Enjoying Senior Dogs

It is a privilege to enjoy an old friend's golden years.
What a blessing to know the graceful presence of
many fine senior companions.

Mushi (14-1/2) Tippet & Sporty (12)
November 2006

Fantazsa's Atalanta Electra
(CH Vizsta's Tazz V Exodus x Vot Zdorova Fantazija C.D.)
1982 - 1998

Fantazsa's foundation bitch "Fang" gave our line a gift of longevity.
From Fang's first litter, her beautiful daughter A.T. shown here at age 16
was one of 2 offspring in the litter who both lived to this grand old age.

CH Fantazsa's Classic Kivancsi
(Ch. Vintage Magnum of Magnifico x Vot Zdorova Fantazjia C.D.)
1986 - 2000

Kiva, Fang's daughter from her second litter, also had 2 extraordinary litters .
Blessed with their grandmother & mother's longevity, we have enjoyed them
into their senior years &
are still enjoying the company of
3 from her last litter of 10, born in 1995.
Thank you to all the families who have loved & cared for them over the years.


Happy *15th* Birthday
Tippet, Jasper & Quayba!

~February 22, 2010 ~

Tippet, Jasper & Quayba
(Csibesz x Kiva)
Born February 22, 1995


Happy 14th Birthday
Tippet, Jasper & Quayba!

~February 22, 2009 ~

Ch. Fantazsa's Skykomish Sunrise
(Csibesz x Kiva)
Born February 1995

An elegant, retired show champion, Tippet occasionally makes
an appearance in the Veteran show ring, loves wearing apparel,
eats her senior diet out of a crystal bowl. Still spry, she enjoys walks
on nature trails and trips in the car.


(Csibesz x Kiva)
Born February 1995

Sweet Quayba always has time for a kiss.
The Goodman family is owned and loved by this special girl.



(Csibesz x Kiva)
Born February 1995

Jasper is a happy camper & loyal friend of Jane Borghese
Thank you Jane!

14 year old siblings Jasper & Tippet

April 2009



(Csibesz x Kiva)
1995 - September 2008

Sporty distinguished herself by having her one & only litter at age 9.
11 puppies gave Sporty a few more gray hairs,
but she was a beauty at any age.



(Buzzy x Kiva)

June 1992 - June 2007
Age 15

Mushi was from Kiva's first litter.
Chinese herbs and acupuncture gave Mushi vitality in his senior years.
Having youngsters around also kept him on his toes!


Thoughts on Senior Dog Care

For informational purposes only - See your veterinarian for medical advice

Bozeman, Kiva & Uncle Kai

There's nothing more precious than the company of a senior dog. They have stood by us and given their unconditional loyalty and love for many years, and it goes without saying that they deserve the best of care and consideration for their changing needs as they age.

Genetics plays a role in longevity, in addition to care, diet & environment. The average life expectancy for Vizslas is about 12 years, and additional years are generally considered a bonus. However, it is not unusual for Vizslas to live well beyond that, often from certain bloodlines. Remember with each additional year, aging increases exponentially. Some Vizslas act and appear very old at 10, while others at 12 and 13 are still vital and active. At Specialty shows, age 7 is considered a Veteran - IMHO I think a 7 year old Vizsla is in the prime of life and still young! Breeders, let's raise the bar on health and life expectancy for our breed.

Ch. Fantazsa's Musashi running in hunt tests at age 10, and showing the Veteran's Class at age 13.

Not all elderly dogs will have hearing loss, mobility or cognitive issues, but these are common in old age. Accommodating and adjusting to your friend's old age disabilities is an important part of their care as seniors.

Old age is not a disease. A comment one of my vets made sums it up the best :

"When people get old they have Depends and walkers.
Why not do the same for dogs?"

Handicap accessibility standards can apply for our aging dogs too. Build ramps to help out when stairs become difficult for your pet to negotiate. A ramp also helps the senior pet get in and out of your vehicle. Slings & harnesses help give your buddy an assist getting up if they need it - And saves your back.

One of my puppy owners built a 3rd story addition on to their house and moved their bedroom upstairs. But when their dog got old, she could no longer make it up all those sets of stairs. So for the last year of her life, they moved their bedroom back downstairs to the ground floor so their dog could enjoy the same privileges she'd known all her life. I'm grateful for their dedication and all the years of love and care they gave her.

If your pet has a problem with incontinence, waterproof crib liners and sheets work well on couches, beds and other pet areas. These wash and dry quickly. Your buddy doesn't like having accidents either, and will appreciate your efforts to keep him bathed and clean.

Treat your old dogs as you would want to be treated when you are old and infirm.

Cognitive Dysfunction
In this canine version of Alzheimers, some seniors will start wandering around the house and pacing at night, and may have episodes of separation anxiety. In the last year of Mushi's life, he often roamed the house at night. Well, at least he got exercise! We put him on anipryl/selegilene, which is a drug given to people for Parkinson's disease, and is given to canines for cognitive dysfunction and senior dementia. After a few months on this, I noticed no difference, so stopped giving the drug. What did make a difference was acupuncture. Mushi initially received acupuncture in his senior years for mobility issues, and it was equally as effective later for cognitive issues. It cleared his mind as well as improved his mobility and these health benefits enhanced his quality of life.

Dr Michael Salewski gives an acupuncture treatment to Mushi, age 15.
Mushi received acupuncture throughout his senior years.

Massage & Bodywork
Senior dogs benefit both physiologically and psychologically from massage and bodywork. Healing touch reconnects their proprioception, which is often diminished with neurological changes of aging. They also appreciate the extra quality time and your soothing touch. A licensed massage practitioner for people and animals, I give my senior dogs a gentle daily massage and acupressure on specific points. Owners can learn massage techniques for their pets, which is mutually beneficial for both person and pet. A good book for owners is Dr Michael Fox's The Healing Touch for Dogs.

Swim Therapy
Warm water swim therapy is soothing to a senior dog's tired joints and muscles.
There are a growing number of canine aquatic therapy pools in many areas now that offer swim therapy or you can join your dog in the pool for a self-swim session.

Sporty & Mushi are shown enjoying a warm water therapy session.

Moderate your dog's activity level and exercise appropriately. Early morning outings can be helpful in hot weather since some seniors have difficulty handling heat as they age. My senior dogs enjoy drives to the traihead and an amble on a level natural trail. Pavement is often too hard on old joints.

14-year old Tippet enjoys a ramble in the woods.

Senior Diet
Home-cooked meals for dogs are expensive, especially when you have multiple dogs, but I do cook for my senior dogs, depending on their specific needs. One of my puppy owners fed his dog home-cooked meals most of her life and she lived to be 16. There's a lot to be said for feeding non-commercial diets, when possible.

A helpful book on nutrition, dietary issues and recipes is Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets - The Healthful Alternative by Donald Strombeck DVM.

Some supplements I use for seniors is Pet Health Institute's line of nutritional vitamin, mineral and probiotics that was originally formulated by one of my vets, the late Charles Kruger DVM. There are different formulas, including a senior, puppy and joint formula.

Nutrimax Lab's Proviable is another probiotic product that is helpful in senior diets.

For increased digestible protein, I give Seacure, a hydrolyzed, pre-digested white fish protein that comes in both powder and tasty tablet form. This is helpful for the occasional periods of anorexia experienced in some senior dogs.

Favorite Links

Senior Dog Project

Old Dog Haven

The Grey Muzzle Organization

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