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Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy, and Comfortable Hardcover – November 22, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Our dogs are living longer than ever thanks to enormous advances in medical treatment and a highly evolved understanding of what they need to thrive. No one knows this better than the faculty of the Cummings Veterinary School at Tufts, who treat more than 8,000 older dogs annually. Their philosophy of caring for aging dogs combines empathy for each individual dog and owner, a comprehensive approach to patient care, cutting-edge science and technology, and a commitment to innovation. Good Old Dog brings their renowned clinic into your living room, arming you with essential advice to see your dog through his golden years.
• Nutritional advice—not every senior diet is right for every senior dog
• Emphasis on treating conditions common to older dogs so they live longer
• How to evaluate complicated procedures and decide what’s right for your dog
• The cost of caring for an older dog and how to shoulder the burden
• How to identify cognitive decline and how to manage it
• Advice on creating a healthy and comfortable environment
• How to determine when “it’s time” and how to cope with the loss
• And much more
Common Questions About Aging Dogs Answered in Good Old Dog

Q: Regarding a dog’s age, is it really seven human years for every year lived?

A: Not exactly. For a medium-size dog who weighs between twenty and fifty pounds, yes, that’s about right. For a large dog, one who weighs more than ninety pounds, every year of life is closer to the equivalent of about every eight human years. For a small dog under twenty pounds, each year is the equivalent of about six human years. That’s why small dogs, on average, live longer than large ones. They "use up" fewer years with each year of life.

Q: If I choose a dog food that says "senior" on the label, I’m giving my older dog the nutrition he or she needs, right?

A: Who knows? "Senior" is a marketing term, not a specific nutritional term, so it means whatever the manufacturer wants it to mean. Some "senior" dog foods are high in calories, some are low in calories, and some have a nutrient composition that is not well balanced for all older dogs, with levels of sodium, protein, and other ingredients all over the map. The only way to know if a food is right for your geriatric dog is to make sure there’s a sentence on the package that says the food is appropriate for maintenance, not for growth or gestation and lactation.

Q: If a dog has arthritis, she or he will limp, right?

A: Not necessarily. If the arthritis is in the same spot on both hind legs or both front legs, the dog may waddle or shuffle. That is, the gait will look symmetrical, unlike a limp. But waddling and shuffling are not normal ways of walking, and a dog who is not walking normally should be taken to the vet for an exam.

Q: Why is it that dogs with cancer who are on chemo don’t go bald?

A: It’s rare for a dog on chemo to lose hair because dogs get lower doses of chemotherapy for their size. In people, the aim with chemo is to try to cure the cancer. In dogs, it’s to extend life but not rid the body of the malignancy. Since chemo can be so debilitating, with side effects that include nausea, diarrhea, and infections, and since an older dog with cancer will lose not decades of life but only a few years at most, the veterinary community feels it is not right to put such a dog through a medical regimen that will destroy the quality of life while affording the animal only a few extra months to a couple of years.

Q: Why is it that you never hear of dogs dropping dead of a heart attack?

A: Dogs don’t get heart attacks, generally speaking. They get heart failure, a progressive disease that takes its toll over time. Fortunately, much can be done to forestall the effects of heart failure and grant an affected dog several more years of good-quality life.

Q: My ten-year-old dog doesn’t come when I call him anymore. Is he falling prey to age-related dementia?

A: It’s hard to say. He might just be going deaf. Dementia is a bit tricky to diagnose in dogs because they are unable to communicate in words that they don’t hear or can’t see as well or have other declines that could be mistaken for dementia. Good Old Dog has a checklist with constellations of symptoms that, taken together, indicate when you should take your dog in for a neurological evaluation to see if he has the canine version of Alzheimer’s. New methods to treat the disease are emerging, and the sooner your dog is correctly diagnosed, the better chance you have of stalling any cognitive decline.

Q: A dog will let you know when "it’s time" to put him down, right?

A: Not necessarily. Many conditions in older dogs that look like "this is the end" are very treatable. While we believe that euthanizing a dog who is in constant pain and has no quality of life left is a responsible and loving thing to do, you should never make a choice to euthanize without first taking him to the doctor for a professional workup. We’ve delivered the good news to many dog owners that, despite their fear, the dog’s time has not yet come.


"A must read for pet lovers who want to ensure their dog has quality golden years." 
 —  USA Today

"Sure to become the most important resource you can have to guide you through your dog's senior years. The advice gathered from the leading experts at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University is presented by Dodman in a convivial and reassuring voice. This book will take the mystery out of caring for an aging dog." 

—  The Bark

"A great book on a very important subject.  Having recently lost my 16 1/2 year old Shi Tzu...it really hit home."

—Betty White, actress and animal activist 

" Essential reading for making treatment decisions for your companion.  GOOD OLD DOG offers lots of practical, easy to understand advice about veterinary care for older dogs.

—Temple Grandin, author Animals Make us Human and Animals in Translation

“Everyone with an aging dog should have this book…. The idea behind Good Old Dog is that old age is not a condition but rather it is a stage of life. With clear, insightful recommendations and examples it helps you deal with the issues associated with a puppy that can now be considered to be a senior citizen.” 

—Stanley Coren, PhD, FRSC, author of The Modern Dog

“If you love your aging dog, you want his golden years to be as happy and healthy as possible.  This unique book will help dog owners understand the best health care options for aging pets. It contains the accumulated knowledge and experience of a group of Board Certified Veterinary specialists.  This is a must-read for dog owners.”

—Bash Dibra, internationally acclaimed animal behaviorist, celebrity dog trainer and author of six books including Star Pet

"Written by experts in their fields, "Good Old Dog" provides a timely and complete reference for every owner who wants to take the best possible care of their well-loved older dog"

— Dr. Nick Trout, veterinary surgeon and author of Tell Me Where It Hurts and Love is the Best Medicine.




Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (November 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547232829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547232829
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #560,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Good Old Dog is a great resource for people who have an aging 4 legged friend of the canine variety.

While a great resource, it is NOT comprehensive. This is, of course, not a negative as the book is expertly written and researched and includes plenty of "real dog" stories to help get some of the finer points across that may not be relayed easily during the more fact filled descriptions of issues. But it deserves to be pointed out; there are certainly many issues for aging dogs that just aren't covered.

What is included are the top issues/problems/concerns that the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, which is one of the largest residency programs for Veterinary Medicine in the USA, see on a regular basis. According to the back of the book, they see 26,000 cases annually, 8,000 of which are for elderly dogs. I would say if they claim these are the top issues and concerns a person should have for an aging dog, they are likely right.

If you're looking for a comprehensive of issues facing aging dogs, there really doesn't seem to be many if any out there.

Did you know that an aged dog's nutritional needs differ from those of a middle aged dog? Do you know how to spot the signs of aging and do you know when you should begin looking at when to change the diet to one more suited to an older dog? After reading this book you will.

Also included are chapters on joint care, cancer discussions, kidney failure, heart disease and dementia. In the more general care area there are chapters on changing the diet of an older dog (including wonderful information on supplements), what to anticipate in caring for your aging dog (an ounce of prevention...
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Anyone interested in this book is clearly concerned about proper care of their senior dog. I've had the pleasure of sharing my life with dogs for many years, and have recently been reading almost everything I can about them. What can we do to make our canine companions later years as comfortable and healthy as possible? Does the book assist in that goal? Yes and no.

Although a book on senior dogs is needed, this one is not comprehensive, rather it is an over-view. Perhaps it is impossible to cover everything in one volume, but this isn't a lengthy book. I felt a number of areas were not adequately covered. Perhaps simply stating the book is a beginning point is sufficient.

I found the chapter on proper canine diet, confusing. I did learn to look for the Statement of Nutritional Adequacy and to look for an indication that the food went through animal feedings tests using Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) procedures, rather than it simply met established nutritional standards. Clearly it is important to know the food was actually fed to dogs in a test environment.

There is additional information regarding these standards which adds value to the chapter but, the information about lack of standards in the term --senior-- dog food seemed to contradict the author's solid faith in prepared food and question the motivations of the manufacturers.

Apparently not only is there no legal definition for the term - senior -- but the ingredients may be unhealthy and actually cause problems to a dog previously doing fine on their old chow.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There's a whole galaxy of books about dogs, but the "senior years" have been relatively neglected. This excellent book, Good Old Dog, remedies that situation. Written by the faculty of the Tufts Cumming School of Veterinary Medicine, it covers just about every aspect of aging dogs' lives you could possibly want to know about. There are chapters on nutrition, arthritis, dementia, cancer and much more. I particularly appreciated the following areas:

The caution about dog foods branded with "senior" in the name was very good. Also, the information in that chapter about dogs' caloric intake, how to read the labels on dog food packages, and weight control was as good as any I've read in a dog book, whether about aging dogs or otherwise.

Since my dog can't easily or always tell me when she's not feeling well, it's especially useful to know about indicators or signs to look for to tell whether she may be having joint problems, kidney issues, or whatever. Good Old Dog is great about giving a lot of tips along those lines.

The chapter on "End-Of-Life Decisions" was a bit hard for me to read, as I just lost Lady, a 15 year-old companion, a few months ago. However, I wish I had read this before she was put to sleep. In her final months, I got very tired of hearing two comments from well-meaning friends, "You'll know when it's time" and "she'll tell you when it's time." In my case with Lady, neither of those was true. Fortunately I got more practical advice from vets, but the chapter on this subject in Good Old Dog provides a great set of criteria to consider regarding the dog's quality of life, things I will definitely consider the next time I have to go through that awful decision again.
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