Keep old dogs young, Part I

Good health and quality of life will ensure your dog lives well into his golden years. A look at pain management, safety and immune system health.

Our dogs are living longer than they used to. What steps can we take to keep them happy and healthy through their senior years? In this two-part article, we’ll look at the top ways to keep old dogs young by maintaining optimal health and quality of life. Part 1 will cover pain management, making changes at home to ensure his safety and comfort, and the importance of avoiding over-vaccination. Part 2, to appear in the Oct-Nov issue, will focus on diet, supplements and exercise.

  1. Assess and manage his pain

Dogs typically do not vocalize pain, so you need to recognize the body language and behavioral cues they use to indicate discomfort. A dog in pain may have an abnormal sit, or avoid sitting altogether. His body may be shifted to one side. One leg might be tucked under — many times the sore leg is the one he’ll lie on. See the sidebar for other signs of pain to watch for.

The next step is to locate the source of the pain and treat it. Have your dog examined by your veterinarian, with routine blood work, a cardiac evaluation and a thorough lameness exam with a good look at the joints, including range of motion tests and radiographs.

There are many ways to treat chronic pain, depending on its cause. AcupunctureChinese herbsmassage, laser and physical therapy are all effective. These alternative treatments often have synergistic results – they can amplify the effectiveness of medications, and sometimes allow the dosage of these medications to be reduced.

  1. Enhance his safety and comfort at home
  • Falling on floors or struggling unsuccessfully to get up from smooth surfaces only causes more pain and places abuse on already stressed joints. Skid-proof, rubber-backed rugs and runners provide traction and often improve confidence in dogs that worry about sliding and falling.
  • Stairs present a major problem for all breeds, and high rise stair steps are torture for small dogs. Making the steps skid-proof with runners can help, but in some cases a ramp will be a better solution.

Always have good lighting at the top and bottom of the stairs, because the older dog’s eyesight is compromised. The hardest times of day for a vision-impaired dog are dawn and dusk. The thought of going down a dark staircase can be very fearsome, and can lead to accidents and elimination problems.

In some instances, it may be best to block off stairs with child gates to prevent access and potential injury. For a dog that simply cannot make it up or down stairs on his own, support slings can be used to aid him.

  • Many older dogs have some decreased range of motion in the neck area, and may also sink in the rear when standing for more than a few seconds. Preparing an area for raised food and water bowls on skid-proof footing is a simple consideration your geriatric dog will appreciate.
  • One of the main reasons older dogs are brought to the clinic is inappropriate elimination. There are many reasons why a dog seems to lose his house training — sometimes not even seeming aware of it. There is a kind of incontinence that causes urine to leak when the animal is sleeping. The sphincter in the urethra is relaxed and the urine will flow through it. This is known as spay incontinence and is common in females.

Fecal incontinence occurs when feces exit the body through a relaxed anal sphincter. These animals may defecate in their sleep, or while lying down when awake but relaxed.

  1. Protect his immune system by avoiding over-vaccination

The antibodies that dogs acquire earlier in their lives from vaccines are not erased as they age. We have antibodies in our systems that have been present from the time we had our childhood vaccines. Animals are no different.

An older dog’s immune system needs to be treated with respect. It’s working hard to keep things in balance and when we give it more challenges than it can handle – e.g. too many vaccines — it may start to break down. I have seen health problems arise in a geriatric dog after he was given multiple vaccines.

Rather than use a cookie cutter approach to vaccines, I use the phrase “lifestyle vaccines”, which means creating a health program to protect the animal from the diseases he may encounter given his particular lifestyle. For example, many geriatric dogs are not as exposed to diseases because they are not going to dog parks and kennels.

Titer tests can be run to see if the older dog is protected against common diseases — most notably parvo and distemper. Titer testing is available from most veterinary labs, and a simple blood sample is all that’s needed to check for antibodies against the disease(s) in question.

If vaccines are absolutely necessary, they should be administered one at a time — for example, just distemper/parvo instead of the multi-way vaccines that contain five, seven or even more disease antigens in one vaccine. The rabies vaccine is arguably the hardest on the immune system, so it should never be given within three weeks of any other vaccine.

In Part 2 of this article, we’ll see how a quality diet, the right supplements, and physical activity can also help maintain your dog’s health through his golden years.


From Animal Wellness Magazine



Brookside Barkery

Three Tips for Your Cat This Holiday Season

The holidays bring changes to your home and lifestyle. Most cats have issues with any changes in their environment. From the decorations to the parties, your cat will be affected by the holidays. Brookside Barkery wants to help you keep your pet happy and healthy during this festive season! Here are 3 tips to keep your cat safe and your home in one piece.

BarkeryHoliday tips for cats #1 – Part of your holiday fun is decorating your home and Christmas tree. Many of us like to add garlands and other shiny decorations. These can be very attractive to cats, especially if it tends to move – even the slightest bit, as cats are attracted to movement. It triggers their prey drive, which is very strong in felines. Tinsel can be very dangerous to cats if ingested, it can cause blockages and prove fatal. Instead of using tinsel, garland or icicles, use a thick, wide ribbon, or felt rings. While anything new is likely to intrigue your cat, using something your cat is less likely to digest will be safer.

Holiday tips for cats #2 – Cats love to frolic, but they rarely enjoy loud parties. In fact, most will run and hide because all the noise and activity can be frightening. It not only disrupts their quiet home, but there are also people coming into your house that they don’t recognize. It is best to place your cat in a quiet room where he or she will not be bothered. Put their water and food dishes in the room along with a clean litter box.

Holiday tips for cats #3 – Cats are rarely welcoming of strange cats, dogs and other new pets. The last thing you should do on a holiday is to bring home another pet or have a guest bring their pet into your home. Cats are very territorial and while dogs will normally welcome a new canine guest (and be happy to chase a new feline guest), your cat will merely become stressed by the newcomer.

Keep your cat happy and healthy this holiday season! Stop by the Barkery in either Brookside or Lee’s Summit and pick up some all-natural treats, food and all the necessary essentials for your furry feline!

*Thank you for the tips!

Scientific proof that your dog recognizes you…and loves you.

We know our dogs know who we are.  And we know our dogs love us.

We know these things instinctively.  After all, our dogs go crazy when we come home.  They love to cuddle up to us.  Or jump up on the bed and sleep next to us (if we let them!)

But now, scientists have studied canine brain activity using an MRI. And the results are pretty neat (even if dog owners might ho-hum and say they knew all this stuff anyway.)

The study involved seven dogs (five border collies, one golden retriever and one Labrador retriever), which were first trained to remain awake, still and unrestrained inside an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner.

While in the MRI, the dogs were then shown 50 images of humans and 50 images of everyday inanimate objects. When the dogs saw human images, activity increased in the temporal cortex region of the brain.

The temporal cortex is part of the ventral visual pathway and is used to process complex stimuli like faces, in humans and, apparently, also in dogs.

What this suggests is that viewing human faces triggers the same brain regions — those used to process facial cues — in both humans and dogs. The human images also led to increased activity in subcortical structures like the caudate, which is involved in reward processes.

This suggests that, as you’d imagine, dogs found viewing the human faces to be more rewarding than viewing inanimate objects. The thalamus also showed increased activity when dogs were shown photos of human faces; this brain area has been related in humans to an emotional response toward faces.

Dogs Have a Remarkable Ability to ‘Read Your Mind’

Dogs are uniquely integrated into humans’ social structures, making them a perfect choice to study social cognition. As the researchers noted, “they possess unique cognitive skills that make them more similar to a human infant than other species.”

For instance, dogs can discriminate between two human faces, even if they’re similar.

“… The detail of the information that a dog can acquire from a mere glimpse towards a human face, even without training, is extraordinary,” the researchers continued, noting that dogs have a “remarkable ability” to pick up on small signals indicating a person’s mind frame.

Your dog can, for example, tell when you’re smiling or in a neutral state, as well as when you’re paying him attention and when you’re not (and may be more likely to ask for food from a person he can establish eye contact with).

Other intriguing “dog habits” include the tendency to look at an unfamiliar human face longer than a familiar one, as well as pay less attention to his owner if his head is covered. According to the researchers:

“This tendency to look at a human face during interaction has not been found in other canids, not even in extremely socialized wolves. Altogether, these findings show that dogs are capable of perceiving subtle traits in human faces and that they use this information to modulate their behavior.”

This makes perfect sense, as a dog’s ability to recognize and respond to human facial cues may be crucial for its survival.

As the study noted, some dogs may have more contact with human faces than they do with other dog’s faces, so perhaps that’s why they are able to recognize human facial cues without any training while other canids, like wolves, likely cannot.


Proof That Dogs Love Their Humans?

Other research on dogs’ brain activity, and in particular the “reward center” or caudate nucleus, has also revealed fascinating insights into dogs’ emotional capacity.

The caudate plays a role in human anticipation of enjoyable things (like food and love) and is activated accordingly. Previous research by Emory University neuroscientist Dr. Gregory Berns and colleagues revealed remarkable similarities in caudate activation in dogs.

Activity increased in response to hand signals indicating food, the return of an owner who had stepped out of sight and other scenarios that would similarly activate the caudate in humans. Berns wrote in The New York Times:

“Do these findings prove that dogs love us? Not quite. But many of the same things that activate the human caudate, which are associated with positive emotions, also activate the dog caudate. Neuroscientists call this a functional homology, and it may be an indication of canine emotions.

The ability to experience positive emotions, like love and attachment, would mean that dogs have a level of sentience comparable to that of a human child. And this ability suggests a rethinking of how we treat dogs.”

If you’re a dog lover you already know that your dog is a thinking, sentient creature, but in case there was any doubt, one of the most revealing studies to date looked into whether a dog would willingly choose to receive a food treat or praise from its owner.

You might assume a dog would gobble up a treat over praise any day, but the study actually found the opposite.

Most of the dogs preferred praise over food or liked both equally, which suggests dogs are not simply chowhounds — they’re social creatures who appear to enjoy spending time with their owners just as much, if not more so, than a good meal.


Information courtesy of Mercola.


The Holiday Season is in full swing at the Barkery!

It’s the season for giving!  And the Barkery stands ready to knock the socks off the pet lover in your life!  We’ve struck some amazing deals at some of the biggest pet shows in the country and NOW we’re ready to bring you the best in gift ideas!


So come on in and see all how great your pet’s Christmas can be!

Want to know what allergies or sensitivities your pet has? We can do that!

Among the most common problems we see at the Barkery are pets with food allergies or environmental sensitivities.  These things can cause powerful immune system responses leading to inflammation and a host of other health concerns.

Until now, it was mostly guesswork.  Trial and error.  Careful questioning of customers, then looking at the ingredient panels of the foods they fed.

But dogs can be allergic to a lot more than just chicken or beef.  Things like crabgrass and yes, even pollen can cause an allergic reaction.

But now we’ve got a way to find out EXACTLY what stresses your pet and PRECISELY what causes allergic reactions.

With the new Pet Wellness Life Stress Scan from Glacier Peak, you can look at no fewer than 300 food and environmental factors that may disturb your pet’s homeostasis. That means knowing how to craft a PERFECT diet to help your pet live their longest, healthiest life.

The test will involve mailing in a couple of swabs with your pet’s saliva, and a bit of their hair.  Within days, you’ll have the results!  And we’re offering it at a special rate of $75.  Only $75 to give your pet the perfect diet AND eliminate allergens!  And the data you’ll get will amaze you.

And when you test your pet, the Barkery will provide a free Nutrition Consultation to work with you and with the results of the test, guiding your selections on food, treats, and supplements to make sure we’re giving your pet exactly what they need.



Chain of Hope needs our help. So we need yours.

Do you know what Chain of Hope is? If the answer is no, it’s time to remedy that.

Chain of Hope (CoH) is like a lot of local Kansas City area rescue organizations in that it’s run by some of the most compassionate people you’ll ever meet. People with huge hearts. But they’re also among the bravest and most vigilant animal advocates on the planet.

CoH volunteers perform outreach in some of the poorest areas of the city.

Places where residents might have a pet, but not have the financial means to feed it good, healthy food. Or to provide a dog house to keep their pet out of the rain and wind.  Or warm hay to make that dog house a cozier place.  They find pets who have been abandoned.  Neglected.  Chained up.  Or forgotten.

And what they do is AMAZING. The transformations they can create are among the most wonderful things imaginable, helping dogs who are sick, neglected, or injured grow strong and healthy again, in loving homes.

And we’re trying to buy them 10,000 pounds of food.

What would five tons of food do for them?  It would mean that ALL of the dogs at their shelter get the healthiest food.  It would mean that all of those people that they help during their outreach can give THEIR pets healthy and nutritious food.  And it would mean that Chain of Hope doesn’t need to worry about food for about three months. That means they can devote more of their efforts to outreach.  It means they can spend more on medical help for injured or sick pets.

It means they can do MORE good!

So when you come into the Barkery and we ask you for a dollar for Chain of Hope… us out?

5 Reasons to Use a Pet Sitter this Holiday Season

Here at Brookside Barkery, we love the holiday season. It’s the best time of the year, but it also can be the busiest! Many are traveling to see family and sadly, our pets can’t always come with us. Although your pets can stay at a boarding facility while you’re away, some cats and dogs really prefer to be at home. Getting someone you trust to look after your pets can have a number of advantages, both for you and your furry family.

So what are the benefits of having a pet sitter?

  • Some pets are happiest at home. Although there are dogs and cats who enjoy going on their own little holiday, some pets can get a bit anxious being taken out of their familiar environment. These pets tend to be happier at home when their owners are away, adapting much better to a new person than to a new environment.
  • Routine, Routine, Routine. Our pets are creatures of habit and their routines are incredibly important. From their feeding plan to regular walks. A house sitter can keep the day-to-day consistent causing minimal disruption to Brookside Barkery
    our pet’s lifestyle.
  • Peace of Mind. Knowing that your pet is safely at home being looked after by a trusted house sitter can help you relax and enjoy your holiday without feeling guilty.
  • Security. Your house sitter can bring in the mail, look after the garden and generally make the house look lived in while you are away. You can’t beat the security of actually having someone live in your home.
  • Cost. Sometimes boarding your pets can cost more than your own holiday, so if you have multiple animals, house sitting can be a great deal. The rate tends to be negotiated privately between you and your sitter and may depend on how much work is involved in caring for your house and pets and whether your home is in a sought after location. In some cases, you can find a house sitter that just needs a rent-free place to stay in exchange for looking after your pets.

If you’re thinking about getting a pet sitter during your holiday travels, your best bet is to ask your family and friends if they’d like to or if they know anyone that might be available. It’s best to consider someone who lives close to you, and of course loves pets. And as you gear up for the holidays, don’t forget to stop by the Barkery to up those holiday presents for your favorite four-legged friends!

*Thank you to for these great tips!

Costume Contest Winners + Photo Gallery!

Congratulations to our costume contest winners!

1st place: Daisy the Pope in her Popemobile
2nd place: Wallace the Crab

Thank you to EVERYONE who participated!

Check out our adorable photo gallery below!