How to Care for Your Senior Dog on a Budget






Owning a dog is a rewarding and enlightening experience, but watching our beloved friends grow old can be difficult. Older dogs, like older humans, often face health challenges as their minds and bodies change. It’s no secret that we all want what’s best for our pets, but many of us worry about the financial demands of an aging dog — the costs of health procedures, checkups, prescriptions, and equipment can really add up. Fortunately, there are several ways you can save money on your senior dog’s care routine and prevent expensive health problems in the future.

Purchase Senior Pet Supplies

Prioritize your spending on cost-effective supplies, equipment, and dog food that will have the greatest effect on your dog’s quality of life. For example, older dogs often experience pain bending their necks to drink or eat. Raised food and water bowls can offset this problem and help your dog enjoy this daily activity once again. Also, consider picking up some pet supplements to support your dog’s joints and an orthopedic dog bed to cushion their aging bodies and relieve any pain. Walmart is a great place to find these supplies on a budget. If you shop online, there are several outlets with promotional savings offers, use the savings to further support your pet’s health.

Switch to Higher-Quality Food

One particularly important item you should plan to buy is quality dog food. Senior dogs have different nutritional needs than their younger counterparts, but this doesn’t mean their food has to be pricey. Special “senior dog food” may not be necessary since it tends to be identical to dog food marketed toward younger dogs.


Older dogs typically need food that is highly digestible, soft textured, and high in protein. For extra points, look for foods with added joint supplements, antioxidants, and healthy fats like coconut oil and omega-3 fatty acids. Instead of choosing the most expensive brand you can find, learn how to read dog food labels and make educated food choices for your pet.

Prevent Pet Obesity

Not only should you pay close attention to the kind of food you’re buying, but how much you’re dishing out as well. According to Shape, pet obesity is a significant problem, affecting nearly one-third of pets in the United States. Being overweight can exacerbate age-related problems in dogs, including joint pain, heart issues, respiratory diseases, and arthritis. So, it’s no surprise that overfeeding your dog can lead to higher medical bills. You’ll also end up overspending on dog food this way.

In a recent survey, over half of cat and dog owners reported feeding their pets when they beg for food. On top of this, 60 percent of owners were unaware of the health problems associated with overfeeding. Stick to a feeding schedule and only give your pet a set amount of food per day. You can use this dog food calculator from Dog Food Advisor to determine an appropriate amount of food for your senior pet.

Regular exercise is also crucial for preventing obesity. Physical activity will also help keep your pet’s joints working smoothly and stimulate their minds to stave off cognitive decline. Puppy Leaks recommends checking with your vet before starting your dog on a new exercise routine. In general, daily walks are usually highly recommended for dogs of any age and breed. Just make sure you take it slow and watch for signs that your dog is struggling to keep up.

Have Your Dog’s Health Conditions Treated Early

Though veterinarian visits can be costly, having your pet’s health conditions treated early will prevent minor issues from becoming serious, expensive problems. Try to take your older dog to the vet every six months for a wellness exam and disease screening. Talk to your vet about a preventive care schedule to prolong your dog’s life and optimize their comfort.

Taking preventive care of your dog is your best bet for avoiding high veterinarian fees in the future. Shop around for low-cost products and talk to your vet about the best ways to keep your dog healthy. Most importantly of all, be patient. Your dog may not be able to see or hear as easily as she once did, and she may get confused from time to time, but she still loves you to pieces!

Pet Friendly Holidays

With the holiday season just around the corner, it’s time to take some simple steps to ensure that everyone in your family has a great holiday, and that includes your pets. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be discussing the best ways to keep your four-legged friends safe, happy and holiday ready.
Some of the subjects we’ll be discussing are foods, decorations, house guests and to round out all the serious talk, a few gift ideasallhailthedog for your pets and your pet loving friends and family.
Since we all like to enjoy and indulge a little more than usual this time of year, we’re going to cover some food safety tips first. First off,
Chocolate is probably the most commonly known hazard to dogs, so how on earth do they still get into it? Easy, it smells great and frankly, we’re just not paying as much attention to these things as they are. If you have any doubt and you’re not embarrassed to try something a little strange. Next time you have a gathering at your home, even just when the family is getting dinner ready, sit yourself down on the floor, be really quiet and just watch for a few minutes. Now do you see? Just seeing things the way our dogs and cats do opens up a whole new world of understanding. Parents are nodding their heads right now because toddlers do the same thing. Just a few precautions and a minute of paying attention can save you all a lot of grief. Place foods gifts, holiday treats and party food out of the easy access zone for you pets and keep an eye out for the agile and determined. Other foods to be careful with are raisins, grapes, garlic, onions, macadamia nuts, avocados, cinnamon, popcorn and anything seasoned and salty, just to be safe. I know a lot of animal experts advise to NEVER feed human food to your pets, and on the whole, we agree. That said, there are some very safe treats that can be enjoyed by dogs and cats if you do it in moderation. Cheese and turkey are 2 great examples, again, just make sure they’re plain and not seasoned.
More tips to follow, but if you have some fun holiday traditions that you share with your pets, please share them with us, we’d love to hear from you!

Dog Park Clean Up

This past Saturday was a great event for event patrons of the Warm Springs “Dog Park” in Ketchum Idaho.

Clean up crew

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this location, the “Dog Park” lies on the former site of a golf course and restaurant. It also happens to be located on some of the most beautiful acreage you’re likely to see. It looks far more like the rolling lawns of a huge estate and yes, we get to walk our dogs on this!
Having been to dog parks across the country, I’m sure most of us are aware of the huge range in quality you can find on any given stretch of open ground that’s been designated as a place for dogs to meet, greet, run and play. That said; you’ve never seen anything like this. And even though you could say that those of us who live out here amongst some of the most beautiful wild places to hike, ski, bike, run and fish are just about the luckiest people around, (you’d be correct), we are like anyone else in that sometimes (OK a lot of the time), you need to be able to let your dog run and play without it being a long excursion into the back country. Enter the ‘Dog Park” to end all dog parks. Now my readers will know that I’ve been a dedicated traveler and blogger about pet friendly places, hotels, trips and so on, and you’ve seen and heard about some of the better and some of the could-do-a-lot-better dog spots around. This spot is far and beyond the nicest place you’ll ever stroll and it’s right in town.
Privately owned and maintained, the Warm Springs Ranch is also home to a vibrant Frisbee golf community as well.

Stick 'em up

Stick ’em up

On any given day, you’ll also see someone practicing Tai Chi, 5 or 10 dogs madly chasing each other, balls or squirrels (although oddly enough, NOT the Frisbess) as well as a few people just stretching their legs on their lunch break.

As the “park” grew in popularity however, some problems grew along with it, namely dog waste. It seems that some were taking advantage of the generosity of the property owner and the hard work of the property manager and not bothering to pick up after their pooches. To be fair, there was also evidence of some teenager partying going on as well. As the problem grew, signs were posted warning people to be responsible or else the area would be closed off to the public. This led to and Idahound Dog Food Company to arrange a park clean-up party. We’re happy to say that not only was the clean-up effort successful, but a lot of fun was had with a dog trick contest and some dog and dog people socializing.
Did I mention that even people without dogs showed up to help? Yep, it was that much fun, in fact the winner of the Most Poop Collected category was a mom and her young son and they don’t even own a dog!



Another winner was a very young girl and her pound dog Chihuahua mix Heidi. After a fabulous performance of dancing in a circle on her hind legs and rolling over, these two took home the grand prize of Idahound dog treats, Sun Valley Mustard gift pack and an All Hail the dog cozy dog bed.
All participants received a delicious bag of Sun Valley Mustard Pretzel Chips, generously donated for the event along with fresh baked chocolate chip cookies from a local restaurant Perry’s and coffee from Starbucks, also donated.

Our other trick contest winners also took home schwag from

All Hail the Dog, treats from Idahound and Sun Valley Mustard gift packs.
One other good thing that came out of this fun day in the “park” was a “Park Manners List”. All of the attendees wrote down their ideas for a clean, fun and polite dog park experience and that list will be printed out and displayed at the “park”. We’ll be posting that list for our readers as well; you can take it as is to your local park or add to it and let us all know what else you came up with. Until then, have fun and “doo” the right thing!

Safe Dog Treats

Juno and her carrot

Juno and her carrot

What’s your dogs’ favorite treat? We’d love to hear from our readers about this so please comment and let us know.

 With such an enormous selection of commercially available dog treats, how does a good dog owner make a delicious, healthy choice for their pup? Here’s the thing and I can’t stress this enough. You’ve got to read the labels. Sorry, if you were looking for a simple recommendation, that’s just not happening here today. Yes, I will name a few of the manufacturers that I trust, but in the end my goal is for you to be able to make the right choices based on what you learn about the bag of treats in front of you at the store.

First thing you do need to know, and this is the simplest rule you’ll ever follow; don’t buy anything for your dog to eat, sleep on or play with that was made in China. Ever. There, that’s pretty easy right? Well guess what? It’s a lot harder than you think, because so much of what you’ll find in the supermarket, the pet store chain and yes, even in the chic pet boutique around the block, is made in China. If you haven’t been in the loop, the problem with pet stuff (and human stuff) that is made or assembled in China is that it’s not regulated and safety standards are at best, minimal.  Many beloved family pets have suffered and died from toxic food and badly made products; according to the FDA in an October 2013 report, over 3600 dogs and 10 cats have become ill from jerky pet treats made in China with almost 600 proven deaths. However those numbers require veterinarians having reported cause of death or illness and in many cases, I’m sure they couldn’t have known.

The problems have been reported since 2007, but the identification of 6 unapproved antibiotics in some treats was ultimately the only reason several well-known brands were taken off the market.  The real problems seem to have been melamine contamination, salmonella and even arsenic in some cases. Most of the contaminated treats were chicken, duck or turkey, along with some sweet potato and some dried fruits. Most were also jerky type treats. The point here is most of these treats were made in China, the ones made in the USA are usually a salmonella issue and get recalled quickly. How can you find out more about these? Just check out the FDA website here.

She doesn't want her picture taken, she wants to eat

She doesn’t want her picture taken, she wants to eat

               Also the Humane Society has excellent links on their website

The other, more salient point that I can make here is that your diligence as a pet owner is of key importance; read labels, check out the websites regularly because it’s unlikely that you’ll see recalls on mainstream media and remember, cheap brands, fancy name brands even brads sold at vet clinics can all be affected. Also keep in mind that the big picture has much more effect on you and your pet’s life; factory farming, pesticides, herbicides, irresponsible antibiotic use, all of these factors are changing your life everyday, and not for the better.


Diesel just loves to eat. Period.

Next time we’ll talk about dog food, not just treats.


Safe Dog Treats


In light of the recent national attention to the problem of toxic dog treats,  (discussed in this blog well over a year ago), we though it would be beneficial to review some of the issues surrounding pet product safety.

The first thing that you need to be aware of is that while the FDA does regulate all animal foods, their regulation only goes so far as to require that all animal foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled. They regulate labeling which includes weight, ingredients and name & place of business of the manufacturer OR the distributer. Note that the country of origin isn’t included. Also note that they have no requirements that the food products have pre-market approval, they consider some foods to be assumed safe (like meat, poultry and grains) and others are considered G.R.A.S. (generally recognized as safe), such as vitamins, minerals etc.

What does this mean to you as a pet owner? It means that you have to be diligent in picking out treats for your dog or cat, it means that you need to be aware of recalls and country of origin and, as if that’s not enough, you also need to monitor your pets while they’re enjoying those treats.

Just take a look at the list of treat manufacturers finally released to the public. This list contains the brands that are suspected in the illnesses and deaths of over 1,000 pets and they al have one thing in common; they were all made in China.

Waggin Train, Canyon Creek Ranch, Dogswell, Hartz, Snausages, Booda Bones, Aspen Pet, Milo’s Kitchen, American Kennel Club, Dingo’s, Beefeaters, Cadet, Sargents, Ever Pet (Dollar General), Home pet 360, Walgreen’s Simple, The Kingdom’s Pets, Benefuk, Beggin Strips, Pupperoni and Canine Carryout.

A lot of those names look familiar don’t they? They’re brands you may have used for years.

So, what can you do?

  1. Read the label. If it doesn’t clearly state “a product of the USA” or “Made entirely with ingredients from America) or any thing similar, DON’T BUY IT!
  2. Realize that a lot of treats are choking hazards, particularly rawhide, and never leave your pet unsupervised while they have them and be careful with bones too; they can splinter into very sharp pisces.
  3. Notice your pet, their normal activity level, affect and general demeanor. If you want to be objective, make a note of their resting heart rate, respiratory rate and gum color.
  4. Call your vet if you have any concerns and learn pet CPR and Heimlich maneuvers.

If you can be mindful of what your pet eats and plays with, you can keep them safe, so pick dog treats that are locally made, that are made solely with American made ingredients and try organic while you’re at it; it’s better for everyone.

Antlers need supervision too.



Feeding the Always Hungry Dog

Best dog beds

May I?


Do you have a dog that just loves his food, I mean really, really loves to eat? I’ve only met a few dogs in my life who actually didn’t, one, my Doberman Khazmo, would only eat if I stood by his bowl; if I left, he did too. Not to mention that any one of my cats could come up and intimidate him from eating any more and then settle down and finish up the poor guys’ dinner.

No, I’d say most dogs do love their food, but some dogs, well some dogs worship food, they live for the bowl; the rattle of kibble, the creak of the can lid, everything that portends a meal or for that matter, a crumb. Chow hounds they’re called and I know that many a pet owner has failed their pet by giving in to the pleading, desperate eyes over and over again, until one day they wake up and their pet is obese.  Of course so many of their owners have the same problem, it’s easy to see how they would transfer that need for food to their dogs. I’m here to beg you to learn to honor your responsibility to our pet and to feed them only the best food that you can afford. Talk to your vet and then research your little head off. One of the best references I’ve found is a book by the original dog whisperer, Paul Owens. His knowledge of pet nutrition will blow your thoughts about commercial pet foods out of the water.

Don’t panic, it’s not only simpler than you think; it’s affordable too. Avoiding corn, wheat and any grains is a great start as well as only buying food with human grade ingredients; absolutely no “animal or meat by products”. Many people do the research and end up making their own pet food, but I’ve found that by adding fresh produce that’s been shredded in my food processor into the grain-free kibble and organic, human grade canned dog food that I feed our dogs daily, they stay full and are vibrantly energetic and of excellent weight. Of course I have to measure out their food, or they could still get fat, but the produce (broccoli, carrots, zucchini, apples etc) really helps to them fill up. You owe it to your dog to help prevent so many debilitating diseases that plague overweight animals; from arthritis to heart failure.

A dear friend allows us to dog sit their ridiculously cute rescue puppy Diesel on a pretty regular basis, and this sweet guy is a true chowhound. The good news is that being food motivated is a great training aid, (it doesn’t hurt that he’s clever and willing to learn), but his talent for inhaling whatever is in his bowl is astounding! Luckily for him, his owners weigh him, measure out his meals and feed him a truly high quality food, which has helped him become a sleek, shiny coated model of health, and all of this in just the 2 short months they’ve had him. Diesel’s penchant for meals can leave him hiccupping though, along with a few other digestive problems, so we’ve come up with the home version of the “maze bowl” that people use to slow down a dogs’ mealtime; we simply add two of his favorite bones to the bowl and it works like a charm to control his feeding time and allow him to actually chew his food before he swallows it.

Now we all sleep a little better (and longer) and I like to think that he feels like he actually had a full meal. Although I have to admit, it was awfully funny to watch him hiccup in his sleep, his little nose bouncing in time on the bolster of his lounge dog bed.

Be Prepared for your Pet

Dogs observing the evacuee squrrel

Dogs and evacuee squirrel

Be prepared.

While we were away on our annual trip to the Oregon coast (awesome dog friendly trip by the way), we found out that our county was in the path of yet another raging western state wild fire. Since my husband and I are both firefighters, we headed home with more than a little dread. By the time we were home it was apparent that this was the new breed of wild fire and we’d all be lucky to get out with a house standing, much less a town to work for. For an interesting change from the usual back -breaking work, we had to work really, really hard to keep our house safe as the fire roared at us from three sides. In the midst of work and yard mitigation, I evacuated our animals.

On a side note, a friend mentioned later that it was interesting to see people’s priorities so clearly laid out for all to see, as evacuees advertised to their neighbors just what exactly they held precious in life i.e. what you saw packed into their trucks and cars as they fled the danger zone.

I moved the animals several days before I had to, simply because I needed to be able to think clearly while on shift at the Fire Department, and I wanted to get  the best accommodations’ for them as well. It occurred to me, as I gathered cats and chickens while watching the air tankers drop retardant, that the best advice that I could give anyone facing this type of situation was this: always move the animals that don’t come when they’re called first. Seriously, we have all hopefully learned from disasters like hurricane Katrina, that not being prepared can put your pets in harms way, if not kill them outright and that it is your responsibility to those animals, pets or livestock, to be prepared. But if you want it all to go smoothly, remember what I just said, move the difficult ones first. Yes, I kept the dogs with me while doing all this moving, on the of chance that things went bad fast, but the chickens, cats, horses and yes, the squirrel, all needed a calm head, a steady hand and a lot of patience. If the fire is licking at your heels, patience is not always readily available. We had some great people helping out in the most generous ways of all; with their time, their barns, their coops and their hearts. Because of them we were able to to our jobs with clear heads and in a small but significant way, they helped keep our valley from burning down.

Do you want to have important papers, photos and medical supplies on hand? Yes. Would you like your pet to have their regular food, their cozy, soft pet bed and a safe place to sleep? Absolutely, so I’ll say it once more; be prepared.

National Puppy Day

In honor of today, March 23, National Puppy Day, I thought that it was a great time to go over the basic needs of a puppy. As a new owner, your responsibilities may not be as clear to you as they should be, maybe you researched the size and type of dog that would fit in with you and your family, maybe you thought out the long term arrangements like budget and whether your home was stable enough for a dog, or maybe you were just overcome by the desire for a furry companion and you acted on impulse. Either way, you are now the proud owner of a new dog (puppy or adult) and your life just got a whole lot better, but it also just got a little more complicated as well. I hope you adopted a rescue dog or puppy, if not I hope you purchased your dog from a reputable breeder, whatever you do, please never by a dog from a store supplied by puppy mills.

So to help keep you and your new family member on the right track let’s review the basic  “Rights of a dog”

Good food- Try to be smart about the ingredients in your dogs food and if you do indeed have a puppy, make sure your food is age appropriate and that you can feed on the right schedule for your dog’s age.

Playing and socializing- Be present for your pet, in the first days and for always, they need to be a part of a pack; to feel valued and loved. To have interaction with you while playing is valuable as exercise and as socialization as well as training. If you are getting a dog to tie up in the back yard and forget about, PLEASE DO NOT GET A DOG.

Rest- make sure you puppy has time to sleep; a lot of younger children want the new dog’s attention and they have no idea that it needs to rest and have some quiet time to itself. A pet cave area or a crate with a comfy dog crate bed are great options for your dog’s “me” place.

Training and a “job”- Train your dog consistently and with gentleness and patience, you’ll be rewarded with an awesome family member. Give them a “job”; agility, playing fetch, finding lost toys, obedience training. All of these are excellent examples of showing your dog that they have value in your life and there are so many other ways to find them a job to do.

Veterinary care- A must do within the first week of ownership is a trip to the vet. Whether your dog is a rescue or a puppy from a reputable breeder, you MUST see your vet within the first week and then keep your scheduled appointments throughout the year. This is one of those planning things I mentioned earlier; be prepared for all of the costs, monetary and time wise, before you accept the responsibility of pet ownership.

And lastly; enjoy! You are now a part of the best pack ever, the family pack.

Rhylee with a friend