Given that your dog has lived with you and provided you with comfort as a companion, it is your duty to take care of your pet if he is found to be afflicted with a specific disease. The amount of care and companionship that your dog needs may increase, and becomes more important if the disease is terminal in nature. Cancer in dogs is one such disease where detection unfortunately happens in the later stages, rendering treatment almost immaterial and useless. In such cases, love, care and comfort are the three things that you can provide for your dying dog.
Even though there are numerous kinds of cancer and each can affect different parts of the dog’s body, the basic fundamentals of care for cancer in dogs remains the same. The basic idea is to make the dog’s life as comfortable as possible. It is now your time to pay him back for his services. Some of the basic principles of taking care of a dog with cancer are mentioned below.
Cancer causes pain, and some types of cancer cause extreme pain. The target of pain management should be to try and prevent pain from occurring, rather than treating it with strong painkillers once the pain has started. This is mainly because the response to pain tends to magnify once the pain starts. Conventional medications like narcotic analgesic patches and oral pain relievers provide instant relief, but are addictive. In cases of localized pain, a local anesthesia can be used. You may also want to decrease the risk of skin ulcers (bed sores) by providing an orthopedic bed.
Certain types of cancers produce nausea and vomiting. Although not commonly seen in dogs, chemotherapeutic drugs can also cause nausea and vomiting as side effects. Your main goal should be to reduce vomiting and the consequent risk of dehydration. You may also consult your veterinarian and learn about homeopathic cancer treatment for dogs, with an aim to find a better alternative for avoiding nausea and vomiting.
Diet is the most important aspect of cancer care. A quality diet based on individual needs will also help. It is a good idea to monitor diet closely if you have chosen chemotherapy as the treatment for your pet, because a good diet improves the efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs.
Nauseated dogs are liable to refuse to eat. Try some appetite-enhancing remedies and feed him warm food in a stress-free environment. Ask your veterinarian about Omega 3 fatty acids, digestible proteins and supplemental amino acids.
There may be instances where a dog refuses to eat despite of a completely functioning digestive system. In such cases you may have to resort to enteral therapy, a system of nutrient delivery where fluids are given through a stomach tube directly into the gastrointestinal tract. Canine canceris common in old dogs since their immune system weakens to a great extent over time. Your extra care will not only make his life comfortable, but also provide satisfaction to you for having done the best for your pet.
By Tess Thompson
Many different types of cancer occur in dogs. These include lymphosarcoma, osteosarcoma, soft tissue sarcoma, mast cell tumors, hemangiosarcoma, oral melanoma and mammary neoplasia, among others.
Lymphoma, also called lymphosarcoma, is a general term applied to malignant neoplastic disorders of lymph tissue. It is the most commonly treated systemic cancer in veterinary medicine. It is very aggressive, but if diagnosed early can be managed. It frequently involves multiple lymph nodes, the spleen, liver and other organs. In late stages of disease, the bone marrow can become involved. Without treatment, the prognosis is very poor.
Osteosarcoma is a type of malignant neoplasia that always involves abnormal production and proliferation of bone, usually in the long bones of large and giant breed dogs. It can also occur in any other part of the skeleton. It is the most common bone cancer in dogs, occurring usually in middle-aged to older dogs with no obvious gender predilection. Osteosarcoma is highly aggressive and normally presents with progressive lameness in an older large dog. Localized swelling at the tumor site may be seen. Surgical removal of the primary tumor via amputation is the most common treatment protocol. This, together with chemotherapy, can enhance the dog’s quality of life. Unfortunately, most affected animals will eventually succumb to the effects of either the primary cancer or of its metastasis.
Canine soft tissue sarcomas are a group of tumors which arise from connective tissue and are classified together because of their similar biologic behavior and recommended treatment. They include fibrosarcoma, hemangiopericytoma, malignant fibrous histiocytoma, nerve sheath tumor, neurofibrosarcoma, malignant schwannoma, leiomyosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, liposarcoma, myxosarcoma, lymphangiosarcoma and synovial cell sarcoma. These tumors are common in middle-aged to older dogs and seem more common in larger breeds, although no evidence of direct genetic inheritance has been reported at the time of this article. Soft tissue sarcomas tend to show up spontaneously in dogs and appear as firm masses on the legs, mouth or chest often appearing to be on top of, or right under, the skin. The goal of treating soft tissue sarcomas is complete eradication by surgery and other therapies.
Canine mast cell tumors (MCTs) are common, abnormal, neoplastic and usually benign accumulations of mast cells that form nodular skin tumors which, when the mast cells ultimately degenerate, release histamine and other substances that can cause or contribute to gastrointestinal (stomach) ulceration, cutaneous (skin) lesions (including pruritus/itchiness) and even systemic clinical signs. Mast cell tumors have the potential to become malignant and often metastasize to other sites. Therefore, they should always be treated immediately when they are found. Treatment options include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and immunosuppressive steroid administration. The appropriate treatment protocol will depend upon the diagnostic stage of the tumor(s) and the veterinarian’s particular recommendations.
Hemangiosarcoma is a malignant, highly metastatic type of cancer that arises from the cells lining blood vessels. It is common in middle-aged to older dogs of either gender. It tends to affect the spleen, heart, liver and skin, but can spread anywhere. Surgical biopsy is the gold standard for diagnosing hemangiosarcoma, and the goals of therapy are to control metastasis and prolong survival in affected dogs.
Tumors of the mouth and throat (oropharyngeal tumors) are common in dogs and include malignant melanoma (the most common canine oral tumor), fibrosarcoma, squamous cell carcinoma and epulides. All of these tumors should be biopsied along with radiographic studies (x-rays or CT scans) to determine the type and extent of disease. Aggressive surgical removal with wide margins is the optical treatment for any of these oral tumors. Radiation may also be helpful. Specific breeds of dogs seem to be more prone to developing this form of cancer.
Mammary tumors (breast cancer) are the most common tumors affecting intact female dogs. More than 50% of all tumors in female dogs are reported to be mammary tumors — 3 times more common than breast cancer in people. This type of cancer is most commonly seen in older females (9-11 years) who either have not been spayed or were not spayed until after their second heat cycle. Breast cancer seems more common in Toy and Miniature poodles, English springer spaniels, Pointers and German shepherds. It also appears to be diagnosed more frequently in obese bitches over 1 year of age and in bitches on high red-meat diets. Mammary tumors are thought to be caused in part by fluctuating hormone levels as intact females mature through their heat cycles. Approximately 50% of mammary tumors in dogs are malignant carcinomas, adenocarcinomas or sarcomas, while the other 50% are benign. If diagnosed early, surgical excision is the treatment of choice for mammary tumors. Chemotherapy may also be recommended.
Drs. Richard Pitcairn, Cheryl Schwartz, and Bob Goldstein provide nine at-home preventive strategies to help guard your pet against cancer:
Original article: http://www.dogchannel.com/dog-health/article_cancer.aspx
Mast cells have a beneficial purpose in dogs. They attack parasites by releasing enzymes and histamines (the same chemical that can cause hives and itching) and are part of a dog’s immune arsenal. When a mast cell detects a parasite, it ruptures, releasing an explosion of histamines and enzymes to destroy the parasite and to signal to other mast cells to respond.
Mast cell cancer is very common in brachycephalic dogs like Frenchies, Boston Terriers, Pugs, and especially Boxers. Vets are very aware of the high rate of mast cell cancer in our dogs and when they see a lump or bump, they will take a few cells and see what the bump is made of. We have had many foster dogs in our care with mast cell tumors, and we have been very lucky to find that nearly all of the tumors have been caught early.
Owners either didn’t notice them or were told to watch and wait. Mast cell tumors also have the peculiar habit of growing and then diminishing, as the mast cells are irritated and grow larger and then release their histamines and enzymes are grow smaller. Many owners may find a lump one day, then check again the next day only to find that the lump is less pronounced, so they are relieved.
If your Frenchie has a lump or bump on the surface of his skin, especially in the genital region, NEVER wait and see. Take your dog to the vet asap, and ask for a needle aspiration. If it’s cancer, waiting will only allow the tumor to grow.
There is good news and bad news regarding mast cell tumors in dogs. Most mast cell tumors are successfully removed and require no further treatment, though a dog with a mast cell tumor may spring another one, so owners must be aware and on the lookout. But in most cases, when you remove the tumor, you remove the problem.
Sometimes mast cell tumors are more dangerous or they appear in hard-to-remove places—paws, for instance—and additional treatment like radiation may be required.
There are 5 stages and 3 grades of mast cell tumors.
Tumors are “graded” to indicate how malignant the tumor might be. When people talk about cancer surgery, they will often say, “The tumor was removed, and the surgeon was able to get clean margins.” What that means is the tumor was completely removed, and the surgeon was able to take out the entire growth with about an inch of tissue all the way around the growth. This is the best news you can get in terms of tumor removal.
A grade 1 tumor indicates that though the tumor might be large, it is considered benign, and the dog goes on to live a long and happy life. These tumors don’t usually spread. Most mast cell cancers are grade 1.
A grade 2 tumor indicates that there is some spread to tissue below the skin’s surface and the cancer is more difficult to remove. Though often treated successfully, these tumors can have a more unpredictable outcome and may require different treatments.
A grade 3 tumor is likely to be aggressive and require more complicated treatment.
There are 5 stages of tumors, from 0 to 4, and these degrees mark whether the tumor has spread throughout the body. A stage of zero means there has been no spread.
If your dog undergoes surgery for mast cell tumors, be sure to get both the grade and the stage of his cancer, so you can know what you are dealing with.
Owning a Frenchie or other brachycephalic breed means you must be especially aware of your dog’s skin. Mast cell tumors can appear anywhere, but are most often seen on the trunk, legs and genital region. A yearly exam at your vet’s office is a very good idea, but if you find a lump or bump, make an appointment to have your Frenchie seen as soon as you can.
For more information on mast cell tumors, Google “Mast Cell cancers in canines.” Information here was found at the following links:
WSU Vet Med
Pet Education - Mast Cell Tumors
Vet Surgery Central - Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs and Cats
Original text: http://frenchbulldogrescue.org/index.html
Here is a great advise from one of our followers, Chelsea, she wanted to share:
“Hi everybody, I wanted to share a tip I have learned from a fellow Frenchie owner about thier FOLDS! If you are having trouble, or just got a French Bulldog I HIGHLY RECOMMEND putting NON FAT, PLAIN GREEK YOGURT in their food once a day!
What I do is I take a regular spoon and just get one or a couple scoops to cover his food! and mix it all up!
I HAVE NOTICED A HUGE, HUGE DIFFERENCE! His fold used to get dark and crusty… I would spend so much time cleaning them and making sure they stayed clean. Now that he has been eating yogurt in his food I barely EVER have to clean his folds & I never see crustys anymore but he still of course gets eye boogers!
I started this Probably when he just turned One year old and he is now One and Half! I really hope you try this out… remember that this is obviously not a MIRACLE worker but it should help after time”.
One of our wonderful followers, Tamara L. from Vancouver kindly shares the story of her French Bulldog Oslo, who has been diagnosed with IVDD last year and bravely made it though.
* * *
Like many lucky dogs, my French Bulldog Oslo leads a happy, active life. He loves to cuddle, play fetch, do the infamous ‘Frenchie 500’ and rough house with other dogs. Also, like many lucky French Bulldog owners, I considered myself well educated on the inherent health issues and threats that are associated with this breed. Knowing that they are extremely durable, but also extremely fragile, I tried to limit how much ‘crazy play’ my little guy partook in. Small bouts of activity - usually 10-15 minutes in length was our rule. No jumping off high furniture & absolutely no running up and down stairs.
One beautiful morning, last July (just a few days before Oslo’s 3rd birthday) I took my boy out for a game of ‘Fetch’. We played for maybe 10-15 minutes. Then we walked the 1 block back home. As soon as we got home that day, I noticed Oslo acting ‘funny’. He wouldn’t really come when I called him, instead he would just stand in place, stiffly, and stare at me. I chalked it up to him, perhaps, just being tired and bull-headed. Most bulldog owners will attest to the fact that sometimes their dogs simply will not come when you call them!
The next morning, Oslo was still acting quite stiff and unusual. He was walking very slowing & his breathing seemed a bit ‘shaky’ & ‘quivery’ as well. So it has been decided to schedule him a Vet appointment for that same evening. I felt a bit silly because up until then he had no other symptoms other than ‘acting strange’, but I was concerned & I wanted to err on the side of caution.
The Vet did a physical exam including a spinal ‘pain’ test where-by they run their fingers down along the dog’s spine trying to illicit a ‘pain’ response. Oslo passed with flying colors. He showed no pain in his spine. The doctor suggested that perhaps he just had some residual ‘over heating’ from the game of fetch the morning earlier. She said that sometimes ‘heat stroke’ can last a few days. She sent us home.
As that evening at home progressed, Oslo’s condition seemed to worsen. His whole body was quivering and shaking uncontrollably. His breathing seemed quite labored, he was tossing and turning unable to get comfortable in any laying position, and he seemed to ‘grunt’ whenever I touched him. After a short confrontation with family members at 10:30pm Oslo went back to the clinic. Again the Vet did a spinal pain test, and again Oslo passed. She seemed perplexed and concluded that perhaps he was dehydrated. We agreed to leave him over night for observation.
At 4:00am I got a call from the clinic. Oslo had lost function of his hind legs. He was, essentially, paralyzed & he could no longer control his bowel functions. And that is the exact moment that my entire world was flipped upside down.
Because his condition was now considered too delicate for a normal, general practice Veterinary clinic, Oslo was referred to a Specialist Clinic here in Vancouver. It was there that he was diagnosed with ‘Inter-Vertebral Disc Disease’ (or ‘IVDD’ for short). When a dog has ‘IVDD” their spinal discs harden. As the dog moves, these now hardened discs are unable to bend (like a normal, soft, squishy disc does) and they will shatter and break through the disc wall, causing extreme pain and neurological damage to the spinal cord. Occasionally the discs can break with such force that the spinal cord actually gets severed from the force.
Depending on the severity of the disc rupture, dogs can sometimes recover on their own with the help of 8+ weeks of strict crate rest and a heavy round of pain meds, muscle relaxers and inflammatories. However, in a situation as sever as Oslo’s had become, where-by he had already ‘gone down’ (become paralyzed and lost bladder control) he was not deemed a likely candidate for this ‘conservative’ form of treatment. His best chances at recovery were to have surgery… immediately.
Surgery was quoted at $7,000 - $8,000 and we were NOT insured. We did not have that sort of money sitting around, but we were able to borrow enough for the surgery to go underway. Oslo was operated on that same day & his chances of a full recovery were set at 80-90%.
I am happy to report that Oslo came through the surgery beautifully (with 27 staples down his back!). The first few months of recovery were very tough; Oslo had to relearn how to walk & how to go to the bathroom. His care took countless hours and seemed to cost countless dollars. I absolutely could not have done it without the help of all the people who donated their hard earned money to his cause. It has been 7 months now since Oslo’s surgery and I still update his blog on a weekly basis. He has recovered remarkably well, though I am not sure that he will ever be 100% ‘normal’.
If there were just a few things I wish people could take away from Oslo’s story, it’s this:
1. Bulldogs are extremely tough little dogs. Just because your dog is not yelping or screaming in pain does not mean that something very serious isn’t going on. Pay attention to subtle symptoms like quivering, shaking, lethargy and soft whimpering and take them very seriously.
2. IVDD can affect ALL dogs, but it is especially prevalent in ‘short legged’ dogs like Frenchies, Dachshunds, Corgis, etc. Owners of these breeds need to familiarize themselves with the risks, causes & symptoms.
3. Obtaining your dog through a ‘good breeder’ does not mean that your dog will never suffer from IVDD. Regardless of where your French Bulldog comes from, and how ‘good’ it’s lineages are, you need to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of this disease.
4. GET PET INSURANCE NOW! Do not let the cost of a life-saving procedure be a factor in whether or not you do whatever you can to save your pet’s life.
5. Above all- Trust your gut. You know your dog better than anyone. If they are acting ‘funny’, have it checked out. Do not let anyone (your spouse or even a veterinarian) tell you that it’s “nothing” when you truly believe that it’s “something”.
You can check out Oslo’s blog here: http:/www.ouroslo.wordpress.com
And here is a wonderful picture of Oslo and his brother Jersey:
This article is not specifically related to French bulldog. It is important for all the breeds, and since we know frenchies are very friendly pups that get along with the bigger or smaller fur-friends, Dailyfrenchie finds it important that you learn how to catch the thread, before it turned into a serious health issue.
There are serious symptoms that should never be ignored in your dog. A symptom is defined as “any problem that can indicate an underlying disease” and may be your first clue to the presence of a life-threatening problem in your dog. Here is a list of 21 symptoms that should never be ignored if you see them from your dog! If you notice one or more - contact your vet immediately!
1. Pacing and Restlessness. In dogs, pacing and restlessness can be indicate pain, discomfort or distress. Restlessness can be associated with a condition called “bloat” in which the stomach. Bloat and most commonly occurs in large breed or deep-chested dogs. Pacing and restless can be an indicator of a serious problem.
2. Unproductive Retching. Dogs that attempt to vomit and are unable to bring anything up is a common sign of “bloat”.
3. Collapse or Fainting. Acute collapse is a sudden loss of strength causing your dog to fall and be unable to rise. Some dogs that suddenly collapse will actually lose consciousness. Some dogs recover very quickly and look essentially normal just seconds to minutes after collapsing, whereas others stay in the collapsed state until helped. All the reasons for collapse or fainting are serious and should not be ignored.
4. Not Eating or Loss of Appetite. Anorexia is a term used to describe the situation where an animal loses his appetite and does not want to eat or is unable to eat. There are many causes of a “loss of appetite” and is often the first indication of illness. Regardless of cause, loss of appetite can have a serious impact on an animal’s health if it lasts 24 hours or more. Young animals less than 6 months of age are particularly prone to the problems brought on by loss of appetite.
5. Loosing Weight. Weight loss is a physical condition that results from a negative caloric balance. This usually occurs when the body uses and/or excretes essential nutrients faster than it can consume them. Essentially more calories are being burned than are being taken in. Weight loss is considered clinically important when it exceeds 10 percent of the normal body weight and is not associated with fluid loss. There are several causes for this, some of which can be very serious.
6. Breathing Problems. Respiratory distress, often called dyspnea, is labored, difficult breathing or shortness of breath. This can occur at any time during the breathing process, during inspiration (breathing in) or expiration (breathing out). When your dog has trouble breathing, he may not be able to get enough oxygen to his tissues. Additionally, if he has heart failure, he may not be able to pump sufficient blood to his muscles and other tissues. Dyspnea is often associated with accumulation of fluid (edema) in the lungs or the chest cavity (pleural effusion). This fluid can lead to shortness of breath and coughing. This is a very serious symptom and should be evaluated immediately.
7. Red Eye. A “red eye” is a non-specific sign of inflammation or infection. It may be seen with several different diseases including those involving different parts of the eye including the external eyelids, third eyelid, conjunctiva, cornea, and sclera. It may also occur with inflammation of the structures inside the eye, with glaucoma (high pressure within the eye) or with certain diseases of the orbit (eye socket). Either one or both eyes can become red, depending upon the cause of the problem. Some of the possible causes can be serious and ultimately cause blindness.
8. Jaundice. Jaundice, also referred to as icterus, describes the yellow color taken on by the tissues throughout the body due to elevated levels of bilirubin, a substance that comes from the breakdown of red blood cells. There are several causes for jaundice and regardless of the cause, jaundice is considered abnormal and serious in the dog.
9. Trouble Urinating. ”Trouble urinating” can include straining to urinate, frequent attempts at urination, and evidence of discomfort when urinating. Discomfort may be demonstrated by crying out during urination, excessive licking at the urogenital region or turning and looking at the area. There are several underlying causes. Some of the causes if left untreated can result in death in as little as 36 hours.
10. Urinating and Drinking Excessively. These signs are often early signs of disease including kidney failure, diabetes mellitus, thyroid gland problems, uterine infection (called pyometra), as well as other causes.
11. Fever. It is believed that fever is a method of fighting infection. The body resets the temperature control area of the brain to increase the body temperature – probably in response to invasion of foreign matter such as bacteria or viruses. The normal temperature in dogs is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your pet temperature is high, call your veterinarian.
12. Seizure. A seizure or convulsion is a sudden excessive firing of nerves in the brain. The severity of the seizure can vary between a far-away look or twitching in one part of the face to your dog falling on his side, barking, gnashing his teeth, urinating, defecating and paddling his limbs. A seizure can last from seconds to minutes. Seizures are symptoms of some neurological disorder – they are not in themselves a disease. They can be caused by several disorders including epilepsy, toxins or tumors.
13. Bruising and Bleeding. Abnormal bruising and bleeding arises with disorders of hemostasis (clotting). Clotting abnormalities are also called coagulopathies, because they reflect the inability of the blood to coagulate or clot. Bleeding from clotting disturbances may occur into the skin, the mucous membranes, and various internal organs, tissues, and body cavities. The impact of such bleeding on the affected individual may be mild or severe depending on the degree of blood loss.
14. Coughing. Coughing is a common protective reflex that clears secretions or foreign matter from the throat, voice box, and/or airways, and protects the lungs against aspiration. It affects the respiratory system by hindering the ability to breathe properly. Common causes include obstruction in the windpipe, bronchitis, pneumonia,heartworm disease, lung tumors, kennel cough and heart failure. Some of the causes are life threatening and all pets with a cough should be evaluated by a veterinarian.
15. Bloated or Distended Abdomen. Abdominal distension is an abnormal enlargement of the abdominal cavity. This term is usually reserved for abdominal enlargement due to causes other than simple obesity. One cause of abdominal distension is abnormal fluid accumulation. Another cause of abdominal distension is enlargement of any abdominal organ including the liver, kidneys, or spleen. Distension of the stomach with air (“bloating”) or fluid or distension of the uterus (womb) during pregnancy, can result in abdominal distension. Pressure from the abdomen pushing into the chest may make breathing more difficult and pressure within the abdomen may decrease the appetite. NOTE: It is important to recognize abdominal distension because it can be a symptom of potentially life-threatening diseases and should be investigated thoroughly.
16. Bloody Diarrhea. Blood in the feces can either appear as “melena” which makes the stools appear black and tarry is the presence suggests digested blood in the feces. Melena is different from fresh blood in the stool (hematochezia). Bleeding into the colon or rectum appears as fresh blood in the stool. Bloody diarrhea should be evaluated by your veterinarian as soon as possible.
17. Bloody Urine. Hematuria is the presence of red blood cells in the urine. It may be gross (visible to the naked eye) or microscopic. There are several possible causes including bacterial infections, cancer, stones in the urinary tract.
18. Bite Wounds. Bite wounds are often the result when two animals engage in a fight or aggressive play. Bite wounds, which may only appear as a small puncture wound in the skin, can actually be quite extensive. Once the tooth penetrates the skin, severe damage can occur to the underlying tissues without major skin damage. Some wounds may appear deceptively minor but may have the potential to be life threatening, depending on the area of the body bitten.
19. Bloody Vomit. Vomiting blood can fresh blood, which is bright red or partially digested blood, which has the appearance of brown coffee grounds. There are a variety of causes of vomiting blood and the effects on the animal are also variable. Some are subtle and minor ailments, while others are severe or life threatening.
20. Lethargy or Weakness. Lethargy is a state of drowsiness, inactivity, or indifference in which there are delayed responses to external stimuli such as auditory (sound), visual (sight), or tactile (touch) stimuli. Lethargy is a nonspecific sign associated with many possible underlying systemic disorders. It may have little to no impact on the affected individual; however its presence may represent severe or life-threatening illness. Lethargy of more than a day’s duration should not be ignored, and should be addressed, especially if it persists.
21. Pale Gums. Pale gums or mucous membranes can indicate blood loss or “shock”. The possible causes for either blood loss or shock are life-threatening and thus should be evaluated immediately.
We know it is long reading, but the fact that you made it to the end means - you truly care for your pup.
If you ever wondered how to trim your dog’s nails without hurting them - here is a pretty cool diagram!
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.