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Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy, and Comfortable

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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

269 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2010

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Nicholas Dodman

16 books22 followers

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5 stars
127 (37%)
4 stars
140 (41%)
3 stars
61 (18%)
2 stars
7 (2%)
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1 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 58 reviews
Profile Image for Kelly H. (Maybedog).
2,392 reviews219 followers
July 26, 2014
What an impressive book about taking care of an aging dog! I put a hold on this book by accident, thinking it was an art book about old dogs. I flipped through it because it was there and I was pleasantly surprised. I have rescued and cared for elderly dogs most of my adult life and didn’t think there was much more I needed to know. I was wrong. There is quite a bit here that I was either unaware of or didn’t think about as in-depth as I should have. Further, they addressed issues that I think are important concerns for any owner of an aging dog. I don’t think the book went as in-depth as I felt it should about vaccinating elderly dogs (quite a controversial topic right now) but it did address it and even included a tidbit of information I hadn’t thought about. Overall, I think this is an excellent reference for someone whose dog is aging or a new owner of an older canine companion.
Profile Image for Doug Goodman.
Author 31 books49 followers
April 7, 2016
I was very lucky that my daughter brought this book home this afternoon. I have been reading through it this evening, and I can say that I really appreciate the information it is offering.
We have a "good old dog," though he is mostly an SOB. He is something like 14 years old, though, and has been in his twilight years for a while now.
This book helped because it talked about some of the typical ailments that older dogs are affected by, such as dental disease, laryngeal paralysis, diabetes, and cushing's disease. Though I have not read it thoroughly yet, the book goes into great detail about heart disease and conditions.
One of the things I really liked are the tips it provided, such as some things we can do around the house to make life a little more comfortable for our dog in his last years.
The book is written by veterinarians, but it sticks to layman's terms, which is helpful to a person like me. I would recommend this book as a resource for anyone who is living with an older dog.
Profile Image for Lisa.
598 reviews40 followers
January 1, 2020
Finished this late at night while sitting up with my good old dog who was having some back troubles. This has solid advice, with some interesting facts about canine health I didn't know before. Recommended if you've got a senior pooch.
153 reviews2 followers
November 18, 2022
I heard the authors on Fresh Air when I had a 'good young dog' and made a mental note for when the time comes. That was ten years ago.

Every dog owner should have this book. Don't extrapolate human conditions and cures onto your dog (an example: though dental care is a necessity, cavities aren't the problem like they are with humans). Likewise, don't expect old dogs to have the same needs and reactions as young dogs.

A great resource (with its own further resource section) on what to expect, what to do, and when to bring in the professionals written by research veterinarians (who are dog owners too) at one of the nation's top vet schools.
Profile Image for Jenny.
386 reviews
December 1, 2011
This is probably the best book I've read all year. We have an almost 16 year old Lab mix, and we lost our greyhound at 12+ years of age back in April. I have been a Pet First Aid instructor and take a pretty active role in my dogs' health/wellbeing, trying to keep up with new procedures/technology, meds, etc. This book was informative, yet sensitive to the emotional aspects of taking care of an older dog; it was well-organized, interesting, and current. Easy to read, yet it didn't "dumb it down" too much, and I learned a fair amount. There are many helpful resources in the book, as well. Bottom line: I'd recommend it to anyone with a dog, especially an older dog.
Profile Image for Margaret.
70 reviews1 follower
January 28, 2011
Okay, so not the most cheerful read, but the book really delivers on its claim to provide realistic advice for taking care of an older dog. Thankfully, most of the more serious sections did not apply to our dear Schenley beagle who is now nearing his 14th year, but it did give me a lot of things to think about as well as numerous tips on how I can make him more comfortable and take better care of him as the years go on. I highly recommend for any dog owners.
Profile Image for Mirrani.
483 reviews7 followers
December 27, 2016
This was required reading for one of my pet care certification classes. I have to say that while I learned some things, I expected a book used in a class to be a little more involved. Readers with little to no experience who are looking to learn something about elderly dog care will find something new here, but if you are a professional care provider, I'd say use it only as a general reference guide.
Profile Image for Kelly.
205 reviews13 followers
Shelved as 'gave-up-on'
April 22, 2018
I don't think this would be particularly helpful for an average dog owner. It explains surgeries and treatments probably costing thousands of dollars, while shrugging off the costs, but never really touching on things an average, not rich person could do to help their dog.
Profile Image for Tfalcone.
2,129 reviews12 followers
June 14, 2018
Helpful to put the panic aside that you might be missing something.
Profile Image for Darlene.
1,688 reviews168 followers
January 11, 2023
My dog, Kali, is getting quite old. Her back legs don't work very well anymore. She can't get up on furniture or up or down stairs to go outside. She has cataracts, so she can't see very well. Because of the leg issue, she is incontinent. She was urinating everywhere, even in my bed. She can't control her bowels well. As much as we love her, this part of her life is difficult for all of us. We finally have a little bed at the end of my bed, so she doesn't fall. We have wall-to-wall piddle-pads to catch her boo-boos. She gets baths nearly daily as she walks through her boo-boos and gets pooh all over herself and the floor.

I am lucky that there are four of us in this house to watch and care for her and the problems that come up. But we all know what is next in this flow of life. I needed someone to help me know what to do. I'm finding old age is a series of milestones like infancy. Watching the achievements fade is as painful as seeing the accomplishments in the beginning.

But here we are. So this book helped me. A veterinarian writes it, so the advice is given with experience and understanding of what the dog's parents are going through. I wish we could put diapers on Kali, but she barely puts up with the baths. We need to be patient and give her love while we can. It breaks my heart. I remember when she was too much. Running, jumping, no keeping her quiet. Now it seems we have almost a different dog.

I plan to reread this book as she progresses. It is very useful. Our nearest vet is an hour and a half away, and she can't handle the trip for little things. It will be the big issue that will take us all over that hill. It will be a very sad drive. Thank you for such a helpful book.
Profile Image for James Frederick.
385 reviews1 follower
August 23, 2018
This is another book where I wish we could give half ratings. I would have given it 4.5, in that case. I rarely award five stars, but I did with this one because I learned a great deal about the care of older dogs, of which I have two.

This is not a feel good book, unfortunately, because much of the book is focused on what goes wrong with older dogs.

The one knock I had is that the chapters, particular the ones on disease, are very long. Clearly, the author loves his job and he is excited about the subject matter. Much of that comes through. But a couple hundred pages on cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, etc., just wore me down.

There was SOME information on the costs of treatments and procedures listed, but not as much as I would have liked. I know that kind of thing is problematic, though, because it can differ a great deal, depending on the care provider and the level of care needed. Overall, this was a sobering reminder that our four-legged friends do not live nearly as long as they should, and it seems like my dogs are living on borrowed time. One glint of hope...as with medical care for humans, there are many recent advances that are helping to prolong quality and quantity of life.
342 reviews4 followers
October 4, 2022
This book caught my eye (it was on display at the library) because the dog on the cover looks like my own good old dog. I hadn't thought to look for a book on this topic, but I'm glad I picked this one up. We're certainly dealing with some of the issues discussed in the book. The book made me confident that we were doing all that we could for his arthritis, and it explained in more depth some of the kidney and cancer issues that our previous dog dealt with and we're keeping an eye on in our current dog, should they develop. Tremendously informative and empathetic.
3 reviews
December 31, 2018
Great reference

Good Old Dogs is a good read for anyone with an aging dog. My dogs are 14, 12 and 1. Recently our 14 year old had dental surgery (she learned how to step on the lever that opens the lid of the trash can and ate some chicken bones resulting in a broken tooth- proving that old dogs can learn new tricks) and started having some other issues so I turned to this book to learn how to be a better mama to her in old age. It was very helpful!
Profile Image for T. Rose.
493 reviews23 followers
April 5, 2019
As the mom of a 15 year old Westie, this book is invaluable to me. I have never had a geriatric dog in my life. I did have a 22 year old cat, but this canine experience is very different for me. My little dog is deaf an blind now. It is a scary time for both of us. I am very grateful to have found such a great source of information to augment our veterinary support.
Profile Image for Mike Harris.
91 reviews2 followers
January 18, 2020
Got this book because my senior “little boy” was diagnosed with kidney disease. The information in here is very useful and should be of tremendous help in helping my “little boy” live out the best life he can. I highly recommend this book to anyone with a dog 8 years old or older, doubly if they have any type of disease like diabetes, heart diseases, or kidney disease.
3 reviews
November 13, 2018
Easy read and good general information that is helpful for someone with an old pooch at home who is interested in making informed decisions about their health.
Profile Image for Lora.
876 reviews1 follower
August 30, 2020
I should not have read that last chapter. I went through a box of Kleenex while my 12 year old dog slept on the other end of the sofa.
Profile Image for Sue.
927 reviews2 followers
December 4, 2010
I was very happy to have won this book through a First Reads giveaway. I was interested in this book because I have two old dogs, and I have lost two old dogs in the last couple of years. The book has chapters on diet, common medical conditions, protecting joints, fighting cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, the cost of vet care, dementia, changing the environment to suit the dog, emergency care, and end-of-life decisions. Since it is written by vets, it has a lot of good information on preventing and treating disease. It has some good anecdotes about successes and failures. It changed my mind about some things-- for instance, I am wrong to put off teeth cleanings for fear of anesthesia, and older dogs do still need their DHLPP vaccines to prevent parvo. It was a lot to sit down and read the book all at once, but I think I benefited more than I would have if I were using it as a reference book because some of the good information is buried in the chapters I wouldn't have otherwise read. Although it would be good as a reference book too, just reading through chapters as appropriate.

There were a couple of things lacking- I don't think the word "heartworm" is mentioned in the book. There is a whole page on what labored breathing can indicate, and heartworm is not mentioned, nor is it mentioned in the cost of maintaining your dog. Also, I only saw old dog vestibular disease mentioned once and it was buried in the back. When one of my dogs suddenly was affected by this disorder, I was really shocked-- I think it could have been featured more prominently just because its sudden onset can be so scary.

This book should be on the shelf of every dog owner, preferably before your dog reaches old age. There are a lot of prevention tips for dogs of any age. Also, the chapter on diet is very helpful. It's hard to get straight answers on diet from anyone, and their view seems fairly objective.
Profile Image for Kylie Holliman-Rivera.
52 reviews1 follower
January 23, 2021
Good Old Dog by Nicholas Dodman

Rating: 4 Stars

As an owner of a dog walking company (IG: @firehydrantpetsittingco), a boss to a handful of employees, a service provider to over 100 clients, and a dog mom -- I feel like continuous education is a MUST.

There are always things out there to learn! I love it when I find employees, clients, and other pet lovers that are just as fascinated as I am with how dogs and cats function, react, behave, etc..

In this book, Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy, and Comfortable Good Old Dog, you will learn SOOOO MUCH! You will read about:

- how to choose the right diet for your dog
- how to monitor your aging dogs behavior and changes
- the 3 major illnesses in dogs (heart disease, kidney disease and cancer)
- amputations (it isn't as bad as it sounds!)
- Arthritis

...and so much more!

Good Old Dog mentions, "...of the four million dogs relinquished to shelters every year in the U.S., almost a million are given up because they're 'too old'."

To help reduce the amount of elderly dogs released to the shelter, it is CRUCIAL we (1) take the time to learn about our elderly dogs, and (2) learn how to prepare as our young dogs now, will age.

What kind of dog do you have? How old are they? Do you know how to monitor your pups health?
Profile Image for Kat.
191 reviews7 followers
September 22, 2013
This took me some time to read as I was rather busy for a time... however, I have to admit this could get a little bit (a tiny little bit) dry.

I bought this book because of the dog topic, and also because I have 2 aging dogs: Bido at 13ish and Menina at 8ish. Both were taken in as strays so I don't really know if that is their age or not. Besides, I've had numerous other dogs before them, so in truth, I was already rather, I wouldn't say knowledgeable, but, perhaps sympathetic is the word.

In any case, this book is not an encyclopedia. Please do not think that you can use this book as a "Hey my dog is limping, what does it mean?" While this book does illustrates examples as to what could be a problem, this is by no means a "Check and diagnose yourself" book.

What this book really does, is show you through systematic scenarios of what may be and what could be done. The book reiterates many times that you should consult the vet for advice first. Any decision of any sort, is ultimately, yours to make. However, you should take the responsibility to find out, research, and learn of available options to make the best decision in your case, in your scenario, in your family.

A few key advises from the book I would like to add in here:
- Get insurance for the dog if it is available where you are.
- Make a budget of medical expenses for your dog.
- Set money aside early on so you have the funds when your dog gets old and needs "emergency money".
Profile Image for Kelly Lynn Thomas.
810 reviews18 followers
October 22, 2016
Reading this book wasn't easy, exactly, although it's written in a very straight-forward, clear manner. The book covers all the common ailments of senior dogs and what the possible treatments are, and I found it to be very informative (though not all encompassing). What makes it hard to read is thinking about your own old dog and whatever ailments she might have--and facing up to the reality that she will not be with you forever. But I am an advocate for "good" deaths rather than fearful, miserable ones, and it was good for me to face up to the inevitable with my current old lady dog (though hopefully she still has a few years left).

The book goes through euthanasia--when it might be the right choice for your pet, what actually happens during the process, and what you can expect during and after. I have had to put dogs to sleep before, and I always felt sort of guilty about it. I wondered if it was the right choice, if it hurt, if they were afraid, etc., but now that I have a better grasp of the mechanics at work I feel much better about it, and I feel much more confident that I will know when the "right" time is.

So, if you have an aging dog, or even a "middle-aged" dog, I'd recommend reading this book--it might force you to face up to your dog's mortality, but it will help you to help your dog have the best possibly golden years she can.
Profile Image for Gaby.
429 reviews67 followers
November 20, 2010
Posted at http://oh-my-books.blogspot.com/2010/...

Probably you already know that I'm a veterinary student but I am also a dog owner. Cotton is ten years old and lately he have been sick.

I have experienced the worry and sadness you feel when your beloved pet is sick. And sometimes I have to help people understand their old pets, and teach them how to take better care of them and not be afraid to go with them to the vet. We want the best for your pet.

Personally, I liked a lot this book, and think it is a good way to learn about what is normal or not about your old pet. In an easy way, they explain you about the most common sickness of ours dogs and when you should be more careful. Also, they give you advices, for example about diets, and explain you the best ways to feed your dog and maintain him healthy.

Overall, it is a good read, specially it your loved pet is growing old and you want to give him/her the best care and aren't sure how to do it. Of course, always consult with your veterinarian first.
66 reviews
May 10, 2011
Good overall book on older dogs health issues. Major plus: it explains the health issues in non-veterinary language, or where necessary, brief but good explanations to educate readers. It could've actually had a lot more info, though that would've made it a lot longer; as it is, it's a pretty easy read and relatively short. Another drawback was that the writers/editors didn't do anything useful in terms of providing monetary figures---a survey of vet hospitals and clinics on the cost of the various procedures, or even ballpark approximations, would have been very useful but nothing like that was in the book.

However, overall, a good resource on your aging dog.
Author 4 books7 followers
April 9, 2016
I think anyone with a dog of any age should read this book. I bought it because I had a 14 year old dog that I wanted to help. The story near the end of the book is nearly identical to our story - carrying around our old dog until he could not stand long enough to go to the bathroom. I kept hoping he would slip away in his sleep but this book spells it out in black and white -- your dog is not likely to die in his sleep. You will have to make the end-of-life decisions. This book prepares you for that. It also provides information to allow you to speak intelligently to your vet and to decide on a care plan that is best for you and your dog.
Profile Image for Kathy.
218 reviews5 followers
September 3, 2011
As the owner of a good old dog, and a couple more good old dogs to be, this is an excellent resource on the aging of your best friend. The truth about the care of older canines and the veterinary care available to them, rather than the myths and hype surrounding their aging is very interesting. From their nutritional needs to available treatments to preparing for end of life, this book covers it all. Light on the technical jargon, but solid on information, easy to read. My opinion is that this is a must read for canine caretakers.
Profile Image for Leslie.
387 reviews15 followers
May 28, 2012
Some of this book was simply hard to read because it made me teary, but overall it was very useful. I'm not sure I agree with all of the food and supplement information--a weight chart courtesy of Nestle Purina caused me to frown and take nutritional information with a pound of salt--but I was able to come up with a list of questions to ask. There's also a checklist to track your "good old dog"'s behavior on a regular basis, which I wish we'd had a year ago. It always helps to be armed with information when you walk into a vet's office...oh, and the vet appreciates it, too.
Profile Image for Tricia.
120 reviews
November 26, 2010
I have a lab who is 11 years old (12 in April). I am so excited to read this book!

While not all of the information in this book applied to my dog, as of yet, it was a great read and a great resource for the future. I particularly enjoyed reading the parts of the book that currently apply to my dog, heart disease and arthritis. This is definitely a book that I will keep on my bookshelf as a reference for the future! Great information!!!

974 reviews1 follower
December 21, 2010
This is a really good book if you want to have a reference for the problems of aging dogs and if you don't start worrying too much about your old friend.

The book covers information that is difficult to find anywhere else as well as going fairly in depth about the major issues old dogs face. It isn't too depressing, even giving hope for good quality life extension with proper treatment of diseases.
December 11, 2012
I began reading this about 6 months ago for guidance on helping Jake. I finally finished the really difficult but helpful chapters at the end yesterday. This book was very informative and covered a wide range of points of view on vet care for dogs. It is reassuring for anyone who considers their dog family instead of a pet as it gives peace of mind to know you are doing the right thing in the saddest of times.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 58 reviews

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