenchie and hopefully they will live for a very very long time.