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Book Reviews

When I began this terrific resource, my wife and I were facing an end-of-life decision for our beloved Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Trudy, 12, whose bounce, swagger and vibrancy were going South quickly as the result of a deteriorating kidney.

What to do? While there is no definitive answer in these cases, “Golden Years” guided us through a spirited, yet simplified pathway for decision-making.

For instance, Terri O’Hara, a Corvallis, Ore., animal communicator, says, “Dying is very difficult to contemplate for humans. This is usually not so for dogs. They do not fear their impending transition. Instead, they embrace it.

“Animals teach that death is a process. . . . A senior dog does not view a disease as a problem. She embraces anything and everything as a part of her journey. Through my experience, dogs have shown me that they gracefully accept all that is going on within their bodies.

“We must remember that the journey of life for every being has a beginning, a middle and an end. A birth, a life, a death. Your dog knows this. She is not upset that her life will end, but rather is living life to its fullest until her body simply can no longer go on. When it is too difficult to be in the ailing body, your dog will embrace her state of being and allow her death process to occur.”

O’Hara’s words and Trudy’s body language told us it was time, yet neither were enough to stop a torrent of tears from both of us.

“Golden Years” is a guidebook in both a proactive and reactionary sense, featuring traditional and complementary options of treatment. Because aging affects every body system, a geriatric screening panel should be performed annually to detect any change in key organs, advises Dr. Fred Metzger, a Pennsylvania veterinarian, who explains the panel’s basics in a manner all pet owners will grasp. In respect to the kidney, Metzger defines the importance of key readings with rich, insightful context, always reflecting a tough realism.

The lead author, Kachnic, a Colorado certified canine massage therapist, animal Reiki practitioner and therapy-dog handler, has chosen a diverse field of experts to address canine geriatric diseases, nutrition, dental care, physical therapy, chiropractic care, laser therapy, traditional veterinary Chinese medicine, plants and oils, homeopathy, quality of life, hospice care, pet home euthanasia and several other subjects. Each chapter concludes with the author’s “favorite resources,” and contact information.

Kachnic’s focus plays no favorite in terms of treatment modalities. All the options are on the table for the owner’s selection and comfort zone. Those nuggets of wisdom and insight make “Golden Years” an empowering overview every owner should have in their dog library.

Ranny Green, Seattle Times Pet Columnist


Thank you so much for this book. I believe that it will prove a boon to the many of us who struggle with the concept (and actuality) of ageing in our pets. This book not only encourages us but also teaches us how to pay more attention to the signs of ageing, as well as suggesting how to be more pro-active in caring for our Senior pets. Caregivers often tend to feel helpless in the face of what is seen as inevitable decline, and we relinquish our own power to the medical/pharmaceutical establishment. Recognition of alternatives available for ageing and end-of-life issues is not wide-spread;this book can help alleviate that situation, as it will introduce many of its readers to the concepts of massage, Reiki, acupuncture, herbs, oils and homeopathy in animals.

In addition to the good advice given regarding how to observe and care for the Senior companion, and how to make the most of enjoying the time we are privileged with them, we are also given excellent advice on letting go, and dealing with the grief which follows our loss. The chapters on quality of life, hospice care, and euthanasia are beautiful ~ they will serve as a blessing to those who are in the difficult situation of making the decision regarding allowing their loved one to leave this existence, as well as coping with the loss.

The book is well-written and easy to read,and chock-full of nuggets as well as philosophical thoughts to ponder. Everyone Who has a Senior companion will find something of benefit.

Betsy Harrison, DVM, CVH, President, AVH 2012


Your Dog’s Golden Years is an essential read not just for anyone who owns a senior or geriatric dog, but anyone who owns a dog. It is a wonderful blend of traditional and complementary care for dogs, with an eloquent explanation of the science and rationale behind many tests and treatments for aging dogs. Often times pet caregivers experience an ‘information overload’ when their pet is diagnosed with a life-threatening or terminal illness. ‘Golden Years’ is the perfect reference to explain and inform caregivers of what their dog may be experiencing in the present or near future. This book should be in the waiting room of all veterinary practices!”

Marti Drum DVM, PhD, CCRP, CERP Clinical Assistant Professor, Small Animal Physical Rehabilitation – University of Tennessee, Veterinary Teaching Hospital


Your Dog’s Golden Years, edited by Jennifer Kachnic, CCMT, CRP, fills a long-standing need for owners of elderly canines. Chapters are written by specialists in various aspects of canine care.

The book is thorough, starting with the basics: benefits of adopting a senior dog, senior nutrition, supplements useful for seniors, bloodwork and other basic information with an emphasis on the senior dog, and dental care. A chapter describes how older dogs think and feel, which is very different from young puppies.

In addition, it addresses the special problems of seniors, including common medical conditions, with a discussion of what can be done for them. As chronic diseases these are often very responsive to complementary techniques such as acupuncture, chiropractic, herbs, aromatherapy, and physical therapy. There is a chapter on each one of these modalities.

And finally, there is a discussion of end of life issues. Hospice care and euthanasia are discussed, as well as a chapter on dealing with your own feelings after an older pet’s death.

This book is ideal for anyone owning a dog: sooner or later your dog will be in the senior category, and this reference covers major categories that you will need to know.

Dr. Nancy Scanlan is the executive director of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. Prior to her current position, she used holistic veterinary medicine for 16 years in Sherman Oaks, California.


Your Dog’s Golden Years is a well written, thoughtful and comprehensive guide to taking care of your furry friends as they age.

This outstanding book will help dog parents ensure that their companion is happy and as comfortable as possible through their senior years. Kudos to Jennifer Kachnic and the other authors for compiling such a complete resource guide for dog parent’s everywhere. A must read.

Jennifer Brauns, Publisher of Mile High Dog Magazine


Dogs get better as they get older, but like their human companions, they slow with age – and then they leave us all too soon. Jennifer Kachnic and the 17 experts in this book offer hundreds of solutions for dozens of problems that affect older dogs. With up-to-date treatments like lasers, ancient and modern remedies from medicinal plants, laboratory test guidelines for elderly patients, hands-on healing techniques, “old dog” training tips, senior nutrition, strategies for dealing with end-of-life decisions, and helpful advice for caregivers, Your Dog’s Golden Years is truly comprehensive. No matter how much you know about canine health and behavior, you’ll learn something important and your best friend will benefit for years to come.

CJ Puotinen, author of The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care and Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats


Today I’m sharing a new book that may appeal to those of you with dogs who have reached their ‘Golden’ years: Your Dog’s Golden Years, by Jennifer Kachnic.

Jennifer owns Canine Wellness in Colorado where she provides alternative therapies. In her book, she and 19 other canine experts share their tips on helping your senior dog live a healthier, more comfortable life using natural and complementary options. When I perused the table of contents I immediately knew this is a book I MUST read, if only to improve my management of Tanner and Oliver’s senior years. It’s not that I did a bad job of handling Xena’s golden years, but I knew I could learn more.

I highly recommend this book to all of you who anticipate having a senior dog in your life at some point. Read it now; read it early; be prepared. You’ll find the book at, Amazon, and other online bookstores. Money saving tip: Currently the book is $2 cheaper at the website than at Amazon. If you’re into the local market, check your bookshops and ask if they have it in stock or can order it. Check your library as well. It doesn’t matter how you get it, just get it!

Your dog will need you to have read this sooner than you think. Your Dog’s Golden Yearsis a ‘How To’ book, a genre that always get my motor running. Sounds geeky, I know. But I love learning better ways to solve problems, and this book is packed with tips for making sure your older Fido is getting his needs met. I loved the first chapter’s way of getting the ball rolling. Written in Claude’s voice, the book’s spokesdog, I learned a few new ways to help me tune into pain or discomfort. For instance:

  • A dog in pain may lie under furniture or away from its owner. If this is an unusual behavior, take notice.
  • A sudden change in temperament when you ask for a particular behavior can be your dog’s way of saying “I don’t want to do that because it hurts”.
  • During long walks, note when your dog begins to slow down, sit down, or simply stop. He’s letting you know that this is too much for him. Maybe it’s time to modify your route and shorten it up.
  • Changes in eating often indicate lessened ability to taste or smell; add variation with toppings that appeal to the senses for better appetite.
  • Digestive issues often plague older dogs. Serving calming foods and offering more frequent trips outside will handle these problems for a while.
  • With less energy and activity, many senior dogs gain excessive weight. Owners may want to reduce their rations accordingly to keep their weight at a healthy level.
  • When decreasing your dog’s intake, consider supplementation, not only for his regular nutrition, but also for any health issue that he could be prone to. Check with your vet for input.
  • Stress caused by pain is sometimes reflected in body language or signals–yawning, lip-licking, excessive grooming. Pay attention when you see these signs.
Note that if any of these behaviors have been normal throughout your dog’s life, then they are not necessarily a communication of discomfort. What you’re really watching for are changes in behavior, even if only small ones.
Jennifer’s book includes a very wide range of alternative therapies, written by experts in their fields. You’ll find many options here, allowing you to select for trial those methods you feel best match your dog’s needs and your comfort level in assisting. This reference book is one you’ll probably wish to keep for years to come. It will serve as a guide for each dog, as they all have their own quirky way of handling life’s little hiccups.
I hope you enjoy learning some new ways to care for your senior. 
Carrie Boyko – All Things Dog Blog
By Stephen L. Brauns

For all of the unique bonds between man and dog, we are two very different species—yet we have one very common trait. Both man and dog age, we both get older and the effects of aging are not all that dissimilar. Today we have answers for seemingly all of man’s aging symptoms. There may not be many cures for what ails us, but there’s a pill, ointment or elixir for almost any malady. Unfortunately, our furry four-legged friends aren’t so lucky. Not only is there a huge void of medical knowledge about dogs, we humans have very little idea about what to do for our aging pals.

Do you know when your dog begins old age? Do you know what signs of aging to look for? Most of us probably haven’t spent much time thinking about what it’s like to be a dog and getting older. They have aches, pains and they slow down with each passing year. It would take a very empathetic person to think about these issues and bring them to us, someone who loves dogs in an amazingly deep way. Jennifer Kachnic is such a person and with some inspiration and considerable help from her golden retriever Claude, we have a wonderful book: Your Dog’s Golden Years, A Manual for Senior Dog Care.

Meeting Jennifer is an interesting experience. One thing becomes apparent immediately, she is an extremely gentle and kind person and, if you’re lucky she may just take her hands off Claude long enough to shake your hand. They are seemingly joined at Jennifer’s hands and Claude’s body. You will never find a person and a dog that have a bond like these two. It is this bond that allowed Jennifer to think about what it was like for Claude as he became a member of the grey muzzle crowd.

At ten years old, Claude was most adept at penning the first chapter of the book. He describes the effects of aging from a firsthand perspective. In a manner reminiscent of a human talking, Claude relates the effects of, “Oops…I made a mistake in the house and I’m embarrassed,” and “I have pain in my legs today and I’m just not up for fetching.” With Claude’s help and that of nineteen other dog experts, Jennifer delivers a wonderful guide to help you understand the needs of aging canines. From traditional veterinary medicine to corresponding techniques like acupuncture, chiropractic, herbs, aromatherapy and physical therapy, all are investigated for their benefits.

This book is all about aging in dogs, but Jennifer provides us with insight into some very difficult issues. She addresses your friend’s end of life, hospice care and the difficult issue of euthanasia. Also included is a section about how you are affected by the loss of a very close family member.

I recommend this book highly for the simple reason that it opens up the emotional and difficult topics of aging and the ultimate loss of your dog, a subject that many of us have little if any knowledge or understanding of. Reading

Your Dog’s Golden Years will be an eye opener from page one and a tremendous aid in dealing with the care of your old friend. Read it and help your best friend enjoy and lead a dignified old age.

Mile High Dog – June/July 2012 /Stephen Brauns – Publisher


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